NPOTA: Photos from weekend “two-fer” activation of TR10 and PK01

[This post was originally published on my other radio blog, The SWLing Post]

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As seen from the Overmountain Victory Trail: The Revolutionary War encampment at the Museum of North Carolina Minerals.

As I mentioned in a previous post, what I love about the National Parks On The Air program is that it combines two of my favorite things: national parks and ham radio. My family visits national parks regularly, so it’s easy for me to pack a small radio, do a quick NPOTA activation all while incorporating non-radio activities that the family loves.

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On Saturday, I activated both the Blue Ridge Parkway (PK01) and Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (TR10)–a “two-fer” activation.

Normally, I would set up my station somewhere close to the Museum of North Carolina Minerals which is situated at the junction of these two National Park entities. Saturday, however, was a special event at the museum: a Revolutionary War Encampment.

Blue Ridge Natural Heritage describes the annual event:

The Museum is located at Gillespie Gap, an important stop for Revolutionary War fighters on their way to the Battle of Kings Mountain. Each September the Museum hosts an encampment of re-enactors who assume the role of the Overmountain Men, primarily Scots-Irish settlers from Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina who came “over the mountains” and ultimately defeated the left wing of Cornwallis’ army at Kings Mountain, South Carolina. Many historians mark this victory as the turning point in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War.

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My family loves living history events.

Radio time!

The Park Ranger kindly gave me permission to do the NPOTA activation, but not at the museum itself.  She was trying to keep the site set in the Revolutionary War period–a ham radio operator using a portable transceiver doesn’t exactly fit that description. Instead, around 15:30 UTC, I hiked up the Overmountain Victory Trail in search of an operation site near the Blue Ridge Parkway road.

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The trailhead was a little rough and overgrown. I didn’t have to trail-blaze, but I did have to wade through a lot of weeds with my gear and my canine companion, Hazel, on leash. It’s times like this I truly appreciate such a compact, lightweight, and packable station.

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Can you find the trail in this photo?

Once we entered the woods, though, the trail improved. I found a fantastic spot to operate between the museum and the parkway.

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Hazel the dog is a welcome companion does a wonderful job keeping my site free of black bears. She’s patient, too. I typically tie her leash to a small stake or tree next to me and she promptly takes a nap. Here she is admiring my new REI Camping Stool:

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You can see part of the EFT Trail-Friendly antenna hanging in this photo.

Setup was quick. I managed to raise the EFT Trail-Friendly antenna in record time. I connected the antenna to the Elecraft KX2 and was on the air, calling CQ on 20 meters in a matter of minutes. npota-tr10-pk01-qrp-elecraft-kx2-clipboardIn the space of 15-20 minutes, I only managed to work a few stations on the 20 meter band even though I had been spotted several times on the DX Cluster.npota-tr10-pk01-qrp-elecraft-kx2-logs

I moved to the 40 meter band and logged contacts quickly, however.

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My full station and my ferocious guard dog, Hazel.

Hazel, as I mentioned, is a great companion that’s sweet to everyone she meets. She’s happy to hang with me even if I’m just sitting there operating radio for an hour. She’s quiet and doesn’t bark unless she notices a true disturbance.

Still, Hazel does get bored. After I had logged about 20 stations, I heard her gnawing on something. I turned around and discovered that she found the reel of fishing line I use to hang my antennas.

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Note to self: next time pack Hazel a bone.

She didn’t even look apologetic or guilty! Oh well…fishing line is pretty cheap to replace and I’m sure she assumed it was a chew toy I had placed there for her.

All in all, it was a very successful activation. In less than one hour, I put 22 stations in the log. The weather was perfect and the whole family had a blast.

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A photo I took prior to watching a reenactment of the Battle of King’s Mountain.

What a wonderful day to play radio, take in our national parks and re-live some of our history!

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What can go wrong? A box, a cat, and a little CW.

Many thanks to my buddy, Philip (N4HF), for sharing this video that made me chuckle:

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NPOTA: Activating the Carl Sandburg Home (NS07) today

Elecraft Kx2 ON Clipboard

This afternoon (September 8), I should have a chance to activate the Carl Sandburg Home again for the ARRL National Parks on the Air program. You might recall, I activated the site Sunday as well.

I’ll plan to use the Elecraft KX2 and EFT TRail-Friendly antenna combo once again.

I should be on the air starting sometime between 20:00-20:30 UTC (4:00 – 4:30 PM EDT). I’ll plan to operate SSB on two frequencies: 14286 and 7286 kHz. I’ll be on the air for one hour or so, if all goes well. Listen for my amateur radio call sign: K4SWL.

If you hear me on the air, please consider submitting a spot to the DX clusters!

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NPOTA: Activating the Carl Sandburg home (NS07) today

It just doesn't seem possible that I have almost everything I need to make the NPOTA activation today in this pittle pack.

It just doesn’t seem possible that I have almost everything I need to make the NPOTA activation today in this pittle pack.

I am planning to activate the Carl Sandburg Home (NS07) for National Parks on the Air today. I should start sometime between UPDATE (17:00-18:00) UTC and operating for about one hour. I’ll be SSB/QRP on 14286 and possibly 7286 kHz (depending on the type of antenna I can deploy). I’m fitting this activation into a busy day, but will do my best to hit the air and work as many stations as possible.

I just finished packing everything for the activation.

This will be the first time taking my Elecraft KX2 to the field. It feels *very* strange not to pack even an external battery. Just the little radio, an antenna, a clipboard, an assortment of adapters and a short run of coax.

Not sure yet if I’ll hang the Par EFT trail-friendly antenna or use my telescoping fiberglass vertical (which performed admirably last week!). This is a sensitive archeological site, so I have to abide by the wishes of the park ranger on duty (though I’ve been given permission to install the vertical near their vegetable garden). I want to hang the EFT so I’ll have two bands (20 and 40) at my disposal.

If you have the time today, please try to work my station!

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NPOTA activation this weekend (August 28)

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After two months in Canada, I’m pleased to make some time this weekend to activate PK01, the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I’ll be joined by my good friend, Vlado (N3CZ), and we plan to set up at the Folk Art Center on the parkway around 11:00 EDT and be on the air by 11:30 EDT (15:30 UTC).

I plan to use the LNR Precision LD-11, QRP Ranger and EFT Trail Friendly Antenna. Vlado will either use his Icom IC-7000, Kenwood TS-480 or my Elecraft KX1.

Look for us on the following frequencies:

  • CW: +/- 7031, 14061 kHz
  • SSB: +/- 7286, 14286 kHz

Life has been so hectic after having been on the road for two months–I’m very pleased to finally have a moment to play radio in the field again!

Please make some time to work our NPOTA activation and we welcome spotting us on the clusters!

 

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Build a cardboard stand for the Elecraft KX3

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Many thanks to Tomasz Pabich (SP7Q) for sharing his simple Instructables project for the Elecraft KX3: a cardboard stand.

Click here to view on Instructables.

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I love how simple and affordable this project is! Thanks for sharing, Tomasz!

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HARA Arena to close, Dayton Hamvention to use new venue

[Originally posted on the SWLing Post]

Hara Arena (Source: Aesopposea via WikiMedia Commons)

Hara Arena (Source: Aesopposea via WikiMedia Commons)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Eric (WD8RIF) for passing along the following news via WDTN and DARA (the Dayton Amateur Radio Association).

(Source: WDTN)

TROTWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) – The iconic venue brought sports, concerts, entertainment and special interest shows to the Miami Valley for 60 years is closing their doors due to not being able to overcome an internal legal battle that has spanned the last two decades.

“We are painfully aware of the loss this announcement will generate, which is why we have fought so long and hard to prevent it,” says Karen Wampler, Hara’s marketing director.
The loss will come in the form of $36 million in annual economic impact; youth, men’s and professional hockey programs; and the hundreds of events that called Hara home this past year.

“We had hoped to announce a new era at Hara, but are announcing the end of one, instead.” says Wampler. [Continue reading…]

(Source: Hamvention Press Release)

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) regrets to inform our many vendors, visitors and stakeholders that, unfortunately, HARA has announced the closing of their facility. We have begun execution of our contingency plan to move Hamvention® 2017 to a new home.

DARA and Hamvention® have enjoyed many successful years working together with HARA Arena and we wish the Wampler family the best.

DARA and Hamvention® have been working on a contingency plan in the event HARA would become unavailable. We have spent many hours over the last few years evaluating possible locations and have found one in the area we believe will be a great new home! Due to logistics and timing issues, we will make a formal announcement introducing our new partner. This information will be coming soon. We all believe this new venue will be a spectacular place to hold our beloved event. Please rest assured we will have the event on the same weekend and, since it will be in the region, the current accommodations and outside events already planned for Hamvention® 2017 should not be affected.

We look forward to your continued support as we move to a new future with The Dayton Hamvention®.
Ron Cramer
General Chairman
Dayton Hamvention 2017

Challenges for a new venue

Two years ago, I spoke with a DARA representative who told me about some of the contingency sites they had in mind should HARA Arena close its doors. Many of us attending the Hamvention had a strong feeling 2016 would be the last year at HARA Arena.

Though HARA was (and has been) in a poor state, the site is very large and has one very unique feature: it’s all on one level.

The outdoor exhibits (flea market) portion of the Hamvention is very popular and should hopefully be hosted on site.

The outdoor exhibits (flea market) portion of the Hamvention is very popular.

Most of the Dayton area contingency sites were on at least two levels with limited elevator facilities (a potential problem for the hundreds of attendees who use motorized carts).

I also learned that most of the Dayton area contingency sites had another problem: not enough space to have both the inside exhibits and the flea market hosted at the same venue. One contingency plan assumed the flea market might be relocated somewhere else nearby.

I hope the Site B will have the space for both the indoor and outdoor exhibits. Frankly, if these two portions of the Hamvention are separated, I suspect it will have a very negative impact on attendance numbers. Let’s hope this won’t be the case.

In terms of facilities, almost anything else will feel more modern and cleaner than HARA Arena. I just hope it can accommodate 20,000+ attendees as well.

When DARA announces the new site, I will post the information here.  Simply follow the tag: Hamvention.

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National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) activations today

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En route to the 2016 Dayton Hamvention, I’m doing a few National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) activations with my my buddy, Eric (WD8RIF).

Eric is currently the number one activator in the state of Ohio.

NPOTA is a great excuse to get outdoors and play radio.

For me, it’s a great excuse to test the LNR Precision LD-11 and my new QRP Ranger portable power pack.

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I am loving the new QRP Ranger power pack–it is the solution I decided on after publishing this post a few weeks ago. It’s a little pricey, but it’s built like a tank, very lightweight, includes a charge controller made specifically for the LiFePo cells, and made here in the USA. It also had a very readable LED display that my buddy Eric says is, “reminiscent of the displays on the Apollo 11 module.” He’s kind of right!

It’s so nice to have both a volmeter and ammeter on the front panel.

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We just finished activating the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (I’m writing this post while Eric drives us to our next activation). I made 12 contacts running SSB at 8 watts. Eric made 16 contacts via CW at 5 watts.

We have planned two more activations this afternoon:

  • Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument at 16:30 UTC
  • Dayton Aviation Herital National Historical Park at 21:00 UTC

I’ll be calling CQ on 14.290 MHz and 7.290 MHz +/-.

Please hop on the air listen and/or answer my call if you’re a ham!

Of course, tomorrow through Sunday, you can find us at the Dayton Hamvention in booth SA0359 in the Silver Arena.

Hope to see you there!

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The Elecraft KX2 : a “Fit-In-Your-Pocket size” transceiver

On my way this morning to FDIM and the 2016 Dayton Hamvention.

On my way this morning to FDIM and the 2016 Dayton Hamvention.

Since I own the Elecraft KX3, Elecraft K2 and the Elecraft KX1, I’m excited to see that Elecraft has announced a new addition to their product line: the Elecraft KX2. Elecraft will feature the KX2 at Four Days In May (FDIM) and the Dayton Hamvention.

I am attending vendor’s night at FDIM and the full Dayton Hamvention. I will post photos of the KX2 here–follow updates by bookmarking the tag KX2.

Full details from the Elecraft press release, via Southgate ARC, below:

Elecraft-Logo

(Source: Southgate ARC)

New KX2 radio to be announced this Thursday at the Dayton Hamvention 2016

Hello to all,

We are please to announce a new radio to complement the KX3 and the KX-Line.  Here are the details.

What:  Elecraft announces the KX2, Ultra-portable radio
When:  Thursday, May 16th, 1300Z
Where:  Four Days In May QRP event, part of the Dayton Hamfest activities

Elecraft is excited to announce a new radio targeting the Ultra-portable market with a Fit-In-Your-Pocket size.  Please see the attached brochure for details.

Pricing
– KX2:  $749.00

– Options and accessories:  Please see the table below for pricing.  Also see the FAQ for details.

Ordering/Availability

Distributors are encouraged to order both the KX2 and accessories now.  The KX2 is already in production and early ordering will ensure your position for deliveries.

Note that the KX2 will be available in full, factory-built form only.  There will be 2 internally-installed options available immediately.  See the FAQ for more details.

Marketing Collateral Available

You will find a new section in the Elecraft Egnyte repository that contains:

– The attached brochure in editable form for you to translate and convert to local printing formats.
– A KX2 Date Sheet
– A KX2 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in editable form
– Hi Resolution images for use with your marketing and web site content

Special Note on the new KX2 Battery and Charger system

– Elecraft will be stocking the KXBT2 (Li-ion Battery) and the KXBC2 (Li-ion Charger) for your to order.
– We have also arranged for you to purchase both items directly from our supplier, Tenergy (www.tenergy.com)
– Please see the attached document, KX2 Battery info v1.0, with the details.

Along with many of the Elecraft team, I’ll be in Dayton to launch the KX2 but will be able to answer questions as needed.

Again, we are excited to offer you increased business opportunities with the KX2 launch!

Cheers,

David

KX2-Table

KX2-Table-2

KX2-Table-3

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European hams announce NEW RADIO – a dual-band, multi-mode radio to support DMR, D-STAR and C4FM

[The following post was originally published on the SWLing Post by contributor, Robert Gulley AK3Q.]
NEW RADIO, DMR, D-STAR, C4FM, System Fusion, mobile, radio, ham radio, amateur radio, VA3XPR, dual-band, multi-mode, FM, chassis

An announcement has been made by Kurt, OE1KBC and reported by concerning a multi-mode radio combining various digital modes. The radio/computer is called simply NEW RADIO and is a joint initiative of the ÖVSV, DARC and IARU R1. As stated in Don’s article:

the “NEW RADIO” that will operate on the 2m & 70cm bands and support the most common ham digital modes, including DMR, D-STAR and C4FM (System Fusion), plus analog FM. As reported in the article, the NEW RADIO has been created by hams for the ham radio community will feature a colour touch screen display, 50W of power output, a 1.8 GHz processor, a Linux operating system, plus dual AMBE+ vocoders, allowing for full-duplex, cross-band operation. Also, one of the biggest features of the NEW RADIO is that it will include a built-in LTE wireless modem and SIM card allowing it to be Internet connected while on the go. Apparently, with it being Internet connected, the NEW RADIO will be able to automatically download frequencies, offsets, contacts and other configuration information on the go, allowing for instant updates for users. (The full article may be found here.)

I certainly hope this radio really is “ready for Prime Time” soon as it might very well fill a big need by allowing use of multiple systems without the need to carry around a radio for each digital mode. I suspect many hams have hesitated to jump on the digital bandwagon simply because of not knowing which standard would have dominance. Nobody wants to relieve the VHS/Beta experience! (Yes, I am dating myself here!)

If anyone gets a look at this radio at Dayton I hope you will share with us your impressions!

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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