Category Archives: Events

Why I’m skipping Hamvention this year

I made a tough choice a few weeks ago.

Since last year, I’ve been planning to attend the 2022 Hamvention and the Four Days In May (FDIM) evenings.

Hamvention weekend is one of the big highlights of my year and–until the pandemic–I hadn’t missed a single on in more than a decade.

I was really looking forward to this year if for no other reason than to connect with friends I only see at Hamvention.

My buddy Eric (WD8RIF), his son Miles (KD8KNC), and sometimes our good friend Mike (K8RAT) attend Hamvention together. We split accommodation, car pool, and fit in park activations before, during, and after. We also fit in an annual pilgrimage to the USAF museum. It’s incredibly fun.

As fun as Hamvention is–which is insanely fun–I realized that it was going to be a pricey 3-4 night excursion when I already have some pretty epic, much-anticipated travels planned this summer with my family.

Since I had literally no items on my Hamvention shopping list (Eric didn’t either) and since I wanted to funnel all of my travel monies into the amazingness that awaits us this summer, I had a hard time justifying the costs of the trip.

So I reached out to Eric who, turns out, was feeling much the same way.

We hatched an alternate plan that ended up winning us over. Continue reading Why I’m skipping Hamvention this year

“Ham Meets Military” event

I was asked by the organizers of the “Ham Meets Military” event to spread the following announcement. This sounds like a very interesting on-air event, especially accessible for readers in Europe:

On Friday the first of April 2022 (this is no joke) the Royal Dutch Army will organise ”HAM meets military”. Eight special stations consisting of 2 military operators and 1 amateur with callsigns PA01MIL up to and including PA08MIL will be on air on HF from 0700Z (GMT) until 1900Z (GMT).

The main goal is to introduce young military operators to the world of amateur radio. Of course there is a little challenge involved, because soldiers love to be pushed to the limit. Which callsign makes the most contacts? The amateur is there to help and improve their antennas but all contact have to made with military equipment only! They will operate with manpack radios or with a vehicle setup in a Mercedes 290GD.

We would like to hear as many amateurs as possible to train these operators. Please use the NATO-phonetic alphabet and have some patience. The best operators could be active in the future on PZ5JT.

More information on the QRZ-page of PA01MIL: https://qrz.com/db/pa01mil or via hammeetsmilitary@gmx.com

POTA RaDAR Run Activation #2: Pisgah National Forest & Pisgah Game Land

As mentioned in my last field report, on January 26, 2022, I decided to fit in multiple park activations in one day as a RaDAR (Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio) run. My hope was to activate four or five sites between 14:00 – 21:30 UTC.

The first activation at Lake James State Park went so well, it started me out a little ahead of schedule.

After packing up my gear at Lake James, I began a 40 minute drive to the second site–Dogback Mountain–where I hoped to do a POTA two-fer along with a Summits On The Air activation.

The drive was beautiful. Only twenty minutes into the trip, I came to the forest service road that lead to Dogback Mountain. For a six mile drive, Google Maps was telling me it would take about 20 minutes, so I knew the dirt road would require slow driving.

The road was actually in pretty good shape, but there are rocky and rough spots that pretty much require good vehicle ground clearance. My Subaru had no issues at all–in fact, I love driving on back roads like this!

Three or four miles into the forest service road I reached an impasse.

While there hadn’t been snow in the area for at least a week, the north slope portions of the road were quite icy. The thaw and night time freezing pretty much meant that there was no snow to navigate–only ice, and I’m not a big fan of ice.

I already passed through two sections of ice where I could still manage a little traction on the side of the road (at least half the car had traction). At one point, though, I saw a large section of icy road ahead, so I parked the car to investigate what it looked like over the crest of the hill.

It was so icy, I struggled to find a spot to walk on to peek over the hill and almost slipped once. That hill was pretty steep and I could see no spots for the car to get traction. Remembering what my wife said that morning (“Don’t do anything crazy, okay?“) and knowing that the worst thing for my RaDAR run would be getting stuck in a spot recovery vehicles might struggle with, I chose the option of forgoing the summit activation.

Frankly, if the summit activation was the only thing on the schedule that day, I would have likely parked, then hiked 3 miles to the summit along the forest service road. But my RaDAR run left no time for this.

Fortunately, where I parked was firmly in the two-fer zone of Pisgah National Forest and Pisgah Game Land!

Pisgah National Forest (K-4510) and Pisgah Game Land (K-6937)

I parked the car on one of the many roadside camping areas right there on the ridge line. It was an ideal spot for a field activation: good altitude, no obstructions, and lots of trees. Continue reading POTA RaDAR Run Activation #2: Pisgah National Forest & Pisgah Game Land

Reminder: Portable Ops Challenge, September 4-5, 2021

If you’d like to participate in a contest that balances the playing field between fixed, high-power stations and QRP portable stations, you might take a look at the 2nd annual Portable Operations Challenge.

The POC will take place September 4-5 during three, 4 hour periods. The exchange is very simple: your 4 character Maidenhead Grid Square. You can even combine this event with a scheduled summit or park activation. 

This contest even includes prizes for the winners.

Check out the POC webpage for full details. I’ve pasted details from the POC page below:


PORTABLE OPS CHALLENGE

The Fox Mike Hotel Portable Operations Challenge is designed to optimize equal operating conditions for portable operating during a contest involving non-portable stations. The scoring allows and encourages regular home-based station operations to take part while offering a handicap-style scoring algorithm to be more equalized for portable stations. The approach is akin to the handicap index in the sport of golf. More difficult courses are scored with a higher slope value, indicating a greater challenge to achieve a normal par score of 72 on that course with a handicap of subtracting strokes for golfers who do not typically shoot as low a score as other golfers. A number of factors go into deriving the slope rating for a golf course but they represent the challenge that the course presents to each participant golfer and the golfer’s capability for playing the course.

The POC aims to make portable operations “on par” with more typical fixed-based operations while preserving the enjoyment of being in a new operating environment. Moreover, fixed-based operators can also easily participate in the action, challenging the handicapped-scoring for portable ops. Can the Super Station contester best the Little Pistol portable operation? If we use a scoring metric that reduces the advantages of fixed stations to that of pure radio sport operating, is there a chance that an efficient portable operator or team can come out ahead of the current winning contest station operators? That’s why this is called the Portable Operations Challenge!

Frank K4FMH

THEORY OF THE CONTEST SCORING FACTORS

Several aspects of fixed (permanent)-station contesting can be stacked in the operator(s) favor when compared to most portable operations. One is the use of greater RF power output. Another is a permanent tower with directional, gain producing beams. A third is that it is easier to have multiple transceivers and operators, allowing for a “per-transmitter production” that yields superior scores. A fourth is the mutual attractiveness for fixed-station ops to work other fixed-station ops and ignore the weaker (especially QRP) signals. The addition of having the full force of Internet communications (when allowed), spotting sources, better ergonomics for operating positions, food/drink conveniences, and climate-controlled shelter all add-up to give “course advantages.”

While some portable operations (an example can be some large Field Day teams) can meet or exceed the advantages to contesting identified above, the vast majority do not.

Our scoring metric equalizes some of these advantages. Four factors are used in scoring each contest operation submission. These are the same regardless of whether it is a single operator or a team of operators, unassisted or assisted through the use of operation spotting. These include:

a. Kilometers-per-watt (KPW). Using the Maidenhead Grid Square, the distance in miles divided by the reported power output in watts for the reporting contest participant.

b. Fixed (permanent) vs Portable operation (favoring portable).

c. Mode of contact: Phone vs. CW vs. Digital (favoring phone over CW over digital)

d. Number of transmitters in use (points X 1/t where t = # transmitters)

The logic underlying this metric is as follows:

The KPW metric will tend to equalize power used as well as antenna gain. The km-per-watt is computed per-contact using the centroid lat-lon of the Maidenhead grid square exchanged during the contact. Favor goes to the greater miles-per-watt which equalizes to some degree the antenna gain, power, and point-to-point propagation conditions. The MPW is the basic contact score. Fixed (permanent) station operators have their resident setup which gives an advantage over portable ops, although a team could replicate a Field Day setting with portable crank-up towers, amps, generators, and so forth. Favor goes to the portable operator. The amount of this multiplier can be adjusted much as a competitive “tuning parameter” in future contests.

All things being equal in a QSO, phone is most challenging, followed by CW and then digital (especially weak signal modes like FT8). Favor goes to phone first, CW second, and digital third.

The more transmitters shape the number of contacts so more transmitters get increasing decrements in the points awarded, regardless of the number of ops. This emphasizes the per-transmitter production rather than just the amount of equipment and number of operators. We are experimenting with what seems appropriate discounts for the number of transmitters in simultaneous so as to render a more equitable competition, favoring sport over equipment.

POC DATES

SEPTEMBER 4-5, 2021
CONTEST OBJECTIVE:
For portable and fixed stations to work as many other portable and fixed stations as possible during the contest
period.

CONTEST PERIOD:
The contest consists of three individual and separate 4-hour periods on September 4 & 5, 2021 UTC.

The sessions are:
Session 1: 0800 – 1159 September 4, 2021 UTC
Session 2: 1600 – 1959 September 4, 2021 UTC
Session 3: 0000 – 0359 September 5, 2021 UTC

Stations may be worked once per band and mode by session for a maximum of 15 contacts between stations per session. Duplicate contacts will be removed without penalty. Scoring will be done by each individual session. Participants may operate one, two or all three sessions. Overall champion will be determined by aggregating scores from the three separate sessions. The Individual with the highest aggregated score will be crowned Grand Champion. The single station with the longest distance in KM per watt will be the Distance Champion.

BANDS:
80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters

MODES:
CW, Phone (SSB), and Digital
Digital mode is any data mode that can transmit the required contest exchange. Cross mode contacts are not permitted.

EXCHANGE:
4-character Maidenhead grid square

SCORING:
Total score for the session is the sum of all QSO Values.

See Rules Document for official details.

QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo this weekend!

Many thanks to Pete (WB9FLW) who shares a reminder that the QSO Today Ham Radio Expo is this weekend.

I missed the last QSO Today Expo and heard that there were numerous technical glitches. Eric Guth (4Z1UG) has repeatedly described that experience as one of the most stressful in his life. He is making sure that this Expo will run smoothly by keeping all of the presentations and experience on the same platform. Eric is an amazing fellow and has gathered an outstanding group of speakers (over 90, I believe) and has made it so that if you can’t attend live, you can watch the presentations, on demand, for 30 days. Here are a few details from the QSO Today Virtual Ham Radio Expo site:


QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo

Opens: August 14th, 00:01:00 UTC or August 13th, 5:01 PM PDT

  • Full Registration is $10.00 US – includes full access to the Expo, including presentations, 12 subject video lounges,  and to the 30 day on demand period.
  • Full registration will increase to $12.50 at the door when the Expo opens.
  • Free Registration is limited to lobbies, exhibition hall, exhibitor booths, and prizes offered by exhibitors.  If you already have a free ticket, you can upgrade with the button below.

Click here to check out the presentation line-up and register early!

Ozarkcon 2021: Free registration now open!

(Source: Tim McDonough via the Four State QRP Group)

OZARKCON 2021 REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!

Good Morning
I am pleased to announce the Opening of Ozarkcon Virtual 2021 registration.

Due to your exceptional support of our kit sales efforts for the last year, the 4SQRP Board of Directors has decided that the Conference will be Free of charge.

The event will take place on April 10th at 8:30 am CDT.
We will be broadcasting via Zoom and are limited to 500 participants, so please sign up early.

You can register in several ways, from the main website Ozarkcon Radio button, or direct at www.ozarkcon.com.

The conference will be an open meeting platform so you can come and go as you like. The closing date for registration will be March 26th or until all seats are filled. We have a great lineup of speakers with a variety of topics.
Some of the highlights are:

  • Special event station K0N will be on the air all week beginning April 4 th.
  • The Wackey Key and Homebrew contests will take place prior to the conference.
  • Prize Drawings will be held throughout the day of the conference with the results being posted on the Ozarkcon web page.

Details for all of these events and how to register for them will be announced at a later date. Updates to the conference will be posted on the 4sqrp groups.io email reflector.

If you’re not a member, feel free to join at this link: https://4sqrp.groups.io/g/main

If you have any questions or need assistance with registration please drop us a note at this email: registration@ozarkCon.com

We are looking forward to you joining us for a Educational and satisfying day.
72
Johnny AC0BQ, President

Are you ready to FYBO?

(Photo credit: K4TLI)

Here in portions of North America, we’ve been receiving some seriously cold and snowy weather the past week. It’s the sort of weather that encourages one to conjure up images of warm slippers, sitting by the fire, reading a book, and drinking hot chocolate.

Or, you can choose to Freeze Your B___ Off!

Against my better judgement, that’s exactly what I plan to do tomorrow.

My buddy Eric (WD8RIF) reminds me that tomorrow (Saturday, February 6, 2021) is FYBO: a long-standing winter QRP contest sponsored by the Arizona ScQRPions.  FYBO runs for ten hours starting at 1400 UTC to 2400 UTC.

It’s a fun contest that is limited to QRP HF operation only using SSB or CW with 5 watts output max. You can choose to work from home or the field and there are three categories of operators (single op, multi-single, or multi-multi).

FYBO is an easy contest in that the exchange is flexible and there’s no pre-registration required.

The cool thing about FYBO (see what I did there?) is the temperature multiplier which favors those who operate in the coldest temps!

For full information about FYBO including rules and how to submit logs, check out the FYBO information page.

If you’re a POTA, WWFF, or SOTA operator, you can perform a straight-up activation and submit those same logs for FYBO. It just needs to take place during the FYBO contest time frame.

Plotting…

If all goes well, my daughter (K4TLI) and I plan to hike from the QTH up to Pisgah National Forest and perform an activation there.

This will be a test to see if my ankle has healed enough to plot a much longer hike to a SOTA summit from the QTH soon. My fingers are crossed because I’m so eager to get back to hiking.

Plan to Freeze Your B___ Off?

Do you plan to participate in FYBO? Parts of the US and Canada are getting Arctic blasts so those temperature multipliers could be quite impressive! (Just play it safe.) It’ll be chilly here for sure, but I doubt much below freezing.

The new Portable Operations Challenge this weekend!

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Portable Operations Challenge

The final rules for the FMH Portable Operations Challenge are now posted on the POC webpage at foxmikehotel.com/challenge/. N1MM+ users, need to select FMHPOC as the contest and VKContest Logger users just POC.

The organisers wish all other contests taking place this weekend success and lots of fun – the bands will be busy again and we’re hoping propagation plays along.

We hope many amateurs give this new-style contest a go whether from a home QTH station or out portable.

Ed DD5LP

Ham Radio Friedrichshafen 2020 has been cancelled

Many thanks to Harald Kuhl (DL1ABJ), who shares the following announcement from Ham Radio Friedrichshafen:

Radio silence due to coronavirus COVID-19: Ham Radio not taking place as planned 15.04.2020 Friedrichshafen – Due to current developments in regard to the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, Messe Friedrichshafen has been forced to make a very difficult decision: the international amateur radio exhibition Ham Radio will not be taking place in the planned period of June 26 to 28, 2020, but instead from June 25 to 27, 2021. The Federal Government and the Minister-Presidents of the Länder decided yesterday, April 15 that no major events shall take place until August 31, 2020. “Due to current developments relating to the coronavirus, we have the unfortunate duty of announcing that we cannot hold the 45th edition of Ham Radio as planned,” explains Klaus Wellmann, Managing Director of Messe Friedrichshafen. In recent weeks, it was already necessary to make the same decision in regard to other events (Aqua-Fisch, IBO, AERO, Tuning World Bodensee, and Motorworld Classics Bodensee). Project Manager Petra Rathgeber also expressed her sadness about this turn of events: “We very much regret that this event cannot take place as planned. However, the health of all exhibitors and visitors is of utmost importance to us. Unfortunately, our trade fair calendar and the dates of other industry events leave no room for postponing this fair to another date this year.” Christian Entsfellner, Chair of the German Amateur Radio Club (DARC), adds: “Our members, domestic and foreign guests, and we ourselves have been hit hard by this decision, which now became necessary to make on short notice. Until we get together again in Friedrichshafen, we as amateur radio operators are looking forward to keeping in contact with one another using amateur radio.” However, radio amateurs do not have to do without everything the Ham Radio fair normally has to offer: On the Ham Radio website, exhibitors will be presenting product innovations in the form of a virtual trade fair. DARC will also be offering presentations there. The exhibitors, visitors, and partners involved are currently being informed about this opportunity.

Thank you for sharing this, Harald! Not a surprising development, but sad nonetheless. I assume Covid-19 might also lead to the closure of Ham Fair 2020 in Tokyo.

K-5589: Attempting rare POTA activation Tuesday

If you’re involved with the Parks On The Air program, you may be interested in a park I plan to activate on Tuesday, February 25, 2020.

I plan to activate K-5589, Seneca State Forest in West Virginia.

I thought I’d give a heads-up here in case you need this park–it’s only been activated once before and only a handful of contacts logged.

I plan to start around 22:00 UTC (Feb 25). Time is approximate as this activation will take place after a long day of driving. This activation is in the middle of the National Radio Quiet Zone thus I will have no mobile phone reception to self-spot or provide tips to chasers. I do have approval from the NRQZ coordinator to operate, however.

I will pack my Elecraft KX2 and Mission RGO One transceivers. I plan to deploy a long wire antenna with the idea that perhaps I can serve up 80 meters as well. I will also bring the W4OP loop in the unlikely event I’m not allowed to use a tree to support my wire antenna (this would certainly restrict me to 40 and 20 meters).

Look for me on 3,986, 7,286, and 14,286 kHz.

If, for some reason, I can’t activate this site due to access, I will attempt to activate K-1808 (Cass Scenic Railroad State Park) instead. Both are rare.

If time allows, I’ll attempt both!