Category Archives: Events

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!

2019 Canadian Parks On The Air event!

One of my Ohio NPOTA activations in 2016. I hope to chase and possibly activate some Canadian parks this year!

(Source: Southgate ARC via K8RAT)

RAC supports Canadian National Parks on the Air event

Radio Amateurs of Canada is pleased to announce its support of the Canadian National Parks on the Air (CNPOTA) event which will be held next year from January 1 to December 31.

The CNPOTA Event Committee describes the event in this way:

“All Radio Amateurs worldwide will have an opportunity to operate portably from any of Canada’s 48 National Parks and 171 National Historic Sites (these are ‘activators’). Amateurs around the world will be able to chase these adventurous operators in an effort to confirm the most QSOs (these are ‘chasers’).

Activity for activators and chasers will be tracked on a dedicated website and real-time leader board and other statistics will be available throughout the year. Activators and chasers will be able to compete for and collect online awards and certificates created specifically for the event.

Come join the fun and plan to visit one of Canada’s beautiful Parks and Historic sites next year!”.

RAC will be assisting the organizers in promoting the event through articles in The Canadian Amateur magazine, the RAC website and in social media.

For more information about the event please visit the Canadian National Parks on the Air website at: https://cnpota.ca/

Alan Griffin
RAC MarCom Director
Radio Amateurs of Canada

The ARRL International Grid Chase: The ARRL’s new year long operating event

One of my Ohio NPOTA activations in 2016.

(Source: The ARRL)

The ARRL International Grid Chase

Get ready to kick off 2018 with a new year-long operating event!

Bart Jahnke, W9JJ
ARRL Contest Branch Manager

You may not know this, but your station is in a Maidenhead grid square. The entire world is divided into thousands of these 1° latitude × 2° longitude squares, each one with a unique designation. They’re all part of a geographic location system adopted in the 1980s at a meeting of the VHF Working Group in Maidenhead, England.

Unless you are a VHF enthusiast, this nugget of information may not mean much. But at 0000 UTC on January 1, 2018, the global Amateur Radio community will be very interested in grid squares.

Get in the Chase

The objective of the ARRL International Grid Chase is simple: Work stations in as many grid squares as possible and upload your log data to ARRL’s Logbook of The World. If you are not currently registered with Logbook of The World, this is a good reason to get started. Go to https://lotw.arrl.org/lotw-help/getting-started/. Registration and uploading are free.

Every new grid square contact confirmed through Logbook of The World counts toward your monthly total, so you have an incentive to start the chase as soon as you ring in the New Year.

Just turn on your radio and start calling “CQ Grid Chase,” or listen for others doing the same. Make the contact, enter it into your log, and you’re on to the next (see the sidebar, “Tips for the Chase“).

At the end of each month, your totals on the Grid Chase leader board will reset to zero. Fear not, though. The online scoring system will maintain your monthly totals for a grand total at the end of the year, when an annual summary will be released and awards given to top finishers in various categories.

The ARRL International Grid Chase is open to all amateurs, regardless of location or license class. Any operating mode is eligible as well as every band, except 60 meters. You’ll find the complete rules at www.arrl.org/aigc2018.

But What’s My Grid Square?

Determining your grid square is easy. David Levine, K2DSL, has a great online calculator at www.levinecentral.com/ham/grid_square.php. Just enter a postal address, zip code, or even a call sign, and David’s site will tell you the grid square for that location.

For example, enter “W1AW” and the site will return “FN31pr.” The letters “pr” designate the grid square field, but you won’t need that for the Chase. Just FN31 will do.

The ARRL online store (www.arrl.org/shop) also offers grid square maps of the US and Canada, as well as a grid square atlas of the entire world.

Plenty of Pileups

Grid map section

Figure 1 — Grid square FN51 is mostly salt water, except for a narrow strip of land along the “sole” of Cape Cod and a portion of southeastern Nantucket Island. This image is taken from the ARRL Amateur Radio Map of North America, available at www.arrl.org/shop.

Some grid squares have thousands of amateurs in residence, but others have only a few, or none. Those “rare” grid squares will be hot properties in 2018, and hams operating from those locations can expect serious pileups.

Of course, nothing prevents you from hopping into your car and driving to a grid square where you are the only amateur on the air. There are some grid squares in coastal areas, for example, where most of the territory is comprised of water. Look at Figure 1 and notice that grid square FN51 is mostly in the Atlantic Ocean, except for a relatively narrow strip along the “sole” of Cape Cod and a small portion of southeastern Nantucket Island.

If you’re taking to the road, some vehicular GPS systems will display grid square locations. You can also use apps for your smartphone or tablet, such as Ham Square (iPhone, iPad) or HamGPS (Android).

However you play it, the ARRL International Grid Chase is going to be big. By the time you read this, “opening day” will be less than 2 months away. Better sign up with Logbook of The World (if you haven’t already) and prepare your gear!

Questions? E-mail contests@arrl.org.

Tips for the Chase

  • Any contact can count for your Chase score; it doesn’t have to involve an exchange of grid squares. As long as other operators participate with Logbook of The World, you’ll get the credit automatically when they upload their logs. This means that contest contacts will count, as will contacts with special-event stations, or any other on-air activity. As long as stations upload their logs to Logbook of The World, you’re good.
  • The new FT8 digital operating mode is ideal for the ARRL International Grid Chase. You can set up FT8 to call CQ and automatically respond, completing a contact in a little over a minute while you watch. When the contact is complete, simply click your mouse to trigger another CQ. You’ll find FT8 within the free WSJT-X software suite at https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html.
  • Watch for Logbook of The World users on your favorite online DX clusters. Most clusters have the ability to filter and display only stations that participate in Logbook of The World; other clusters can at least flag the stations with a symbol. This will save time when you are looking for contacts to increase your score. If you enjoy JT65, JT9, or the FT8 digital modes, check out the free JTAlert for Windows at http://hamapps.com. This software works with JT65-HF or WSJT-X applications to automatically flag Logbook users and will even alert you when a station is on the air in a needed grid square.
  • Upload often. Grid Chase totals are refreshed at the end of each month. With that in mind, it pays to send new data to Logbook of The World every couple of days, or even daily.
  • Satellite contacts count. Contacts made through earthbound repeaters do notcount for the Grid Chase, but repeaters in outer space are the exception. There are low-orbiting satellites that support CW, SSB, and even FM contacts. See the AMSAT-NA website at www.amsat.org.
  • Try “circling” grid squares. It’s easy to set up a portable or mobile operation at the intersections where corners of grid squares meet. For example, you could operate in one grid square and then drive west across the “border” into the next square. Make some contacts there and then drive north into the adjacent square. Bang out more contacts, and then head east into another grid square. This is a very common technique used by VHF “rover” operators. In a single day, you can operate from four different grid squares!
  • Take the Chase on vacation. Take a radio along when you travel and work new grid squares at your destinations. Even a handheld FM transceiver can be used to work a new square on a simplex frequency.

© December 2017 ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio® www.arrl.org

2018 International Grid Chase Rules

2018 ARRL International Grid Chase Rules

In the spirit of the Fred Fish Memorial Award, VUCC, DXCC, WAS and WAC, we bring you a world-wide event in which all Radio Amateurs can participate where the goal is to contact (each Month during 2018) as many maidenhead 4-digit grid squares as possible on all amateur bands.

Building on our successful 2016 National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) event (providing a year-long focus of fun activating or contacting US National Parks), and considering ARRL’s existing grid-square based award events (including our Fred Fish and VUCC Award programs where the objective is to contact stations in as many 4-digit maidenhead grid squares as possible), we introduce for 2018 the ARRL International Grid Chase to bring international grid-chasing on all amateur bands (HF, and VHF and above) to an all new level.

In a fashion similar to NPOTA, using Logbook of the World (LoTW – see http://www.arrl.org/logbook-of-the-world) as the QSOs data source, the 2018 ARRL International Grid Chase activities will be scored MONTHLY on the ARRL web site at http://www.arrl.org/aigc2018. Each month we will start fresh, recognizing participation through various tables and data selection options on the web page. Monthly pages will be added to track each calendar month’s activities. Once the year is completed, an annual summary will be released.

Rules:

  1. 1. Objective: On a Monthly basis, on amateur frequencies from HF to Microwaves, to contact amateur stations in as many different 2 degrees by 1 degree maidenhead 4-digit grid squares as possible.
  2. 2. Dates/Event Period: The event runs from 0000 UTC January 1, 2018 through 2359 UTC December 31, 2018. At the beginning of each month during 2018, the monthly scores will be reset to zero to begin the new month of competition.
  3. 3. Bands: All FCC-authorized frequencies (excluding the 60 meter and 600 meter bands). Permitted bands: 160m, 80m, 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m, 6m, 2m, 1,25m, 70cm, 33cm, 23cm, and all higher FCC-authorized microwave bands.
  4. 4. Modes: Three mode categories will be recognized – CW, Phone and Digital (all voice modes count as Phone, all digital modes count as Digital).
  5. 5. Methods of contact: All methods of contact are permitted (excluding QSOs made through repeaters, digipeaters, Echolink, IRLP, or non-satellite cross-band QSOs which do not count in this event). Satellite and EME QSOs are permitted.
  6. 6. Station types: Fixed, Portable, Mobile/Rover and Maritime Mobile (MM) stations may participate (MM stations are not eligible for DXCC, WAS or WAC credit however).
  7. 7. Exchange: Call Sign and Maidenhead 4-digit grid-square locator (see www.arrl.org/grid-squares). Exchange of signal report is optional. When operating during a contest, the contest exchange takes precedence over the grid square exchange. QSOs made with a club or special event (eg, 1×1) call count only for the club, not for the operator. As with other similar award’s criteria, if a station is located on the intersection of 2, 3 or 4 grid squares, the over-the-air exchange need only include just one grid square (confirmation for the adjoining grid squares will be made by the station operating from the intersecting grids through the station location in TQSL https://lotw.arrl.org/lotw-help_devel_en/stnloc/?lang=en).

    TQSL Station Locations will allow multiple adjacent grids (formatted as “grid,grid,” etc).  MM stations would have DXCC Entity set to “none”.  For information on LoTW TQSL, see http://www.arrl.org/quick-start-tqsl.

    All QSOs within your DXCC entity qualify.
    See also section 9 below for Awards with specific requirements.

  8. 8. Event participation – contact submissions: All submissions are made through LoTW. See https://lotw.arrl.org/lotw/default
  9. 9. Awards: As all contacts are being uploaded to LoTW, in addition to the overall monthly and annual recognitions of the ARRL International Grid Chase, participants may use their contacts toward other ARRL awards (see the list of ARRL awards at http://www.arrl.org/awards). These include ARRL’s grid-based awards of VHF-UHF Century Club (VUCC) and the Fred Fish Memorial Award (for contact with all 488 US 4-digit grid squares on 6 meters), as well as Worked All States (WAS) and WAS Triple Play, DX Century Club (DXCC), and Worked All Continents (WAC).
  10. 10. Recognitions: Achievement in collecting grid squares in the ARRL International Grid Chase will be recognized by categories of Band, Mode, and Continent (other leaders types will be developed as warranted) through our interactive web page monthly and at year end summary. Online certificates of achievement will be developed for Monthly and Annual recognition.
  11. 11. Resources: A variety of resources offer grid-square maps and mapping tools.

QRP Activities at Shelby Hamfest

Many thanks to Bill (W4SFV) who shares the following announcement:

QRP advocate Bill Minikiewicz, of Breadboard Radio, will present a talk on QRP at this years Shelby Hamfest. Although the presentation will focus on the why and how of QRP operation designed to get hams excited about low power operating there will also be time for discussion about your experiences as QRPer’s.

Hopefully, this will turn into an annual QRP get together for the Southeast QRP gang. Several Breadboard Radio Kits will be given away, so be sure to attend. Also look for W4FSV operating QRP pedestrian in the Tail Gate area!

The Shelby Hamfest will be September 1, 2 and 3, 2017 at the Cleveland County Fairground, Shelby, NC. Bill’s talk is at 12 noon. Check out www.shelbyhamfest.com.

Excellent, Bill! Though I’m hosting a table in the flea market at Shelby this year, I will certainly plan to attend your QRP session!

National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) activations today

IMG_20160519_105823050_HDR

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.

IMG_20160519_101759179

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.

IMG_20160519_111039495

 

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!

Stop by our booth at the Dayton Hamvention next week!

Hamvention-2016

For the sixth year in a row at the Dayton Hamvention, fellow volunteers and I will be representing the charity Ears To Our World (ETOW).

I always enjoy meeting SWLing Post and QRPer.com readers who stop by our booth to introduce themselves.

Note: New Booth Location

We’ve been moved to a new table this year: SA0359 in the Silver Arena. Indeed, we may have two tables set up: one with Ears To Our World information and another with soldering irons to build HumanaLight kits.

DaytonMap-ETOW-SWLingPost-e1463141626601

Here’s the full map for reference (PDF).

If you’re not familiar with Ears To Our World and our mission to empower children and teachers in the third word through radio and other technologies, check out our website.

HumanaLights!

HumanaLight-Front

Note that this year we will also give away our HumanaLight kits to those who donate $15 or more to ETOW (while supplies last). 

Look forward to meeting you in Dayton!

-Thomas (K4SWL)

Heard VK0EK on the radio

[QRPers: Please note that the following is a re-post from my shortwave radio blog, the SWLing Post.]

Heard Island (Image: VK0EK)
Heard Island (Image: VK0EK)

Regular SWLing Post readers know that I’m a ham radio operator (call sign K4SWL). Being a shortwave radio enthusiast, of course, I spend most of my time on the air in the HF portion of the amateur radio spectrum. Contacting distant stations and connecting with other ham radio operators around our little planet gives me immense joy.

Most of you also probably know that I’m a fan of all things Antarctic, so it should come as no surprise that I really wanted to work VK0EK: the Heard Island DXpedition.

Thing is, my life has been so hectic lately, I’ve barely been home during the Heard Island DXpedition (March 29th – April 11th). And the days I have been home, VK0EK’s signals have been incredibly weak.

In short: timing and propagation were all working against me.  And VK0EK was soon to pack up and come back home. I was becoming desperate…and beginning to lose hope that I’d make any contact with this unique and rare entity in the isolated stretch of ocean between Madagascar and Antartica.

"Antennas with a clearing" on Heard Island (Photo by Bill, AE0EE)
“Antennas with a clearing” on Heard Island (Photo by Bill, AE0EE)

My hope was waning.  Then, Tusday evening, I gave a presentation about shortwave radio at the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Club. On the hour-long drive home, I stopped by my good friend Vlado’s (N3CZ) to confess my troubles to the radio doc.

Now it just happens that Vlado has a much better antenna set-up to work DX than I do, and what’s more, (close your ears, fellow QRPers) he has an amplifier.

Most importantly, though, Vlado is a keen DXer.  He’s got 330 countries under his belt, and ever up for a challenge, routinely pushes himself to accomplish more with less. In January, with members of the local club, he entered a QRP challenge; he had 100 countries worked by the following month, all in his spare time. And a few years ago, Vlado actually built a radio of his own design and worked 100 countries within two months (you can read about that here).

So, of course, he was game to help me make a contact…even if it was a long shot.  A very long shot.

Juan de Nova

When I arrived at Vlado’s QTH around 21:00 local, VK0EK was impossibly weak, so we focused our efforts on 30 meters and FT4JA: the Juan de Nova Island DXpedition (another all-time new one for me).

A portion of the FT4JA antenna farm. (Image: FT4JA)
A portion of the FT4JA antenna farm. (Image: FT4JA)

After more than an hour of calling, FT4JA finally heard my call and (woo hoo!) I was confirmed in their log.

But what about Heard Island?

penguin-chow-line4_6-1600px

After working FT4JA, we moved down to 40 meters where VK0EK was slightly louder than before. Well, maybe it’s not impossible, I thought hopefully. Just next to it.

Between QSB (fading) and tuner-uppers, my ears were bleeding trying to hear Heard’s minuscule CW signal–so faint, so distant were they.

After only about ten minutes of steady calling, Vlado made a sign to get my attention, and we strained to listen, very carefully.

VK0EK came back very faintly with just one letter incorrect in my call–it was enough that I didn’t catch it at first. But Vlado heard it, and after sending the call back a couple of times, then the report, VK0EK confirmed my call with a signal report, and I reciprocated.

Vlad and I leapt to our feet, yelling, “WOO HOO!” (and hopefully didn’t wake up any of Vlad’s neighbors).

Heard Island is actually running an online log that is updated live. We immediately looked there to confirm I was in their log, and was greeted with this great circle map and a line from Heard Island to my call sign in the States. Vlado made this screen capture as a momento:

k4swl VK0EK 40m cw 0231 april4 2016

Here’s to good friends and mentors

In one incredible evening, I snagged two all-time new ones–and I owe it all to my good buddy, Vlado. Most importantly, I’ve been learning so much from him as he patiently coaches me through some weak DX with serious pileups. Plus it’s just always fun hanging around Vlado, the best broken radio doctor I know, to whom “challenge” is…well, a piece of cake.

Thanks Vlado, for your enthusiasm and patience–I’m lucky to have a friend like you!