Sunday, July 31, 2011

Small Buzzing Sound from Bee #150

Bumble Bee #150 made a showing today....not great...but hey.... I got on the air. I was planning to operate from one of the local state parks. However, I had an opportunity to hike with the family trumped radio. After we got home, Flight of the Bumble Bees was in full swing. I hiked (ok...walked) into the woods behind our house, and set up my newly build Norcal Doublet, MFJ switchable balun, using a 31' Jackite pole. Thanks again Pete, W1PNS, for your guidance AND ribbon to build this great portable antenna.

I was curious to see how my construction fared. I hooked up an MFJ antenna analyzer, and was pleased to see resonance around 7.150 MHz. The antenna tunes nicely on the CW portion of 10m, 15m, 20m, and 40m using a Z-11 autotuner.

I'm happy to report the NorCal doublet saw it's "first radio waves" today with three contacts during Flight of the Bumble Bees.

N1FJ - Frandy, Bumble Bee # 104
K3RLL - Don, Bumble Bee #94
VE2PID - Pierre in Quebec

Buzzing back to work tomorrow, but already thinking of great locations to deploy the new antenna....

Friday, July 29, 2011

Talcott Mountain State Park

73 Degrees, Cloudy, Misting
The weather forecast called for rain, all day. Not a great day to play radio in the mountains. But, the morning was notable only for lots of clouds, and a little mist now and then. I don't have a lot of free time to hike with radio gear, so I didn't want to let this opportunity slip by.

Talcott mountain is an approximate 950 foot peak in Central Connecticut, located just several miles away from my home. You can park halfway up and then hike up a well maintained path to the ridge with great views. The Farmington River Valley extends out below. I set up my Yaesu 817 & Buddistick. There was not a lot of room to maneuver, no trees overhead to launch support line for dipole...the Buddistick worked great.

I began calling CQ on 20 m. Heard lots of signals, but no answers to my CQ. I decided to find some strong stations, and try to get a call at the end of their contact.

WA4IUC - Ray in North Carolina
W4HEX - Will in Alabama. Always great to make contact with my home state.

The clouds came closer, and mist started to fall. Time to pack up and head home!

All in all, a nice outing to Talcott Mount.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shake-Down Hike on the Metacomet Trail

I had big plans to head out early this Sunday for QRP (low power) radio operating on the Metacomet Trail as it runs through Penwood State Park, here in Central Connecticut. Well, things got more interesting when sunrise met with rain. Finally, a break in the heat!

I'm not interested in dragging electronics out in the rain, BUT this was a great time to build a new antenna. Enter my Massachusetts neighbor, Pete, W1PNS. Pete is a blogger extraordinaire, fine builder in the New England QRP Club, and a very generous fellow ham. Among Pete's many great blog posts, I learned of the NorCal Doublet. This is a lightweight version of the quarter wavelength dipole fashioned from computer ribbon cable. Perfect for launching into trees and getting on the air. Well, W1PNS had kindly sent me a portion of his ribbon cable stock, and it's been sitting on the workbench waiting for this rainy day.

Our home driveway serves three distinct purposes (1) get car into garage, (2) basketball court for kids, (3) ham radio antenna construction range for long wire antennas. Using the above web references, I was able to quickly fashion a balanced line fed dipole for 40 meters in the driveway, while dodging my wife's run in the minivan to pick up bagels for breakfast.

The rain continued on and off through mid afternoon. I got restless, and decided to head out on the Metacomet to scout for an operating position for next week's Flight of the Bumblebees. I think I found a pretty good site with boulder operating position, elevation, trees for shade a antenna support. The rain persisted, so my Yankee version of the Norcal Doublet has not seen radio "first light" just yet. ....Looking forward to next weekend.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I had an opportunity to briefly participate in this year's QRP-ARCI "Homebrew Sprint". I wasn't using homebrew equipment, but managed to make a qrp (low power) morse code contact with Jim, W4QO out of Georgia. I was completing QSL cards later on, and learned from Jim's QRZ'ed site that he is past present of QRP-ARCI, and was voted 2010 "Ham of the Year". Wow! A real VIP QSO.
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