Tag Archives: QRP

National Wildlife Refuge Week Special Event, October 11, 2015

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This post is our update to our Special Events page. Photos by KB5EZ and NM4T. Text by WA2JQZ.

Operation Date: Sunday October 11, 2015
(National Wildlife Refuge Week was October 11 – 17, 2015.)
Time: 1400 – 1900 UTC (0900 – 1400 CDT).
Location: Easter Posey #2 Recreation Area, Shields Road, Redstone Arsenal / NASA MSFC.

NN4SA operated a special event station to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week. Parts of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal are in the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Our club station Bldg. 4622 is located just a few hundred feet from the wildlife area boundary. To keep close in spirit, we set up and operated a portable station at the Easter Posey #2 Recreation Area. The recreation area is at the southwest corner of the Arsenal, by the Tennessee River, and also is near the wildlife area boundary.

The Wheeler Refuge was established in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a haven and breeding sanctuary for migratory birds and other wildlife. It is 35,000 acres of mixed habitat, located along the Tennessee River in north Alabama.

Wheeler NWR map with NN4SA

Map of the Wheeler NWR, with the locations of our field operation site for the Special Event, and the location of our fixed station at Bldg. 4622.

Easter Posey Recreation Area #2 pavilion

Easter Posey Recreation Area #2 pavilion

We were on SSB and RTTY with a primary 100 W HF station, on 15, 20 and 40 meters. We also operated a CW QRP 5 W HF station on 20 meters, to participate in the QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party. Each radio used EndFedz wire antennas suspended from the trees. Although band conditions were poor, we made about 40 contacts, including 4 RTTY and 8 CW QRP. We also joined in the Arizona and Pennsylvania QSO Parties. A few contacts resulted in ragchews, on phone and CW. We made several DX contacts: to Italy, to Croatia, and to the Canary Islands. This was a relatively relaxed special event for us. We had hot apple cider at the start in the cool morning, and we made a lunch break with fresh grilled hot dogs and accompaniments. Our operators were KB5EZ, NM4T, WA2JQZ, and N4MSN.

 

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National Wildlife Refuge Week Special Event, Sunday October 11, 2015 – Update

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NN4SA will operate a special event station to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week.

Date: Sunday October 11, 2015
Start Time: 1400 UTC (0900 CDT). End Time: afternoon local (CDT).
Location: Easter Posey #2 Recreation Area, Shields Road, Redstone Arsenal / NASA MSFC.

Easter Posey Recreation Area #2 pavilion

Easter Posey Recreation Area #2 pavilion. [Photo: KB5EZ]

Parts of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal are in the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Our club station Bldg. 4622 is located just a few hundred feet from the wildlife area boundary. To keep close in spirit to this special event, we will operate as a portable station at the Easter Posey #2 Recreation Area. This is at the southwest corner of the Arsenal, by the Tennessee River, and also is by the wildlife area boundary. In case of rain, we will operate from our club station.

We will have a primary 100 W HF station active throughout the event. We may also operate a CW QRP 5 W HF station, to participate in the QRP-ARCI Fall QSO Party.

The National Wildlife Refuge Week event continues through the next Saturday.  However at this time we plan to just operate on Sunday October 11.

The Wheeler Refuge was established in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a haven and breeding sanctuary for migratory birds and other wildlife. It is 35,000 acres of mixed habitat, located along the Tennessee River in north Alabama.

Wheeler NWR map with NN4SA

Map of the Wheeler NWR, with the locations of our field operation site for the Special Event, and the location of our fixed station at Bldg. 4622.

Portable operations around MSFC in February

I’ve been doing portable HF operations for several years now.  I’ve mostly done contesting with the station setup in the back of my SUV with a mobile-mounted hamstick or end fed antenna in a tree.  But I’ve also done a SOTA activation (http://www.sota.org.uk/) and a QRP to the Field (http://www.zianet.com/qrp/).   Like fishing, all of these are an excuse to get out into the outdoors and do something relaxing.  You may not catch much in either activity but with portable HF you’ll at least enjoy dipping the hook in the ionosphere while admiring the scenery.  I have to admit that I don’t always go QRP (sorry, NM4T) especially in the contests but do occasionally operate that way.  You can always setup on your patio and look for a ragchew partner but it is nice to have a goal or framework for your operations.  Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR http://radar-america.blogspot.com/) has been gaining popularity as such a goal while doing portable HF ops and that is what we did around MSFC on a beautiful, mild, winter day in early February.  Craig/NM4T did a really nice writeup in the April QRP Quarterly (http://www.qrparci.org/) but Gary asked if I would provide a summary for the club blogsite so here it is.

The idea behind RaDAR is to setup, make some contacts, and move to do it all again.  The details are at the RaDAR website.  We decided to try at least 3 locations around MSFC, mostly with photogenic, rocket-themed backgrounds.  Craig and I began the day with a portable station outside the club station (not so photogenic).  I was running JT65 on a modified Ten Tec Rebel Open Source QRP rig to my new AlexLoop.  Craig was running SSB on his Elecraft KX3 and 2 different End-Fedz antennas he quickly erected on nice tripod-mounted, guyed, extension poles.  I tried his tri-band End-Fedz and it worked great.  A remarkable fact is that we had the rigs on the same tiny portable table and they didn’t interfere a bit.  I knew the KX3 had a fantastic receiver but the humble little Rebel did great too.  A max of 5 – 10w out helped in this respect.  I powered the Rebel from a used UPS battery and Craig was using a very cool Goal Zero Yeti-400 power pack with solar panels.  With the nice sunshine that day he had plenty of power supply capacity.  We were joined by Mike/KG4OZK and Malcolm/K4MLP.  Both got some mic time on the sweet KX3 and participated the rest of the day making contacts and answering questions from a few passers-by.  Mike hung his J-pole and got on the air with 2m FM.

We then moved our operation to the MSFC rocket park.  Rather than string antennas on the Saturn I we decided to use our AlexLoops which deploy really fast and work amazingly well.  After a few QSOs there we moved to the “rocket engine park” in front of the Propulsion Research Center and went with Rebel, KX3, and 2 AlexLoops once again.

The practical use of this kind of operation is that you demonstrate that your “go kit” is complete and your equipment is working in case you are called on to provide emergency communications.  After trying various antennas and power supplies you get a good feel for the balance of what works best and what is easiest to deploy.  With the modern radios and portable computers digital modes with their communications efficiencies are a great way to make some Qs with low power and compromise antennas.  All this operating fun while enjoying the great outdoors, nice weather, and good fellowship make an unbeatable combination.

Rob KB5EZ

NM4T and his 10-20-40m EndFedz support

KB5EZ's JT65 station

KG4OZK ready for some VHF action on a J-pole

K4MLP and NM4T with the KX3 and AlexLoop

NM4T working JT65 surrounded by a Saturn V engine and Shuttle solid rocket booster