Radio: it's not just a hobby, it's a way of life

Current Operating Frequency and Mode

OFF AIR for storms, probably for much of the week if the forecast holds

A Elecraft QRP morning in the park with KF5RYI and N5VDQ

– Posted in: QRP

This morning represents my first QRP group outing in almost one year.  One year and one week ago Steve, KF5RYI, and I were on the Joe Pool lake dam operating HF pedestrian mobile and having to explain what “agency” we were working with to the Army corp of engineers who administer the dam complex.  The only way it could have been better is if we had slung M4’s over our shoulders.

Today’s outing was much more innocuous, setting up in Rotary Park in Duncanville, Texas which is located pretty much due center for all of our QTH’s.  We said the last time that we operated at this particular park that we would make this activity a monthly thing.  We failed last time so we are trying again.  I remembered to bring the GoPro along, something that I have said I needed to do on a number of previous operations.  This time I succeeded and will try to tell part of this story in pictures.

Fred, N5VDQ, received his Elecraft KX2 this week and he was anxious to try it out with one of his portable loaded whips.  Fred is very active with NPOTA so this rig will make a fine addition to his field kit.  Steve and I were using Elecraft KX3’s, with Steve using an end fed half-wave wire with a counterpoise.  Steve has connectors on the wire to change bands and maintain true half-wave lengths on the bands of interest.   For my antenna, I was thinking big and relatively simple with an unterminated V-beam.  I’ve had very good success with this antenna in the past and while time and space limited the actual length of each wire to about 120 feet with a 45-degree angle, the antenna was a very good performer.  While I had built terminations for each leg, time dictated that I keep it simple and digging out ground rods was not in the cards today.  I was not, however, disappointed with the unterminated performance.

Running five-watts to a generally North-pointing antenna, I worked about 25 CW stations in the IARU HF World Championship on 20 and 40 meters.  The antenna worked well in spite of the low sunspot numbers (a few have finally popped up) and current G1 geomagnetic storm levels.  I should also note that in nearly 30 years as a ham, today was the first time that I operated 6-meters.  I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of the V-beam, which was really long enough to show very good gain on 6-meters.  Reverse beacon network data shows some pretty surprising (to me!) signal levels:

KB5NJD RBN 070916 rotary park

Further review suggested that the receiving station on 6-meters was not too far away and definitely not in 7-land!

In addition to working a number of stations in the contest, I also took some measurements of my signal on 630-meters as WG2XIQ.  Truth be told, I needed to make a video for my elmer space on Eric Guth’s, 4Z1UG, QSO’s Today community to explain a recent question.  That video, posted to YouTube is included below.

KF5RYI N5VDQ 070916

Steve(l) and Fred(r) operating CW and SSB, respectively



N5VDQ KX2 Rotary park 070916

The KX2 is amazingly small. Fred was using a small loaded vertical that may have been a little small for today’s band conditions and QRP power levels


KB5NJD VBeam rotary park 070916

I decided that due to the short length of my feedline I would use the picnic table to my advantage, wedging the support pole in place and guying it in 3-places about 7 foot above the ground. Ideally I might have mounted the pole properly but the picture is taken from the vantage point of a low branch that complicated the proper raising of the pole. Next time I might use the tree and leave the pole at home.


pole 070916

Poles-eye-view of the antenna feed point. North is to the right of the pole between two closest trees. The ends of each element were located near the two close-spaced trees in the distant lower right of the picture.


KF5RYI EFHW 070916 Rotary Park

Steve’s EFHW supported by a 30-foot tall telescoping fishing pole


KB5NJD 070916

My KX3 driving a homebrew balun and coupling to the open wire line


loop 070916

Resonant multiturn loop, built on a hula hoop and resonated by silver-mica transmitting capacitors.  The Altoid’s tin contains a Jackson Harbor Press receive converter.  A single turn pickup loop on the outside of the hula hoop provides isolation and drives the input of the converter directly.


Here is the video and explanation of the portable MF receive system: