Thursday, August 09, 2018

A couple of "How To" FOBB videos

Good ones by Steve KF5RY and Myron WV0H.


Good stuff to keep in mind when planning portable ops.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

May have to change my plans.

I may have to find a site for the Skeeter Hunt where I definitely know there are trees close to the water. I was hoping to go to Donaldson Park, in Highland Park, which is about a 20 minute ride from home. Marianne and I went there a few years back for a "reunion" of Beagles rescued through Happy Paws Rescue - from whom we adopted Harold.

I know that there is a section of the park which is right on the banks of the Raritan River, which is Central New Jersey's largest river. However, the Happy Paws reunion was about 3 or four years ago and I don't recall the tree situation.

Wait a sec! (W2LJ smacks his forehead) I've got technology at my disposal! Let's see what Google Earth shows:

I like the fact that there are two parking lots pretty close to where I want to go.

Even though this photo appears to have been captured in the late Fall/Winter/early Spring part of the year, there seems to be enough trees right on the river bank to make this worth the effort.  We're supposedly in store for scattered thunderstorms all this coming weekend., but perhaps it will stay dry, long enough for a pre-Skeeter Hunt scouting session for a good operating location.

Trees are becoming a necessity as I want to continue using the PAR END FEDZ. I did order the N2CX antenna from the QRPGuys, but it just shipped yesterday; and I don't think I'll receive it and have the required time needed to build and tune it before the Skeeter Hunt, which is a week from this Sunday.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, August 05, 2018

24.5' EARCHI

Today was experiment Numero Uno in my quest for a "shortened" vertical antenna to use for the Skeeter Hunt and other portable operating sessions when a tree is not available and I have to rely on using my Jackite pole as an antenna support (for other than the PAR ENDFEDZ as a sloper).

Today I went with the EARCHI 9:1 UNUN using a 24.5' wire radiator.  The day was hot and muggy, so I waited until about 4:00 PM or so to begin experimenting, a bit after the worst of the sun was over. I set up my "mast support" to hold the Jackite. Nothing more fancy than a piece of angle iron hose clamped to some PVC pipe large enough to accommodate the Jackite.

Then I attached the wire to the top of the Jackite and started extending it. I used all but the bottom most section and I velcro tied the wire to the mast so it wouldn't go swaying all over the place.

I started on 40 Meters. The KX3 tuned the wire up, but I could tell it wasn't enjoying the job. The relays in the autotuner clacked for quite a while; but I finally got about a 1:1.4 match. I listened around 7.030 and heard Alan W4MQC calling CQ.  Alan had a 579 signal with some deep QSB, but I gave it a shot, called him and he came back to me.

It's been a while since we've QSOed and we enjoyed a short (about 15 minute) rag chew. Alan was operating from a log cabin up in the New Hampshire mountains. Talk about beautiful and idyllic! If you want to see a great summer time operating location - check out Alan's QRZ page. Color me envious! Alan gave me a 579 in return including a report of QSB on my signal as well.

From 40 Meters, it was a short hop over to 20 Meters. The KX3's autotuner much preferred 20 Meters. Just a short "brrppp" of the relays got me a 1:1 match. It was there that I heard Michel F6FJI calling CQ. He was a pretty good 579, so I figured "What the heck?" and gave him a call. Well, when you've got this as your antenna, it's no wonder he was able to pick out my signal.

Michel gave me a 559 and we had a short QSO. A little bit more than "UR 599 TU". I got an honest RST report and gave him an honest one in return. After a small chat about location and weather, Michel signed off and I turned off the rig and tore down so I could begin cooking dinner.

My impression of this set up was "Meh", although any time you cross the Atlantic with 5 Watts is no small chunk of change.  Serviceable, and certainly better than nothing, but not exactly spectacular, either . Not that I expect the sun, moon, planets and stars from a shorty compromise vertical; but I would like something that doesn't seem to throw my KX3's autotuner into fits.

Next weekend, I think the experiment will be with the 28' radiator and the tape measure counterpoise, ala' WB2LQF and Elecraft.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, August 02, 2018


You had to know something like this was going to happen.

From the ARRL:

"FCC Cites Baofeng Importer for Illegally Marketing Unauthorized RF Devices 08/02/2018 The FCC has issued a Citation and Order (Citation) to Amcrest Industries, LLC (formerly Foscam Digital Technologies, LLC), an importer and marketer of popular and inexpensive Baofeng hand-held transceivers, alleging that the company violated FCC rules and the Communications Act by illegally marketing unauthorized RF devices. The FCC asserts that Amcrest marketed Baofeng model UV-5R-series FM hand-held radios capable of transmitting on “restricted frequencies.” The Baofeng models UV-5R and UV-5R V2+ were granted an FCC equipment authorization in 2012 to operate under Part 90 Private Land Mobile Radio Service (Land Mobile) rules.

“Under § 2.803 of the Commission’s rules, an entity may not market a device that is capable of operating outside the scope of its equipment authorization,” the FCC Citation said. “RF devices that have been authorized under Part 90 rules, such as the model as issue, must operate within the technical parameters established in those rules.” The FCC also maintained that the UV-5R 2+ is capable of operating at 1 W or 4 W, while the Part 90 Equipment Authorization limits the power output to 1.78 W.

Amcrest conceded that the units were capable of operating on restricted frequencies but told the FCC that, per discussions with the manufacturer, were “only capable of operating at 1 W, the FCC said. The company instructed the manufacturer to fix the problem and later confirmed with the manufacturer that all Amcrest inventory on order and in the future would operate only on 145 – 155 MHz and 400 – 520 MHz.

While the Citation does not mention Amateur Radio, the UV-5R series radios can be programmed in a channelized configuration to function on 2-meters and 70-centimeters. According to the Citation, Amcrest had added a warning in its user manuals and marketing and sales materials implying that the UV-5R V2+ could operate on unauthorized and restricted frequencies, including Part 87 Aviation Services frequencies, Part 80 Maritime Services frequencies, and frequencies reserved for federal government use. The FCC said Part 90 radios that permit the operator to use external controls to program and transmit on frequencies other than those programmed by the manufacturer are “generally prohibited.”

Amcrest told the FCC that it had ceased marketing four models in the Baofeng UV-5R series “a few years ago,” but it did not remove them from its website until last February. Numerous online retailers continue selling UV-5R series radios for less than $25, with some ads indicating that these are “ham” equipment.

Amcrest Industries, LLC, which owns and operates Baofengradio US, is an import, distribution, and marketing company based in Houston, Texas. It also sells hand-held transceivers under its own label.

“While we recognize Amcrest’s efforts to date to achieve compliance with the Commission’s rules, the company must nonetheless ensure the version of the UV-5R V2+ it is marketing operates only on frequencies specified in its Equipment Authorization,” the FCC said in its Citation. The FCC directed Amcrest “to take immediate steps to come into compliance with the Commission’s equipment authorization rules and cease marketing unauthorized RF devices in the United States.” Amcrest could face fines of nearly $20,000 per day if it fails to comply."

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Thinking of new portable antenna ideas........

In instances when no trees are handy.

I like the idea that Stan WB2LQF has in my last post. A 28' radiator with one single counterpoise wire seems easy enough. And I'm going to try it - modified a bit to suit my situation. But there are a couple other possibilities I want to give a shot, also.

One is the venerable EARCHI antenna that I have used with good success in the past. But instead of the 53' radiator that I usually use and deploy into the trees, this seems intriguing. These are typical SWR values for a 24.5' radiator with a 9:1 UNUN.

Used as a vertical antenna, it would be interesting to see how it performs. It sure would be easy enough to deploy.

And I'm also thinking of going the N2CX route through the QRPGuys

This is their Portable 40-30-20m Tri-Band Vertical Antenna, which uses a 16' 4" radiator along with four 10' radials. Looks like a pretty easy set up as well, even though it involves deploying radials.

Joe N2CX has been using a version of this on his NPOTA and POTA exploits. If memory serves me well, he was using his car as the counterpoise, instead of deploying wire radials. It has worked very, very well for him. So I'm willing to give this a shot, as I trust N2CX implicitly when it comes to antennas. If you compare Joe's antenna knowledge to mine - what I know about antennas wouldn't fill a hollowed out pea.

My favorite portable antenna to date has been the PAR ENDFEDZ 10/20/40 MKII. It has performed very, very well for me. It's reliable and easy to deploy - when you have a tree or some other tall support handy, as its radiator is 41' long. The problem comes in when you DON'T have a tall enough tree near by, or quite possibly, you're in a situation where you don't feel comfortable about throwing a wire in a tree. That usually means that I have to employ my Jackite pole as a sloper support, because PAR ENDFEZ 41' minus Jackite 31' = 10' too much wire.

Employing the Jackite as a sloper support means bungee-ing it to something suitable, or using my drive on mast support. And believe it or not, there are instances where neither of those solutions present themselves. So I'm hoping one of the above scenarios works as a decent alternative.

You have to be ready for any eventuality.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!