Florida QSO Party 2015

I’m participating with the PCARS club in Melbourne Florda in the Florida QSO party. We will be operating the club station with the call K4E.

Here’s the info from the Florida Contest Group web site:

Florida QSO Party 2015 – April 25 & 26

2015 FQP 18th Anniversary Special Event

We’re having a party, and you’re invited! Be sure to mark your calendar and join in the fun of the next Florida QSO Party. Visit the other pages on this Web site for rules, results, records, and more information.
Since the re-introduction of the Florida QSO Party to the contest scene in 1998, the Florida QSO Party has become one of the fastest growing and most popular State QSO Parties around today. This is due, in part, to the tremendous effort by the mobile teams to activate as many counties as they can in order to allow those participating from out-of-state, to achieve a county “Sweep” (working all 67 Florida Counties). Florida stations operating from home are also valuable, since that increases the chances that stations will work all counties!
Regardless if you are a serious or casual participant … from Florida, or from outside of Florida … the Florida QSO Party was designed to be a FUN operating event. Why not give it a try?
A reminder for Home stations (both in and outside Florida), please do not call CQ or “run” stations in the “Mobile window”. This window is for mobile stations only. Home stations operate above or below the “Mobile window”. Frequencies to avoid, are:
CW 7.025-7.035, 14.040-14.050, 21.040-21.050, 28.040-28.050 MHZ
SSB 7.180-7.190, 14.265-14.275, 21.340-21.350, 28.480-28.490 MHz

More info click HERE

Flex 6300

Flex 6300


IMG_0645


I have been interested in SDR (software define radio) for years. Several companies have been marketing radios for a while now and FlexRadio has been the most aggressive in America in demoing their offerings at hamfests and on the web.
I recently saw a demo of an Anan 100 which was very impressive. Apache labs makes the Anan line of SDR radios and you should take a look before plunging into this world.
When FlexRadio introduced the Flex 6300 at the Dayton hamfest (2014) I could resist no longer. The price point was in my range and the feature set is perfect for my style of operating.

So now, the Radio Ranch station is complete. When I’m on Merritt Island, I can remote into the Radio Ranch via the Kenwood TS-2000/Remote Rig set up, and work with the SDR radio when we visit the Ranch. Flex has promised some remote capability in a future software update.
Switching Antennas
IMG_0638Two rigs, one set of antennas. A simple set of switches handle the task. I use a KIO hex beam for 20m – 6m, and a Buckmaster OCF dipole for 80m – 40m. The Kenwood auto switches antenna based on the operating band. Since I have a 600 watt amp in line with the Flex 6300, I have to switch antennas on the MFJ 998 manually.
No problem since I am right in the control room when I operate the Flex.IMG_0642IMG_0643

W1AW/4

W1AW/4

300 contacts in two hours? The power of that call: W1AW. I was lucky to get some mic time today at the PCARS Club station, W4MLB (Melbourne Florida) as we became W1AW/4 in honor of the ARRL’s 100th anniversary. Here’s an explanation of the program from the ARRL site:

The ARRL Centennial “W1AW WAS” operations that are taking place throughout 2014 from each of the 50 states will relocate at 0000 UTC, January 8 (the evening of January 7 in US time zones) from North Carolina and West Virginia to Utah (W1AW/7) and South Carolina (W1AW/4). In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the ARRL, the ARRL Centennial QSO Party the kicked off January 1 for a year-long operating event in which participants can accumulate points and win awards. During 2014 W1AW will be on the air from every state (at least twice) and most US territories, and it will be easy to work all states solely by contacting W1AW portable operations. The event is open to all, although only ARRL members and appointees, elected officials, HQ staff and W1AW are worth points. Working W1AW/x from each state is worth 5 points per contact.

To earn the “Worked all States with W1AW Award,” work W1AW operating portable from all 50 states. (Working W1AW or W100AW in Connecticut does not count for Connecticut, however. For award credit, participants must work W1AW/1 in Connecticut.) A W1AW WAS certificate and plaque will be available (pricing not yet available). For an extra challenge, work all 100 W1AW portable operations — essentially a double WAS with W1AW!

Thanks Jan (K4QD) Heise for the invite. Really enjoyed the opportunity.

RemoteRig configured and Fully Functional

RemoteRig configured and Fully Functional

Big step forward.  The RemoteRig units arrived and, after  a struggle with ip set up and port forwarding, they are functioning at the Radio Ranch and in the condo on Merritt Island.  The two locations are 140 miles apart.  Connected by the internet, I can now control the Kenwood TS-2000 at the Radio Ranch from the condo.  Audio – both ways – and radio control are controlled by the RemoteRig units (one on each end) and I’m controlling the rotor by a remote desktop app called LogMein.  Audio reports have been good, no packet drop outs reported.

I have an Icom IC-7200 with a Buckmaster 6 band OCF dipole at the condo.  This station is still in place and it’s very interesting to run both stations side by side.  I have even used the two stations together, listening on the Icom and transmitting from the Radio Ranch with success.  The difference in what I can hear between the two locations has also been surprising.  The dipole at the condo runs north-south, favoring signals from the east-west in theory, and the Radio Ranch is a hexx beam, favoring the direction in which it is pointed.  Early tests have shown the hexx beam into Europe and Asia is very strong.  I’ve been able to work many stations on both stations and difference in signal reports have been significant.  More to follow as I get more operating time.

The Tower is UP at the Radio Ranch!

The Tower is UP at the Radio Ranch!

With help from Frank (Annie’s Father), and Ted’s (Authority Tree Service) bucket lift,  the Universal tower has been raised.  On top, the hex beam (6, 10, 12, 17, 15 and 20 meters), below, two Comet VHF/UHF verticals.

 

The assembled tower before antenna installation

Tower assembled

The hex beam was assembled on the ground and attached to the mast.  Stand off brackets were bolted to the tower and VHF/UHF antennas were installed.  The rotor cable was run into the shack and tested.

tower & antennas

The bucket truck arrived and the key was getting the bucket up to about 70ft above the tower base.  We attached a pulley at bucket height and a rope to the tower, and slowly raised it to vertical!

bucket truck

The tower in place and ready.  Now working on grounding systems and coax runs.

RR tower