Tags: dxpedition

Portable logging using Palm Pilot

Some advise from Larry, W2LJ: http://w2lj.blogspot.com/

I use QSO Diary by Ray Goff G4FON. It's freeware and it works really well for me. Whenever you do a hot synch it backs up into a log you can view on your computer screen. While doing this, you can export your QSO Diary information as an ADIF file to whatever log program you normally use.

I have an accessory Palm keyboard; but I never use it. QSO Diary is easy enough to use with the stylus. I must admit that I never really tried this under contest conditions. I've been told that for contesting, there is an excellent program called Go Log. It's not free, however; I guess I'm just cheap!

Here's a good URL for Ham related Palm programs:

http://www.qsl.net/va3pkh/palm-ham.html

and here's the URL for Go Log:

http://home.earthlink.net/~david.ek/golog/

73 de Larry W2LJ

Blue Ridge Mountains DXpedition

The Thursday before Labor Day Weekend I was able to get off work an hour early and headed up to Fort Eustis through a light drizzle (the early beginnings of Tropical Storm Ernesto) to pick up the RV. The beast was 29' long and about 11' high. A young gentlemen gave me a orientation of the vehicle which lasted about 45 minutes. First an initial walk around, then an explanation of how to flush the black and gray water holding tanks, how to connect city water, how to connect electricity, how to operate the generator, and how to operate the propane supply. All of this and we hadn't even made it inside the RV yet. When we did make it inside, I was briefed up on how to operate the test panel, how to turn on the water heater, and a assortment of additional tips for easy operation of all the RV's features. For instance.... don't run the A/C while also running the microwave and the water heater takes 20 minutes to provide enough hot water for a shower. There was also a TV with an external antenna that cranks up into position. Nothing super complex, just lots and lots of stuff.

It was a slow ride on I-64 back to Hampton. Not because of heavy traffic, but because I was trying to get a feel for piloting the beast. The wheel was a little loose and it took a while to slow down. The rain didn't help much. I arrived home and parked out in the street in front of the house. When untethered to an electrical hook up, the RV uses propane to keep the refrigerator going. To avoid depleting the propane, I ran a heavy duty extension cord out to the RV to give it a steady supply of juice.

We decided to watch the progress of Ernesto and wait to see if we'd leave Friday or postpone until Saturday. As the night progressed the winds picked up and the rain continued on.

Friday morning showed that the rain and wind were still continuing. My weather station indicated the rain had picked up around 2am and was maintaining a consistent heavy downpour. The radar showed the southern edge of Ernesto nearing the North Carolina border to the south. Even though the storm would clear our location by about 2pm reports from the roadways indicated things were a mess for motorists and we decided to move our departure to Saturday morning. It was at this time that I noticed the water out front was rising significantly. I could see the water level approaching the storage compartments underneath the RV. After shuffling the cars in the driveway, I splashed out to the RV parked on the street/canal, started it and did a loop around the block to position it to allow me to pull into the driveway. The short loop showed that a few other streets had flooded and small tree limbs and other debris was accumulating in the road - but nothing severe.

Ernesto passed by about 3pm and the standing water drained quickly. We did a quick clean up of all the fallen leaves and small branches in the yard and then repositioned the RV in the driveway for easy loading. From all reports, we were wise to delay our depature as fallen trees and the rain had closed down section of I-64.

Saturday morning arrived and we finished packing the RV and got on the road. Traffic was light and moved well. I kept the speed at about 55-60mph, still getting a feel for how the RV handled. After one break at a rest stop west of Richmond for lunch, we pressed on towards the Misty Mountain Campground in Crozet, VA. Enjoyed a nice QSO on a repeater in Charlottesville with Harry, W2HD. I later found out (according to QRZ.com) that Harry was a former president of ARRL! He chatted a little about being in the Navy but never mentioned the fact of his involvement with The League.

After checking in to the Misty Mountain Campgrounds HQ we arrived at our camp site. The hookups were pretty straight forward and soon enough we had the RV humming.

On Sunday we took the truck to explore the first fifty miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. What a beautiful area! I was able to hit one of the repeaters back in Hampton from the first overlook along the Parkway. Pretty good for a 150 mile path using 50 watts on FM.

Sunday night I set up the ARSIB and tried to work both S9SS (Western Africa) and P43W (Aruba) but failed to break the pile ups.

Monday morning I had a nice QSO on 40M with Jim, W2SY up in Syracuse, NY. After enlisting in 1940, Jim served in the Army during WWII and participated in the Africa, Italy, and European campaigns. Jim gave me a nice 59 report and am glad I was able to get at least one HF contact before it was time to pack up shop .

The trip home encountered a little bit of rain, but traffic was also light and the trip was uneventful. Average speed on I-64 was probably about 65mph as I was feeling a little more comfortable driving by now.

All in all, I enjoyed the RV DXpedition. Next time I will set up the rig earlier and try to do more operating.

QSO with W2SY

I had my one and only Blue Ridge Mountains DXpedition contact with Jim, W2SY. After 30 minutes of calling CQ on 40M, trying to find space between all the nets, Jim came back to me with a nice 59 report and I gave him the same. I think we chatted for about 10 minutes or so. Jim, 82 years old, served in the Army during WWII, a veteran of battles in Africa, Italy and France. After the QSO, I packed up the ARSIB, antenna, and all the rest. The trip back to Hampton was safe and uneventful.

Ernesto continues north

Looks like we made it high and dry. The rain pretty much stopped at 2pm. I'm showing a daily total of 4.92" since midnight. Most of the rain fell between 7am and 1pm. The water in the driveway is slowly receding. When it goes down a bit more, I'll start packing the RV. Hope to get an early start Saturday morning.

Moved the RV

I had the RV I picked up from Ft Eustis yesterday parked in front of the house and noticed by about 11am that the rising water was getting near the storage compartments of the RV. I decided to move the RV into the driveway and on to higher ground. I waded out to the RV, the water coming up to midcalf. I made it to the RV and after a quick loop in the neighborhood, I got the RV into the driveway. Some of the streets around here are flooded, maybe with 3"-5" of standing water in the middle of the street. Lots of small branches and minor debris in the road.

Needless to say, the DXpedition depature has been delayed until Saturday morning.

Weekend Wrap Up

Went up to the Yorktown Battlefield Saturday and linked up with Mark, N1LO. I got to see his portable setup. He was using a delta loop antenna made of speaker wire, maybe about 25' per side. The speaker wire was in three sections, the sections were connected using fishing line lure links. The speaker wire was terminated using banana plugs and fed into a 1:1 balun. To support the legs of the delta loop, Mark used a combination of a painter's pole and a fiberglass fishing rod secured by a 3' picket easily driven into the ground about 8".

The fiberglass fishing pole's end easily nests into the painter's pole with about 6" overlap raising the loop to a height of about 20'. The painter's pole was secured to the picket using two small hose clamps. The delta loop tuned easily from 80M to 10M, but would not tune 160M. All the antenna components compacted down to fit into a plastic rifle case. Mark connected the delta loop to his IC-706MKIIG through his LDG AT-200 Pro autotuner and was easily making QSOs into Ohio (the Ohio QSO Party was underway). Power was provided by a ~100aH marine battery and a nice homebrew PowerPole distribution hub. The best part of the setup was the location - in a very nice, shady park on the southern banks of the York River.

In an endeavor to consolidate my 2M packet operations (APRS, Winlink 2K, and good ol' fashion BBS packet) into the garage, I spent a good chunk of time pushing around boxes and crates. I purchased three 3' high bookshelves from Target, arrayed them in an open "U" and then placed a 4'x6' piece of plywood across the top. I filled the bookshelves with back issues of QST and equipment awaiting to be put into use. Next to this workbench, I put a previously unused, small table where I positioned my monitor and PC. I spent the late afternoon converting the PC from Ubuntu back to Window XP (... I can't commit the time needed to tweak Unbuntu to my needs). Now I need to move the my KPC-3+ from the radio room out to the garage and see if I can get a basic packet station operational.

Also been preparing for the upcoming RV DXpedition. I'll be taking the ARSIB along with the vertical dipole, but was also thinking about taking a G5RV. I'm also going to try and use a 75M hamstick, we'll see how that works out.

This weekend....

Got to do a recon up to the Misty Mountain Campground where I'll be headed over Labor Day. The journey should not be too difficult. The campground looks nice. Tucked at the base of the Blue Ridge, it is a shady, quiet place - small pool and shaded areas where the RVs are tethered to their power and water supplies. There was a ham RV in the camp, but I can't remember his callsign. Nice Class A motorhome with a small vertical antenna mounted on the back.

I got another envelope from the QSL bureau! It had about 4 or 5 QSL cards from Belgium. One had the special "OO" callsign from last year's anniversary celebration.

Received a letter from Tom, AA4TB, in South Carolina that I asked about setting up a CW sked. A regular CW sked would really help me out and get me on the air practicing CW. I need to reply to him.

Been sampling the Samuel Adams Brewer Patriot Collection. Four 12oz beers come in a box. The flavors are interesting: Traditional Ginger Honey Ale, James Madison™ Dark Wheat Ale, George Washington Porter® and 1790 Root Beer Brew™. Now, understand that I am usually an adventurous beer drinker... but the Root Beer Brew was not good. Tasted like a juniper bush and licorious placed in a vat of otherwise unimpressive beer. The George Washington Porter was pretty good, although I'm not a huge porter fan. I haven't got to the other two flavors yet... we'll see.

The rest of today - I need to clean up the shack (... and the rest of the house!).

Blue Ridge Parkway DXpedition prep

I think I'm going to limit the Blue Ridge Parkway trip to just one RV destination. The main limitations being time, fuel costs, and RV camp costs... it just makes sense to limit this first trip to a location that is not too far away and attempt to keep the costs down.

The destination will be the town of Crozet, Virginia near the northern entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Looks like there is a lot to do in the area.

Here's a listing of Charlottesville area local repeaters:
- 146.76 (151.4 Hz), Located on Carter's Mountain south of Charlottesville.
- 146.925 (151.4 Hz), Located on Martha Jefferson Hospital in Eastern Charlottesville.
- 444.250 (151.4 Hz)
- 442.075 (151.4 Hz)
- 224.76 (no tone)
- 145.03 Digipeater
- 144.39 Two APRS Digipeaters

Nearby Waynesboro:
- 147.075 (http://www.qsl.net/wrav/index1.htm)

Maybe in Crozet?:
- 146.895

Here's a link to repeaters that support the Appalachian Trail, part of which runs through the Blue Ridge Parkway: http://www.aldha.org/hams.htm

RV DXpedition... on the calendar

I called Fort Eustis MWR and reserved a 29' RV for Labor Day weekend. Yahoo! Now I have to figure out where I'm going to go. It's looking like the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah Valley. Doing the research now.

I'm trying to see if there are any contests or special events that weekend. This is going to be a good workout of the Amateur Radio Station In a Box (ARSIB). Maybe I can work on my CW between now and the trip and try to work a lot of CW.