Retired Sr. Software Developer with over 30 years experience in all phases of software development with an emphasis on server side technologies. I'm a licensed (W4MKH) Ham Radio operator and I'm active on HF/VHF/UHF with a love for POTA and SOTA.
I received an email from Scott KN3A concerning his experimenting with the Speaker Wire antenna that I previously posted about. I’m going to let Scott blog this in his own words copied from his email…
Last week Marshall Harrison (W4MKH) gave me an idea based on his recent article in his W4MKH-QRP blog, and that is to do a QRP activation using speaker wire 28.5 feet long connected to a BNC binding post coax splitter adapter. One end went nearly vertical into the air with my 24 ft. crappie pole, and the other side ran along on the ground. I had done this a couple of years ago but had not done it recently, and not on my Xiegu X6100.
I really didn’t have a lot of time to do a Parks On The Air activation, but I worked 16 QSO’s in about 40 minutes on 20, 30 and 40 meters with QRP power. This antenna configuration had surprising results.
12 of the 16 QSO’s I sent a 559, I sent one 579 and one 599, and two I gave 229. What was surprising to me was, if they were giving me honest signal reports, I was heard better than I was hearing them. 6 of the QSO’s gave me a better signal report than I gave them. I got four 599, 1 579 and 11 559.
I’m hoping I can get out and try this again and see if I have similar results with this antenna configuration.
Thanks again Marshall for your report. I did not take any pictures from my activation, and these were all CW QSO’s.
The antenna image in this post are mine as Scott didn’t provide any images of his antenna.
One of the things I love to do is hunt for POTA activators from my backyard. I do this for a couple of reasons but mainly because it is fun to do it outside rather than in the shack and it allows me test my field setup. It also allows me to make sure that my GoBag has all the necessary components for activating a park. If I discover that I have forgotten to include the correct coax connector for a new antenna it is easier to go back into the house and get it than it is if you discover it mising 30 miles from home when you are setting up in a park. Best to work the kinks out of your equipment before hand.
I have two new antennas that I am experimenting with to make sure they work okay for me. One is the Elecraft AX1 with the AXE1 extension for 40 meters and the other is the Spark Plug EFHW.
I set up the Xiegu X6100 in my front yard today for the first time to chase some parks and I used three different antennas. I started with the AX1 then moved to the Spark Plug EFHW and closed out with my speaker wire antenna hooked directly to the radio.
The speaker wire antenna outperformed the more expensive antennas and I ended up with contacts from RI, PA, and NJ to my north. Running westward (I am on the east coast of Florida) I worked MO and AR plus Mike, K8MRD in Texas at K-3019 – Huntsville State Park.
The speaker wire antenna was set up as a vertical using my 21′ telescoping fishing pole leaning up against my privacy fence and it was about 15 feet to my right and slightly behind me.
To be honest it kind of sucks that my homemade speaker wire antenna out performed the other two which combined set me back well over $300. But it is also very cool and satisfying to make contacts on something I built for less than $15. But to be fair, the AX1 is somewhat of a compromise as it is such a small footprint highly portable type of antenna. I am still working on tuning the Spark Plug antenna which is still resonant above the amateur bands. I’m sure both antennas will work fine once I get them properly setup.
All of my contacts today were on 20 meters as 40 meters was just too short for any of the activators to hear my little 10W signal. I could hear the activators and the hunters and the hunters were all within a few hundred miles of the parks indicating that 40 meters was short. Too short for me. If this speaker wire antenna works this well when hunting and trying to bust through the pile ups I can only imagine how well it will work when I am the activator.
Thanks to Thomas K4SWL for the inspiration for the speaker wire antenna.
My goal is to come up with a gobag setup that allows me to have a small backpack as a foundation then swap in the radio bag (modular part) that I want to use in the field for whatever outing I am on. I also desire to have each component radio bag fully contained with all I need to use the radio. I like the idea of having in one hand a complete shack setup.
This means that each radio bag has the necessary antennas, cables, batteries, coax, and connectors necessary for operating QRP in the field. It shouldn’t matter if that is on a mountaintop, a park, or in my backyard; I should be able to just grab the radio bag and go. As Thomas has pointed out numerous times, moving items from one bag to another everytime you go out is a good recipe for leaving something at home. And that can mean the difference between a successful POTA or SOTA activation. Even if you just want to play a little casual radio it can be very frustrating to get to your remote location and find out that you have the wrong coax connector for the antenna that you brought with you.
Of course that means some redundancy in equipment as each of my radios that I have for field use have different capabilities and features. This is the ideal setup for me but I also have the backpack which contains added “luxuries” that can be used with any of the radios. It is also setup in such a way that I can drop any of my radio bags into the backpack so that I only have the one bag to deal with.
To fully understand my gobag choices you have to consider the radios I use.
Xiegu X6100 – this is my primary field radio at the moment and is the bag setup that is most complete. And it will be the model that I base the other setups off of. It has an internal battery and pretty good antenna tuner built in. It is 5W on the internal battery and 10W when using an external battery. This is also the only radio that uses a BNC connector and most of my antennas and coax are geared for this radio.
Xiegu G90 – the Xiegu is a 20W radio with no internal battery. So, it requires a different setup from the X6100. It does have an excellent built-in antenna tuner.
Yaesu FT-891 – this radio is a 100W radio and a larger form factor than the X600 though it and the G90 are very similar in size and weight. It doesn’t have an internal battery or tuner. It will require a larger external battery and resonant antennas unless I want to carry an analyzer with me each time.
I am the first to admit that my gobag setup is changing and improving as I learn more and get more field experience with it.
In Part 2 of this blog series I will address my gobag setup for the X6100 as that will be the bag and radio combo that I will have with me most of the time. I will have lots of pictures of the setup along why I made the choice to include each item. In later blog posts I will cover the other radios along with the main backpack setup as well as the special needs components such as chargers that need to go with you on business trips or vacation but are not normally needed in the field; you can’t just ignore the “home based” part of your gobag kits.
If you have any questions or suggestion concerning gobags please leave me a comment.
Active sunspot AR2975 erupted again on March 30th, producing its strongest flare yet–an X1.3-class explosion. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash…This CME will probably reach Earth during the early hours of April 2nd. (NOAA and NASA modeling, now underway, will soon refine the arrival time.) Its impact could trigger G1-class geomagnetic storms, extending a period of geomagnetic unrest expected that began on March 31st with the arrival of a Cannibal CME launched by the same sunspot a few days ago.
When working QRP it can be fun when everything falls into place but, sometimes it can be hard to make contacts such as when Mother Nature conspires against you. Tomorrow (March 31, 2022) looks like one of those days.
A strong G3-class geomagnetic storms are possible during the early UT hours of March 31st when a Cannibal CME is expected to hit Earth’s magnetic field. For those of us in the Eastern Daylight Saving time zone the “early UT hours” will start at 8:00 PM local time tonight so this evening may not be all that great either.
I’m reminded of that line from Field of Dreams – “If you build it they will come“. I believe that line was from Shoeless Joe Jackson (played by Ray Liotta) but I’m not sure.
It doesn’t matter who said it. I still feel like Kevin Costner did in the movie. I have a love for Amateur Radio and QRP field work especially. I have built QRPguy and now I have to see if anyone will come. So far I have been working on the look and feel along with the feature set for QRPguy.net. I have been fine tuning my radio setups, antennas and adding images to my gallery for use on the site. I am still adding features but I am also ready to add content and word is slowly getting around that the site exists. Encouraging? Yes, but I’m still nervous.
I am creating a community here and I hope to see it grow to become one of the best places on the Internet to obtain information about QRP operating. I’ve already gotten some positive emails from people about what is happening. I thought there was a need for something like this and hopefully I am right. Now if everyone will just participate I will be able to relax and sleep at night again.
If you have any suggestions for content or things you would like to see then please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, I’ll be setting here nervously waiting to see if they will come.
Hams have a history of stepping up during emergencies or natural disasters and providing communications when other means such as cell phones and landlines are down and not operable. To do this hams need to know how to set up their equipment and get “on the air” as quickly as possible.
POTA is a program where hams setup in National or State Parks as well as wildlife areas and State forests etc. and make contacts (called QSOs) with other hams. The ham setting up in the park is referred to as an “activator” and the hams he makes contact with are called “hunters”. Setting up portable operations like this is great practice for emergency communications.
QRP is the term we use for operating with limited power. That means 5 watts or less for CW (think Morse code) and a maximum of 10 watts for other modes (think voice communications).