Friday, December 27, 2013

Out with 2013…In with 2014

Some say, as one gets older the years seem to pass more quickly. I am beginning to believe that they are correct! 2013 has been a busy year, with the pages of the calendar flipping at a unbelievably quick pace.

I began the year still riding a large wave of enthusiasm and personal accomplishment having just returned home from my adventures in the sub-Antarctic. The Campbell Island (NZ) 2012 DXpedition continued to have “legs” throughout the year:

  • A visit to the International DX Convention in Visalia, CA (April, 2013)
  • ZL9HR Team reunion, Dayton Hamvention (May, 2013)
  • Several Local radio club presentations regarding the Campbell Is. DXpedition
  • Hosting a DX related forum at the Greater Louisville Hamfest (September, 2013)

What a wonderful experience, not to mention the great friendships that were forged during that great adventure.

 VK9MT WebpageAs I write this, the VK9MT Mellish Reef 2014 DXpedition is only about 90 days from being “on the air.” Our Team has accomplished so much in the planning of this DXpedition. There is still many things to do, but the finish line is coming into view as we prepare to complete final logistical tasks prior to leaving for Australia.
Once in Australia, there will be very little downtime, as there is much to accomplish prior to sailing on the EVOHE. Enough cannot be said about the leadership and vision displayed by Gene/K5GS, Les/W2LK, and Pista/HA5AO during the course of this project. 

It was great to have been a part of the fantastic 2013 ARRL Field Day effort put on by the Bullitt AmateurRadio Society (KY4KY). The BARS club was able to place first in the 2F Category, fulfilling a long-time quest by many of its active members. A few stats regarding this effort:
 KY4KY Webpage_ First Place, 2F Category
_ 96th best score out of total 2,548 entries
_ #11 in overall score in the Great Lakes Division
_ #2 in Kentucky in overall score (beat by 6A station)

Kudos to event organizer, Rickey/KC4S, for his record keeping, organizational skills, and overall leadership during this event. I am already looking forward to Field Day 2014!

As the New Year looms on the horizon, I can only hope that it holds the promise of being as eventful and memorable as 2013!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mellish Reef 2014

It almost seems surreal!  After receiving my "break-through" amateur radio adventure opportunity in 2012 with the Campbell Island DXpedition, I now find myself once again involved with a significant Amateur Radio DXpedition project!

click on logo to go to webpage

Mellish Reef is currently listed as the #25 most wanted DXCC entity on Club Log, and as #32 most wanted according to the 2013 survey by DX Magazines Most Wanted List. (info as of 9/2013)

"Where the heck is that?" you ask.  Mellish Reef is located in the Coral Sea, approximately 1100 km northeast of Brisbane, Australia (Australia's eastern coast).

View Larger Map

The island is a small caye, measuring only 600 meters by 120 meters, being about 2 meters above the high-tide mark.  The caye is the only exposed part of a large reef ecosystem that is boomerang shaped, approximately 10 km long by 3 km wide.

Mellish Reef (OC-072)

The plan to activate Mellish Reef in early 2014 was conjured up by several of my former Campbell Island teammates this past June while in Budapest.  Pista/HA5AO, Les/W2LK, Gene/K5GS, & George/HA5UK put forward the idea of activating this entity and began laying the ground floor for this project.

I did not know much of the initial details, but after receiving several emails labeled, "...Fellow Team Member..." I was compelled to call Gene/K5GS and ask what was up.  He informed me that I was "on the team" unless I expressed an inability to participate with the project.  After several days of crunching potential cost estimates, looking at the 2014 calendar, and explaining the project to the XYL....I decided I was in!

As I learn more about Mellish and its previous activations, I could not be more excited and thrilled to be part of this project.

Please follow our progress as we advance this project forward.

Hope to see you in the next pile-up!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Radio Contesting Can be Fun!

Radio Contesting Can be Fun!
KY4KY: 2013 IARU Contest

Amateur Radio Contesting (also known as radiosport) is a competitive activity pursued by amateur radio operators. In a contest, an amateur radio station, which may be operated by an individual or a team, seeks to contact as many other amateur radio stations as possible in a given period and exchange information. 

Contest:  any race, game, debate, etc., in which there is a struggle to be the winner. 
(Webster’s New Universal Dictionary)

Competition:  a contest, a match. 
(Webster’s New Universal Dictionary)

"Endeavor to persevere." 
Lone Watie, The Outlaw Josey Wales

Although I have been involved in amateur radio for thirty-eight years, it has only been the last six years I have actively participated in the art of radiosport.  I am not an overly competitive person, realizing that in most of my personal pursuits there will always be someone that will out-do, out-score, and far surpass my own abilities.  However…I am a person that enjoys a challenge, strives for improvement, and looks for ways to expand my skill sets.

In 2006, I returned from a twelve year hiatus from the HF bands.   A dramatic change in my career status once again allowed me the time to fully participate in the hobby I have been a part of prior to entering my teen years.  As I reconnected with old friends while helping them with their tower and antenna projects, I felt that burning desire to get my own station back on the air.  As my new experiences on HF began, I realized that amateur radio had changed dramatically, particularly with the coupling of the hobby with Internet technologies and the enormous amount of amateur related software now available.  As I began my new learning curve of the amateur radio of the 21st century, I went immediately back to the basics….CW.  I determined very quickly that my code speed.…well.…I had no speed! Since I was previously an avid DXer, much of my activity chasing those rare and semi-rare DXCC entities involved the use of CW.  I began the search for a means to enhance my rusty code copying abilities and was subsequently pulled into the world of amateur radio contesting.

I initially used the occasional contest just as a means to improve my code speed, but then I began to enjoy the competitive aspect of the events.  As my participation increased with the more popular contests, my goals changed and morphed as I completed each contest event.  My goals:
  • Improving my CW skills
  • Increasing my operating confidence
  • Striving for a more consistent QSO rate
  • Bettering my score from the last entry
  • Having FUN
The largest hurdle yet for me to overcome is that of endurance.  I need to drastically improve my A.I.S. skills (interpreted as:  butt in seat). It would appear that the most accomplished contesters are masters of endurance, not allowing distractions of any kind during the contest period. Kudos to the top tier competitors that pull this off each major contest, year after year. 

In July of 2013, I opened my home station for members of the Bullitt Amateur Radio Society to come by and participate in the 2013 IARU HF Championship Contest.

Many of our club members had openly stated their desire for an opportunity to “contest” other than the annual ARRL Field Day event, which we all know is not a contest  ;-)  !! The IARU Contest is an exciting 24-hour operating event with a simple on-air exchange, with concurrent CW and phone elements, and with many stations or organizations participating around the globe. My goal was for experienced operators to coach and guide the less-experienced ops with initiating a contact, completing the required exchange, and then quickly moving on to the next QSO. With the help of Ralph W4HK and Buddy KC4WQ, we had plenty of contest experience to coach and guide those willing to come by and experience HF contesting at its best.

Ralph/W4HK: Churning out the SSB contacts

While not recommended in most marriages, the husband and wife team of Buddy and Tina Sohl proved to be a formidable contesting pair. Tina responded very well to the coaching provided by Buddy while "running" a frequency during the very active late evening hours. Tina was doing quite well working the microphone as Buddy logged the contacts. I believe we will see more of this team again in the future.

Buddy/KC4WQ & Tina/KJ4QFK

Buddy/KC4WQ doing what he does best...CW!

Eddie K4EDH was eager to get behind the microphone. With the crowded conditions, an extra ear was needed to help Eddie pull some of the calls from the QRM. While on 40 meter SSB, he was able to work into Europe with ease while going up and down the band in S&P mode (Search and Pounce). Eddie was able to work his first DX contacts during this contest. Following a successful contact he would ask, "Where was he located?" I would respond with whatever European country it was....Eddie would initially have a look of disbelief. After several DX stations in a row, he quickly realized that contacting our European neighbors was not really that hard. 

Robert/KF4TYF, Eddie/K4EDH, & Glenn/KE4KY

Rick KC4S has been the club's Field Day Chairman for the last several years. His exposure to the contest nature of the Field Day event has sparked his interest in the contesting format of other operating events. Being the owner of Elecraft KX3, he has a newfound interest in portable operations, such as the Summits on the Air event. Rick proved a quick learner and was smoothly going from one contact to the next while working SSB on 40 and 80 meters.


What was accomplished??
  • Those that participated had FUN
  • Some worked DX for the first time
  • We all learned from the event
  • Increased confidence while going from one QSO to the next
  • Our Multi-op effort put KY4KY "on the air" during a major operating event
  • After 20.5 hours of operation - 1175 QSO's (~50% were CW)
There is much written about contesting in books and from chatter on the many Internet web pages, blogs and forums. You can learn much just by participating in one of many major contests, even if it is just for a few hours or for a handful of Q's. If you are looking for another aspect of amateur radio to keep things interesting, consider participating in a few contests and add a new personal skill to an already great hobby.

My thanks to Eddie K4EDH, Rick KC4S, Tina KJ4QFK, Robert KF4TYF, Ralph W4HK, and Buddy KC4WQ for participating  in this event. 

My special thanks to Ralph W4HK, without whom this event would not have been as successful as it was.  


See you in the next contest!

Friday, June 28, 2013

B.A.R.S. Field Day 2013

KY4KY: Bullitt Amateur Radio Society Field Day 2013

The annual ARRL Field Day weekend for the BARS Club was once again a resounding success. 

The weekend of June 22/23, 2013 found the radio club once more going through the ritual of setting up antennas, shelters, and individual radio stations for the event
Dave/K3EL, one of my ZL9HR Campbell Island team-mates, made the trip from Princeton, NJ to Louisville just for the purpose of engaging in his 1st Field Day outing.  Valinda & I thoroughly enjoyed hosting Dave for his short stay in Louisville and sincerely hope that he will visit again in the future.

CW Station
The CW station was once again housed in the luxurious accommodations of Ralph's/W4HK camping trailer.

The A/C of the camper trailer was a welcomed relief from the humid conditions of the typical summer weather.  The electric power for the operation was provided by a Generac 5500 generator.

The CW Station antenna farm consisted of:

Rotatable Dipole (Driven element of TA-33)

Hustler 4-BTV Vertical

80m Dipole

CW Operating Position: Kenwood TS-480SAT

The SSB Station:

SSB Antenna Farm: TA-33 & OCF Dipole

VHF Station:

VHF Station: Camper of KC4WQ

VHF Antennas

VHF Operating position

Yaesu HF/VHF/UHF Transceiver

Glenn/KE4KY working CW on the VHF Station

The operating is always fun...and looked forward to every year.

Buddy KC4WQ

Darryl WA4CAQ

Ralph W4HK

Dave K3EL

Mark K9GX

The results were better than the year before....

2013 Results (graph by Rickey/KC4S)

Now...onto planning next year!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day….

CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day….
By Glenn Petri KE4KY

As we near the month of June, most Amateur Radio clubs turn their attention to the annual ARRL Field Day radio event.  Since 1933, Amateur Radio enthusiasts across the States venture out of their comfort zones and operate in many different public venues.  Thousands of individuals, small groups, and radio clubs strike portable Amateur Radio stations in parks, camping areas, farms, large fields, churches, government buildings, and the like to celebrate this “on-air” operating event.

Ralph Wettle W4HK & Glenn Petri KE4KY (CW Station)

Since the early days of Amateur Radio, the operator and his radio has long been a source of secondary communications during times of local or statewide disaster events.  The history of Amateur Radio is replete with accounts where the Radio Amateur, coupled with a served agency or group, has responded to a need for communicators thereby rendering assistance  during a short-lived absence of standard communication avenues.  During most any natural disaster, or severe weather event, a corps of trained Amateur Radio volunteers is ready to serve and to fill a communication gap until professional disaster assistance arrives on the scene. 

The early Field Day events were geared mainly toward the mere physical exercise of getting “portable” stations on the air and completing as many contacts as possible over the prescribed period.  Upon seeing the success of the initial event, the ARRL determined to make this a yearly exercise.    Considering the equipment of the day, it must have been a monumental task for the equipment to go “afield.”  As the years progressed, the ARRL continued to add some additional nugget to the event to generate interest among the growing Amateur Radio ranks.  Although stymied by WWII, with no Field Day events from 1942 through 1945, the event was back on track in 1946.  Field Day has changed and morphed several times since its inception, with the look of the Field Day we see today beginning around 1950, with the advent of more extensive “rules” to govern the event as it grew in its popularity and in its scope. 

Given the advancements of radio equipment during World War II, Amateur Radio took leaps and bounds in its growth in the years that followed.  Naturally, going portable in those days became much easier, thus increasing the activity of the annual event.  As Field Day continues into the future, it is sure to see small changes here and there to keep itself viable given the state of current technology, and to keep the event relevant to the active Amateur Radio community.

Field Day is best described as a pie containing three slices….

1.     One part public service event
2.     One part social event
3.     One part contesting event

The club or group participating in the event is most suitable to determine how large any one slice of that pie should be.  One group may use the event purely for a social gathering with little emphasize on “radio” or even having a serious operating regimen.  The next group may be all out for the training value of setting up a series of stations in quick fashion to determine their abilities for serving a particular agency or community.  Another group may focus solely on achieving a high QSO count with a contest style approach to the outing, hoping to earn top billing in their state or region.  Whatever the approach, it all fits well within the scope of the event.

Buddy Sohl KC4WQ at the CW Station of KY4KY

Even after thirty-eight years of being involved in the Amateur Radio hobby, I still enjoy the many aspects of the Field Day challenge.  I am a semi-serious contester and love the competitive aspect of the event, but I am equally thrilled to see friends and mentors from my past that makes it out for some fun, food, and a little radio.  It is always good to reconnect with friends and acquaintances from years past, to reminisce about humble beginnings and the good times had over the many years.  The “team” aspect of the event is also very intriguing to me.  It is great to have a core group of friends that work so very hard to get stations assembled, antennas erected, generators operational, and computers interfaced.  My Field Day experiences prepared me well for many of the activities I encountered while on my first major DX-pedition to Campbell Island in 2012.  I likened our DX-pedition activities to a Field Day that lasted seven days!

Bill Scott NM4K Pounding out the CW Contacts

As you approach YOUR Field Day event, think about what it is YOU can do to make it better….for everyone!  It is imperative that everyone wishing to participate:
·       Provide input to the organizers in their areas of expertise
·       Be active in the planning of stations, antennas, etc…
·       Participate in the set-up and/or tear-down
·       Mentor the less experienced operator
·       Except coaching from the more experienced ops
·       Be positive, no matter what goes wrong
·       Get on the radio

I look forward to it every year…. I hope you will too!

See you on the air!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Bachelor....

The Bachelor…..

Really!  Is this what TV has been reduced to?  It is like a bad car wreck, you don’t want to look, but for some reason you are amazed at what you see.

Really and truly, it is a sad commentary on what people will do to get their 15 min. of fame.

Oh well..... Andy and Opie, Adam-12, EMERGENCY, Hillstreet Blues, and Barney Miller where are you?? 

Back to MEtv.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Honesty, Integrity

Interesting topic....Honesty & Integrity

Throughout life we are oft-confronted with issues that center around certain moral dilemmas, with honesty and integrity being at the top of the list.  How those situations are handled say so much about our character, or the character of others.  

Having recently dealt with an issue where dishonesty coupled with hidden motives were brought to light, I came to be very introspective about this issue of honesty.  I did some reading, some soul-searching, and some reflection hoping to resolve some feelings of anger and the wish for ill-will towards those that breached an important trust.  I hope that I come to the proper moral position regarding those that offended my trust, but I also know that the social repercussions suffered by those who do such things are initiated by their own web of deceit.

Proverbs 11:3  The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.

F. Nietzsche

When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie. 
Y. Yevtushenko

I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is the best policy. George Washington

Honest people are never touchy about the matter of being trusted.  
Ayn Rand

No legacy is so rich as honesty.  William Shakespeare

The glue that holds all relationships together -- including the relationship between the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.  Brian Tracy

Proverbs 10:9  Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.