Tag Archives: Portable

MARS The Portable Stroller Station

My daughter’s first portable outing with her early 10th birthday gift and we devised a challenge: Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover, Alabama. This is a unique place to operate from. You cannot run a wire. You can’t molest the trees or bushes. You can’t put a stake into the ground. You have to tread lightly.

So, we took out MARS – the Mobile Amateur Radio Station. MARS is built from a jogging stroller for twins. The advantages of a jogging stroller are 10-inch inflatable tires capable of all-terrain baby strolling. In our case, the babies were a Yaesu FT-897D and a 35ah Chrome SLA AGM battery.

A shelf was made out of 3/4 inch plywood for the FT-897D. The front was affixed using copper straps around the front bar of the stroller. The back of the shelf was cut to length but allowed to free float. When the stroller is at full size, it is supported by the back of the stroller. When you fold up the stroller, however, the back of the shelf drops into the seat and allows the stroller to fold around the radio. The battery is buckled into the back seat like a child.

The antenna is a Wolf River coil TIA (Take it Along) package. The tripod is able to be buckled in between the seats after you unfold the stroller. The cable is 25 ft of LMR 400. Nice and stiff, rolls up and attaches to thehandlebarr on the back of the stroller.

The wires go back and forth between the seats. We also carry a TV tray like little table for the laptop (which rests on the floorboard of the bottom seat during transport) and two mesh chairs. We also have enough carry room for lunch!

Less than 5 minutes from car to portable…. less than 10 minutes setup time. Break down is about 10 minutes and, when we are gone, the site we used is pristine and looks untouched.

Lots of pictures of daughter operating from MARS and its design



SOTA/POTA Activation on Mt. Kearsarge at Rollins State Park

On June 9th we will be having a club activation of Rollins State Park (POTA K-2676) and Mt. Kearsarge (SOTA W1/HA-010). An added bonus is that the ARRL VHF contest will begin at 2:00 pm on this day! The bands should be active.

This is a drive-able mountain – you are welcome to drive or hike. There are a parking lot and picnic area a short distance from the top where we will be setting up. The peak is a short hike from the parking area. This activity should appear to anyone who wants to work portable operations – you do not have to take part in SOTA/POTA/VHF contest – you can come and operate and have fun.

Portable 6m SOTA Station
Portable SOTA Station

Fred, AB1OC will be bringing the portable satellite station. I will have my mobile HF station (IC-7100), a couple of HTs with the 2m/70cm Elk Antenna and tape measure yagis, and the Elecraft KX2 as well. I can’t use them all at the same time and would be very happy to share!

Abby, AB1BY, and Jamey, AC1DC, Provide a BBQ
Abby, Ab1BY, and Jamey, AC1DC, Provide a BBQ

I will also be bringing my grill if you want to bring anything to grill up during the day.

Here is a map to the parking area on Mt. Kearsarge (you can also hike to the summit from this location):


If you would like a longer hike to the summit you will have to start in Winslow State Park – same place, just a different entrance:


You can show up at any time, but I think the most people should try to be there by 12:00 pm to be set up with plenty of time to operate.

Jamey, AC1DC

Hamvention 2018

On May 16th, Fred, AB1OC and I traveled to Dayton, OH for the annual Hamvention, held at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, OH for the 2nd year.

Contest University 2018
Contest University 2018

The Hamvention opened on Friday, May 18th, but we attended Contest University, held at the Crowne-Plaza in Dayton on Thursday.  We attended some great presentations there including one on VHF Contesting with JT modes – FT8 and MSK144 by W5ZN,  Joel Harrison and one on Learning from your Log-Checking Report by Doug Grant, K1DG. We also got to hear Rob Sherwood, NC0B, report on transceiver performance.

Anita, AB1QB with Dave, N1RF
Anita, AB1QB with Dave, N1RF

NARS Member Dave Michaels, N1RF  recently moved to Indianapolis, which is not far from Xenia.  Fred and I met up with Dave on Friday at the Hamvention.  It was great to see him again.

Elecraft KX2 Shack in a Box
Elecraft KX2 Shack in a Box

Since our Tech Night show and tell on portable and mountain-topping equipment, I have been interested in the KX2.  Our first stop on Friday was the Elecraft booth where we purchased the KX2 “Shack in a Box” and some accessories to go with it.  I am looking forward to using it during our upcoming SOTA activations to operate using FT8 and other digital modes.

Par Endfedz portable wire antennas
Par Endfedz portable wire antennas

We also purchased some PAR EndfedZ wire antennas from LNR Precision.

Burns Fisher, WB1FJ at the AMSAT Booth
Burns Fisher, WB1FJ at the AMSAT Booth

Next, we visited the AMSAT booth, where we chatted with NARS member, Burns Fisher, WB1FJ.

Dave Jordan, AA4KN, ARISS Mentor
Left to Right, AB1QB, Dave Jordan, AA4KN, ARISS Mentor, and AB1OC

We also met Dave Jordan, AA4KN, who is the ARISS Mentor for the upcoming ISS  Crew Contact with Hudson Memorial School.

Yaesu's newly announced transceiver, the FTdx101D
Yaesu’s newly announced transceiver, the FTdx101D

We saw a few newly announced items while visiting the vendor buildings.  Yaesu announced the FTdx101D.

Kenwood’s new transceiver, the TS-890S

Kenwood announced the TS-890S, which is pictured above.

SteppIR's new SDA-2000 Controller
SteppIR’s new SDA-2000 Controller

We also saw SteppIR’s new controller, the SDA-2000 OptimizIR

Flex Radio Power Genius Amplifier
FlexRadio Power Genius XL Amplifier

We also saw the FlexRadio Power Genius XL 1500 Watt Amplifier, which recently started shipping.

Rotating Mast soon to be available from Buddipole
Rotating Mast System soon to be available from Buddipole

We also visited Chris Drummond, W6HFP from Buddipole and he showed us their new MastWerks Mast/Tripod system.

Information on GOLF Series of Satellites at AMSAT Forum
Information on GOLF Series of Satellites at AMSAT Forum

We attended a few forums at the Hamvention including one from FlexRadio on SDR Technology.  Especially interesting was the AMSAT forum, where we learned about upcoming Satellite launches, including the GOLF Program (to follow the FOX Program).  Satellites in the GOLF program will have higher orbits resulting in larger footprints and also will incorporate new technology.

Overall, we had a great time at the Hamvention and we’re looking forward to going back in 2019!

Anita, AB1QB

First IOTA (Islands), then SOTA (Summits), now BOTA

First IOTA (Islands), then SOTA (Summits), now BOTA (Bumps). From the blog of Steve, G0GYA … reposted by Layne AE1N

Today was 2018 ”Bumps on the Air” day for me. Because we don’t have any summits in Norfolk I have to make do with tiny hills, or bumps!

Two years ago Jim G3YLA and I climbed up Beeston Bump (63m) and did some amateur radio operating. This year I wanted to beat that so drove to Norfolk’s mightiest peak – Beacon Hill near West Runton at 100m. Ta dah!

Actually, this wasn’t a very exciting spot as there are just two rotting benches, a flag pole and trees all around.

Nevertheless, I set up my end fed half weave vertical on a 10m fishing pole and connected up my Yaesu FT817. There wasn’t too much about but I worked John F5VKU (also G8MM) near Cannes with 5W SSB. He said he was struggling to hear me.

My 20m QCX radio – click to enlarge any image.

After playing with SSB for a bit and failing to break some pile ups I connected up my 20m QCX radio and tried some CW. I was really surprised as Karl IV3RJH came back to me, 559/549 both ways. I was running about 2W, he was running 3W.

I do have to fix the sidetone on the QCX as calling CQ sounds more like “thump-de-thump-thump-thump-thump-de-thump”. I have the new capacitors, but am waiting for some new BS170 transistors so I can hopefully up the power level to more like 4W too.

But the QCX is an amazing radio for the money and hey, I built it myself, complete with the case and custom label, so any QSO makes me smile.

Another 20m SSB session with the FT817 and I bagged Jack OH3GZ and Juha OH6QAZ.

At this point I packed away and after lunch headed for Beeston Bump on the coast near Sheringham. I’ve written about this before as it has a fantastic view over the North Sea.

Anyway, I put up the EFHW vertical for 20m and set to with 5W CW from my Elecraft K1. This raised Gert OH/DL7UG and Dima RW4C. I then bagged Fabi IK5IiS near Florence.

Also heard were stations in Cypus and Canada, but the Cyprus station on SSB couldn’t hear me and the Canadian seemed to be sending his life story in CW to another station and I got fed up waiting to call him!

I also had a play with my 3W MTR3, but didn’t work anyone as I could see rain clouds coming and decided to pack up.

So not a bad day’s radio. The Elecraft K1 and Yaesu FT-817 worked flawlessly. I think I was getting some RF into the keyer on the QCX as I had trouble sending “/P” – the “/” turned into a right mess sometimes, although I had no trouble sending it on the K1 with the same Palm Paddle.

The moral is that life is NOT too short for QRP!