Tag Archives: Portable

Hawaii Homeless Ham Still Finds Time to Work the World QRP

From Amateur Radio News – Hawaii homeless ham still finds time to work the world QRP

Reposted by Matt, N1ZGN

Honolulu, HI
16 July 2017

If you live in Honolulu you have seen the homeless on the beaches, in the parks, beside the road, in the woods, you name it, they are around. A lot of media attention has been given to the homeless problem in Hawaii, mainly on Oahu. If you are visiting Hawaii then it has probably stood out as you drive from the Airport to the hotels.

You may hear him on a QRP radio or if you are on Oahu you may hear him on the 2m nets or talking late into the evening. Alex, KH7CX, in some ways, may be unconventional. You see, Alex is homeless, sleeps on a bench, gets his mail and showers at a church, and uses a storage facility for his personal items. In his spare time his main passion is QRP-SSB DXing.

I’ve know Alex for maybe 7 or 8 years. I heard he was homeless before but he does not strike me as a homeless person. I know that is a stereotype for homeless people but looking at him you would not know he was homeless and we had never talked about it before and he is always happy, smiling, and ready to help. We recently had time to talk at a event that he helped out with.

So why is Alex homeless in Hawaii and still working his radio to make contacts? Living in Hawaii is expensive and the biggest expense is housing. Hawaii has an estimated 7,900 homeless, which is up 4%. That’s according to data from a released federal report, which says Hawaii ranked third in states with the highest rate of unsheltered homeless people. California, Oregon, Nevada, and Mississippi round out the top five. These are the latest statistics I could find and they represent the 2015/2016 count.

Of the 7,900 homeless living in Hawaii, more than half are living in places like the streets, vehicles, and parks. (Did you know it is illegal to live in a vehicle in Hawaii? There is a state law banning anyone from sleeping or living in their cars overnight. Habitating in a vehicle between six p-m and six a-m is a violation of the law on city and county streets,”)

Alex does handyman jobs, mainly on boats, and some of the boat owners trade his work for a bed on the boat and money or either money or a bed.

Does he feel safe? Surprisingly he does. He knows the others around him and stays out of trouble. He is concerned about the drug use that goes on around him and in the open but tries to stay clear of those areas.

He doesn’t have a cell phone and uses the public library computers to update his QRZ log and to look at the solar weather data. Alex recently educated me on the sun spot reports on QRZ. He looks at the K index and the Signal Noise Level Readings. He wants the K index as low as possible and the noise level low. He doesn’t care about the A index. It seems to work for him, he has worked all the continents. He even finds time to keep his QRZ’d logbook up to date.

As Alex says on his QRZ Page, “I operate exclusively open-air portable-QRP from a local Beach-Park using a Yaesu FT-817ND – Powered by an external 9 A/h 12.8 V Lithium Battery Running 5 watts into my self made resonant monobander “New Carolina Windom” antennas for 20m , 40m or 10m – ( performing just great without any tuner ! ): “.

Homeless Ham
QRP In The Park

The antenna is set-up in a flat -” Inverted V ” configuration with the apex at about 7m to 15m (22 to 49 feet) above the ground/sea level. Mainly beaming South and North, hung up between 3 coconut palm-trees.

He has managed to work all 7 continents with his setup ( in SSB ) ….with zero, or just a few, sunspots most of the time.

Alex says that he wants real QSL’s only and he doesn’t use a bureau. He says we are losing that feel of a card in our hand and have something to hold, feel, and look back on to remember the contact. He is homeless but still takes the time to send a QSL card, maybe a lesson for us all.

ARRL Public Information Officer – Honolulu


A New Summer Camping Tradition

Every year (for me it’s 4-5 years, but for my XYL it’s about 33 years) in July, my XYL and I go camping for a week at Papoose Pond in North Waterford, Maine. It’s not the camping I’m used to from my younger, more ruggedly handsome days. Some will, in fact, call it a shade of glamping. For those of you who aren’t hip, that stands for glamorous camping. You will not have the opportunity to don your newest compact North Face tent or showcase your portable propane stove. Instead, you’ll find families with RV’s, large tents housing inflatable mattresses, a spigot, electrical outlet, and pretty much whatever other comforts of home that you wish to lug up with you. It’s family camping at a family campground. There are activities galore, especially for kids. So why not indulge, and bring a radio?

I have wanted to try out a Buddipole for a long while now. As I don’t own one, I asked Fred AB1OC and Anita AB1QB if I could borrow theirs. After explaining I wanted to work 40 and 20m, they hooked me up with the proper accouterments, a copy of Scott Anderson’s NE1RD book, and well-wishes for a fun trip.

The plan was simple. Bring up an IC-7300, Buddipole, analyzer, power supply (since I would have electricity), and a paper log book that my XYL got me for Xmas this past year. She started laughing when I told her the plan and was excited for me to have some fun and make some QSOs.

The Buddipole went up lickety-split fast. In fact, here is one artistic (if I do say so myself) photo of it deployed in the field.

Deployed Buddipole
Deployed Buddipole

It looks pretty sick being on the water with my neon green kayaks lingering in the picturesque background, eh?

Cue the antenna analyzer. I started out trying to work 40m and my SWR…well…it sucked. There really is no better way of saying it. And it kept getting worse no matter what I tried. I know that Scott’s book was dropping knowledge bombs on me, but it wasn’t coming together for me. (Clarification: It is no fault of Scott’s, but of the author of this post) At many points, the analyzer was saturated at 10:1. If the analyzer could have spoken, I imagined it would choose to sound like a snarky Brit, politely but decidedly insulting my intelligence. AB1ZO’s patience was running thin.

And then…I literally hear someone say “knock, knock” and a fellow I did not recognize emerged on my camp site. He said to me, “Hey, I’m Mike, NU1H” and mentioned he saw me setting up the Buddipole from the beach and it was like a beacon (perhaps more like a siren’s sweet, sweet call), beckoning him over to my location. He brought a 7300 and Buddipole too, which he just set up over at his site a few hours earlier and wanted to give me a hand! Alleluia, Sweet Jesus, Amen — I found religion for a moment.

Mike worked with me for what I think was close to two hours giving me lots of helpful tips and showing me checks I could perform to make sure I had everything tuned up properly. (He must have had the magic touch because his very presence lessened the SWR on 40/20 m to under 1.5:1.) For instance, he recommended that to ensure I found the right tap point on the coils, get the rig powered up and centered on a loud station. Then, one-by-one, change the tap point to see what happens to the quality of the sound. If you hear it rise and then fall, then you know you passed the sweet-spot.

We exchanged stories about our HAM adventures, the equipment we purchased (some pics below), and I told him about the Nashua ARC and my own station at my QTH. We just had a great time.

Recommended LDG Antenna Tuner; ad in June issue of QST
Recommended LDG Antenna Tuner; ad in June issue of QST
Alternative to guying Buddipole; Mike (NU1H) uses an angle clamp hammered into the ground with some U-bolts attached to the base.
An alternative to guying Buddipole; Mike (NU1H) uses an angle clamp hammered into the ground with some U-bolts attached to the base.
Mike (NU1H) has handles for his 7300 which makes travel much easier, and conveniently fits into his pelican case.
Mike (NU1H) has handles for his 7300 which makes travel much easier, and conveniently fits into his Pelican case.

Finally, once everything was up and running, I snapped a quick pic of my portable station.

Portable station at the camp site
Portable station at the camp site

During my camping trip, in between kayaking, catching up on some reading, and honestly — being able to take a nap at 1 pm, I made 3 QSOs. I was in a bit of a valley and when I did receive a few signal reports, they informed me that my signal was a bit weak. That coupled to the QRN due to thunderstorms on the horizon, I’m not too surprised I wasn’t getting picked out of the noise.

Some people would call my QSO count a fail. I don’t. It was the experience. I was able to make a new friend and learn a ton of things. Indeed, a very valuable lesson is that I will be doing this again the next year — and the next, and the next…

Brian, AB1ZO

SOTA/POTA Activation of Mount Washington (6,288′)

In the winter I really enjoy operating from my shack. But in the summer I’m finding that I really love operating mobile and portable – getting out in the great outdoors. I’m very excited about our upcoming SOTA/POTA activation of Mount Washington on Saturday, August 26th, 2017. If you enjoy portable or mobile operation or even just being outdoors with great people this is the event for you!

The top of Mount Washington sits at 6,288 feet above sea level. It is the highest peak east of the Mississippi and north of the Carolinas and is known for some of the “worst weather in the world”.  We’re hoping that doesn’t hold true on the 26th. Don’t let the weather or the altitude deter you as there are several ways up the mountain.

The Mount Washington Cog Railway:


SOTA - The Mount Washington Cog Railway
The Mount Washington Cog Railway

The unique way up the mountain is from the Mount Washington Cog Railway. Mt. Washington’s cog railway is the world’s first mountain climbing cog railway. Also, it is the second steepest rack railway in the world with an average grade of 25% and a maximum grade of over 37%!

The Mount Washington Cog Railway Access Road is located off Rte. 302 in Bretton Woods and trips begin at 8:00 am and run through 4:30 pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance on their website.

Drive Yourself:


SOTA - Mount Washington Auto Road
Mount Washington Auto Road

The Mount Washington Auto Road is located in Gorham, New Hampshire on the other side of the mountain from the Cog Railway. The auto road is open from 7:30 am until 6:00 pm on August 26th and rates start at $29 for a car and driver and go up from there.

This drive is not for the faint of heart! There are panoramic views and you will travel through four distinct climate zones on your way up the Northeast’s highest peak. If you are not comfortable with heights or narrow winding roads without guard rails you may want to check out the guided tours or the hiker’s shuttle to the top.

Please note that there are some vehicle restrictions that you want to check out if you plan to drive yourself.

Guided Tours:


SOTA - Tours of Mount Washington
Tours of Mount Washington

Guided tours start at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road beginning at 8:30 am and you have the option of a two hour guided tour or three hour guided tour. The disadvantage of the guided tours is that you are not on your own schedule and time at the top is limited.

The tours do sell out so you will want to book your tickets early if this is the option for you.

Hiker Shuttle:


SOTA - Hiker's Shuttle
Hiker’s Shuttle

Another way up/down the mountain is the Hiker Shuttle.  The Hiker Shuttle leaves from the Stage Office at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road beginning at 9:00 am. The shuttle then leaves on an as-needed basis, so waits of an hour or more may be necessary. The one way down option can be a little tricky as rides down are sold on a first come, first served basis.



SOTA - Connor (KC1GGX) descending via Tuckerman's Ravine trail
Connor (KC1GGX) descending via Tuckerman’s Ravine trail

The final way up/down the mountain is hiking the mountain. Although this may not be for everyone – this is a very strenuous hike – it is the most rewarding.

There are two starting points for getting up Mount Washington – the east face and west face of the mountain. The east face trails begin at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center which has information and basic rooms available for rent. Reservations in advance are a must!

The East Face:


SOTA - East Face of Mt. Washington
East Face of Mt. Washington

The easiest trail (easiest is probably not the right term for any trail on Mount Washington) on the east face of the mountain is Tuckerman’s Ravine for both the ascent and descent. Lion’s Head is the same distance, but slightly steeper. It is not the best for a descent. Boott Spur is another option, which is not any more difficult than the other trails but is much longer. The benefit of this trail is the awesome views!

SOTA - Abby (AB1BY) on Lion's Head
Abby (AB1BY) on Lion’s Head

West Face:


SOTA - West Face of Mt. Washington
West Face of Mt. Washington

The trails on the west face of Mount Washington begin from Mount Washington Cog Railway and offers two trails, the Jewell Trail and Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail ascends via Lake of the Cloud Hut where you can stop and get a hot coffee, hot chocolate, water or some snacks… not to mention the fantastic views!

SOTA - Lake of the Clouds Hut
Lake of the Clouds Hut

If you are planning on hiking an early start is an absolute must, especially if you plan to have any time to operate on the summit. Club members that are planning to hike please let me know. It would be fun to have a group to hike with as well as safer for everyone involved.



There are many accommodations in the area ranging from beautiful hotels to primitive camping areas. Again, booking in advance is a must! Many of the camping areas in the White Mountain National Forest are booked on a first come, first served basis. They do not take reservations in advance. My family is planning on camping out on Friday and Saturday night in the area. We will probably be at the Roaring Brook Campground. We’d be happy to have people join us!

Join in on the Fun!

Lastly, the Finchum’s have a tradition of celebrating any major peaks with a celebratory Moxie the top and we invite you to join us in toasting at the top!

SOTA - Toast at the Summit of Mount Washington
KC1GGX, KC1ENX, and AB1BY Celebrate with a Moxie Toast at the Summit of Mount Washington

SOTA/6m Activation on Mt. Kearsarge

Portable 6m SOTA Station
Portable 6m SOTA Station

We were on Mt. Kearsarge a few weeks back for our second SOTA activation. This location had a great view to the south and provided us with a picturesque location to operate from The CQ VHF contest was going on at the same time that we were up on Mt. Kearsarge.

We brought our 6m portable station and used it for the second activation.

Solar Panel Power for SOTA Activation
Solar Panel Power for SOTA Activation

The setup is solar/battery powered and it has worked well during both of our club SOTA activations. The setup provides 100w out on 6m and keeps the batteries charged throughout an activation.

6m Portable SOTA Antenna
6m Portable Antenna

Anita and I used the same M2 Antenna Systems 3 Eelement, 6m Yagi and portable mast setup that we brought to our Pack Monadnock activation awhile back. We had lots of fun again and we made about 40 contacts on 6m.

Abby, AB1BY, and Jamey, KC1ENX, Provide a BBQ
Abby, AB1BY, and Jamey, KC1ENX, Provide a BBQ

Abby, AB1BY, Jamey, KC1ENX and Patrick, KC1HDN, were also up on Mt. Kearsarge and we all had fun hanging out together during the activation.

We have a great SOTA activation coming up on Mt. Washingon next weekend. Anita and I are really looking forward to this next one. See Jamey’s article for all of the details. It should be one of the most fun activities of the year for us. We hope to see you on Mt. Washington!

Fred, AB1OC