Category Archives: US Islands

May 2015 US Island Program One Day Getaway Island Activation Plans

Of course our friend George W9EVT will be operating for the day from Washington Island WI001L

Here further south in Wisconsin the team is myself and Scott W9JSB.  We may add one or two more hams, but they haven’t confirmed as I wrote.

Plan is The Friday evening part (May 9th 0000Z to dark)  to operate from Step-In Island WI039R.  This is a second time activation of an Island in Shoto Wisconsin.

Saturday will start with “The Flats” WI041R – an Island in Appleton Wisconsin in the Fox River – with myself running solo, and Scott W9JSB will join after he is done coaching his kids soccer team to do a first time ever activation for Banta Island WI057R.   Banta Island is further downstream in the Fox River, still in Appleton.

Equipment will be a bit different for the One Day Getaway than my past Island operations:

  • Transceiver – FlexRadio Systems Flex-6300, running SmartSDR 1.4.3 and a Toshiba Laptop
  • Antenna – SteppIR CrankIR antenna

I used this FlexRadio/CrankIR set up with great success for Washington Island WI001L weekends at Rocky Ridge Farm – a place we leased last season about 2 miles from George W9EVT’s QTH. As most folk refused to believe I wasn’t running an Amp and a Beam when I ran the setup from Rocky Ridge Farm, I am hoping the same performance will work for the team for the One Day Getaway.

Appreciate some help for the first time activation!  We need at least 25 confirmed QSOs with a minimum of one DX QSO to make the activation of Banta Island WI057R official.  Hoping we can catch many of you on the air that day!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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US Islands Awards Program’s “One-Day Getaway” – Saturday, May 9, 2015

Don’t miss this:

 http://www.usislands.org/USI-1DG-PressRelease.pdf

Contact: Jay Chamberlain, NS4J US Islands Awards Manager ns4j@usislands.org

For Immediate Release

Hams Hit the Water for the new US Islands Awards Program’s “One-Day Getaway” – Saturday, May 9, 2015

February 19, 2015

Fans of portable ham radio are encouraged to grab their equipment and head for the water as part of the new “One-Day Getaway,” sponsored by the US Islands awards program. The annual event will make its debut on Saturday, May 9, 2015, from 0000 UTC through 2359 UTC (Friday evening to Saturday evening in the continental US).

Founded in 1994, US Islands promotes portable ham radio operations from islands found in all bodies of water: lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and coastal islands in US territorial waters. The One-Day Getaway is an on-air activity, not a contest: no scores are tallied and no prizes are awarded. Participation from all radio amateurs, regardless of experience level, is encouraged.

“US Islands is a great way to go on a mini-DXpedition without spending a lot of money,” said US Islands Awards Manager Jay Chamberlain, NS4J. “Discovering islands in your own back yard and setting up a station outdoors is always a good time. If hams have only operated outdoors during Field Day, we offer another route to get outside and enjoy portable ham radio in a different way.”

Contacts can be made with any station; US Islands offers achievement awards for both island activators and island chasers, including a certificate for your first US Islands activation.

While there are over 2,800 islands on the US Islands list, there are more than 17,000 islands within the United States. Participants can use Google Earth to locate new islands and be the first to operate ham radio from that location! Complete information on the US Islands Program, a how-to guide for One-Day Getaway participants and a list of currently qualified islands is available at http://www.usislands.org.

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Working on doing an activation myself for the event! Details to follow!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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More Washington Island portable operations

This weekend is my 4th working the CrankIR and the Flex-6300 from Rocky Ridge Farm on Washington Island, and my first running some digital mode from the farm.

I also brought two laptops , though I think one good one with dual screens would have been more effective.

Did a basic Ham Radio Deluxe setup and with DM780 worked a handful of PSK31 contacts.

Here is the two machines:

And here is closer look at the Toshiba running PSK31 via DM780:

I was able to work our local club president Scott W9JSB on 40m and again had some nice 12m contacts.

PSK31 operations were easy once I figured out the HRD/DM780 set up with SmartCAT and DAX. I will add in DDUTIL later.

My QSO count was down this weekend as I first arrived Saturday morning after catching the musical “Always.. Patsy Cline” at the Peninsula Players Theater in Fish Creek Friday evening (the XYL came to the mainland by private boat to make our theater date). Also I needed to be on my way noon Sunday, with a dinner out at The Sailor’s Pub and a morning coffee at The Red Cup Cafe .. and an a la fresco lunch at Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm’s bistro all squeezed into the 30 hours on Island.

It will be a couple weekends before I get back to Island operations and then end of October our lease at Rocky Ridge Farm ends.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Rocky Ridge Farm on Washington Island, WI – Third Radio Activation

This weekend is my third working the CrankIR and the Flex-6300 from Rocky Ridge Farm on Washington Island.

Getting past the  learning curve.

Was too chilly to comfortably operate outside, so set up the radio inside one the kitchen table.

K9ZW at Rocky Ridge

K9ZW at Rocky Ridge

 

Easy DX this time and I’ve figured out the band change process pretty well.  Worked on 10m, 12m, 15m, 17m, 20m, and 40m.

Great fun!

 

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Rocky Ridge Farm on Washington Island, WI – First Radio Activation

Even though we have leased the farm for months, I first got around to setting up a portable station this weekend.  Usually when I am on Washington Island I have the luxury of guest operating from George W9EVT’s mega-shack, and even in this attempt George W9EVT saved the day helping me get on the air.

Equipment used was:

  • SteppIR CrankIR antenna with radial and 80m kits
  • FlexRadio System Flex-6300 transceiver
  • A Toshiba Laptop running Win7-Pro I borrowed from work
  • Power supply from my spares shelf
  • Cisco gigabit router
  • cables and power cords/distribution from my spares

This was our first use of the CrankIR and the Flex-6300, so we had a bit of a learning curve.  It was also a fresh install of SmartSDR, SmartCAT, DAX, and fldigi on the Toshiba which all had to be configured.

 

The SteppIR CrankIR Antenna

The SteppIR CrankIR Antenna


The working end

The working end


The Wires side of things

The Wires side of things


Logging on Cardboard

Logging on Cardboard


CrankIR Main Unit up close

CrankIR Main Unit up close


Rocky Ridge Farm Activated

Rocky Ridge Farm Activated

 

 

W9EVT saved the day...

W9EVT saved the day…

Pictures cannot convey the experience of doing a first time setup of the CrankIR – an easy task once you’ve done it, but a dickens the first time.  Winston KC9FVR helped the first setup and I don’t think I could have done it first time without my son’s participation.

I quickly discovered I had no audio out – I forgot to bring a headset or speakers, and ten Flex-6300 does not have an internal speaker, so my initial efforts were digital mode.

No joy there as my signal apparently wasn’t readable on PSK31 and without audio out the portable stup wasn’t going anywhere.

So the next day, hat in hand, I borrowed a headset from George W9EVT and switched to SSB.

Fairly quickly I was able to work a good number of stations on 20m and 15m phone, including several DX stations.

Found that the software juggling on the laptop was a pain, and ended up doing all the logging on the cardboard tabletop cover I used to have a mouse-ready surface.  Later I entered the QSOs into eQSL and I’ll import the adi log file into my main log later.

Mother Nature ended my activation early as it started to rain and the winds started whipping.  Knocking everything down went smoothly and with Labor Day still windy & rainy, further Rocky Ridge Farm activation will wait for another day.

Of course I have updated my gear checklist to include headphones and speakers for the next activation.

73

Steve

K9ZW

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New K9ZW Custom QSL Cards by Jeff K1NSS

Just finished today is the design phase of a trio of new QSL card designs commissioned from Jeff K1NSS.

I’ve segmented my operating QSOs recently into those where I’ve been on my new Flex-6700, those where I’ve been using vintage gear, and those made from my frequent visits on Washington Island.

Jeff K1NSS Eyeball QSO Card Designs for K9ZW

Jeff K1NSS Eyeball QSO Card Designs for K9ZW

Jeff K1NSS was brought to my attention as an illustrator and featured name in the K9YA Club Newsletter and by word of mouth.

We exchanged a few emails working out a strategy to a portfolio of designs, each with print and web versions, plus a coordinated Eyeball QSO Card.

Jeff has great talents suggesting viable themes and asking great questions to draw out what I was hoping for.

The Flex-6700 feature reflects the “magic decoder ring” that this piece of SDR equipment has brought to my operations. If you receive the full actual card there are “Easter Eggs” hidden in the design.

A “Voice of Steve” card seemed a natural to give a feel for the reverence of operating with vintage gear. I’ve gear spanning the WWII period onwards which I put to use when I can.

The third segmentation are those QSOs I make as a guest at the George Ulm W9EVT mega-shack at Greengate Farm on Washington Island, Wisconsin. The card gives tribute to this significant radio operation and also a way to highlight any other Washington Island QSO I make.

The reduced designs are the Eyeball QSO Cards illustrated. Eyeball QSO Cards is an Amateur’s way to say “calling card” and have taken the full card themes in a form adjusted for the purpose.

A highly rewarding experience, the process was a lot of fun! I spent more with Jeff than many of his projects, as I asked him to do not only the three designs, but also a WI9DX Washington Island DX Club version and a club member version of that card as well.

Oh and I asked him to do custom reverse sides to blend with the cards designs.

I’ll trickle some examples on the blog over the next few weeks.

Hope you like them as much as I do!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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