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201603 KW4VA Virginia QSO Party

K8GP Rover June VHF 2016

Please check out an article I posted on my time spent with Terry W8ZN as we roved in the ARRL June contest.  There you will find pictures, audio and video of our operations from various grids square in western PA and VA.  I have also published numerous maps and stats of the stations we contacted across the 50 MHz – 10 GHz bands.  Please click K1RA @ K8GP Rover ARRL June VHF 2016 to read more.


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KW4VA VaQP 2015

I organized a few fellow hams to help participate this year’s Virginia QSO Party. With the help of Terry W8ZN, Craig N4OHE and the gracious host of Jim W4RX we put the KW4VA VaQP call on the air from Jim’s shack for the weekend of Mar. 21-22. We set up a small multi-multi station with 2 HF (80-10m) stations running Elecraft K3’s and an Alpha and Heathkit amps and one V/UHF 146/223/446 FM station running a Kenwood TM-742A. Our antennas ranged from some low dipoles for 40 & 80m, to a tribander for 10/15/20m and several monobanders. An 80m wire beam, a 40m 3L rotatable beam, a 5L 20m beam, stacked 5L 15m beams and a 6L 10m beam. For the V/UHF station we ran a triband vertical antenna up 50′. Full time op’s included Terry W8ZN, Jason KJ4EOO and myself Andy K1RA as well as part time ops Bill N4SV, Rich N3UW and Mike N2NAR.

Check out my photo album or a video collage with some pictures and video snippets from over the weekend below.

Our final contest breakdown for stations and multipliers contacted is as follows:

Total QSOs = 2408

Mobile QSOs = 323 (3pts each) = 969 pts
CW QSOs = 404 (2pts each) = 808 pts
Digital QSOs = 0 (2pts each) = 0 pts
Phone QSOs = 1681 (1pt each) = 1681 pts

Bonus Pts = 500 (K4NVA QSO)

Total Points = 3458

Multipliers = 266

DX = 89
VA Counties/Cities = 119 (of 133)
States = 48 (of 49)
VE = 10 (of 13)

Final Score = 920,328 points

73 and thanks for all the contacts!


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With the solar flux rising again in the winter of 2014/15 I’ve finally got my Raspberry Pi microcontroller based WSPR beacon on the air. I’m generating RF on 160m, 80m, 40m, 30m at night and 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m and 10m during the day every 2 minutes using my club call sign KW4VA. The controller generates ~10 milliwatts of power to either a 40m horizontal full wave loop in my attic up ~25′ or ZS6BKW @ 50′ or 400+’ long wire in the back yard. I’d developed a script awhile back to pull data from WSPRnet and display who has been copying my 10mw signal. Below you will see a Google map on which I plot of the most distant stations who have received my signal over the last few months. The red 0 icon is my beacon location at the intersections of all the lines. The other blue icon #’s are placed over the 6 digit grid square or approximate latitude and longitude of the receiving station. Those blue # icons represent what band (in meters) my signal was received. Click on the icons to read more information about the receiving stations to include their call sign, grid, distance, beam heading, average signal to noise ratio, # of reports posted, frequency and first and last times I was spotted. The color of the lines represent received signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) in dB [red <-20, -20 < yellow <-10, green >-10]. Click on the View Larger Map links below this map to see a larger interactive map with more specific band data for my running total of unique DX country spots.

View Large Map for all time unique DX countries

My beacon is running Jamesp6000 WsprryPi C++ code on a RPi microcontroller board.

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K1RA @ K8GP Rover June VHF 2014

This past June I again had the opportunity to rove with Terry W8ZN. We had last roved in the ARRL Jan. VHF SS contest and had a great time and scored very well. Since the K8GP Grid Pirates Contest Group were unable to host an operation from their multi-op, multi-trasnmitter contest site in FM19bb, the two of us opted to pull together another plan to enter the Classic Rover category. Rich N3UW was kind enough to allow us to again borrow his rover for this event. Terry and I spent some additional time improving and re-engineering the rover given what we learned in Jan. Read more about our preparations, route planning, contest weekend experience and post contest analysis by clicking here.


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K1RA @ W4VA Field Day 2014

I had the opportunity to participate in the ARRL Field Day 2014 event this past June. I joined members of the Fauquier Amateur Radio Assoc. to enter in the 2A emergency power category. We operated from Crockett Park in the county, near Germantown Lake. We provided a GOTA (Get-On-The-Air) station for the public to participate, as well as established V/UHF station, a Voice station and a CW station for our club members to operate. We had great weather and a good turnout. I took a number of pictures, video and even some aerial shots from my quadcopter. To see a photo collage and some video excerpts of the weekend event, please see my Youtube video by clicking here, or below.

You can also view the static photo album.

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K1RA @ K8GP Rover Jan VHF SS 2014

I’m celebrating 35 yrs since I made my first SSB/CW VHF contest QSOs back as a young WB1ALW and KA1GD back in CT.  This year I was fortunate enough to be able to rove with Terry W8ZN in this past ARRL January VHF SS contest. I assisted Terry in rebuilding the rover of Rich N3UW who graciously allowed us to take it out on a maiden voyage. I wrote an in depth article covering the preparation and contest weekend experience. I put together pictures, audio, video and some graphics and analysis maps covering our various grid stops. Check out the full article for more or click the picture below.

N3UW Rover used by K8GP Rover in the ARRL January VHF SS

N3UW Rover used by K8GP Rover in the ARRL January VHF SS

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K1RA @ K8GP SVHFS Fall 2m Sprint 2013

Check out my article covering the 4 hour sprint event I participated in recently. I had the pleasure of activating the K8GP contest station in grid FM19bb on 144 MHz during a spectacular tropospheric opening that occurred in conjunction with the radio competition. I captured some weather maps to explain the conditions that lead up to the nights great propagation. Below is a snapshot of the live 2m APRS tropo map that gives a slight idea of who was hearing who. Also visit my article to see some statistics on my best DX contacts, view my log and even listen to some of what I heard. Click here to read more!

2m APRS Live Tropo feed animation loop for Fall 2m Sprint 2013 (2300-0300z)

2m APRS Live Tropo feed animation loop for Fall 2m Sprint 2013 (2300-0300z)

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K1RA @ W1RT Rover ARRL September VHF 2012

K1RA @ W1RT Rover Sept. VHF 2012

Please check out my article capturing the adventures of K1RA @ W1RT Rover in the ARRL Sept 2012 VHF contest by clicking here.

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K1RA mobile on APRS

I’m now active on APRS via APRSDroid. Find me when I’m mobile. I am usually active on HF on CW or SSB. I run an Icom 706mkIIg at 100 watts with a AH-4 tuner and a 2.75m steel whip. Hope to see you on the bands!

View Larger Map

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K1RA 144 MHz ESkip

I was fortunate enough to catch a 2m ESkip opening on the evening commute home Tues. July 24 from about 630p to 8p local. Many locals in the Va/D.C./Md area were on from fixed locations working the opening. Locals K1HTV, K4RTS, W4CLJ, KE2N, N3ALN, N4MM, K3ZO and K4HJF among others, were all heard working the DX from 0 land and 5 land, much of I which I couldn’t hear. I was only using an Icom 706 MKIIG @ ~ 50w and a dual-band magmount vertical on the roof of the SUV, but I was able to work 4 stations in the mid-west. I logged N0IGZ (KS – EM27 @ 932 mi.), K0WYN (MO – EM48 @ 759 mi.), W0BLD (MO – EM37 @ 844 mi.) and K5SW (OK – EM25 @ 985 mi.). I copied 8 other unique calls during this time to include AF5CC (OK – EM04 @ 1174 mi.) who heard me but never completed, WA0CNS (MO – EM48 @ 645 mi.), K0DOK (MO – EM48 @ 714 mi.), KC0SNN (MO – EM27 @ 918 mi.), WB5AFY (TX – EM04 @ 1233 mi.), W7QJQ (OK – EM25 @ 959 mi.), KB5MR (OK – EM25 @ 1016 mi.) and N5UWY (OK – EM15 @ 1100 mi.). Click on any of the calls above to hear what I recorded from the mobile on my Android phone using an MP3 recorder acoustically coupled to the rig’s speaker.

Here’s what the APRS 144 MHz real-time propagation map looked like for that time frame. You can see that many portions of the U.S. were experiencing wide area ESkip over 600 miles.

APRS 144 MHz real-time propagation map 07-24-2012

Another useful VHF propagation tool to watch on a daily basis for these types of openings is the DXMaps VHF MUF Map of North America, which offers a real-time view of the maximum usable frequency (MUF) across the country.

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