Category Archives: Mobile

2013 CQ WW CW contest

I plan to operate the 2013 CQ WW CW contest from Ogunquit, Maine. It’s a beautiful location right at the beach so I’m looking forward to some ocean-influenced propagation during the contest.

Not sure yet what kind of antenna I’ll set up. My hotel room is on the second floor with a nice deck up about 20 feet looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean.

I plan to use simple wire antennas, so I’m bringing about 50 feet of speaker wire and two collapsable 16-foot fiberglass poles so I can rig a longwire, dipole or inverted vee. I’m also packing about 50 feet of twin-lead for a transmission line for inverted vee / dipole setups.

I’ll be running my KX3 at 5w on 80-10m.

Good luck if you plan to compete! Let’s hope the propagation gods are smiling down on us all for the CQ WW CW contest!


TFR outside Moscow, ID

Took a short trip to a small, local pond on the east side of Moscow, ID to work the museum ships weekend.

I brought my KX3 and SV9 40-10 vertical and set up a few feet from the pond, close enough to see the fish and baby ducks swimming by.

Condx from my home QTH were not good so I wanted to see what a change of location and antenna might do.

I did work NB6GC – The USS Hornet – in Bend, Oregon. Also heard two other museum ship sites but could not reach them: NI6BB – The battleship Iowa – and N5P – The Museum of the Pacific War – In Fredricksburg, TX.

Band conditions improved greatly at the pond, with 40m going from S9+ QRN to about S4 QRN. Across the rest of HF land QRN was S1 or less. Unfortunately a weekend geomagnetic storm really tamped down propagation from the Idaho panhandle.

Also heard VE3 CWM – The Canadian Cold War Museum – which is actually a real Cold War bunker 100 feet underground, designed for key people in the government to remain in for up to 30 days on the event the unthinkable ever happened. The bunker was officially closed nearly 20 years ago so now it’s just a tourist attraction of sorts. Wish I could have worked them but, no luck today.

Still it was great fun to be outside on the air. Setup took just a few minutes.

Next time I hope propagation is better – heard a few other stations comment on the marginal band condx.

Before I called it a day, had a real nice QSO with Doug – WB6MFV – in Oregon. He was running an FTDX 5K at about 700W – great sigs. Thanks for the QSO, Doug, rock on!

Here are some pix from the operating position.

The SV9 is up against the tree. I ran four 20-ft radials off the grounded plate at the foot of the SV9.


The view from my seat, pond-side. That’s my battery pack on top of the KX3. If you look carefully you can see two ducks swimming by.
Here’s the welome sign to the park, with my setup in the distance on the left.


The theme for this year’s QRP To The Field (QRPTTF) day was “Happy Trails.” I decided to operate from the Latah Trail, a rails-to-trail path I ride on a regular basis.

The 12-mile trail runs east-west between Moscow, Idaho and Pullman, Washington, connecting near the Moscow city limit to the Bill Chipman Trail, which runs 12 miles into Pullman. It’s a great ride with many scenic views along the way. Heading east from Moscow the trail runs across the Palouse until it rises to a “summit” that overlooks the countryside. This is the spot I selected for my Happy Trails operation for QRPTTF 2013.

This was my first QRPTTF and I’d been scouting for a good location a few weeks prior. The Latah Trail was perfect as it offered a bench (see photos below) as well as a small stand of tall pines for me to throw a antenna wire into.

At around 0730 local time I drove my car and bike from Moscow down to Troy, Idaho where the trail ends. From there I loaded my trusty Ortlieb bike bags with my gear and rode the 2.4 miles up the hill on the trail to the summit.


High winds were forecast for the day so I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was there was no precipitation in the forecast. Good news since the spot I chose had no protection from the elements.

Here are two shots from my ride up the hill.

QRPTTF-3-2013 QRPTTF-2-2013

The event began at 0800 local time so I was eager to reach the top and get set up. Having recently purchased an Elecraft KX3 I was excited to see it perform on the trail. The site I chose has a nice bench and lots of tall trees, but it one other feature I did not experience during my earlier visit, which was in much cooler wx: mosquitos and gnats! They immediately swarmed as I started my set up. I ignored them as best I could. Here is a shot of the center point of my dipole in a nearby pine tree (unfortunately not one of the taller trees near the bench).


Once I got the dipole in place it only took a few more minutes to make the KX3 operational.


That’s an 8-pack of AA rechargeable batteries velcro’d atop the KX3.


I went right to work amidst the bugs and started making contacts, which included

  • NA6MG (California) at SOTA W6/CTT14
  • NM5TW (New Mexico) at SOTA W5/SE026
  • NE1SJ (Massachusetts) at SOTA W1/CRT13
  • K7SO (New Mexico) at SOTA W5N/PWT22
  • KU6J (California) at SOTA W6/NS160

I also briefly worked HP0/KN5L/MM. Not sure exactly where he was, but it may have been a Maritime Mobile near Panama.

There actually was no wind for the first few hours, but at around 1100 local time, 15-20 PH gusts kicked up. Great for me as it drove off the gnats and mosquitos!

For me, 20 meters was the only viable band. Not much activity elsewhere. All in all I had a great time and really appreciated the KX3’s ability to dig weak signals out of the ether.

I worked QRPTTF for about 3 hours and enjoyed every minute. Looking forward to QRPTTF 2014 and more trail friendly radio.



Operating mobile for FYBO QRP 2013 with the KX3

It was such a beautiful day today I decided to take the KX3 out and participate in Freeze Your Butt Off Winter QRP Sprint. Wx was in the mid-30s with a breeze. I decided to drive over to the Palouse Ridge Golf Golf Club at WSU and set up on a bluff overlooking the Palouse.

I loaded the KX3, my speaker wire dipole, portable key, and AA batteries in my backback, jumped in the car and headed over.

The clump of trees seen in the aerial view on this page shows where I set up for FYBO.

The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, the wind was blowing. Perfect day! I had forgotten to bring a chair and my headphones, but luckily for me, there was a bench waiting for me. It was quiet enough that I did not need my headphones. So, I tossed my dipole into the trees, leaving the center about 6 feet above the ground. Hooked up the KX3 to the antenna, plugged in the key and battery pack and started scanning for FYBO CQs.

As a started scanning on 20 meters I heard KH6MB (Hawaii) calling CQ on 14.004. I responded, only half expecting him to hear my 3W CW signal. He came right back! Wow! My first mobile contact on the KX3 was Hawaii. Nice.

I went on to notch 3 FYBO contacts in the next hour: K7TQ in Idaho, WD7Y in Nevada, and W0DTJ in California. All on 20M. Not too bad for 3W to a dipole 6 feet off the ground.

I also worked Barry, N2BJ in New Lenox, IL on 15M RTTY. Tried PSK31 but had no luck, although the KX3 did an excellent job translating PSK to text for me. A waterfall display is nice, but this rig makes it pretty easy to run PSK without it.

All in all a very productive first outing with the KX3. My plan is to set up my 32 ft. vertical next time to see how it performs at that same location.

Till next time – 73!

Operating mobile

One of the reasons I want to build a highly portable QRP rig is so I can operate mobile from a bicycle. The area where I live in North Idaho offers many biking trails, like the Palouse Trail, and the Hiawatha Trail, where it’s easy to pull off, set up and operate mobile.

I still need to devise portable antennas for HF, 6m and 2m, but a lot of the antenna work I’m doing around the house is giving me ideas, since I’m pretty much forced to devise antennas that are lightweight, compact and easy to set-up and take down. I’m reading Lew McCoy’s book on antennas which has good ideas on design and construction techniques.

The bike I ride now is actually my Dad’s old Fuji which he bought in the late 1960s or early 1970s. It’s old but rides well. The major drawback to using it to operate mobile is that it’s a touring road bike with narrow tires, not good for riding on unpaved surfaces. At some point I’ll have to get a good off-road bike. But for now the Fuji is fine.
I could probably operate mobile now with the IC 706MKII but I need to obtain gel cells for power. The motorcycle battery I’m using is not practical for mobile operation on a bike. Ideally, I’d like to obtain some kind of flexible, portable solar panel for power, but that technology is still a bit pricey for my budget.