Tag Archives: portable gear

2022 September VHF Contest Report

Well, my first September VHF Contest could simply be described as rough. Unlike my other reports, I’ll cut to the chase up front and say I only made six contacts during the weekend with a claimed scored of 42. While this probably sums up my frustration, there is a lot of backstory to how things went which I think is worth diving into.

My original plan was to spend Saturday in EN20 given its relatively needed status (at least compared to other nearby grids) for FFMA ops. I selected the Nodaway Valley Conservation Area since it was 1) fairly close to my QTH in Kansas City, 2) a public place that I believed I’d have no hassle utilizing, and 3) was not in a river basin like many of the other public parks/areas nearby. I sent out a post on the FFMA groups.io advertising this operation and got some good feedback from other hams needing the grid, so I was really excited to make this work out.

Continue reading

Fixing LiFePO4 Batteries That Won’t Charge

As is the seemingly the craze in ham radio, I recently picked up several LiFePO4 batteries of varying capacities to use with my Yaseu FT-991a. I was able to get these as part of the Amazon Vine program, so there is no particular reason I chose the models in question: Power Queen 10Ah and SOKERDY 16Ah. For a similar reason, I got a (rather beefy) charger that supports varying chemistries from the SUHU brand  (all these links are Amazon affiliate links).

Both batteries have a built-in Battery Management System (BMS) that essentially protects the cells from mistreatment including over and undervoltage. After the 2022 CQ WW VHF contest, which was the first I ran them to empty, I tried to charge them on the LiFePO4 setting on the charger, but it would not detect either battery. After putting a multimeter on them, I realize the BMS cutoff the terminals entirely to protect the low voltage condition. I would have expected this to reset after the load was removed for a certain amount of time but apparently not.

After remembering the battery charging had a “12V Supply” mode (which seemed useless to me when I bought it), I thought it was worth connecting them to the supply to see if this higher voltage would “kickstart” the batteries. Voila! It did! It seems only a second or two of 12-14V power is required to get it out of protection mode.

This is a clunky solution though as the charger requires a long button press to switch modes. It is probably better to not let the battery voltage get this low for battery longevity anyway, which is my solution going forward (and partially why having a simple voltmeter like I desired in my 2022 Field Day Report is handy). But in any case, keep this in mind if your LiFePO4 battery dies and the charger won’t detect it. It probably just needs a high enough voltage to get it out of this protection.

Please do this at your own risk as you are essentially forgoing any sort of controlled charging for the couple seconds it is connected. I take no responsibility for any undesirable result of trying this. Make sure you don’t leave it on too long or you could damage the battery!

2022 CQ WW VHF Contest Report

For my first CQ WW VHF contest, I decided to try my hand at some VHF roving. I set out to hit four grids around the Kansas City area using my Par Electronics 6m Moxon, Diamond 5 element 2m yagi, Max-Gain Systems mast, new Yaesu FT-991a, and new 10 Ah and 16 Ah LiFePO4 batteries.

My first stop was EM38 at the Odessa Reservoir outside of Odessa, Missouri. Despite it being a Saturday afternoon, the area was very quiet. A few fisherman left shortly after I arrived leaving me alone for a few hours out in the hot sun. My setup in the car included a backseat tray for the laptop (Amazon affiliate link) and the radio on the seat next to me. This worked fairly well (the shelf was excellent in fact), but I desired a better “shelf” of sorts of the radio so that I didn’t have to turn 90 degrees to use the radio. This was one of the key takeaways that I have since solved (see my upcoming 2022 Kansas QSO Party report for details on that). At this spot, I made a total of 21 QSOs including four on 2m (one SSB and three FT8) and 17 on 6m (three SSB and 14 FT8).

Continue reading

2022 Field Day Report

For Field Day this year, I decided to run a solo HF operation from Tuttle Creek State Park (K-2353) in Manhattan, Kansas. At Dayton Hamvention, I bought a Yaesu FT-991a to use for HF and VHF/UHF given that my recent interests have been a lot of car-portable and roving operations. For antenna, I used my Pacific Antenna 20/40m trapped dipole and Max-Gain Systems mast as I did for the 2021 Kansas QSO Party. My goals for this Field Day were to test out the new radio setup and just get out of town for some solo camping. Continue reading

2021 Kansas QSO Party Report

Operating from Fall River State Park in Greenwood County, Kansas.

For my first time participating in the Kansas QSO Party, I decided to operate as W0V, a 1×1 rover station activating several counties at different state parks around Wichita. By operating from state parks, I figured I’d have decent locations to operate from that would also let me submit to the Parks on the Air (POTA) program for credit as well. This ended up being helpful in the end for standing out in some pile-ups.

I drove down to the Wichita area on Friday night and stayed in a hotel in anticipation for an early start the following morning. My plan was to be set up by around 8:30am so I could be on the air right at the start of the QSO party. I would visit three parks throughout Saturday, return to the same hotel for the night, then go to two more parks Sunday before driving home to Kansas City.

Continue reading

W0V 2021 Kansas QSO Party Plans

For my first Kansas QSO Party, I’ll be operating as a rover station under the special event call sign W0V on 20m and 40m SSB and FT8. I’ll be traveling to the Wichita area hitting up five counties throughout the weekend. I am also planning for each of my operating locations to be a Kansas State Park qualifying for the POTA program.

Click here for the map of my planned route (thank you Bob, W0BH for creating this map and managing the QSO Party!).

Saturday 8/28 (9am-9pm CDT):

  • Greenwood County – Fall River State Park (K-2338)
  • Woodson County – Cross Timbers State Park (K-2334)
  • Butler County – El Dorado State Park (K-2336)

Sunday 8/29 (9am-3pm CDT):

  • Kingman County – Cheney State Park (K-2331)
  • Reno County – Sand Hills State Park (K-2351)

I’m planning to run APRS during the weekend as W0V-6, so track my location in real time on aprs.fi. I may also post updates throughout the weekend on Twitter @kd8rtt.

2021 Field Day Report

For the first time in several years, I decided to participate in a club Field Day operation. I headed to down Orlando, Florida to operate with WD4WDW, the Disney Emergency Amateur Radio Service (DEARS), of which my brother (KK4LWR) is the current club president. They had been planning to run a 2A, so I asked if they’d be interested in me running a free VHF station for 6m and 2m. Coming off June VHF, I saw this as an opportunity to get some more practice with my setup and try the antennas (6m Moxon and 5 element 2m yagi) with some more power. I checked the antennas and mast in a hard-side golf bag case on my Southwest flights to Orlando and back without any issues. Once at the site, I set up in the communal screened-in tent (many bugs in Florida) and used my brother’s Yaesu FT-857D as the radio. Although not as nice as my IC-705 in many perspectives, I appreciated the extra 10 dB this radio provided, and it certainly worked well for me.

Continue reading

2021 June VHF Contest Report

After my experience in the 2020 June VHF contest, I decided to participate again this year with a better setup and more dedicated effort as a Single Operator Portable (SOP) station. After searching for good campsites around eastern Kansas, I booked a campsite at Fall River State Park (POTA K-2338) which is around 70 miles west of Wichita. This put me in a rural area with an open and secluded campsite to set up a mini Field Day operation for the contest right on the shore of Fall River Lake.

Continue reading

March 2021 Satellite Operations Gear

At the time of posting, I’m actually in the midst of changing my satellite gear so it is no longer my current setup. That said, I wanted to document it before I forgot about it and pass along my thoughts in case anyone else finds the information useful in the future.

In general, the radios and antennas for my ham radio satellite operations I’ve used have not changed since my last gear update (February 2020 Satellite Operations Gear). Check out that post for more details, but basically I use a Kenwood TH-D74 for a receive radio, an Yaesu FT-817ND as a transmit radio, an Arrow Antenna (now a custom-drilled version by WY7AA), with a variety of cables and adapters in between. In the last six months, I added a 3 Ah Bioenno battery pack to power the FT-817ND as well as a David Clark PC headset to replace the cheap PC headset I previously used.

Continue reading

2020 ARRL June VHF Contest Report

I’ve wanted to give a VHF contest a go for awhile, it never seemed like I could have a workable station for real weak signal VHF being an apartment dweller. With all my travel plans canceled this summer due to COVID-19 and plenty of time to experiment, I figured I might as well clear a few weekends to test a portable VHF setup and then work the ARRL June VHF Contest. I decided I’d largely use equipment I already had which meant entering the contest as Single Operator Portable (SOP) with only 5w.

Continue reading