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WQ4RP Remote Control

WQ4RP Remote Control

Back to the future

It has been two years since my last post, but I am happy to report that you may expect to see more regular reports henceforth.

During the past two years, W4MPS, W4MY, N4HAY, W4CX, AA4OO and I have been working on several projects relating to Amateur Radio Station WQ4RP, the station being known as Excalibur by members of the KnightLites QRP Society.

In the forthcoming posts, we will be sharing details of major infrastructure improvements at Excalibur, along with highlights from our QRP related activities:

  • Completed microwave internet link to Excalibur site
  • Installed a 1.5KW solar panel array
  • Increased battery capacity to 8.5KW (660AH capacity at 12.8VDC)
  • Updated solar charge controllers
  • Implemented internet based remote control of the station.
  • Operated several contests as Multi-Op entry

Remote control of the Excalibur Station

This Winter, the Excalibur team was able to realize the longtime goal of implementing remote control of WQ4RP using a Remoterig system.

Remoterig Control Unit visible behind laptop

The Remoterig system at WQ4RP consists of one Radio Unit and several Control Units–one Control Unit being being located at the QTH of each remote operator. The Radio Unit is located adjacent to the Flex 6300 transceiver at the Excalibur site, and it controls the routing of audio and control signals between the Flex radio and the outside world.

W4MPS using Remoterig controller during NCQP 2019

Marc, W4MPS recently put Remoterig to the test during the North Carolina QSO Party. Marc was located at the QTH of Marty Young, W4MY, who lives about 25 miles from the Excalibur Site. Marc kindly submitted his comments below.

Comments from Marc, W4MPS:

I was excited when Paul announced his retirement. After asking him 20 times “what are you waiting for?”, he finally gave in. I’m sure he doesn’t regret it. I was even more excited when he started work on a remote station setup for Excalibur. I hadn’t been very active since my XYL Eileen passed away in July. About a year before, we relocated to a smaller, more manageable QTH. The new home is great, but there is very little room for antennas. I did manage to shoot up an end fed, but it’s not very efficient. So when I heard Paul’s plans, I was the first to raise my hand.

After purchasing a RemoteRig RRC-1258 MxII remote controller unit, Paul and I set out to get it up and running. Our goal was to be remotely QRV for the NC QSO Party. If we were successful, I agreed to operate digital modes from Marty’s QTH (W4MY) to hand out digital bonus Q’s for the Chairmen’s Challenge Award and for W4DW.

Paul had the patience of a saint as we confronted one obstacle after another. We thought we had all the programming and settings correct at least three times. But each time, Murphy reared his ugly head and we were back to scratching ours. Patience and persistence prevailed and all appeared to be FB the week before the contest.

We then set out to add multiband options to the Excalibur antenna site. I had my trusty 282 foot 80 meter loop antenna just sitting around doing nothing. I loved using it at my previous QTH and missed it very much. What better addition to Excalibur than that? Down came the 80 meter dipole, and up went the 80 meter horizontal loop. Since it’s a continuous loop connected to twinlead, the trick was getting it over and in the clear of all the elevated radials at the site. We did our best to imitate two of the Three Stooges, but managed to figure it out. It fits perfectly and with some pretty slick slingshots, were able to get it up to a respectable height. Excalibur now has switchable choices between the 160 meter vertical loop and the 80 meter horizontal loop.

Operating from my home QTH, I ran some signal strength comparisons on FT8 between my end fed and the Excalibur 80M loop.Here are a few examples on 20 meters:

                                                                   Excalibur Loop              W4MPS EF

                                R5AJ                                      +06                                         -05

                                W1BUB                                 +03                                         -15

                                UA9CEL                                -01                                          -17

Pretty incredible. I’d say the loop is doing well. It loads on 80 through 6, and even loads on 160, although we don’t intend to use it on that band.

Remote operations were flawless from W4MY. Marty was on Phone, Dave, WN4AFP (SCQP Chairman), was on CW and I was on Digital.  Paul was there first thing to insure that we had no glitches. After everything appeared to be working well, we demonstrated a CW QSO on 80 meters to Kim, KY4FAB, Marty’s XYL. They were receiving my CW signal emanating from Excalibur to Dave’s K2 599. We were both seated in Marty’s living room. Then we all got a big laugh when we realized the situation: “Now let me get this straight. We just spent a bunch of money and about a week’s worth of aggravation, so that Marc could communicate with Marty who was seated 3 feet away in the living room?”   YUP, ‘fraid so!   Great, isn’t it?

The next effort will be Stew Perry 160 CW on March 9-10. It will be a totally remote, QRP, battery powered effort. I’ll be at my home QTH, Paul will be at his, and only the equipment will be at Excalibur. Should be fun.

Many thanks to Paul for working with me to get my remote up and running. I’m looking forward to many enjoyable QSO’s with the new setup.


Sir Marc, W4MPS (5 March 2019)

Please stay tuned for more specifics on the Remoterig system in the next edition of

WQ4RP KnightLites Field Day 2017 Invitation

WQ4RP KnightLites Field Day 2017 Invitation

The KnightLites cordially invite you to consider joining us for ARRL Field Day 2017 from the lovely Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina.  The WQ4RP FD site is located in the Shining Rock Wilderness area, which is part of the Pisgah National Forest.

This wilderness area is named after the shiny micaceous rock outcropping in the top center of the photo below.


Looking toward Shining Rock from Black Balsam Knob

The KnightLite’s FD site is accessed via Black Balsam Road, which tees into the Blue Ridge Parkway near BRP mile marker 420, about an hour’s drive SW of Asheville.  Once you turn off of the Parkway onto Black Balsam Road, continue straight for about two miles until the road ends at the parking lot.

The FD site is accessed via the Sam Knob Trail.  Look for the Sam Knob trail marker near the NW  corner of the parking lot

Sam Knob Trail Marker at Parking Lot

Sam Knob Trailhead at Parking Lot

The trail from the parking lot to the FD site is about 1/3 mile long and is mostly level with some washed out spots. Hiking boots are strongly recommended.

Sam Knob Trail 

The WQ4RP FD site is located in a large, gently sloping area just to the left of the trail.  Big Sam Knob is seen in the background.


Field Day Specifics:

When:  June 24-25, 2017

Where:  Near Sam Knob — see coordinates below

Parking Lot:  35.325781    -82.882105

FD Site:          35.327142    -82.885440

KnightLites FD Callsign: WQ4RP

ARRL FD Class: 4A Battery   (4 HF Stations + 1 VHF+ Station)

                                                                          KL FD 2017 Band Captains

Band Captains will supply a 100′ extension cord for each station that requires generator power

100% Battery Powered Stations (Rig and Computer) are exempted from this requirement

15M/80M   CW/SSB     N4HAY

20M             CW/SSB     WF4I/AB4PP

40M             CW               WA4GIR                          

40M             SSB              KD4PBJ

VHF+          CW/SSB      KC4PHJ/W4CX

Generator Crew

The generator crew members will supply an A/C power strip for each generator

N4HAY      Honda EU1000 Generator + Power Strip

WA4GIR   Honda EU1000 Generator  + Power Strip

AA4XX      Honda EU1000 Generator  + Power Strip

Battery Class Definition

During a recent FD meeting, our Band Captains expressed the desire for our operation to be categorized as a battery powered entry.

In keeping with the ARRL rules, ALL radios will be running under 100% battery power for the duration of FD.   Logging computers may be run under generator power as long as they are not interfaced to the radios for rig control.  If any CW station decides to key their radio via computer, they must power their computer with battery power.  There is no problem running lights or other peripherals under generator power.

Other Considerations

  • This outing falls into the category of primitive camping
  • There is a odiferous pit toilet adjacent to the parking lot
  • Consider bringing a small shovel and baby wipes as an alternative to the above
  • Bring hand sanitizer or soap, as communal hygiene is important for our mutual well being
  • Expect the parking area to be near capacity–Carpooling is encouraged
  • There is no provision for oversized vehicle parking at the parking lot
  • Typical daytime temp mid 60’s F; night time around 50F or lower–Bring layered clothing
  • It can get downright cold at night, especially if the weather turns rainy.  Dress appropriately
  • Prepare your tent for wind and thunderstorms–bring rain suit for yourself and ground tarp for your tent
  • Sun protection is important at this elevation–hat, sunscreen, long sleeve shirt, long pants
  • The path can get quite rocky in areas–Good, comfortable boots are strongly recommended
  • Headlamp necessary at night
  • Leave food in vehicle–All food taken to campsite must be placed in bearproof canisters
  • No campfires are allowed in the wilderness area.  Campstoves are OK.
  • FD site has tall dew laden grass thru Noon and some blackberry briers
  • Bring your own food and plenty of water, both for drinking and for personal hygiene


More info will be posted as we get closer to FD weekend.


Camping Option for FDIM/Dayton Hamfest

Camping Option for FDIM/Dayton Hamfest

If you enjoy the prospect of a quiet, wooded campground in conjunction with your visit to the QRP ARCI FDIM/Dayton Hamvention, I would personally recommend the Frontier Campground in Waynesville, OH.  The campground has sites for both RV’s and tents, as well as some cute little log cabins for those who prefer not to tent camp.

As of March 26th, the owner told me that there are still plenty of open spots for the FDIM weekend. Full information on Frontier Campground may be found at


AA4XX Tent Campsite Frontier Campground 2012

The campground provides a no frills shower house and bathroom facility, which I found to be clean and entirely adequate for my needs during my last visit in 2012.  It’s not the Hilton, but for $25 per day for a tent site, I think the campground’s rates are quite reasonable.

Frontier Campground is also conveniently located with respect to the FDIM venue in Fairborn (24 miles) and the Dayton Hamfest in Xenia (13 miles).

What really draws me to this campground is it’s proximity to the Spring Valley Wildlife area.  Spring Valley Lake is a short walk from the campground.


Spring Valley Wildlife Area Historical Marker


Nature lovers are free to hike the area around lovely Spring Valley Lake


There is ample opportunity to observe waterfowl and songbirds all around the lake


The lake is full of fish, and you’ll probably encounter a few fisherman on your walk

I have no relationship with Frontier Campground–I’m just a satisfied customer…If you decide to stay at Frontier during FDIM/Dayton Hamvention 2017, please look me up at tent campsite #2.

72 es CU at FDIM,  Paul  AA4XX

KL7/VE7ACN Now Active on Several HF Bands

KL7/VE7ACN Now Active on Several HF Bands

Mikhail, KL7/VE7ACN is currently providing many stations around the world with their first contact(s) from Alaska. His location is Coffman Cove, Prince of Wales Island, with IOTA designation NA-041.

KL7/VE7ACN Currently Active from Coffman Cove, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska

Mikhail plans to be active from this location until Mar 20, 2017.  He has been operating many HF Bands, and his current frequency can usually be observed via the Reverse Beacon Network at

Mikhail has been widely worked on 160M this week.  I recorded him Wed morning around 0640z to demonstrate how strong his signal was–an honest 599–the strongest signal I have ever heard from the West Coast on Top Band.

Mikhail easily copied my QRP signal on 160M, but I almost missed him.  I had been monitoring his activity via the RBN on my iPhone while lying in my sleeping bag, waking myself every half hour to check if he had made the move to Top Band.  Seeing that the RBN was still reporting him to be on 80M, I reached up to turn my Argonaut VI off to conserve battery power, and at that precise moment I heard a loud CQ in the headphones…I couldn’t believe it when I heard, CQ CQ de KL7/VE7ACN K !  It was pure dumb luck that he came up on the random frequency I had left my rig tuned to just as I was about to roll over in my sleeping bag for another half hour round of sleep (this was 2:30AM local time).    A few minutes afterwards, with few responses from his CQ’s, Mikhail QSY’ed to another band.

KL7/VE7ACN may be your best chance in a long time to get Alaska into your log on your band(s) of interest, especially for East Coast stations.  He obviously has an ideal location with optimized antennas and a great set of ears.

Please note that Mikhail will only be active on 160M for another day or two.  More information can be found on his website at

Here’s a short YouTube video I shot to give you an idea of how strong Mikhail’s signal was:

Thanks to Mikhail, VE7ACN for a job well done!

Here’s wishing you good DX,

72,  Paul  AA4XX

An NCQP QRP Expedition to Eastern North Carolina

An NCQP QRP Expedition to Eastern North Carolina

One of my favorite Ham Radio related events is the annual North Carolina QSO Party, which takes place the last Sunday in February.

The goal of this contest is for ham radio operators within the state of NC to activate as many of the 100 counties as possible.  Most NC participants operate from home, but others take their stations to roads less traveled in order to activate the rarer counties.

During this contest, NC stations work stations throughout the USA, Canada, and the world, while stations outside of NC are specifically trying to contact as many NC counties as possible.

DAR/HYD Counties

For NCQP 2017, I decided to return to one of my favorite places, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, parts of which encompass large areas of Dare and Hyde Counties.    I surveyed the refuge the day prior to the contest in order to assess the possibility of a DAR/HYD County line operation. The access road below is typical of the many miles of gravel roads within the refuge.


Typical gravel road within the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

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AA4XX QRP Finally Works Europe and Africa on 160M

AA4XX QRP Finally Works Europe and Africa on 160M

Up until a couple years ago, I had assumed that working Europe on 160M via QRP CW  was probably not in the cards for me.  What I didn’t realize at that time was that some groundwork was being laid that would significantly increase the odds that my goal of working EU would be realized.

For most of the past decade, I considered my 160M dipole (up 75′) to be the best performing Top Band antenna that I would possibly be able to muster.  I could work lots of stateside stations with the dipole and could usually work the nearby Caribbean island stations as well.  I had heard quite a few Europeans, but none had ever heard me.

New insights were gained when a friend invited me to attend a local meeting of the PVRC (Potomac Valley Radio Club). Many of those guys were way ahead of me in terms of operating skill and contest experience, and they kick started me into a trajectory that helped me become a much better operator.  I learned basic principles, from computer logging to rapid fire cw exposure during major contests.  That was a great confidence booster.

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KnightLite’s FYBO 2017

KnightLite’s FYBO 2017

Each year at this time, the the Arizona ScQRPions sponsor the Freeze Your Buns Off QRP Sprint.

Stations who set up in colder environments receive higher points multipliers:

Temperature: 65F=x1, 50-64F=x2, 40-49F=x3, 30-39F=x4, 20-29F=x5,<20F=x6

A small group of hearty KnightLites braved the cold temperature using the KnightLite’s Club Call, WQ4RP.

Rob K3COD and Joe WA4GIR were operating 40M and 20M respectively upon my arrival at Harris Lake State Park near Raleigh, NC.  The temperature on Joe’s thermometer was reading 37F, which provided a points multiplier of 4.  Both stations were using inverted vees supported by nearby pine trees.


Rob K3COD and Joe WA4GIR Operating FYBO 2017

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Hurricane Matthew Takes Out WQ4RP 160M Loop

Hurricane Matthew Takes Out WQ4RP 160M Loop

Hurricane Matthew paid a visit to North Carolina on Sunday, Oct 9, 2017.  Drenching rain and twisting winds dropped several pickup sized loads of dead tree limbs around my property.  My wife and I also heard one or two large trees fall in the woods between our house and the WQ4RP antenna site about 1/4 mile away.

After the rain subsided Sunday afternoon, I walked my dog Jack down to the antenna site just to make sure that everything was OK.  I was surprised to see that one of the tall trees that supported the 160M vertical loop was on the ground.  Almost half of the 26 wires composing the raised counterpoise were under that mess, along with the vertical loop radiator!


160M Vertical Loop with Elevated Counterpoise was No Match for Hurricane Matthew

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WQ4RP Lightning Protection System Nearing Completion

WQ4RP Lightning Protection System Nearing Completion

This previous Summer, work was started on the Lightning Protection System at WQ4RP.  The basic plan was to bond all antenna feedlines, control lines, and power cables to a common single point ground reference.  That single point reference is a a KF7P entrance panel designed precisely for this purpose.

I contend that while it may not be possible to guarantee 100% immunity from a direct lightning strike to one’s tower, tower mounted antennas, typical backyard dipole, or associated feedline(s), it is entirely possible to substantially increase the odds that such a strike will have most of its energy dissipated in a protective grounding system well before it has a chance to get into your shack or radio equipment.

The copper strap exiting the lower left corner of the Single Point Entrance Panel (below) is clamped to a ground rod, which bonds the panel to the grounding system.  The copper ground rod clamps may be obtained from KF7P.  The large round access hole in the top left of the panel is for routing cables into the radio shack.


KF7P Single Point Ground Entry Panel

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WQ4RP Goes 100% Solar/Battery Power

WQ4RP Goes 100% Solar/Battery Power

It has been my long desire to move WQ4RP toward 100% Solar/Battery powered status.  With the total rebuilding of the radio shack during 2016, it made sense to incorporate a solar system into the new shack. The goals for the power system  system were to supply RF quiet power for the entire amateur radio station, including power for the radio(s), peripheral equipment (logging computers, keyers, etc.), and lighting.  WQ4RP is often used as a QRP contest station, so the power system needed to be robust enough to supply continuous power both night and day. This post discusses the  components that comprise the WQ4RP Solar/Battery Power System:

  • Solar Panels
  • Mounting system for the panels
  • Solar Charge Controller
  • Batteries
  • Shack Lighting
  • Wiring details

Two Renogy 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panels were selected for this project.  The two panels were mounted over under style with the use of aluminum L stock purchased from Home Depot.  The two panels were bonded very securely to the common aluminum L stock with pop rivets.  

Two Renogy 12V 100W  Monocrystalline Solar Panels

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