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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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CQWW160M CW Contest from KnightLite’s Excalibur QRP Antenna Site

CQWW160M CW Contest from KnightLite’s Excalibur QRP Antenna Site

Dick (N4HAY/ZS6RSH) and I decided to enter the CQWW160M CW Contest  as a multi-op,  meaning two or more operators share a single transmitter and callsign. As there is no QRP multi-op category for this contest, we would be competing with stations running KW amplifiers.

The advantages of running QRP multi-op is that we could both plan on getting some sleep during the long 5PM-8AM nite time shifts, we were working toward a common goal, and we could operate assisted mode.  

Our main goal was to have fun and to see how our newly constructed Excalibur 160M vertical would play.

Station WQ4RP

Station WQ4RP consisted of a Ten Tec Argonaut VI, running 5W output into the Excalibur vertical loop.  We used N1MM+ logger with a WinKeyer.

 

CQWW160 CW 2016 station

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Building a 160M Vertical Loop with Elevated Counterpoise

Building a 160M Vertical Loop with Elevated Counterpoise

Initial Planning

Several years ago, I had the good fortune to be introduced to Gene Bowman, WB4MSG, at the Winston-Salem Hamfest.  I recognized Gene’s callsign because of his top place finishes in many contests.  I was particularly interested in what kind of antenna he used on Top Band.

Gene told me that if I had a few minutes, he would be glad to have me come by his house so I could see his antenna farm.  I was fascinated to learn that Gene had placed 1st Place QRP World during the recent CQWW160M SSB Contest with his 160M loop. Gene mentioned that a full write up of his 160M antenna appeared in Jan 2010 QST  (160 Meter Inverted Delta Loop by Charles Kluttz, W4TMR,  pp.40-41).

I built my own version of Charlie’s 160M loop shortly thereafter and was quite pleased with its performance.  The vertically polarized loop showed noticeable gain over my high 160M dipole for stations beyond my local area, and after a short while I found myself no longer using the dipole.

As a result of a severe lightning storm in August 2011, all my antennas were damaged to the extent that I had to start all over from scratch.  Fast forward to Jan 2016, it was high time to get back in the game. With the help of two local QRP friends Chris N4PBQ, and Dick N4HAY, plans were hatched to resurrect the Excalibur Antenna Farm, beginning with a Top Band antenna.  It was decided to rebuild a version of the W4TMR Vertical Loop.

 

N4PBQ digging hole for 160M support post

Chris, N4PBQ digging the hole for the support post

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Knightlites Excalibur Site Gets a New Radio Shack

Knightlites Excalibur Site Gets a New Radio Shack

A few months ago, Dick N4HAY, Richard N4PBQ, and I spent a number of hours cleaning up the remains of the original Excalibur radio shack, a site that has hosted many QRP events over the past ten years.   As some of you may recall, The original shack was substantially damaged by a direct lightning strike during the Fall of 2011.

Moving forward, we are pleased to report that a fairly large supply of building material was delivered to the KnightLite’s Excalibur antenna site on Jan 1, 2016.

 

Excalibur building materials delivered

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A QRP Odyssey to Portsmouth Island

A QRP Odyssey to Portsmouth Island


Throughout my life, I have often felt the need to seek nature’s solitude.  When I was a young lad, I would walk a couple miles to my best friend’s house, and then we would continue walking to one of several farm ponds on the outskirts of our small town to do some fishing or to explore the surrounding woods.

Years later, I still find myself seeking quiet, out of the way spots, whether it be deep in the woods, along a riverbank, or at the sea coast.

I invite you to return with me to one of those special places, Cedar Island, which I first visited in 2003, and have later returned to several times.

 

Cedar Island Sign

 

Cedar Island is easy to find.  You take NC Hwy 12 East until the road dead ends at the Pamlico Sound.  As you approach Cedar Island, you will see vast areas covered with sawgrass and narrow waterways.

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CQ US Islands Contest de AA4XX Harker’s Island

CQ US Islands Contest de AA4XX Harker’s Island

Harker’s Island is located down east, about as far east as you can drive before the highway gives way to the sea.  Fortunately, the island is readily accessible by car via a causeway.

 Harker's Island casueway allows access by car

I selected Harker’s Island as a good site to operate the US Islands Contest.  It’s a rather lengthy (3-1/2 hr) drive from home, but this island has a lot going for it–beautiful vistas of neighboring islands and villages, friendly locals, first class seafood, and several ideal locations to set up antennas.

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Winter QRP Expedition to Lea Hutaff Island

Winter QRP Expedition to Lea Hutaff Island

One of my favorite places in the world is Lea Hutaff Island, situated off the SE coast of North Carolina, between Topsail Island and Fiqure Eight Island.

There are no people living on the island, but this was not always the case. The Lea family house is the only dwelling still standing on the island, and it is not uncommon to see waves breaking underneath during high tide.

Last remaining dwelling on Lea Island

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