Blast From the Past: Key Night, April 1995

Thanks to Bruce KB0FXC for sharing this video goodie! Bruce took some video of a “Key Night” meeting, back in 1995. (Wow! 27 years ago…)

Derek WB0TUA had kindly brought a (small!) subset of his extensive key collection to the meeting and gave everyone a historical tour.

Who do you see (or hear) that you recognize?

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Winter Field Day a hit!

The club had a good showing for Winter Field Day 2022 — we had five or six operators plus a good number of folks that showed up for set-up, the snacks, and the camaraderie.

The location is one I’ve been scouting for a while now. It’s a shelter in Dr. Edmund Babler Memorial State Park that seemed to be on high ground. Visiting in the winter makes it a lot easier to get a sense of the geography. Topo maps showed it was on high ground, but seeing the horizon in all directions while the trees are without leaves confirmed that it would be a good spot.

The shelter had a fireplace! We picked up some firewood from the campground there (avoiding the moving of firewood — curse you, Emerald Ash Borer!). The 20m operators had the best and warmest spot! And actually, although the morning started in the teens (with wind chill in single digits!) we were above freezing and in the high 30s/low 40s for most of the afternoon.

A personal funny: I planned to use an off-center-fed dipole (an Aerial-51) raised on a Spiderbeam 12m (40’) mast. With only light winds and a short-time operation, I would forego guys and rely on my “ground mount sleeve” system. The key to its success is driving four short tent stakes into the ground. Well… the ground around the shelter was like concrete, and the first time I put the base up, I had chosen a poor spot. The mast was up in tree branches. So I decided to move it… but the stakes would not budge! and I had no good stake puller. So I used four fresh stakes, but drove them with a lot less vigor.

Turns out I should have given them a few more taps. With five minutes to go before the starting gun, I heard a “Hey! Look out!” and a “whoomp!” as the mast hit the ground. Oops! The club rallied and scrambled, and we got everything back up in the nick of time.

With the contest starting at 1:00 pm and the park closing at 6:00, we only had about four and a half hours to operate (allowing for tear-down before dark). And we were by no means gunning for high scores. We managed just over 100 QRP QSOs (mostly CW with a handful of SSB) over four bands (15, 20, 40, and 80). That, coupled with three 500-point bonuses (natural power, outdoor, remote) gave us a claimed score of 5,560 points.

The WFD team allowed for “COVID-19” mods to the rules this year. So we had several members who elected to work from home, and contribute their individual scores towards the club total. It will be fun to see everyone’s calls when the final tally is posted.

It was a fun outing, and I suspect we’ll be doing Winter Field Day again!

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Fall Outing this Saturday

We’re getting together this Saturday (October 23) to play radio QRP style and have some fun! Location is the park where we’ve held Field Day as well as several club meetings this summer:

Spanish Village Park
12813 Spanish Village Dr, Bridgeton, MO 63044

Things will start at 9:00am and go through 1:00pm or so. Everyone’s welcome to bring radios, antennas, etc. Or just show up!

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Field Day 2021 Results

We had a fun and successful outing this year, with 373 CW, 188 digital, and 1 (!) SSB contact. Points for contacts were 5,615, plus bonus points of 1,150 for a final claimed club score of 6,765.

Details of the event are in the article Field Day 2021: Getting Back to Normal, which appeared in The Peanut Whistle.

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Field Day Plans

We’re in the final stretch of Field Day planning, and everything is coming together. Setup will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.

We’re going to be at a new site this year: Spanish Village Park in Bridgeton (Google Maps link). It’s a bit more tight quarters than we’re used to, but I think we’ve got a workable plan to squeeze everything in. You are welcome — encouraged, in fact — to pay us a visit.

You can also use the ARRL Field Day Locator to find our site, as well as any other planned Field Day operation, anywhere in the country. Currently there are more than 1,000 entries on the map!

We’ll have three primary CW operating stations: 40m, 20m, and 15m/80m (switching bands between day and night). We will also be checking 10m for activity and working there too. We’re also going to give FT8 a go — Vern AE0TT will have a full setup, all QRP and battery-powered.

Another first will be computer logging. We’re going to be using N3FJP’s ARRL Field Day Contest Log software. We had a Zoom meeting last evening to run through the features and it was well-received. I’m pretty excited about this. For years we’ve been using a pretty clever method to log and dupe our contacts on paper… each band position had a 10-page 3-ring binder with a page for each section. For all its functionality it was still pretty cumbersome. So I’m hopeful this will go pretty smoothly. It will certainly speed up the score reporting when Field Day is done!

Weather: hm. We’ve been really lucky for the past few years, with unusually cool and dry FD conditions. Looks like our luck is running out in this category. This year the Old Farmer’s Almanac’s Long Range Forecast has been telling us that Field Day weekend will be “Isolated t-storms, warm.” And that’s essentially what their 5-day forecast is saying. So it will be a little moist and sticky. We’ll have fans to keep the air moving, tarps to deflect rain away from the gazebo… we’re prepared for typical St. Louis summer!

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Been a while…

“Time flies when you’re having pandemic fun”… or something like that. The last update to this blog was about a year ago. Time to knock the dust off and get back to it! (It must be time to start thinking Field Day…)

Even though the blog posts have been on hiatus, the club has maintained a steady pace of meetings, albeit via Zoom rather than in-person. So if you’re an amateur radio operator living in the St. Louis Metro area, and you’re a QRPer (or are interested in QRP), please join us. The sunspot cycle is on the upswing, and that’s nothing but good news!

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No SLQS Club Field Day for 2020

The St. Louis QRP Society will not be hosting a traditional Field Day exercise for 2020. I have been holding out hope that, perhaps, we could make it happen. We’ve been watching and taking cues from state and county regulations and health department guidance. And while we are extremely grateful for the City of Bridgeton for keeping the dialog open, in the end we have decided it’s not prudent to have the traditional club outing.

Like many clubs, we are making plans as individual club members to operate at home (1D), perhaps using emergency power (1E), or even setting up a 1B station — sort of “mini-Field Day” in the back yard. And we’ll aggregate our scores as “St. Louis QRP Society” members.

Anthony Luscre K8ZT has a really comprehensive slide deck titled Field Day in Social Distancing. If you’re got questions about this year’s Field Day, I bet the answer is there (or, in one of the many links contained within). I recommend you check it out.

Hey! How’s this for a silver lining? This is the year we each get to see our own call sign in the results in QST. That’ll be fun!

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Slides from Winterfest 2020: QRP Forum Preso

I had the pleasure of giving a presentation about QRP operation at Winterfest 2020. After my talk, I was asked if I could share my slides. I’m happy to do so. The URL links are all active, which will help you find the resources, companies, and clubs that I mentioned in my talk.

QRP for Winterfest 2020

One thing I want to be clear about: I am sympathetic to strong opinions on different operating modes. I have my preferences, and so do others. Ham Radio is a big tent and there’s room for all. I had nice things to say about SSB QRP as well as FT8.

That said, I did (and do) encourage anyone interested in QRP operation to consider learning CW. Indeed, there seem to be a good number of new hams attracted to the hobby precisely because of the attraction of learning CW.

So take what you see in my slides with a grain of salt. If you find yourself getting a little agitated… you probably wouldn’t feel that way if you’d have heard my talk.

(Unless you’re a Cub fan. Then the above does not apply.)

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SLQS at Winterfest 2020

Kudos to the St. Louis & Suburban Radio Club for hosting an outstanding ham radio event last weekend! Winterfest has always been recognized as a premier hamfest/flea market in the metro St. Louis area. But this year, SLSRC pulled out all the stops, bringing the ARRL Midwest Convention, plus two days of educational forums, plus “Contest College” Saturday… it was an outstanding event!

Our club hosted an information table and we were busy throughout the day, talking with folks about what we do. Hat tip to Keith Arns KC0PP for designing our booth’s sign supports, complete with American flags. We were easy to find!

Several members brought projects for display. Bob Pritchard K0FHG brought his Paraset, as well as a number of other more modern QRP kit radios. Keith displayed three different hand-built dual lever paddles. The center of the table featured a beautiful “hollow state” transmitter, complete with transmitting tube and a copper loading coil. Lots of guys did a double-take and came back to give it a much closer look.

I was pretty distracted in the morning (getting ready to deliver a presentation on QRP for the forums!) and so I really dropped the ball on taking photos. Watch this space for updates as I know there’s more pix to come.

SLQS Booth at Winterfest 2020

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Field Day 2019 results: That’s a Winner!

Well, what do you know? The SLQS came out on top in our Field Day category of 4A Battery!

I know it’s not a contest*, strictly speaking, but let’s not kid ourselves. We count our contacts, work to tally bonus points, and send it all in so that we can see how we did. So it’s fun to see this in the pages of QST:

SLQS FD 2019 Results

The highlighted area shows that we:

  • made 308 contacts
  • using 5W power or less
  • had 20 participants (16 members, 4 visitors)
  • scored a total 0f 4,230 points, including bonus points
  • are from Missouri

Yes, I’m already thinking about the next Field Day — glad you asked!

* In case you missed it, there’s been a pretty good thread debating this topic on the [ARRL-Contesting] email list. It’s been a good read — check it out!


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