Monday ham radio

I made the trip over to Ft. Story this morning to activate the Old & New Cape Henry Lighthouses (USA 122 and USA 121). I wanted to accomplish a couple things:
(1) activate the lighthouses. I’ve activated them in the past with limited success and wanted to give ARLHS members a chance to earn the USAARS Lighthouse award.
(2) test out my mobile setup using my different antennas.
(3) attempt to use a logging program on my Palm Pilot.

I ended up having five contacts – all on 40M even though the noise level was pretty high. I called CQ on 20M for quite some time but didn’t get any takers. I think I had two or three ARLHS folks qualify for the USAARS award. For the antennas, I started off with a trio of Hustler coils. The antenna went up quick on the 54″ mast and I had already tuned them to be a good match for the ARLHS calling freqs. I then switched to the Hamstick-like Workman antennas, first for 40M then 20M. No real difference in results. I’m going to stick with the Workman Hamsticks when I’m actually mobile and use the Hustler coils when operating from a fixed site. Using the Palm Pilot for logging is not easy. Adding headphones with a boom mike might help. Using the Palm Pilot takes two hands so it requires setting down the handmike, inconvenient for fast paced operation.

Back at the home QTH I rolled up on 20M CW and got an answer to a CQ from DL4SEW, Stefan in Stuttgart. There was a lot of fading but I was able to get most of what he sent. This was my first QSO with Germany and my second with Europe.

Back in the mobile and heading to Fort Monroe, I answered a CQ on 20M from YU1XA in Serbia. He gave me a 59 plus and was surprised I was mobile. It is just pretty cool talking to Serbia while driving down the road.


Finally checked into the VA MARS net. The net started late and I had almost given up on it. I’m going to try and check in again tomorrow morning. I need to get around to raising the height of my inverted vee – I think it will better help my signal get out.

I was able to catch W1AA (Henry and Whitey) and their activation of the Highland Lighthouse (USA 110) out on Cape Cod. Whitey, K1VV, is usually out ever weekend doing a lighthouse activation – always has a nice signal.

Had a very nice Radio Merit Badge class for a young Scout out at Fort Monroe in the afternoon. I setup my 10′ x 10′ shelter and the ARSIB. Initially I planned on setting the G5RV (like during the W4M Memorial Day Special Event) but the wind was quite heavy, so I opted to put up the homebrew vertical dipole. To get some height on the antenna, I attached it to the top of the painter’s pole. Before I had a chance to tie down the pole, a gust of wind knocked the antenna down. The fall caused the feedline connection to break off. Not good. However, with a little bit of wire and some electrical tape, I was able to reattached the feedline connection. Now the antenna was low to the ground and I was a little concerned about it’s performance. The Scout arrived and we started reviewing the Radio Merit Badge requirements. I was able to easily tune WWV on 15 MHz and was also able to find a CW QSO in progress on 40M. Also demoed a bit of CW using my MFJ paddle that has a speaker built in. After we’d reviewed all the requirements, it was time for the HF QSO. The Scout called CQ and after a few tries, received a reply from Charlie, N1MUQ, in Stamford, CT. Charlie had a booming, solid signal and the Scout was able to successfully complete the QSO. We then moved to my mobile VHF rig and the Scout had a nice QSO with Randy, WB7URZ located up in Gloucester. Even with the antenna setup issues, the Radio Merit Badge session was a success and I think both the Scout and I had a good time.

What’s been going on with AD7MI?

It’s been a busy summer so far.

– Memorial Day: I really enjoyed the special event station operation – W4M. I operated from Fort Monroe on Saturday and Sunday from a WWII coastal artillery battery overlooking the Chesapeake, wonderful weather and some great contacts. I setup a G5RV for the antenna and used a portable generator for power.

– The Smithsonian, NN3SI: During my trip to Washington DC, I had the opportunity to be a guest operator at the Smithsonian’s own amateur radio station, located at the Museum of American History.

– Lighthouse Activations: Enjoyed a relaxing few days down in the Outer Banks, NC and was able to activate the Bodie Island Lighthouse (USA-067) and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse (USA-212). Link here to the Outer Banks Repeater Association:

From : W2EHD
To : ad7mi
Subject : Re: 442.850

Scott – It was a pleasure to meet you – if only on the air.
Re: the the UHF side of the mobile radio. Might consider selecting medium or low power when running mobile – especially when the repeater of choice is not far away.

I am sending along a URL for a tape measure beam. Originally, I think the author meant to use it in DFing – Direction-finding – competitions – but despite the fact that it’s rather ugly and makes lots of noise when the wind blows the elements – it seems the ideal solution for accessing a repeater from a remote (vacation) location.
I bought an el cheapo grande 25 ft. tape measure a few years ago, and 8 bucks worth of the PVC tubing he recommends.
There are several of these antennae in my workshop. One thing I did was to cast a couple of concrete bases – using galvanized pails that I bought at ACE.
One 60-odd bag of Sak-Crete will let you make a couple of bases. Glue some scrap carpeting to the bottom and you’ve got built-on floor protection.

As presently described, the tape measure antenna is only good on 2 meters. The author mentions that it may well be possible to change the element dimensions and spacing to put it into the UHF portion of the spectrum. I may try one out on 70 cm, with a watt meter in the line, just for grins.
Keep in touch.
If you wish, I will add your address to the OBRA email list, which will keep you informed about major doings around here. You would not get a lot of mail from OBRA, believe me.

Next project: I’m working on a portable HF/VHF/UHF system. Intent is to build a complete setup (rig, power supply, tuner, SWR meter, NOMIC RigBlaster, etc.) into an easily transportable box.

Old Point Comfort Lighthouse activation

What a wonderful morning at Old Point Comfort Lighthouse, Fort Monroe, VA on the Chesapeake! Blue, clear skies, temp at 60d F, with a slight breeze. I could see the Norfolk Navy Base across the bay and watched as USNS Comfort pulled out towards the Atlantic.

I pulled up to my position on the top of the wall surrounding historic Fortress Monroe, right above the moat. Instead of using my mag mount Hamstick, I set up the homebrew vertical dipole on the edge of the wall, raising the mast to about 10 feet. Setup was complete by about 0740/1140(UTC) and started calling CQ on 40M.

Callsign State Member
WA1OHR CT Y/#587
W1VR FL Y/#143 operating from USA 869
W1MCE NH Y/#491

The band died down and I took W1MCE’s advised and switched to 20M.

Callsign State Member
VO1RYL Canada Y/#1218

I then dropped back down to 40M to finish up the morning.

Callsign State Member
K2DNV NJ Y/#1004

I shut down at 1050/1450(UTC) and packed up. Thank you for the contacts and the spots on DX Summit and the Beacon Bot. I really enjoyed all the exchanges.

Please look for US Army Amateur Radio Society’s special event station W4M on 27-28 May, operating from Fort Monroe (and USA 567) in commemoration of Memorial Day.


73 Scott AD7MI

What has KD7PJQ been up to…..

I haven’t been posting as often as I’d like – my Alienware laptop is down for the count and won’t be operational anytime soon.

…. so…. what has been going here?

In the early part of February I activated the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse at Fort Monroe – had a lot of fun, it was my first experience operating HF outside of the house. Learned a lot and will probably do another activation soon.

I made it up to FrostFest in Richmond, VA last Sunday. It’s the premier hamfest in Virginia. Lots of hams, lots of stuff. Overall – a good time was had. I also took a chance and attended the VE test session there and passed the Extra exam. Now I’m thinking about getting a vanity callsign.

I’ve been enjoying participating in an informal morning net on one of the local 2M repeaters… lots of good folks and I’m able to learn a lot by all the chat.

Hope to get the laptop situation fixed soon and get back to regular posting.

Old Point Comfort Light, Fort Monroe, Virginia

The oldest standing structure at Fort Monroe, the Old Point Comfort Light was built in 1802. The adjacent Victorian keeper’s dwelling was added in 1900. The tower is 54 feet high, and still retains the 4th order fresnel lens that was installed in the 1850’s.

Old Point Comfort is still an active aid to navigation, standing lookout over Hampton Roads Harbor. The second-oldest lighthouse on the Chesapeake, Old Point Comfort witnessed the battle between the Monitor and Merrimack during the Civil War.

Fort Monroe is open to the public, and the lighthouse grounds can be easily approached. You can also explore the WWII gun placements near the lighthouse.

ARLHS #USA 567, 37°00’N 76°18’W

BRAC Results are in!

Fort Monroe has been selected to close. Nobody was really surprised by this. When I first arrived at Fort Monroe, a quick look around told me that the place was ripe to be closed.

What disappoints me most is loosing the history. Why not turn Fort Monroe into the Army’s museum – the center for Army history and historians?