Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Zuni WFD Get-Together Venue Change!

Mike, N6MST, just saved our bacon. All the way up in Bakersfield, he spied that Mile Square Park -- where we were originally to meet - was going to be occupied the entire wekend by the Vietnamese New Year -- Tet - celebration so, consequently, we are moving the venue a little down from there.

My so-called Plan "B" has become Plan "A" and it involves our commandeering a part of the green belt in my community. There are trees and a vast open space and, with our bringing two or three portable tables and chairs, we can set up there. See the pictures below. The Green Valley Park offers these advantages:

(1) Some trees.
(2) Open spaces where verticals and poles for antennas can be erected.
(3) Abundance of free parking that is walking-close to where we would set up.
(4) No crowds to speak of.
(5) Restaurants/7Elevens close by. CostCo also close. ($1.50 dog and a coke special ant their "food court".)
(6) Close to my QTH so we can grab some stuff from my shack/bench if we need to.

Some downside: we are going to need for folks to bring chairs and another table. I have a table and two chairs but it's not conducive to operating or outgassing if everyone does not have a chair.

So, we will still coordinate on the PAPA System so give us a call there if you are lost.

Sorry for the change but this should still be tons of fun and we're still doing the pizza debrief afterwards.

To get here, head South on the 405  to the Brookhurst Street and go under the freeway and loop around so you're heading North on Brookhurst. turn right on Warner and proceed past Ward (the next light) to Los Jardines wher you take a right. we'll be listening on PAPA or 146.52 MHz to talk you in.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Get a grip..

In an attempt to scrape some rust off my CW fist, I am currently matriculating through the CW OPs CW Academy and it is a marvelous experience. Sure it's the beginner class and sure I can solid copy around 15 WPM but I am doing this for the discipline -- and getting myself into a routine of practicing my CW daily.

But more on that later. The purpose of this post is to bring CW operators attention to a discovery I made -- thanks to my wife. She found this stuff called Grip Liner Magic Cover which is billed as a non-adhesive and non-slip cupboard liner for dishes and glassware. It is by Kittrich Corp in Pomona, California and can be found in many homewares stores, super markets, and it and variants are available on Amazon. (You do your own search.)

A small square of this stuff anchors my paddles to the desktop and essentially squelches any side-to-side slipping. So far, the squares I have been using for my Bencher (below) and Kent (out on the shack) are well over six months old. So, a roll of this stuff should last a lifetime -- and more.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

It Begins! Prepping for Zuni Loop MEF Field Day 2020!

Rust Never Sleeps!
The Zuni Loop Mountain Expeditionary Force is an ad hoc association of some of the best and brightest QRP ops who came together each year for ARRL Field Day. One of the groups consistent mainstays and organizer for the past 35 years was Cam Hartford, N6GA, who ensured that QRP and antenna and operation experimentation resulted in good contest results, an enhancement of participant knowledge, operating skills, and -- mainly -- fun!

Sadly, Cam left us last year before Field Day and we carried on as best we could. But, armed with that rebuilding experience and a determination to regain past glory, we are resolved to not let the tradition of Zuni Loop fade away. What we have going for us is this tradition and one heck of a great location. But we will peak of that later on. For now, the planning begins.

Where We Sit Now
We need more ops. So far we have a commitment from three veterans and four promising new-comers: John, n6vcw (trustee of Cam's N6GA callsign - now officially assigned to the Zuni Loop MEF), Ed, KM6TNT, Matt, KM6TOA, and Mike, N6MST. The returning regulars include Dick, WB6JDH, myself, K6WHP, and long-time Zuni veteran, Keith Clark, W6SIY. Ed has done a great job in recruiting and has secured three new hams to join us for 2020. We welcome them and others with a profound interest in QRP and pushing the envelope. If you are intrigued and proximate to Southern California, let us know. My email is good in QRZ under my call sign or click on this link and blast away!

Preparation and Related Logisics
Our first step in preparing for Field Day will be participation in the Winter Field Day on 25-26 January. We will be setting up in Orange County at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley.

While Winter Field Day is a contest and we will set up to operate -- patterned after the Summer Field Day but with a few rule changes -- our emphasis will be a little different. Our main goals will be to get to know one another, check out some equipment and antennas, orient folks not familiar to in-the-field QRP operation, and generally observe the newly coined variant of the Zuni Loop motto:

We're deadly serious about having fun!

Although Winter Field Day goes overnight (like Field Day) for two days, we will only set up and operate for a short time, from about 0900L PST until about 1500L PST. Note that the actual contesting starts -- like FD -- at 1100L but we want to get a head start with prep and such. Also, I live adjacent to the park and will be heading over early to stake out tables and trees at an appropriate site. (Probably will be "spot #2" per the map below.) If you wish to coordinate the entry and "carpool" into the park, there is parking in the adjacent strip mall next to my QTH. I would recommend coordinating with Ed, KM6TNT, on this noting that we both can be found on the PAPA system. It is one of those sprawling, linked "closed but welcoming" repeater system whose info can be found at this link here. Suggest PAPA 03 or PAPA 04 as you penetrate Orange County.

Mile Square Park park charges $5 admission on Saturdays and does not allow re-entry (unless you pony up again), so I recommend picking up something -- sammiches, sodas, etc. -- for lunch around noon time if only to stave off hunger. We will probably have donuts and/or bagels available at first but if you you are a coffee drinker, you are on notice that I am not and your daily caffeine hit is your responsibility. 

We plan on folding our tents and heading over to a pizza joint close by where we can eat, "hydrate ourselves", and debrief. This socializing will be an invaluable opportunity to gather our thoughts and ideas in preparation for the real thing.

Prerequisites and Skills Required
Again, if it looks like you want to participate in the Zuni Loop MEF effort this is a great way to get to know the folks. If your CW is rusty or non-existent, don't worry! we do phone too and you will be surprised how -- with a little coaching -- you can pick up CW contesting by logging and using a CW reader. Also, don't let low power throw you. Up at 7,000 feet, a five watt signal carries pretty far. Several of us have done WAS (Worked All States) during a field day. (I have done it three times and once I came within four states of doing a "double WAS".) Also, foreign countries now participate in Field Day so there's a chance for DX as well.

Send me an email and I'll answer any questions you might have.

Park Environment
For reference and orientation, here's some pictures of the Mile Square Park surrounds.

K6WHP QTH, External Parking, and Mile Square Park Spots

Map of Mile Square Park