Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hawaii QRP Club

Hawaii QRP Club meets

After the passage of a few months, the Hawaii QRP club held a meeting with the Hawaii Council of Radio Clubs at the "Back to the 50s Fountain" in Laupahoehoe--my qth.  Since the meeting was only .7 of a mile from the qth, I decided to drop in and talk with the Hawaii Island hams I hadn't been able to see in person because of my former job.  As a newsman, I usually worked seven days a week in Hilo, making direct contact with local amatuers very difficult.  So, once I retired, I vowed to keep a more active schedule with my fellow hams.  The Hawaii QRP Club meets daily at the Hilo Jack In the Box, just outside of Hilo, from 0600-0800 local time.  I won't be able to make most of those meetings, because I'm on standby as a substitute teacher for Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School.  So, it was a great experience to trade tall stories with those I've only contacted on the air.  Since I retired on 30 September, life has become more casual and less rushed than before.  No more news deadlines or getting on the highway to Hilo by 0300 hrs local time to complete another 12-14 hour day.  The job was fulfilling but also very taxing on my resources.  With gasoline prices toping $4.27 a gallon for regular fuel and a 70 mile round trip each day, the expenses were getting a bit much.  Although Hawaii Island has a good bus system (which is free for senior citizens such as I), the schedule has no provision for very early morning runs.  So, the transportation issue quickly became a prime concern as fuel prices increased.  Granted, the costs of fuel in Hawaii are considerably lower than in other places in the world, but the gradually rising cost of fueling my vehicle was beginning to take a bigger chunk of my limited budget.  I chose to retire and seek employment closer to home.  Teaching was an obvious choice with the public school being only a mile or so from my home.  Now that I'm semi-retired, I can participate in a few more amateur radio activities, including Field Day (last weekend in June) which I've only attended a few times in the past 37 years.  Things are looking up, radiowise.

Antenna work intermittent

Eversince Halloween (31 October), Hawaii Island has been blessed with rainly and somewhat stormy weather as the winter cold fronts begin their progression westward across the islands.  The rain and thunderstorms have retricted my amateur radio activities a bit, since I don't believe in operating with lightning in the vicinity.  I've already lost a vertical to a lightning bolt and have no desire to repeat that process.  As reported in a past update, I leave all of my antennas disconnected and grounded and unplug any electrical appliance (transceivers included) when storms approach.  So far, I've been lucky in escaping further threats from mother nature.  Between all of the thunder boomers, I've kept busy cleaning equipment, maintaining the battery power sources, and repairing the usual damage from salt air, insects, and various rodents.  With my vertical and inverted "v" antennas lowered to ground level during non-use periods, I have easy access for repairs and hopefully a reduced risk from lightning reaching my equipment.  Once the weather clears, I'll do some more work on the temporary 20-meter vertical dipole, which has performed well at low power (10 watts or less).  The inverted "v" is healthy and the under the house 40-meter loop is available for local nets. 

Other antenna ideas

The rental house upslope from the qth is vacant for awhile, which gives me an opportunity to string a "long wire" antenna pointing northwest.  Two years ago, I erected 135 feet of number 14 gauge wire as a random length antenna with a few 33-foot radials in the backyard.  The skyhook did a good job from 40 to 10 meters.  The trusty Swan 100-MX seemed to handle the temporary antenna with no problem.  There are a few 30-40-foot trees nearby which can support the structure.  I'll get to this project in a few days.

QRP Club schedule

Amateur radio operators are invited to attend the next monthly meeting of the Hawaii Council of Radio Clubs on Saturday, 0800 local time at Volcano's Lava Rock Cafe on the Old Volcano Road in Volcano Village.  As mentioned earlier, the Hawaii QRP Club holds daily meeting at the Hilo Jack In the Box, from 0600 to 0800 local time.

Have an excellent weekend.  Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM