Monday, May 2, 2016

So, What's a Spartan Sprint, and How Do I Play?

Spartan Sprints are two-hour gatherings sponsored by the Adventure Radio Society, held the first Monday of every month. The Spartan Sprints have a unique, three-faceted focus. They encourage outdoor operation with back country radio gear (if outdoor operation isn't practical, home-based operation is fine). They gather fascinating information about the upper atmosphere, documenting how low power signals can travel long distancs. And they encourage the growth of a like-minded community of amateur radio operator who generously share their knowledge and experiences.

Which Bands?

Bands of operation are 80 meters, 40 meters, 20 meters, 15 meters and 10 meters. You may operate any number of bands - your choice. Many Spartan Sprint operators gravitate to the QRP CW calling frequencies on these bands.

Equipment and Antennas

Spartan Sprinters use 5 Watts or less. We encourage you to experiment with 1 Watt or less. You will be surprised at how effective these low levels can be, and how much fun QRPp really is. Similarly, we encourage you to experiment with simple wire antennas. And we encourage Sprinters to use equpment they built from "scratch" - that is, equipment built from schematics.


Exchange RST, SPC (state, province or country) and power output. If you choose to call CQ, use the format "CQ SP," or "CQ QRP TEST." You can give yourself credit for working the same station on a second, third, or fourth band.

What Is the Weight of My Station?

The weight of your station is determined by weighing everything at your operating position up to, but not including, your feedline and antenna. In other words, your rig, key, keyer, antenna tuning unit, battery, headphones and so on. 

Submit Your Spartan Sprint Log

Please send the following information in an email to:
  • Your call sign
  • Total number of contacts during Sprint
  • The weight of your station (in pounds - includes all gear except antenna and feedline)
  • Soapbox comments about your Sprint experience

Check Out the Spartan Sprint Results

The results of each month's contest appear on the Friday following each month's first-Monday Sprint. They are posted here on this website. You can find results from previous months here, as well.
- Richard Fisher, KI6SN

Friday, April 8, 2016

Scoreboard: April 2016 ARS Spartan Sprint

Please click on the Scoreboard for an enlarged view.

Soapbox: April 2016 ARS Spartan Sprint

I made contacts on 20 & 40 meters. I called CQ on 80, but no Qs. I started a fire in the chiminea and operated from the patio. Was a great evening. My power was 5 watts. I contacted 13 states. It was a lot of fun! - Perry, N5PJ

Fun as always!!!  20 Meters was the best band for me this sprint..all the way to CA, thanks Don NK6A and all the way to the southeast, NM;  AA5B, TX; KD5KC  and to the south in GA; K4BAI, John, AL; AB9CA, Dave,  FL; K3RLL, Don and MS; N5GW, Gene...many thanks to all of you!!!  Then there was noise...I had a lot of trouble with noise on 40 and much that I gave up trying to call on 40...I could hear a few stations trying to call me but the noise level was very bad so I quit.  I sincerely apologize to anyone I couldn't hear when I called briefly on 40 and 80.  My two banders were all on 20 and 40; K4BAI, KF0N, AA5B. My only three bander was neighbor N1IX. My only other contact on 80M was W1PID, friend, Jim. I could only operate for an hour this Sprint ... hope to be on longer next month.  See everyone for more fun next month!!!! Many thanks to KI6SN and for supporting ARS! - 72/88, Ann K1QO

The published propagation numbers didn’t look very promising but 20m was certainly a pleasant surprise this evening. Had the joy of making my 10 contact goal in record time, all on 20m, and with the great patience of those ops, enjoyed chatting a bit along the way. Now, that’s my kind of contest!  (Sort of shows why I never win anything, I guess.  :-)   Anyhow, great Sprint tonight with ten very enjoyable contacts all over the country.  72/73 and see you next time. … Don

Operated about 45 minutes. Used the IC-7000 at 5W to a Windom OCF dipole. Best DX Don NK6A in CA. Also Bruce AA5B in NM. Thanks everyone for the Qs. 72, Jim W1PID

It was fun to be back on the sprint again. 72 Jerry - WØPWE

I have missed a number of sprints because of Monday night puppy training, I have a new Great Dane Puppy. Basic puppy training is over now, so I started out going for the skinny radio.  I keep it and several other radios in a steel ammo box.  Well, somehow while I was getting stuff out to the garden, the Great Dane Puppy (18 weeks old and 60 pounds) got the skinny radio off the desk, and crushed the light-weight shell. It isn't allowed to run just the circuit board (undamaged), and I wasn't prepared to switch to the ATS-4B (7 ounces) or the FT-817 (2.5 pounds).  So with not enough time to repair or build a new shell, I just hit the power switch on the home station, a Yaesu FTdx5000MP (44 pounds). 20m was GREAT. 20m produced 14 contacts in IA, PA, MI, NH, TX, ME, MS and GA.  40m pretty much sucked with QSB.  My noise level was low, but lots of QRM on the band.  I only got TX, NM, IA and MS on 40m.  With about 40 minutes left I went to 80m.  I did a little better there, with NM, GA, IA and TX on 80m. I am off next month too, perhaps I'll have the skinny radio repaired, and head out to a SOTA summit now that the nights are warmer and we are in DST. Special thanks to John-K4BAI for struggling through some real bad QSB for the contact, it was more ESP than DSP. Someone kept calling way off freq, I could never get them tuned in.... sorry bout that. Puppy photo on my QRZ profile if anyone cares ... Vy 73 - Mike - KD5KC.

We can tell that summer is approaching as 20m is picking up. Breakdown of contacts by band is 14/14/5 on 20/40/80. Noise was not too bad although it was something of a problem. Prop seemed to be fairly good but when I checked my RBN spots after the Sprint was over I found that I had not been spotted all that much. So prop was kinda weak. SPCs on 20 were MI OK TX-2 CA ME-2 IA VA NH-3 ID PA. On 40 they were MI SC NH TX-2 AL IA KY AR MN GA CA NM ME. And on 80m they were IA GA FL TX NM. No 3-banders but WB8LZG, W5QLF, NK6A, KFØN, N1IX, K0ZK, K4BAI, AA5B were 2-banders. Good to hear all the familiar calls and especially the new ones. Welcome to all of the new sprinters. Hope to hear everyone again next month. Always an enjoyable evening on the radio. Rig for the early part was an IC-7200 at 5w to 100' wire. Took a break and when I came back switched to the K3, also at 5w, for the remainder. 73 de Dave, ab9ca/4

FT1000MP, 5W, TH6DXX, dipole, zepp, inverted V. Band conditions good on all three bands.  QSOs by band:  20M: 15. 40M: 25.  80M: 9.  Activity better this month than it has been for the past several years.  Let's continue the upward trend in coming months. Could have used more activity on 80M toward the end. I could work from GA to NM and ME, so could have made many more QSOs if stations had come to 80M after working out 40M. 73/72, John, K4BAI.

I had the K1 at 2 watts hooked up to the 800 mAh LiPO using internal ATU to CFZ , microkey, and Sony earphones. 20M was in good shape allowing 11 QSO's. The other 19 were on 40M, as the K1 four band board does not cover 80M. Signals were generally moderate to strong, with more participation than usual. It was fun. Hopefully even more ops will join in during coming months.

Nice to hear so many new callsigns during last night’s sprint! Thanks to my friend and neighbor K1QO for 3 bands. Thanks to fellow foxhunt foxes AB9CA (two bands), K4BAI (two bands) and NK6A. Also, thanks to N5GW and W4VSH/4 for two bands. Nice to hear Arn, KØZK! Hope to see you all next month. 73 Dave

Station:  ATS-3 and an 80M loop antenna.  My first contact of the evening was Jim, W1PID on 20M.  We certainly see an improvement on 20 with more sunlight on the northern hemisphere. I worked two of the gang on three bands: Bruce, AA5B and Nick, WB5BKL. Thanks for pulling me out of your local noise, fellas.  Best DX of the evening was Don, NK6A who always has an outstanding signal here in the Midwest. I even worked my home state of Iowa, WØPWE, which is unusual! It was great to see the participation up from previous contests. I had no pileups, but just a steady QSO rate until my little LiPo battery began to sag.  If anyone needs IA for 2XQRP credit, I’m good for it. Many thanks to all who took time to participate. A fun evening, indeed! 72s to all, Larry, KFØN

K3/10 @ 5W to a 20 wire delta loop, a 40M dipole or a 40M extended double Zepp. Tried 15M first, but apparently only the RBN heard me. 13 states this month. Best signals:  20M - K4BAI, 40M - N5EM, followed closely by N5GW @ 2W!, 80M - KD5KC/W5ACM (tie). Four 3-banders this time:  KFØN, W0PWE, AA5B, K4BAI. Best DX:  KØZK.  Very 
nice to work several new-to-me calls!  My thanks to all. Had fun.

Nice to copy NH and ME on 20 plus on the back of my beam Hawaii. Nice surprise.

Rig: Yaesu FT-817 5w to 40 Meter EFHWA. 3 QSOs. Tnx AB9CA, AA5B, & WB5BKL. Heard N5EM. 72s de Houston

Great to start 1 hour earlier and get a FB 20M band.  At one point on 40M, my manual logging became quite exciting with a run after a couple CQs.

Ten hours before the Sprint, I had no functional antennas. It has been very windy here the last couple of weeks, and everything except the 17/30 meter antenna was damaged. I repaired the 80-meter inverted L and its SpiderBeam pole by lunchtime. Got the 20-meter inverted V back up in the air a couple hours later after I finished mowing the grass. And then I found some time just before dinner to fix the 40-meter inverted V. I also set a laptop on top of the radio so I could keep track of the score of the NCAA champiohip basketball game. Glad to be able to work the Sprint again after a pretty long absence, and nice to hear so many familiar call signs from the QRP gang. Many thanks to Richard KI6SN, for running this event! 20 meters: 27 QSOs; 40 meters: 25 QSOs (26, but one was a dupe); 80 meters: 7 QSOs (the band sounded okay, but not much activity). Total: 59 QSOs. 73, Bruce AA5B

This is the first contest I've been in for a while. My antenna is a 1/4 wave vertical for 40. The bands seemed to be in good condition. Highlights included K4BAI on three bands, 20/40/80, and John was my only QSO on 80 meters. Other two banders included, N5GW, AA5B, WA4ZOF, W5QLF, KFØN and WØPWE. After the contest I worked Bulgaria and the West Sahara on 40. Thanks for the contacts and fun, Arn.

Still using the ATS-3a with two 170 mAh LiPo batteries, providing 3W out to my antique 18AVQ vertical and a final total of SIXTEEN QSOs this month. I had SEVEN contacts on 20M, and 40M was good for SIX. My ATS-3a was not working properly when the event started, but with some careful contact cleaning it came to life after 15 minutes - didn't lose much time. The bands were really a LOT of fun this month! I heard and worked stations on 20M that were certainly new for me. I had THREE contacts on 80M. The ever-present WB5BKL was his usual 599 - great signal from Austin. The batteries survived the abuse - just barely. Wow! More 20M ops!! 72 de Andy W5ACM - Houston, TX

I ran the big rig @ 5w, 30 lbs. 20m was open nicely to the SW . Seemed to be fairly good activity for the first 1/2 hr then not much. Gud fun, 73 Gregg

Friday, March 11, 2016

Scoreboard: March 2016 ARS Spartan Sprint

For an enlarged view, please click on the Scoreboard.

Soapbox: March 2016 ARS Spartan Sprint

Great fun as always! The bands seemed to be in pretty good shape. Highlights were, wGØAT on 20m running 2w...FB Steve. The tenacious award goes to WB5BKL who hung in there and copied my weak signal on 20m into TX!!! Also, on 20m, very nice making a Q with Don, NK6A in CA, and John, K4BAI on 3 bands (20/40/80)!!! A couple of 2 banders (40 and 80) with N5GW, and Dave, AB9CA who always has a nice signal.  Wow Will, NQ2W was strong into NH on 80m. Total band breakdown: 4 on 20, 5 on 40 and 5 on 80. See everyone next month!!! And many thanks to KI6SN and for supporting ARS!!!! 72/88 Ann

I only had an hour to play in this SP! …I must say it was a lot more productive than during the special Leap Day Sprint last week, netting 21-Qs this time in total! …and no major mishaps this time!  20m had some loud sigs before closing: K7TQ, K1QO, W7OM, NK6A, K6EU, NA7US, N4SX plus NA4SO. 40 was good: AB9CA, N5GW, KS4L, NK6A, NØAR, K4BAI, KFØR, K7TQ, and W5ACM. 80m was pretty noisy: K4BAI, KS4L, AB9CA and returned to 40m to finish with NQ2W! Fun SP never a dull moment hour to play zipped past before I knew it. Thank you all for a great SP!! My rig was ATS4a with old 9v/PP3 battery(7.5vdc=2w) + paddles w/cable total weight = 9oz! Antenna: 4BTV with 80m inverted-L wire, BullDog paddles and HamLog app on my iPhone for logging. Props: SFI=94 SN=61 A=24 (high=noisy!) K=2. CU in April (no fooling!) …73,Steve/wGØATs

Was really fired up for the Sprint tonight after receiving the full-color, special edition certificate for participating in the 2016 Leap Day Special Spartan Sprint.  And both the turnout and band conditions seemed vastly improved this evening but we just stuck on 40 meters and enjoyed the ride, S.T.S.  Enjoyed hearing from so many familiar Sprinters.  Big booming signal here was K4BAI. See you next month.  72 .. Don

Conditions were pretty good. Only worked Randy K7TQ on 20 meters, seems the ID/MN path was open. 40 was good, 80 OK but TS qrn. Good fun, thanks to those that stuck it out with some deep qsb. Rig KX3 5W  43' Vert and 80 m. loop. 72's Scott NØAR nr. St.Paul MN

Fun Times! I managed to work K7TQ and NK6A on 20M before migrating to 40M. Most contacts were on 40M, but had four really good QSOs on 80M with K4BAI, AB9CA, WB5BKL and N5GW. Still using the ATS-3a with two 170 mAh LiPo batteries, providing 3W out to my antique 18AVQ vertical. The LiPo batteries are really getting bloated, but I will run them until they blow! Always hoping for more 20M ops! 72 de Andy W5ACM - Houston, TX

Used the Jupiter this time around. Bands were in better shape than I predicted before the sprint. 5 Qs on 20, 9 on 40 and 4 on 80. Two banders on 40 & 80 with N5GW, NØAR, and K4BAI. Thanks for the opportunity. I hope to hear you all next month. 72, Will

Great time. Used RockMite 20 (.9562 lbs with 8 AA batts, key and earbuds). It is rockbound on 20 m but Steve WGØAT heard me – thanks for picking me up. Great fun. 400 mW.

FT1000MP, 5W, TH6DXX, dipole, zepp, inverted vee.  20M was open at the start, but only made 3 QSOs there, NH, CA, WA. Heard, but could not work, NQ2W, K7TQ, and NK6A. Heard AB9CA in nearby AL, but didn't try to call him.  40M seemed quite good, but not too many stations QRV. Skip was long, but not too long as K3RLL in FL was strong.  N5GW in MS started out strong, but skip soon dropped his signals down (after our QSO). 13 QSOs on 40M. 80M had some static crashes from the storms to our west, but QSOs were possible as far as K1QO in NH, NØAR in MN, and wGØAT in CO. Again, we could use some more activity and it would be more fun for everyone.  12 QSOs on 80.  Thanks for all QSOs. 73/72, John, K4BAI.

I fired up the KX3 with internal bats to 2 watts. The internal ATU was used to load up the CFZ at 50'. I was hoping 20M would open up this time of year, but I only heard/worked K7TQ and NK6A. 40M was a bit noisy from approaching storms, but fairly good. 80M was much noisier but yielded eight Q's including K1QO up in NH. Two banders with K7TQ, NK6A, K4BAI, K1QO, KS4L, NØAR, NQ2W, and WB5BKL.

You know, I really ought to weigh my gear one of these days. Used the K3 at 5w to 100' wire. Found out later that one side of the wire had opened up. Solder joint broke at the feed point. Did not know that that the time. But the tuner required different than usual settings so was suspicious of something, but ran anyway. Did no harm at 5w. But I was about 3 dB down. At first I thought I was the only one on the air. Got no responses on 20. Went to 40 and still nothing. Scanned the band and heard no one else calling. Thought maybe I had the wrong night. But about 0220 began to get some responses. Worked 15 on 40 and 10 on 80. 40m SPC's were OK NC MN CA(2) NH(2) CO IA TX(4) ID NY. Down on 80 worked CO GA AL FL NH MS MN VA TX(2). Two banders were WG0AT, K1QO, NØAR, W5ACM, and WB5BKL. Good to hear some new calls. Everyone be sure and join in again next month!  73 de dave, ab9ca/4

I was good to be back after over a year hiatus.  I don’t think I have ever worked so hard for the sixteen contacts!  Our fraternity of ARS participants seems to have dwindled significantly.  Band conditions were a little soft here;  A index=17 and K index of 3, but never the less, 20M yielded two QSO’s .  Next month should be better for 20 with more sunlight on ye old Heavyside layer.  I was able to work both east and west coast with contacts with NY and CA.  I dropped down to 80M after 40 quit yielding any more QSO’s but 80 seemed to be plagued with high absorption pluss high QRN from the thunderstorms down south.     WB5BKL, Nick, had a 559 signal here but I just couldn’t break through the QRN on his end which I knew must have been high due to the storms down his way.  At about 2045 CST, my little LiPo battery grunted out it’s last milliwatt and died, so it was time to call it an evening! Thanks to all who participated. 72’s Larry, KFØN

First SP in a long time.  Worked some old friends again and several new ones.  QSOs break down as: 20m - 2, 40m - 11, 80m - 5, Only worked the first hour.  Thanks for all!

K3/10 @ 5W to a 20 wire delta loop, a 40M dipole or a 40M extended double Zepp.  One QRO contact omitted.  15 states this time.  Best signals:  20M - K6EU, 40M - AD8Y, 80M - K4BAI.  No triples this time but multiple 2-banders.  One station on 80M was not readable here with my S7 noise level.  My apologies...  My thanks to all.  Had fun.

7 contacts on 20 and the rest were on 40M.  Nice to have the bands cooperating a bit more than the last two months and the Leap day event. Managed to get K1QO on 20 before the band closed down. My antennas were down quite low that night because of a bad storm in the mourning. I hadn't raised them up yet but decided to just have a go at it. 14 different states.  Not bad.

Conditions and participation much better than a week ago.  Started out on 20 m with CQ answered by WG0AT.  Great way to begin.  20 m was good for 10 more Qs until 20 minutes after when I switched to 40 m.  Good turnout there too with another 15 Qs until I called it quits at 0320 Z with no more Qs for 15 minutes.  Two band folks were wG0AT, N5GW, NK6A, KF0N, KS4L, W5ACM, NØAR, and WB5BKL. Hopefully for April's SP I can get up into the mountains.


All Q's were on 40 - AA5B Steve NM & AB9CA Dave AL.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The 89-cent Homebrew Metal Project Box

Here is what your finished 89-cent chassis will look like.
It is quite possible to homebrew your own project boxes, starting with a flat piece of aluminum. An 8x12-inch piece of aluminum at The Home Depot is less than a dollar and can be easily transformed into a project chassis 8-inches wide, 4-inches deep and 1 and 3/4-inches tall. Fancy metal-working tools needed? Absolutely not. This one was made in the 73 Radio Row workshop with a hand drill, awl, hacksaw, vise and a straight edge of metal or wood. It is really easy to do if you are willing to invest an hour-or-so. When was the last time you've said "Rig here is homebrew, including the chassis"? The photographs below tell the story of how it is done.Try it. You have less than a dollar and an hour-or-so to lose.
- Richard Fisher, KI6SN
Founder, 73 Radio Row

NOTE: is proud underwriter of the Adventure Radio Society. Please click on the images for a larger view.

A 1/4-inch hole is drilled into the metal prior to making the cut-outs, shown in RED.

Simple tools are all that are needed to sketch out the pattern.

Etch the pencil pattern with an awl.

Stress-reduction holes are drilled into the pattern before making the cut-outs with a hacksaw.
Prior to folding the metal, here is what the completed pattern looks like.
Held in a vise, the next step is to form the box following the lines you earlier sketched.
The 1/4-inch wide folds along the edge form the bottom of the box. A small piece of wood was slid under the edge for support in preparation for drilling.
Small machine screws hold the box together. Once they are in place, flip over the box and admire the great work you have done.

FOOTNOTE: In the vise, there are actually two bending edges. Again, they can be metal or wood. I used a piece of aluminum stock from the Home Depot that was cut in two with the hacksaw: They are much longer than the vise is wide. So for the smaller folds - indeed *all* of the folds if you'd like - the box is bent to the side of the vise. The metal "bend bars" are squeezed in the vise. Then the aluminum box is squeezed between the two bend bars - to the left or right of the vise. So your bends are not necessarily *in* the vise, but beside it. I used a couple of clamps on the outer end of the bend bars to keep things as tight there as they would be in the vise itself.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Participants Awarded Historic 2016 Leap Day Sprint Certificates

For an enlarged view please click on the image.

73 Radio Row,, in its partnership with the Adventure Radio Society, generously provided the certificates for the historic 2016 Leap Day Spartan Sprint. Every operator submitting SP data was awarded this commemorative document. 73 Radio Row is an underwriter of ARS activities.