QuartzFest (QuartPause)2021

Coming to a Desert near you January 17 to 23, 2021

Quartzfest

QuartzFest – an ARRL Convention | Facebook

Kristyn Weed, Organizer at Quartzfest, Posts regularly on the Quartzfest Facebook group, above is a link. She tries to keep folks well informed (as best she can) of the happenings and plans for this years “Quartz Pause”. More interesting are the comments to Kris’ posts, Several “Snow Birds” are already there and have real time insights into the goings on in the community of Quartzite Arizona. Personally the plans for myself and Kathi KD6CAF are to avoid ANY interaction within the town, we plan on a fuel stop in Blythe and Top up my fuel for the onboard generator, drive straight past Quartzite directly into the desert south of town.

K6AGF and WG6OTA arrived and representing TCARA & GOTAhams @ “Quartzpause”

Arrived @ Quartzpause Saturday evening with Kathi KD6CAF, Myself, Mark Arlotti KM6AHY and Vilma Arlotti (plus or four legged companions, Olive and Frog). It was late and dark about 7:00 PM so locating a campsite was challenging, we managed to park, arrange the basics, and get on a nightly Zoom Conference with some of our sister club GOTAhams, Kathi and Vilma got a meal arranged and then we got some “Shut-Eye”

Upon Waking Sunday morning and feeling comfortable with our choices of location (Lots of Antenna space) we proceeded with assembling Camp.

As a “Unofficial” Event Quartzpause is greatly scaled down, there are no gathering spots (public fire pits, seminars etc.) most information is through the local simplex frequency (146.550) none of our usual celebrities (except for Ray Novac) we have had MANY visitors (Distanced of course) mostly looking for information or help locating folks on the radio. We have made some HF SSB contacts and manage nightly Zoom chats with the GOTAhams, if we are luck one participant will allow us to listen to the 8:00 PM nightly net on WA6FZH repeater.

We will try to keep you up to date if anything “spectacular” happens in this Arizona Desert (c; ’73 KC6WOK

Awoke Tuesday morning to our regular announcements of the sparse “Goings On” @ Quartzpause and lots of clouds, 20% chance of rain but warmer (slightly) than yesterday KR1SS reminds us that Gordo will monitor 7.250 from 9:15 to 9:30 AM each morning. I tried on 40 meters but Gordo was not there? several others made the same attempt, Gordo’s regular morning net was operated by another call and several Quartzpause folks checked in to that net on the same Freq.

Our antenna systems for HF are a diamond BB7V end fed vertical up about 30+ feet on a “GoVertical” mast, we then pulled up a “RadioWavz” DX 80 OCF dipole antenna. We plan on reconfiguring our vertical HF antenna to a much taller system with a Icom AH-4 tuner and lots of ground radials. UPDATE: We have completed our “Monster Vertical”, By connecting a wire to the Vertical section of a Diamond BB7V (disconnecting the matching network) running that wire 29 feet to the ground, connecting it a Icom AH-4 tuner adding 4 35 foot Counterpoise wires. our approx. 51 foot Vertical tuned very quickly to the IC-7300 on 40 meters and within a few minutes made a contact to a Net out of Tehachapi CA. with a 5-9 signal report. Thanks Dave K6EV for suggesting this antenna configuration. works even better on 20 meters, I made a contact on 14.175 to South central Missouri with a report of 5 over 8 I gave him 5 -9 + but he was running a ALM 500M with his IC7300 feeding a End Fed half wave at about 30 ft.

Another problem has been CLOUD COVER. my 550 watts of solar power is down to maybe 70 watts at best with the clouds leaving my charge controller struggling to put out anything over 7 amps @ 12 volts, thankfully with plenty of fuel feeding a Onan Microlite 4000 Generator we are doing just fine. Wind is up (not as bad as California) so keeping a close eye on our Antenna farm and re-tensioning as needed.

Wednesday morning (really early) brought RAIN, not a lot .500 of an inch but it sounded much worse inside to Motorhome. we’ll dry off things outside and set up our HF stations again. Admittedly I have not devoted all my time to Radio and antennas, the motorhome always has something needing repairs/upgrades, the latest being a device that charges the truck (coach) battery from the Solar charged “House” battery system. I replaced the standard “Jump Start” Solenoid with a Eaton Sure Power 1315-200 “Battery Separator”, That went as well as could be expected only minor issues like snapped off studs while removing the high current battery cables and replacing all the small wire connectors with Spade types for the new device etc. Today if it is not terribly wet I’ll attempt to install my rear view camera and run wiring along the frame of the motorhome also complete the power wiring for the Mirror/monitor (I rarely attempt quick and easy upgrades). I also replaced my Shore Power plug due to some overheating issues from before we purchased this rig. We had a local (drive by) vendor pump out our waste tanks and Kathi was concerned about our fresh water level, I had carried three extra collapsible water totes that we pumped into the tank using a 12 volt potable water transfer system that I fabricated earlier in the day.

During this relaxing day of small projects We did entertain Many drop-in guests from folks interested in becoming Hams to seasoned Hams asking about our 51 foot push-up antenna and counterpoise array. Some offering advice/opinions others inquiring about my “GoVerticalUSA” Camo pole tripod adapter.

The day did start out wet to partly wet leading into dryer allowing us to rearrange some antennas and moving the HF stations indoors, I caught up on some maintenance and improvements but the word is Tonight into Thursday may bring more wet weather. Mark Arlotti and Vilma will prepare for their departure early Friday morning, Kathi and I will remain and Kathi will assist Chis KR1SS in moving the Quartzfest Storage shed contents. and we plan on attending the Saturday “Yard Sale” then make a leisurely trip back home.

Thursday: Awoke to mostly dry conditions it merely sprinkled overnight there are some clouds but lots of blue sky, radar map shows shows to the south of us. The 146.55 simplex morning announcements came early with news that the Off road excursion is a go so folks with off road vehicles (which are many) will head out around 9:00 AM toward the Colorado River, spend lunch in Ehrenberg Az. overlooking the water then head back to camp, expected arrival 2:00 PM. Also the unofficial Count for attendees is at 170, Greater Los Angeles Amateur Radio Group did VE testing Yesterday with successful tests of 3 technicians 2 generals and 3 extra class Amateurs. also Friday we will view a Talk by the Arizona Section Manager and Southwest Division Director Dick Norton Via Amateur Television, We simply scan Cable channels for cable 58 (which is within the 70cm band) through a antenna, I will use a dual band Yagi adapted to some RG6 coax to my 30 inch television. I do plan on monitoring 20 meters during the day at about 14.230? (I have to stay in the General band, Kathi has better options) but as I’ve been doing all week, will be attending to maintenance on the RV. Well the Off-road group took off as planned about 9:00 AM for their excursion to the river. Many of the attendees left early I believe because there is little to keep folks interested this year. Kathi, Myself, Mark and Vilma are catching up on Leisure time and talking to lots of passers by that ask about planned events or have questions about our unique antenna farm. Mark and Vilma spent time packing up to leave EARLY tomorrow as they need to return their rental RV. Kathi spent a good portion of the day under our Motorhome (GOTAhome) running a video/power cable for our rear view camera system and did a tremendous job fishing and wire tying it avoiding sharps and hot areas. The Weather was spectacular today in this Desert, a few clouds and blue sky, the surrounding mountains are quite picturesque. We have taken several opportunities to just reflect and have some friendly conversations. Each evening has brought stunning sunsets allowing Kathi to take lots of photos.

Friday: Yep I know this is a late post, first setting up our televisions, Scanning for the Amateur TV frequency and “Virtually” attending talks by the Arizona ARRL Section manager (mostly general club information for Arizona) and more importantly Dick Norton N6AA, which I recorded and posted on the “GOTAhams On The Go” YouTube channel, it was posted there because it is a very large file, the video in nearly an hour! and being respectful to our Website host I try to resize all photos and place videos offsite. that took the better part of our morning. I spent quite some time stitching together the video files, resizing them and posting them to YouTube. Once posted to YouTube there is a tedious process to title, describe, digitally sign that I actually have permission to posted the content and assign “Tags” including whether or not it is content designed for children. That is a process I was not well versed in but now being a “publicity” officer I will need to familiarize myself and actually create a TCARA YouTube Channel. While I was in the middle of all the Video posting work Kathi took a trip trip with Chris KR1SS to move the Quartzfest “gear” back into the recently moved and cleaned Storage shed. Upon Kathi’s return we completed some work on the motorhome installing and wiring our rearview video camera then continued disassembling our antenna farm, after finding out that there was an informal betting pool on how soon the 50+ foot vertical come down in the 20+ mph winds and gusts. Kathi and I surprised the entire camp by dropping our antenna in under 10 minutes without any “failure” incidents. We worked into dark consolidating our camp and preparing for our Saturday departure. Did I mention that we loaned 4 small tables and 4 chairs to the Arizona ARRL VE testing group for their Saturday morning test session, allowing them more “Distancing” for the attendees.

Dick Norton N6AA ARRL Southwestern Division Director

Saturday: Awoke early, made a quick cup of coffee and wandered over to the center of camp to the Quartzpause “Yard Sale” (BLM does not like the term “Swap Meet”) it was the usual Ham Swap treasures but I did manage to find some things that got my attention, first a Ameco Code Practice Oscillator old enough that it is in a fully metal case AND it is Vacuum Tube operated! I certainly was not going to pass that Up for $10.00. wandering through to nearly the end I found a very interesting collection of Antennas, mounts and Trailer hitch tilt-ups all fabricated by Toni K7AJF, I bought his largest trailer hitch tilt-up for $85 (he actually discounted that one from $100 to his smaller adapter price) and a Ham-Stick dipole bracket that is fully adjustable from inverted V to V configuration for merely $20. We will complete our packing get ready for the road, collect our tables and chairs (Post Testing) and hop on the road. I will attempt “Zoom at Noon” but can’t promise it will work from here, My normal hotspot is well beyond it’s data limit so my Phone and tablet are my only options now.

As a side note: This year of Quartzfest (Quartzpause) was certainly not the “Bucket List” item that we have come to expect from our annual desert Ham Radio Gathering but we have met many of the Die Hard folks that make the typical event a success and they now know who we are, making our trip successful. Bringing newcomers? This Year may have been a disappointment for them.

For more information and Photos of “QuartzPause” visit Adventures of GOTAhome Group | Facebook

That’s all for Now, Stay tuned for more “Quartzpause” news ’73 Ken KC6WOK