2018 NJ Skeeter Hunt

nj skeeter hunt

That’s me in the green t-shirt. N1LT, Dick Christopher, is in the plaid shirt and W1PID, Jim Cluett, is in the blue polo shirt. Dick forced me to upgrade to General six years ago and Jim has been patiently teaching me outdoor radio and CW. What a thrill to be out with both of these QRP radio giants. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

The 2018 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt radio contest was a huge success here in central New Hampshire. It was one of the best times I’ve had outdoors in a few years because I was able to operate with the two men, Dick Christopher and Jim Cluett, who have offered me the most amateur radio guidance in the past seven years.

Dick Christopher, N1LT. He was the founder of the Central New Hampshire Amateur Radio Club. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse to upgrade to my General privileges. I only had a little less than three weeks to prepare. Copyright 2018 Jim Cluett

In a meager attempt to pay them back for all they’ve given me, I decided they could sit on the picnic table bench while I set up all the equipment. They howled with laughter when the first under-handed throw of my water bottle soared so high I was unable to grab the end of the halyard cord. It literally slipped through my fingers only to dangle 15 feet up in the air out of my reach.

I had to climb down over the river bank to retrieve my water bottle and pull the halyard cord through the tree to start over.

I tied the end of the cord to a special clip on my backpack and threw again. The second throw was perfect as the water bottle came straight down through the branches just ten feet from the edge of the picnic table.

In all the confusion I slipped the BNC cable onto my Elecaft KX3, but failed to twist it to lock the cable onto the female connector. Even still we worked contacts like I used to make cheese coneys at Skyline Chili all those years ago.

What was the Weather Like for the NJ Skeeter Hunt?

The weather was perfect. The temperature was probably 76 F, it was brilliant sunshine and the all-important dew point was about 57 F. The bonus was there were no bugs bothering us until the last ten minutes. That’s when a swarm of biting flies discovered my legs!

Where Did You Operate?

The three of us were just 50 feet from the edge of the Pemigewasset River in Bristol, NH. We were in the US Corps of Engineers flood control area behind the Franklin Falls Dam. There’s a group of three picnic tables under a majestic pine tree that offered up her branches to support my 29-foot wire antenna that had a 9:1 unun at the bottom.

nj skeeter hunt

This is my wire antenna and halyard holding it up. The top of the antenna was 39 feet up in the tree.  The halyard line continues up another 20 feet before it starts to come down. The wire did not touch any branches or pine needles. That’s super important! Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Did you Operate as a Team or as Individuals?

We decided that we’d operate as individuals but use the same radio, antenna and iambic micro Pico paddles. We each had our own log books and used my Elecraft KX3, my 4.5 Ah BioennoPower LiFePh battery, and my 9:1 unun attached to 25-feet of coax cable.

nj skeeter hunt

Jim and Dick look like they’re attending class taking notes. As you might suspect, they’re busy copying CW being sent by another Skeeter! I sat at Jim’s left when I wasn’t taking photos or looking at horses. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

How Many Contacts Did You Get in the 2018 NJ Skeeter Hunt?

We had a grand total of only fourteen contacts, but it was far more than I ever thought we’d get. Propagation has been horrible this summer. I would have been thrilled with three contacts today.

Here’s our log:

19 Aug-18    1722  14.060    NK9G   CW 559 559 WI 6
19 Aug-18    1726  14.062    NN9K   CW 599 599 IL 64
19 Aug-18    1730  14.060    K4BAI  CW 559 559 GA 163
19 Aug-18    1736  14.059    WO9B   CW 559 559 WI 24
19 Aug-18    1740  7041      N3AQC  CW 559 559 PA 77
19 Aug-18    1752  14.064    AB9CA  CW 559 559 IN 22
19 Aug-18    1800  14.063    KE8EAS CW 599 599 OH 57
19 Aug-18    1805  14.059    N5GW   CW 449 559 MS 5W
19 Aug-18    1811  7031      WF4I   CW 559 559 NC 70
19 Aug-18    1818  7042      NK9G   CW 559 559 WI 6
19 Aug-18    1823  7038      N9MM   CW 559 559 POTA
19 Aug-18    1825  7033      K2BR   CW 559 599 NJ lighthouse Bob
19 Aug-18    1844  7042      K3RLL  CW 579 579 PA 15
19 Aug-18    1849  7038      N8GU   CW 559 579 MI lighthouse B

Because we each worked the same contacts, we were slower at capturing other contacts had we been able to hunt and pounce by ourselves. Jim would work a contact first, I’d follow and then hand the paddles to Dick.

It was a great way to operate. Had we set up individually, our signals would be crashing into one another and it would have been a frustrating ball of mayhem. Trust me, I’ve been in this situation before with Jim and another friend K1SWL. It’s no fun to be trying to work others when a nearby signal walks over a QSO.

Who Else Was With You Next to the River?

Why I’m glad you asked! Women and horses joined us. Lots of both.

It turns out there’s a cool group of NH women who ride together and they come to this amazing flood control area to exercise their steeds along the banks of the Pemigewasset River.

There were at least ten horses. They were pretty frisky and loving the fresh grass near the picnic tables. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Several were amazed we were doing Morse code. But all were flabbergasted about how I was able to get my halyard up 65 feet into the tree with just my arm.

My answer always when asked this question is, “Oh, it’s just one of my skills and magic.”

Why Was the 2018 NJ Skeeter Hunt So Much Fun?

I had a blast because I was with two of the hams that have played such an important part of my journey in this hobby. The weather was a bonus as were the horses!

6 thoughts on “2018 NJ Skeeter Hunt

  1. I sure wish I had heard you guys. But no such luck. Not a peep out of NH. I had a “grand total” of six QSOs! We had two sets of Sunday visitors, something quite rare here…
    Carter, N3AO
    Blacksburg, VACarter

  2. Operating from a hilltop in rural PA, it was so much fun to work your tag-team on the Skeeter Hunt this year. Amazing how all of you had the same signal strength. (GRIN) And thanks for helping us win the highly coveted WANHA (Worked All New Hampshire Award). Including your fun group, there seemed like more stations in NH than in Texas yesterday! I think I’m summering in the wrong state for a QRP op.
    … 72/73 .. Don K3RLL

    • Our pleasure Don! I can tell you that NH sure doesn’t get as hot as Texas! And we have the magnificent lakes and White Mountains. Get up here next year.

      Your gold-leaf WANHA award should be in the mail before the year 2020. We have a considerable backorder to fill! 😉

  3. Glad you guys had a great time and wonderful WX. Down here in EPA, the weather stunk. And, I’m not enough of an outdoorsman to “tough it out”.

    So, I missed the whole event. Also got back home after 2PM following Sunday dinner with my son & his family. Maybe next year will be better!!

    73 de Ray

    • Craig,
      It was the first time I’ve done it and it was a blast. No frustration and lots of ribbing. I wish I would have shot more video of QSOs happening.

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