Two days ago Jim Cluett, W1PID, and I went back to Livermore Falls in Campton, NH.
We were blessed with what I thought might be our last really warm day of the year.
The temperature was in the mid 60’s and had there been no clouds, there’s no doubt the thermometer would have climbed above 70 F.
Jim set up at his usual spot by the flat rock above the old abandoned mill foundation that’s right at the falls.
I walked about 150 feet north on the railroad tracks and set up at my usual location. This rail line used to part of the Boston & Maine Railroad and it’s still in use by the small scenic Plymouth and Lincoln Railroad.
My HB-1B radio was soon to snag two QSOs out of the ether.
“Are you going to use your new 20-meter resonant dipole today? If so, I suggest you shorten it by one inch to get better results.”
I took Jim’s advice and used my SOG Flash II pocket knife to carefully strip the insulation from the thin 22 gauge stranded wire. It’s such a good knife that I have two of them in case I lose mine or they stop making them.
Twenty meters was active. My antenna was doing a great job in a vertical position. From the center-fed connector, I had a 25-foot length of RG-174 coax.
I heard lots of stations and soon I heard W4LYH calling CQ. Immediately I responded with my call sign.
It was Martin and guess what? He was outdoors at Douglas Lake in TN. It’s a TVA flood-control dam.
He was operating with a Ten Tec “Rebel” at 5 watts and gave me a 559.
I was probably at 4 watts as the voltage on my HB-1B was just at 11 volts.
How fun to have a QRP/P to QRP/P QSO!
There was some fading (QSB) but I was able to copy most of the exchange, even with my poor and still-developing CW hearing skills.
Just as I was finishing up, Jim came down. He only tends to operate for about twelve minutes, sometimes fifteen, then puts away his equipment. In that time, he can usually complete four or five DX QSOs if the bands are open.
He sat down next to me and I knew I was about to get another lesson. How lucky I am to have a kind and generous QRP Outdoor Radio Sensei.
“How are you doing? Give me one of your earbuds and let’s see what’s out there.”
Within a few moments we heard Bert, F6HKA.
“Oh, that’s my friend Bert. We’ll work him.”
Jim seems to have a mind like a steel trap. He remembers call signs and each person’s name like I recall childhood memories.
Bert was in an extended QSO so we waited.
Once we heard the 73 each operator was giving, I threw out my call sign.
Bert heard me! He gave me a 569 and I gave him a solid 599 as his signal was so strong, I had to turn the volume way down on my HB-1B.
What a thrill to work a French DX station with my tiny radio and simple vertical dipole antenna.
When I got home, there was a message from Peter Ackerman, DL3NAA from Germany.
Holy Cow! It looks like my antenna and the ionosphere were perfectly aligned on this day!
Soon the wicked winter winds will be howling and it will take lots of courage to stay outdoors.