Leaf Peepers 2020 Scores

leaf peepers qrp contest

Call Sign Name Score
AA1SB Neil Collesidis 352
N4ARY Aaron Ray 255
NN9K Peter 231
KA3D Dan Farrell 186
N8BB Werner Haschke 180
AD4CW Marc Richardson 60
W1PID Jim Cluett 52
N8RVE John Morris 45
W2JEK Donald Younger 40
AD4CW Marc Richardson 12
K7ULM Dick Wendell 0
KK4ITX John Leahy 0
AJ4UQ Tom 0

 

Wellington State Park POTA and WW-FF Activation

 

Tim Carter and Dave Benson

I’m in the sunglasses and Dave Benson, K1SWL, is busy untangling a slew of radio operators eager to contact us at this never-before-activated POTA and WW-FF location. Just 24 hours before, I got a haircut.

The word for the day was windy! Don’t believe me? Watch this short video.

Dave Benson, K1SWL, and I decided to do a Parks on the Air and World Wide Flora and Fauna radio activation yesterday from the beach at Wellington State Park. The designators are: K-2682 and KFF-2682 respectively.

This is a gem of a park on the southwest shoreline of Newfound Lake in central New Hampshire. Newfound is reputed to have the cleanest water of any lake in New Hampshire. The water temperature at the ranger check-in booth said it was 70 F. Dave and I felt that was a stretch and the rangers might want to recalibrate their thermometer.

Tim Carter W3ATB

Here I am trying to get a few extra contacts on 40 meters. You can see the wind doing a number on my hair. The 40-meter band was dead as a doornail. After a few minutes of calling CQ, we packed up and went to get two fish sandwiches!

It’s important to realize this park had never before been activated. The radio operators at home want new parks and you can almost always count on lots of activity for these all-time-new-ones (ATNO) as they’re affectionately known.

I took control of the radio at first at 11 AM, 1500Z, because the past few times Dave has initiated the action. We’ve decided to take turns because you don’t know if the sun is going to tickle the atmosphere so we can hear other operators and they can hear us.

We started out on 20 meters at 14.045. Keep in mind there are European operators wanting to contact us. Late morning on the East Coast in the USA means it’s late afternoon over in Europe so it’s always a good idea to start out on 20 meters before the band settles down overseas.

For each of us to get credit for activating the park, we each needed ten contacts. Things started out slow and it took me seventeen minutes to accumulate one more than was needed for me to activate

radio antenna wellington state park

This is the bottom of Dave’s end-fed 20-meter antenna. That box contains magic components that tame the high impedance of the wire. Without the magic box, the radio would create small amounts of blue smoke. Blue smoke is bad.

Once I got to eleven, I said, “Dave, you take over. I want to make sure you get activation credit for this park.”

Dave Benson K1SWL at Wellington SP

Here’s Dave early in the activation before the wind picked up. Note he’s just in a t-shirt.

After yielding control of the radio to Dave, I texted my very good friends Wayne Reetz, KA1CPR, and Jess Guaderrama, W6LEN. I asked them to spot us even though I was certain the POTA skimmer had already done so.

Dave Benson K1SWL

You can see that Dave added a warm flannel shirt as being in the shade with the cold wind blowing made t-shirts not such a good idea!

Moments later all hell broke loose and a scad of operators descended upon us like a plague of locusts. It’s exhilarating to pull out callsigns when everyone is clamoring to be heard at the same time.

Dave filled his log with 31 contacts in 32 minutes. That’s my goal – one contact per minute or so.

After Dave exhausted the demand and the frequency was quiet, I switched to 40 meters on my Elecraft KX3. I only contacted one operator. We decided it was time to eat so we packed up and got some grub.

These activations are fun, they’re exciting, and they really hone your listening skills especially if you want to train to do emergency comms in a hurricane!

Mt. Cardigan NH POTA and WW-FF Activation

Tim Carter W3ATB and Dave Benson K1SWL

Dave’s busy on the radio and I’m sporting my wonderful POTA t-shirt. More than a few mosquitos wanted in on the fun. We started the activation on 20 meters and then switched to 40 meters an hour later.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of doing outdoor radio with two amateur radio giants: Dave Benson, K1SWL, and Jim Cluett, W1PID.

We were in Cardigan Mountain State Park in central New Hampshire. This location is both a Parks on the Air and a World-Wildlife Flora and Fauna entity.

Cardigan Mountain SP

This is the colorful road sign indicating you’ve arrived at the state park.

Dave and I set up on a fine picnic table at the trailhead of the West Ridge Trail that gains about 1,300 feet in elevation in just 1.5 miles. We were all set up ready to talk to other radio operators in the USA and Europe by 10:50 AM or 1450Z.

Cardigan Mountain West Ridge Trail

This sign was just 30 or 40 feet from our table.

Cardigan Mountain SP

This is the table and the adjacent tree Dave is looking at did a marvelous job of supporting Dave’s resonant 20-meter end-fedz wire antenna.

As long as the ionosphere was being sufficiently tickled by the sun’s energy, we would be rewarded with many radio contacts as this particular park is rarely visited by operators like us that wish to battle the elements and the many NH state birds better known as mosquitos.

I was tutored in outdoor radio by both Jim and Dave and it doesn’t take us long to set up. I threw my water bottle about 55 feet up in the air on the first try snagging the exact branch I was aiming for. It allowed Dave’s antenna to hang straight down.

Cardigan Mountain SP

The yellow line represents the thin wire antenna that’s invisible in the photo. The blue line represents the 1/16th-inch microcord halyard line that is holding up the wire antenna. It takes some practice to use a water bottle to get an antenna up in a tree. CLICK or TAP HERE to see me do it.

We decided it’s best to tag team the radio instead of trying to have two radios blasting at the same time. The signals from one overload the other. Dave got on the air first and within minutes the chasers were descending on him like crows raiding a cornfield.

Dave’s a seasoned Morse code operator. I believe he’s been doing it for over fifty years. He usually has no issue pulling out a callsign when multiple chasers are screaming, “ME, me, me, me!!!” Watch the video just below and you’ll see that happen when Dave ends a fast report with one operator.

After operating just thirty-three minutes, Dave had accumulated 31 contacts. He then got up and I sat down. Within minutes more chasers were trying to contact me. I proceeded to untangle a very modest pileup with his help.

Cardigan Mountain

Here I am pounding brass so to speak. Something is obviously wrong with Dave’s camera as I’m certain my bald spot is so much smaller than what you see here.

“Hey, are those my micro Pico paddles?” Dave was making a joke because about three years ago he somehow lost his while operating at Gardner Memorial Wayside State Park near his home.

“I knew I should have engraved my name on them,” I replied. Without some ID like that, it’s pretty much impossible to say who’s paddles they were. We both laughed pretty hard.

I was having trouble sending as the keyer speed on Dave’s ICOM mobile radio was set a little faster than I’m used to. We laughed about that as I called myself a LID. A LID is a derogatory label given to an amateur radio operator who has poor skills.

About ten minutes until Noon, Jim showed up. He didn’t want to operate with us but decided to join us for lunch afterward. We did convince him to try to untangle a pileup that we were positive might happen on 40 meters.

Cardigan Mountain

Here’s Jim logging his sole contact on 40 meters. He asked to use my callsign.

Cardigan Mountain

Here’s Jim in a better mood. When he first arrived we blamed his mood on driving away all the operators on 40 meters. Who knows, maybe there is a correlation to happiness and having lots of contacts!

It turns out 40 meters was a bust. Between us, Dave and I had gathered fifty-one contacts on 20 meters. Only four contacts were made on 40 meters. It didn’t take long to decide to head to lunch in downtown Canaan, NH.

Cardigan Mountain State Park

Jim’s on the left winding up my halyard. You’re looking at two iconic Northeast QRP radio operators. Dave is the founder of Small Wonder Labs and the inventor is the epic Rockmite radio. Jim has been my tormentor the past seven years and I’ll be forever grateful for his patience. Moments later we were leaving the parking lot headed for lunch.

Dave headed back home after lunch and Jim and I decided there was time to try to do more radio next to the Pemigewasset River in Bristol, NH. We had spied this location nearly 18 months ago on a cold winter day as we walked down Coolidge Ridge Road.

Coolidge Ridge Road NH

This is a well-hidden location along Coolidge Ridge Road in Bristol, NH.

It was a tranquil location and I know I’ll go back here. The picnic table did have lots of sap on it so I’ll bring mineral spirits next time.

For some odd reason, we decided to take turns operating but used each other’s callsign. It was loads of fun until I sent Jim’s back to one operator as W1PITI.

“What are you doing, you idiot? My callsign is W1PID!” My finger slipped on my Begali Adventure paddles and I put too much space between the single DAH and two DIHS in the letter D. When you do that, you end up sending a T and an I. We laughed pretty hard about that!

All in all, it was a grand day out with two radio titans. I’m blessed to call them friends and they are always ever so patient with my continuing learning process.

We hope to get out again very soon but hope the mosquitos take the day off.

Cookie Crumble 2020 Scores

Call Sign Name Scores 2020
AF1N Ralph Williams 18173
W4MPS 15133
N3AO Carter Craige 12342
WC3R Emily Saldana 10057
WB3GCK Craig LeBarge 9878
VE2DDZ Malcolm Harper 9592
W2LJ Larry Makowski 9354
K4BAI Judge Lanley 9131
KE3V Kevin McKenna 7342
W1PID Jim Cluett 7321
NJ3K B. Manning 7310
N6WT Kent Olsen 7279
AC2YD 6429
K9FH Phil Noname 5007
KC3FVN Keith Comp 5002
KA3D Dan Farrell 4478
KC1DKY Nick Mollo 3996
VE7EA 3259
KM3D Harry Bump 2221
WI1G 1894
N5VDQ Fred Harris 1854
W0IS Rick Clem 1853
WB9HFK 1617
K0EMT Bryan Nehl 1562
KK4R 1236
W5GN 1231
K7CCC Dave Hassler 1115
K3SVA Gene Messick 1022
NQ9A 1020
WU6P 830
W3ATB Tim Carter 773
AD0YM Mike Smith 583
KG9NG 581
N2RIC Richard Ian Carpenter 575
W5QLF Joe Noname 273
VE3IDS Don Richards -50

Gardner Memorial Wayside Park

Gardner Memorial Wayside Park

Gardner Memorial Wayside Park – Amateur Radio

Yesterday I set up my Elecraft KX3 radio on a wonderful picnic table at Gardner Memorial Wayside State Park near Wilmont, New Hampshire.

Gardner Memorial Wayside Park

Here’s my trusty Elecraft KX3 with my Rite-in-the-Rain waterproof notepad. See that dandy black reel? That’s what my antenna and halyard string are stored on. It’s the BEST REEL on the Earth Ball. My coveted Begali Adventure Dual key is on the KX3. This table is just about 8 feet from the edge of a pristine stream that runs through the park. Downstream just 1/10th mile is the foundation of an old mill.

I met Dave Benson, K1SWL, there just before 10:30 AM. We had talked for a few weeks about doing a joint POTA and WW-FF radio activation. The plan was for Dave to drive up the road just 1/2 mile and set up within the boundaries of Giles State Forest. We would both be on the air at the same time, but activating two different entities.

I had no trouble getting my vertical 29-foot antenna up into a tree adjacent to the picnic table. A single throw got the top of the halyard about 45 feet over an upper branch.

Gardner Memorial Wayside Park

The tip of the yellow arrow points to the top of the halyard string line. It’s really easy to get a water bottle 50 feet up into the air after you’ve practiced for about six or seven years. Don’t ask about the day at the Newport NH airfield when I was with Dave and Jim Cluett, my outdoor radio mentors!

Within minutes I had my 9:1 unun and 17-foot counterpoise connected to the antenna wire. I estimate the top of the antenna was about 38 feet in the air. It would work well it turns out.

Gardner Memorial Wayside Park

The tip of the arrow points to the 9:1 unun. You need this magic box to lower the impedance of the antenna so you don’t harm the fragile electronics inside the radio. You should be able to see the thin yellow antenna wire extending up into the tree.

As soon as I connected my 4.5 Ah BioennoPower battery to my KX3 and turned it on, I heard a really strong signal on 20 meters – 14.062. That was a good sign I’d be filling my logbook with contacts.

Gardner Memorial Wayside Park

This was the babbling brook just on the other side of my picnic table. What a grand place to have lunch on a warm day.

Twenty-Six Contacts in 46 Minutes

I was on the air five minutes early and immediately contacted George, KC4TVN. He was lurking around the QRP watering hole of 14.060 and heard me calling CQ on 14.059. It was a thrill to pen his callsign into my logbook.

Next up was Jess, W6LEN, in Huntington Beach, CA! Jess is a remarkable radio operator and he helps activators like me and Dave by spotting us so other operators know where we are.

I then contacted my mentor, Jim Cluett, W1PID, immediately after Jess. I could tell it was going to be a busy next hour or so.

I was pretty busy for 34 of the 46 minutes. There are gaps of time in my logbook where I was calling CQ as the chasers dwindled down to nothing. I then had to change frequency and get re-spotted.

Forty Meters – A Graveyard

After contacting 24 operators on 20 meters including three in Europe, I switched to 40 meters. Normally you can expect to connect with lots of radio operators in the Midwest. Today 40 meters was pretty much dead. I did connect with KA1CPR in Byfield, MA and KD1CT in Barnstead, NH.

I decided to pack up and called Dave on our small 2-meter VHF handheld transceivers. “Dave, I’ve run 20 and 40 dry. I’m headed your way.”

“Fine. I’m up the road about a half-mile at the crest of the hill. I’m tucked in next to a gate.”

Giles State Forest

Dave is that tiny speck down the road.

Within ten minutes I was parked and walking towards Dave who was set up on a nice level road within Giles State Forest. As I walked closer to him, I heard him talking with another operator. Here is part of the conversation:

Giles State Forest

Here’s Dave Benson, K1SWL, doing his extended conversation with KD9CK.

As I walked up to Dave, he was in an extended conversation with KD9CK. They were both doing Morse code about 20 words per minute (WPM) which is about 6 words faster than I can copy in my head.

Giles State Forest

Dave is concentrating on incoming Morse code.

I caught letters and numbers here and there, but not enough to understand what was being talked about. For all I know they could have been hatching secret plans to invade Cuba!

Giles State Forest

Dave is using a Vibroplex bug to send Morse code. He also had a 100-watt mobile radio whereas my Elecraft was just burping out 10 watts. This allows him to be heard by more operators and thus he can add more contacts to his logbook. In all, he made 40 contacts, but much of that is his superior operating and listening skills not so much the extra power.

Giles State Forest

Here’s a sure sign of Spring. A coltsfoot flower just feet away from Dave’s table. It’s a relative to the dandelion.

Dave and I had planned to have a wonderful pizza lunch back in Andover, NH, but we discovered much to our displeasure that the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.

Bah Humbug to that! We said goodbye in the parking lot and decided to do another POTA and WW-FF adventure soon before the black flies start to matter. That’s just weeks away here in New Hampshire.

morse code meme invade cuba

 

Sky Pond State Forest Amateur Radio

Sky Pond State Forest NH

This is why Sky Pond is named Sky Pond, silly!

Sky Pond State Forest – Parks on the Air K-4963

Today was a delicious early spring day. It was brilliant sunshine, the temperature was 65 F but the infrared rays washing over me felt like it was 85 F. It was intoxicating. It was a perfect day to visit Sky Pond State Forest in New Hampton, NH.

I was introduced to Sky Pond by my mentor and very good friend, Jim Cluett W1PID, several years ago. The Bald Ledge vista point is inside Sky Pond State Forest.

This state forest is off the beaten path. You have to travel miles and miles off State Route 104 and it’s at the dead-end of a Class V dirt road. In a typical spring this first week of April the road could have been impassable because of deep mud. Mud season was not too bad this year, it came earlier, and the road was in remarkably great shape.

Sky Pond State Forest NH

The end of the Class V road is in the distance. You turn right to get to the Sky Pond parking lot. The road was damp but solid and not muddy at all. Some years you’d need an Army 6×6 to travel across this road in mud season.

Today I decided to just set up next to Sky Pond and enjoy the breeze and tranquil view. No one was here and I was thankful for that.

I’ve gotten to the point in my outdoor radio career that I have far more fun if I don’t tangle with strangers. This wasn’t always the case as I used to love pulling the handles of the Happiness Machine where I’d chatter with strangers about how in the world I got my antenna wire so high in the trees.

That’s always the first question a stranger asks when they see me doing outdoor radio. Now if someone asks I hand them a small business card that has this URL printed on it:

go.timcarter.com/radio

Once there, one of the first things they see is this video:

Sky Pond State Forest NH

The sign says it all.

I was all set up and ready to transmit at 3 PM. We ham radio guys use Universal Time so it was 1900Z. It didn’t take long for the Parks on the Air chasers to find me. Soon I was clicking off a contact each minute.

I started on 20 meters and once I exhausted those contacts I moved to 40 meters. Today I used my:

  • Elecraft KX3
  • Begali Adventure Dual Paddles
  • 29-foot vertical wire antenna with a 9:1 unun
  • 4.5 Ah BioennoPower LiFePh battery
Sky Pond State Forest NH

This is the short road to the parking lot next to Sky Pond.

I was only on the air about 35 minutes but that’s okay. I got fourteen contacts and you only need ten to activate the park. After the black flies have gone away at the end of May, I’ll probably be back with Jim to walk up to the Bald Ledge scenic overlook. It’s spectacular.

Sky Pond State Forest radio log

These are the callsigns of the operators I made contact with.

 

William Thomas State Forest NH

William Thomas SF NH KX2 Radio

This is my Elecraft KX2 amateur radio. I used it to contact 22 other radio operators in just 40 minutes using Morse code. No, the contacts were not ghosts with invisible callsigns. This photo was shot before I started. Look below for the logbook with all the callsigns in it, silly.

William Thomas State Forest NH – POTA and WW-FF Ham Radio

Today I did a last-minute amateur radio adventure with my very good friend Jim Cluett, W1PID. We decided to go to the William Thomas State Forest just north of Hill, NH. It’s a wonderful state forest with a delightful road that cuts deep into the forest.

The 1,700-acre tract of land was owned by William Thomas, Jr. He was a geologist that passed away in 2001. He was a B-24 Liberator pilot and used his discharge pay to purchase the first 60 acres of the eventual 1,700 he’d come to accumulate over the next fifty-five years. These small tracts of land which are now one create an unbroken natural landscape between Wade State Forest and the Pemigewasset River wetlands to the east. He gifted this land to the state of New Hampshire upon his death.

My goal was to activate this state forest. It’s both a Parks on the Air entity K-4981 and a World Wide Flora and Fauna entity KFF-5224. You officially activate a public space like this if you make contact with a minimum of ten other operators within a 24-hour period.

William Thomas State Forest NH

This is how you enter the William Thomas State Forest. The gate was locked. That’s fine, we wanted to walk anyway for the exercise and to soak up the quiet beauty of this little-known state asset.

The weather was perfect for an early spring hike. The temperature was in the mid-50s F with a mostly cloudy sky. I don’t know if one could order up better weather.

William Thomas State Forest NH

We’re coming up to a clearing that served as a log yard. I estimate this was about 1/2 mile from the gate.

The road that cuts east/west through the forest was very well maintained. There were a few fallen trees but it was easy to climb over them as we wound our way deeper into the forest.

William Thomas State Forest NH

This is the 3/4-acre clearing that served as a staging area for logging trucks to load up timber to take to local mills. Jim and I think it was logged about five years ago. But we could be wrong.

After walking about 15 minutes, I found the exact spot I wanted to set up my equipment. There was a perfect branch up about 40 feet hanging just beyond a somewhat flat rock that would keep me from sitting on the damp ground.

William Thomas State Forest NH

That one solitary branch in the white clouds above the blue patch at the center is what I decided was going to support my 29-foot vertical wire antenna. I snared it the first throw with my water bottle.

Jim decided to keep walking farther down the road to set up his own radio equipment. He says it’s no fun watching me record a contact just about every minute. He’d rather fill his own logbook. I couldn’t agree more.

William Thomas State Forest NH

I’ve got my gear out and am minutes away from sending CQ POTA DE W3ATB. My antenna is on my fantastic Trident finger reel next to the orange Pelican 1200 case. Inside the case is my 9:1 unun that attaches to the bottom of the 29-foot wire antenna. The blue block is my 4.5 Ah BionennoPower LiFePh battery. It’s surrounded by 25 feet of coax cable.

It only took about ten minutes to set up. I decided to make contacts on the 20-meter band first because I was hoping to get a few European operators. There are quite a few who are very active in the World Wide Flora and Fauna radio program. I was fortunate to contact Jari, OH1XT, in Finland and Reg, G3WPF, in England. We call these DX contacts because they’re international.

Not wanting to slight my Canadian neighbors, I also put VE3LDT and VE3ZN in my logbook on this adventure!

My good friend Jess Guaderrama, W6LEN, was kind enough to spot me on the Parks on the Air website as well as the WW-FF site. This almost always guarantees that you’ll get the required ten contacts to officially activate the entity.

After gathering fifteen contacts on the 20-meter band, I switch to 40 meters. The 40-meter band allows me to make contact with operators that are closer to me. I was able to add seven more contacts before no one else answered my CQ.

I was only on the air for 40 minutes and made 22 contacts. I was really happy with that count. As the weather gets warmer and I get out earlier in the day, I’ll stay on the air longer.

William Thomas State Forest NH

The operator from Italy couldn’t hear me. Too bad so sad! Twenty-two contacts in 40 minutes is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s by no means expert work. Some POTA and WW-FF operators can log a contact every 30 seconds.

As Jim and I walked back to our vehicles, we stopped for a moment along a small brook that runs under the forest path. There are countless tiny streams like this all over New Hampshire and in early spring they’re carrying the last of the snowmelt towards the oceans.

William Thomas State Forest NH

I don’t believe Jim was going to fish with his walking stick, but one never knows!

Belknap Mountain State Forest

belknap mountain topo map

This is Belknap Mountain State Forest in central New Hampshire. I can see it each day from my house. I set up to operate at the tip of the red arrow.

Belknap Mountain State Forest POTA and WW-FF Activation – Best Ever Performance

My guess is at some point in your life you’ve been working to master a skill and it seems like you’re just plodding along. Without realizing it, you’re getting better each day but in small spurts.

Then one day, magic happens and you make a quantum leap or you look back and see how far you’ve come.

Yesterday was one of those days for me as I was alone surrounded by trees, fresh air, and early spring spleandor on the western flank of Belknap Mountain. Spring snow meltwater was serenading me as it flowed across the hard granite rocks in the streambed on its way to Lake Winnipesaukee.

Last-Minute Decision

I had a very busy workday yesterday and just after 2 PM I decided to drive to Belknap Mountain State Forest. It was yet another stunning warm early spring day here in central New Hampshire with the temperature in the shade a balmy 63 F.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and I was drawn outdoors like a moth to a porch light on a sultry August summer night.

belknap mountain signs

Little did I know when taking this photo it was to be an epic next 90 minutes.

My mentor, Jim Cluett – W1PID, also went out to do radio on his own and reported that in the direct sun his tiny thermometer read 90 F. For those of us who live in the frozen great Northeast Kingdom, we long for the soothing infrared rays after months of cold ice and snow. They are delicious comfort food and harken the glorious season of Spring.

40 QSOs in 67 Minutes

I’ve only been sending and receiving Morse code for just over seven years. I’m still a working stiff and for many of those years, I didn’t follow Jim’s advice to work at it at least 15 minutes a day. I put my work and family in front of my hobby. I don’t regret doing that, but as with all decisions, there are unintended consequences.

The result was slow and painful progress. To see how bad I was when first learning Morse, just read about the day Jim was kind enough to take me to one of his favorite places to operate, Old Hill Village.

You need to understand that amateur radio is a hobby as wide as the Grand Canyon. There are many places you can find happiness. For some, it’s contesting, for others it may be bouncing signals off the moon, and for me it just so happened that I became attracted to being on the receiving end of a herd of operators who are trying to put you, or me, in their logbook.

We call them pileups and I witnessed my first one with my jaw wide open on a cold day at St. Gaudens National Historic Site. I’ll never ever forget Jim and Dave Benson, K1SWL, working together to interpret a cacophony of radio signals as we together activated this park as part of the National Parks on the Air event. On that cold day in early February, Jim made contact with 55 operators in 40 minutes as Dave recorded the QSOs on his small laptop computer.

As I drove us home in relative silence that day, all I could think of was, “Jeeez, I’ll never even come close to being able to do that.” I couldn’t even begin to understand all those letters and numbers that make up call signs that were bouncing around on the inside of my trailer hours before like a pinball hitting the bumpers in an arcade.

Without me realizing how far I’ve come, I’m now within striking distance of doing what Jim did that day! Yesterday I was fortunate to make contact with 40 other operators in just 67 minutes.

Never before have I had that many QSOs in such a short time.

W3ATB logbook Belknap Mountain

Here are the 40 QSOs.

Jess – My Go-To Spotter

When I decided to head to Belknap Mountain,  K-4874 for Parks on the Air and  KFF-5200 for World Wildlife Flora and Fauna, I texted my good friend Jess Guaderrama, W6LEN, in California. He’s a power chaser and activator for both POTA and WWFF.

The only way this activation would have a chance is if Jess could spot me on both the POTA and WWFF websites. Radio operators at home who chase us activators in the parks look at these special spotting pages to see who is where and on what frequency.

Jess got back and said he could.

Excellent, I stood a chance at getting the required ten contacts.

I was able to set up in a perfect spot where I could have my vertical 29-foot wire hanging straight down from a tree branch. I was able to get the tip of the antenna 40 feet up in the air.

The only issue is I was just 20 feet from a high-tension electric line that goes to the top of Belknap Mountain to power television and radio transmitters. Trust me, I didn’t want a repeat of what happened the day before at Swain State Forest!

Danny Boy – ON4VT

Once again I was using my Elecraft KX3, my new Begali Adventure Dual paddles, and my go-to BioennoPower 4.5 Ah LiFePh battery. My signal power is a maximum of just 15 watts.

Because CW (continuous wave) is so efficient, this small amount of power allows you to contact other radio operators thousands of miles away, like Danny Van Tricht in Belgium.

I ran into Danny a few years back in the ether. He’s a fantastic operator much more skilled than I am. But Danny remembers what it was like to be a padawan CW operator so he slows down and is very patient with those who aren’t as good as he is. He was kind enough to send me his QSL card years ago and I treasure it.

ON4VT qsl card

Ten minutes after getting on the air I heard his call sign. I said out loud, “Danny, WOO HOO!” If anyone was nearby, they must have thought I was nuts.

Why is this important?

Years ago I remembered Jim rattling off call signs of friends of his. I marveled at how he could remember the cryptic brew of letters and numbers. “I’ll never be able to do that,”

Well, I’m doing it now much to my surprise.

Still Learning

Once the other operators had satisfied their thirst for this site that had never before been activated, I decided to pack up and leave. It was just after 4:30 PM and I was tired.

As I was winding up my antenna and lanyard string on my wonderful Trident finger reel, I was euphoric. Many past adventures were swirling through my head and I knew Jim would be proud of me. Just twenty-five minutes before he contacted me on the radio a second time asking, “How many Qs?”. Hurriedly I counted and sent back, “25”.

belknap mountain trail topo map

This large topo map shows where I was and was under a small shelter next to the parking area. I was at the blue and white P marker towards the left of the map.

WOW” was his response. I went on to finish the run-up to 40 total contacts.

It’s important to realize Jim was my 16th contact of the adventure. When I put him in the log, I was really busy as I had all sorts of other operators calling me. Jim came back with some message but I didn’t decipher it.

Lo and behold he had NO IDEA he was contacting me, but I had no idea this was the case.

He was out on a sunny hill in Sanbornton, NH on his radio and stumbled across all the other operators on 14.062 who were trying to work me.

Because Jess had spotted me, I thought all the other operators not only knew my call sign, but that they knew where I was.

But as happens, other operators can be just out turning their VFO knobs and stumble upon the melee. This is what happened to Jim.

On the drive back home he boxed my ears about being more cognizant of what’s in play. He suggested that every fifth contact I should send out my call sign after sending the signal report to the operators who are desperately trying to get me in their logs.

As always, Jim is filled with excellent advice and sage wisdom.

I think you can see where this is going. My goal now is to match what he did five years ago on that cold day inside the trailer. I think I can do it by the end of this summer.

But as Kenny Chesney sings in his hit song, “…only time will tell, but it ain’t talkin’.” Listen for yourself:

Swain State Forest

swain state forest

Swain State Forest | I reached out to the NH State Parks Department about the deplorable condition of the state forest signs. It’s been a week and no one has gotten back to me.

Swain State Forest POTA Activation – Tough Going!

I activated Swain State Forest K-4969 today. New Hampshire has quite a few state forests and this one happens to be directly across Lake Winnisquam from my home. I should say I barely activated it getting the required ten contacts in 90 minutes.

We were blessed again with rare deep warmth for early spring. The temperature was 63 F but in the direct sun you could easily be in a purple polo shirt and khaki shorts. My mentor Jim Cluett, W1PID, was dressed in this attire a few miles away on Johnson Hill in Sanbornton, NH.

He was doing outdoor radio too and I logged him not once, but twice today. It’s so magical to contact another operator who’s doing low-powered radio outdoors!

swain state forest

This magnificent tree held my 29-foot vertical antenna. My 25-foot coax cable was 10 feet in the air so the tip of the antenna was up 40 feet.

No Cell Service = No Self Spotting

After I got my antenna up in this wonderful tall pine tree, I decided to text Jim to see if he could spot me so other radio operators would know the frequency I was on. I was stunned to discover there was no cell service. You’ve got to be kidding me.

swain state forest

This is the rock I used as an operating platform. It was not too comfortable!

I set up on a moss-covered rock thinking it would be somewhat comfortable. I was wrong. Within a few minutes my rump was aching and I knelt down on the soft bed of pine needles on the forest floor.

swain state forest

I used my Elecraft KX3 again because it can transmit with 15 watts of power. Attached to it is my Begali Adventure Dual paddles. Powering today’s activation was my trusty 4.5 Ah BioennoPower LiFePh battery.

Jim Finds Me

A moment after turning on my radio, Jim found me. The trouble was there was another operator camped out very close to that frequency so I needed to move. He spotted me and a few Parks on the Air chasers found me. I’m talking just a few. This could get ugly fast.

Once the few operators made contact, I started hunting for others calling CQ. I even tried calling CQ for minutes on end with little luck. I switched to 40 meters and gathered a few more contacts.

I heard IK2CKR in Italy. He had a very strong signal so I thought he’d hear me. Nope, not today. So much for living a pure and simple life.

After nearly an hour and a half I needed just one more contact to make the required ten. I wandered up to 14.062 and heard Jim contacting my second contact of the day, WA3GM. He was also a POTA activator. I was desperate to talk with Jim, but couldn’t break in as that’s not polite.

swain state forest logbook

Here are my ten contacts. It was a skin-of-the-teeth POTA day to be sure.

I went to 14.060 and called CQ. Jim heard me! It was a miracle. I sent: QSY 7030  7030. He’s a pro and knew that I needed to work him again but on a different frequency. Moments later we finished the QSO and I packed up and left.

I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t make more contacts because my antenna was fantastic. The only thing I can think of is that I was only 30 feet away from a high-tension electric line that services all the houses on the eastern shore of Lake Winnisquam.

Jim told me on the phone when I got home that he heard other operators trying to contact me, but I never heard them. Without Jim’s help today, I would still be over there gathering up dry pine needles to make a bed to stay warm tonight!

I’m going to try an inverted V antenna tomorrow on my next activation. Stay tuned.