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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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.
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!
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.
Found you after seeing W3ATB at the bottom of an email related to the Ask the Builder newsletter. Happy to see it. Just a niggling correction: Dave is actually using a single lever Vibroplex _paddle_ and not a bug. Unlike the paddle on your KX3, Dave’s key just doesn’t have a squeeze mode but otherwise works with a keyer just like a dual lever one. Some prefer that. As you know he bug is all mechanical: see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m7WldaCvS8 The Vibrokeyer sure looks a lot like a bug, just in a sawed off version and without the vibrating dit arm. 🙂
73 de N8KUA