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