Yesterday was a stunning early December day in central New Hampshire. The sky was blue and the temperature soared over 50 F. With no wind it felt like spring, not late fall with winter on the doorstep.
Jim, W1PID, and I went to hike and do radio on a 90-acre parcel of land I own.
We headed up a small path used by neighbors who ride ATVs. The first 200 feet were a steep climb up across some bare granite bedrock ledge.
It didn’t take long for us to locate a nice spot in the forest to set up. There was no real clearing so throwing the halyard up into the tree to a particular branch was a challenge. After two, maybe three, attempts I convinced Jim that his antenna would be only 15.7 degrees off vertical. He succumbed to the frustration and sat down to operate his fine KX3.
As usual, it doesn’t take long for him to snag someone.
He found Bob in the Bahamas. Bob was sending CW faster than I could hear, but I did make out some words while he and Jim were chatting. I heard “woods”.
I continued to listen and told Jim I had his call sign. It took me five times with me just getting one character per pass.
But by gosh I got it with no help from Jim.
Jim handed me the micro Pico Paddles and I got to work Bob next. This was the first time I’d ever use an Elecraft KX3! Jim was at the controls, I just had the key.
I threw out my call sign and Bob heard it.
He came back right away with “W3ATB 599”.
I sent back “R R 599” and hesitated. I didn’t know what else to do!
There was a pregnant pause of dead air and Bob went on to work someone else.
“Listen. Bob’s a serious operator and he just moves on. It’s just about call signs and RST.”
Jim was teaching me yet another thing about radio magic.
We packed up and hiked a little deeper into the woods before heading back to a large open field.
By the time we got back to the field, it was even warmer. So warm I took off my hooded sweatshirt. I was basking in the gift God gave us on this warm December day.
Jim set up in no time and I was about 100 feet away getting up my resonant 20-meter dipole antenna. My first throw with my halyard was perfect. It was an easy throw with no obstacles. The key thing is to lay out the micro-cord on the ground so it doesn’t snag on a branch or any other piece of vegetation.
Within a few minutes I had my RG-174 coax cable connected to my MFJ 20-meter Cub that puts out maybe 1.5 watts on its best day.
I heard stations and told Jim I wasn’t leaving until I avoided getting skunked. Within minutes I had my first QSO. I’m getting better, there’s no doubt about it and the little Cub’s power was fine and dandy. Who said you need 25, 50 or 100 watts?
My first QSO was with Rob, K3COD. He gave me a 569 which I was thrilled with. Way to go little Cub! You were doing good down into Apex, NC!
Next up was Jorge, KP4GC in Puerto Rico! I also got a 569 from him.
I was tuning around and there was AF4K finishing up with someone in France.
Jim wandered over and was listening over my shoulder.
After AF4K sent his “di dit”, I threw out my call. My Cub’s touch keyer speed was set up to about 18 WPM, much faster than I could hear. I made a critical mistake and forgot to bring the manual with me that shows how to reprogram the keyer speed. OUCH!
Believe it or not, I did copy Bry as his name! But I didn’t hear him say, “DN 1”.
“You need to go down one!” Jim was referring to one KhZ.
What I didn’t know is that Bry was working Bert in France – Jim had heard that – and Bert owned that frequency.
If I all of a sudden started talking to Bry, then Bert would be none too happy!
We adjusted the dial and finished the QSO. Bry gave me a solid 579.
After that it was time to pack up and get home. I was running late as I told Kathy, my wife, that I’d not be out too long today.
But Mother Nature tugged way too hard and it was impossible to leave the majestic 90 acres I’ve worked so hard to acquire.
Kathy understood, after about three hours, once I got home.
It was another amazing day of outdoor radio in the woods of central New Hampshire!
You bring back many good memories for me as I read your blog. Sure wish I had time to operate more outdoors and write about my contacts. You highlight the very best QRP has to offer. Keep up the great writing and motivating others to so the same.
Thanks John! I’ve had my blog for a while, but W1PID has been the inspiration to write about each outing. He does it at his blog.
Beginning in December of 2015, I’ve decided to try to include in each post some lessons I discovered while out so the stories will not only entertain and inspire others, they may help newbies just getting into outdoor radio.
Here’s a little challenge. You can get outdoors, even if it’s just on your patio. You can write up something even if it’s just 150 words. Allow photos to tell the tale. Just take photos and write captions with two sentences to explain what’s in the photo. Try that!
Great going Tim!!!!!
No wonder my ears are burning. Thanks, Tim! We’ve really had some outstanding opportunities for outdoor adventures this year.
– Dave, K1SWL
Hi Tim :
I see that you enjoyed very much our QSO on 12/06/2015. My rig is a Kenwood TS-590 and during the contact I put 85 watts into a tribander. When prop conditions improve we can try a 2 way QRP QSO. I have on my shack a Small Wonders Lab SWL -20 that haven’t use for a while. Just e-mail me for a sked . Im retired and have plenty of time.
Good luck and cul. Jorge KP4GC
Guess what? Guess who is a friend of mine? Dave Benson, the Founder of SWL! He, W1PID and I were out together on another magnificent day. Look at it here:
Yes, I’d love to set up a time to try QRP. Maybe utilize gray line propagation when my signal could be strong to you!
Good job. We here in west Florida have started a chapter of NAQCC, the NAQCC-WFL and on FaceBook page.
We will be at Tampa Bay HamFest Dec 12th and have planned an outing Jan 23rd in west Tampa at Cypress Point Park.