Odiorne State Park Ham Radio Adventure

odiorne state park

This is the rocky beach of Odiorne State Park in Portsmouth, NH. During fierce storms, water crashes over this low stone wall. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Odiorne State Park, Kites, and Ham Radio

Jim Cluett, W1PID, and I finally got to the beach yesterday at Odiorne State Park in Portsmouth, NH. We had talked and talked about this outing for years, but my new roof, my new deck, a scenic train and other obstacles got in our way.

The previous five days were fraught with rain and the forecast for yesterday was pleasant weather in the morning with a chance of rain in the afternoon. We were both itching to go and were not disappointed.

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VHF Along NH Seacoast in the Rain

How Can a Kite Lift a Radio Antenna?

The plan all along was to make contacts using a kite to keep a 29-foot antenna wire aloft. The park was crowded but we snared a parking spot in the shade. As soon as we exited my Volvo V70-XC the intoxicating aroma of the salt air filled our lungs. Jim and I both commented on the elixir as we made our way towards a picnic table in the shade.

This is the tree we sat under for lunch. The ocean is to my back and Jim is at the table under the tree. I threw my water bottle over it so I could get on the air immediately. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

I didn’t waste a moment’s time getting on the air and decided to put my 29-foot wire antenna up in a tree. I attach the wire to a small 9:1 unun to get the impedance in the wire down to a reasonable number that the internal tuner in my Elecraft KX2 can handle.

Jim was more interested in eating lunch while I was setting up the radio and he and I knew there wasn’t yet enough wind to hold the kite up in the air.

Within minutes I had completed a quick exchange with KW7D. Paul was in New Mexico and it was thrilling to avoid the proverbial skunk using just 7 watts. That’s all you need to make a nightlight glow!

odiorne state park ham radio

Here I am not too long after making my contact with Paul, KW7D. My wide-brimmed hat keeps the sun off my face. Copyright 2018 Jim Cluett

What Radio Did You Use?

We decided to share my Elecraft KX2 equipped with replacement iambic paddles I had just received the day before. You use these to send Morse code. My original ones were malfunctioning and Elecraft had sent out a new set under warranty. They worked perfectly.

elecraft kx2

Jim has finished lunch and he was itching to get on the air. It took him about 30 minutes before he finally made a contact. He tried and tried to make contact with GM0HCQ/MM, but Mike Gloistein, the operator, on the ship couldn’t hear Jim. He was on the RRS James Clark Ross well above the Arctic Circle! 76N, 29E! Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Just after hearing his callsign and his coordinates, I decided to see where Mike was while Jim continued to throw out his callsign. Sadly we didn’t make contact. Copyright 2018, Google, Inc.

Mike was on the gorgeous RRS James Clark Ross. I hope it was good WX where he was! Copyright 2108 Mike Gloistein

Jim continued to make a few more contacts as did I, but I was more interested in just soaking in the sea breeze and watching a bunch of small children construct a rocket from a two-liter soda bottle with the help of their day-camp counselors.

After an hour or so, the wind seemed to come up. We tried to get the kite to fly, but there just wasn’t enough wind. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

After nearly two hours of relaxed operations and our failed attempt to fly the kite, we decided to pack up and head home. As we walked away we decided to explore a little more of the park near the shoreline.

Quickly we discovered we had picked the worst table to sit at as it was in a depression and the stone wall had been blocking our view of the water. Soon we were walking on a path next to some daylilies and there was a magnificent view of the ocean with picnic tables galore!

Look at that picnic table just to the right of me! What an IDIOT I was not to look around first before deciding where to set up. You can bet I’m going back to this spot next time. Copyright 2018 Jim Cluett

odiorne state park

This WW II coastal artillery gun mount was immediately adjacent to the picnic table. Not too far up the river feeding water into the Portsmouth, NH harbor was a naval ship-building yard and the 155 mm cannons were aimed at German U-boats that tried to sink US ships. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

This is what you might have seen at the gun mount Jim and I were flying the kite had you been here back in 1943. Photo courtesy of some unknown photographer.

We immediately noticed a strong wind was blowing and decided to fly the kite and get back on the air!

odiorne state park kite

It only took minutes to get the kite in the air. We both worked as a team and the kite lept 80 feet into the air in seconds! It was quite exciting to see the antenna wire hang vertically down to the large artillery gun mount. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Here I am getting ready to make my first contact using an antenna supported by a kite! I was able to make contact with Eugene, EA5EL who was doing an Islands on the Air activation! He was at EU093 Tabarca Island! Copyright 2018 Jim Cluett

Jim got on the KX2 before I did and made a fast contact with a Russian operator. We were both ecstatic! The kite adventure was a success and we only wish we had found this spot from the beginning. No worries, we’ll be back!

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