Alvaro Maria Brignone – IU1DUB

Alvaro Maria Brignone IU1DUB/MM – Amatuer Radio Operator & Chief Engineer


Yesterday I had the unique pleasure of contacting Alvaro while he was sailing on the Atlantic Ocean aboard the MSC Titanio. CLICK HERE to read about my adventure.

After publishing the above story, I emailed Alvaro to show him where I was operating from. he was kind enough to reply with the following email.

It’s important to realize this is one reason I’m attracted to amateur radio – you get to hear from other radio operators about who they are and what they’re doing.

Ciao Tim,

Thks for the nice QSO, the conditions were not at its top but I copy you well.
I like to operate from the ship when I have some spare free time, not so much because as first engineer I am busy all the time!!!
Anyway, thanks for the email, I just visited the website, no problem at all for the photos !! I attach here some more pics of the ship. That was the previous setup with my Yaseu FT-817. The key is that one I am using also now.
I will be on air hopefully next 3 days of sailing for Lome, around 1730 UTC exactly on 14.042.5, keep listening!! I am now in Conakry, Guinea and sailing this evening for Lome, Togo.
You can follow MSC Titanio on it is one of the 4 sisterhips from Italian MESSINA LINE (SEE website previously named “Jolly Titanio” and now rented to MSC (for this reason the orange patches on the sides).
So, have more nice dx and see you soon. I will be onboard till June, and on-air almost every day of navigation! 
Ciao and 73!
Here are the photos that Alvaro sent. What a thrill! I never thought in my life I’d see the engine room of a giant container ship!

Veteran’s Memorial Ski Area

veterans memorial recreation

You can see Jim was thoroughly enjoying the warm rays of the sun. The long collapsable fiberglass mast has been extended and the 29-foot antenna wire is about to be attached to it. Copyright 2019 Tim Carter W3ATB

Yesterday my good friend Jim Cluett, W1PID, and I got a respite from the bitterly cold winter that’s gripped central NH like an eagle’s talons hold onto a fish plucked from Newfound Lake. We basked in glorious warm sunshine at the base of a tiny ski hill with the temperature nudging 50 F. To put this into perspective, just a week before it was -10 F with a howling wind.

Veterans Memorial Ski Area – A Piece of NH Ski Hill History

Veterans Memorial Ski Area is located just a few miles east of downtown Franklin, NH. It’s a remnant of NH history when there were numerous small ski hills that dotted the state. This little hill only offers 230 feet of vertical drop, but it’s exactly what a beginner skier needs to learn the basics.

The ski hill is only open on the weekends and winter holidays and is staffed by volunteers. It’s a perfect place to do outdoor radio Monday through Friday. Our local radio club has a repeater at the top of the ski hill so we’re welcome to visit the property to pluck invisible radio waves from the air whenever we like.

It was so nice to get out that I just stood in the sun facing the pure-white snow of this tiny ski hill for several minutes before walking over to the south-facing deck that’s attached to the cozy little ski lodge at the base of the hill.

We knew we were going to be sitting at a picnic table on the deck so Jim brought his handy telescoping fiberglass mast. I provided two rubber bungee straps to secure it to the deck railing. A thin 29-foot wire dangled from the top of the mast. This wire was connected to a 9:1 unun.

w1pid antenna mast

Here’s Jim getting ready to stand up the fiberglass mast. It worked really well and takes just a few minutes to set up. Copyright 2019 Tim Carter W3ATB

Sharing an Elecraft KX3

Jim and I usually operate separately most of the year. On days like this where there’s only one convenient place to sit, we set up one radio and pass the mini Pico paddles between us after we find someone calling CQ.

elecraft kx3

Here’s Jim’s Elecraft KX3. We’re in the process of setting up. It’s important to realize that at times of a solar minimum you often need RF Energy Pellets to ensure you make contact with other stations. Copyright 2019 Tim Carter W3ATB

We decided to use Jim’s equipment this time and he brought his Elecraft KX3. I had my Elecraft KX2 in my backpack along with all my other gear just in case we needed something.

20 Meters – The Go-To Frequency

As soon as Jim connected his 3 Ah BioennoPower lithium-iron-phosphate battery to the KX3, he fired it up and went to 20 meters. Twenty meters is an excellent daytime frequency for long-distance radio communications.

He spun the dial and it was as quiet as a reading room in a library. But Jim’s a patient man and he kept hunting for a signal. Within minutes we were rewarded and heard Don, VE4ESE calling CQ. Don was staying warm in his house about 50 miles south of Winnipeg in Grunthahl, Manitoba, Canada.

ve4ese house

The red and white circle is where Don lives. You can bet it’s damned cold there in early February! Copyright 2019 Google, Inc.

Jim chatted with Don about the weather conditions. Jim’s signal report from Don was a respectable 559. After completing his conversation, Jim handed me the paddles. I hesitated before sending Don’s callsign and another operator jumped in before me.

Soaking Up the Sun

Normally Jim might scold me for not pouncing on Don immediately, but it didn’t happen as we both were like lizards on a warm rock outcropping just soaking up the sun. We chatted about how this was a great area to set up in the winter, how it was a wonderful ski hill to use for sledding during the week and several other random topics.

Here’s the antenna we used. It provided Jim and me with three delightful contacts on this wonderful winter day. Copyright 2019 Tim Carter W3ATB

The moment Don finished up with the other operator, I called him. Surprisingly he gave me a 549 signal report. I was a little miffed by this as seemingly nothing had changed. Yes, it’s possible for the ionosphere to change in a matter of minutes, but I still was not too happy.

I handed the Pico paddles back to Jim and a moment later he spun the dial and discovered K4UY. This operator was spitting out Morse code at about 20 WPM, or more. I’m able to get about every third character at this rate and Jim knows this. Jim’s received a 599 signal report which is as good as it gets.

While Jim was going back and forth with the operator, I’d write down what I heard in my Rite-in-the-Rain logbook. I clearly heard it when he sent his name – Ron.

Jim could see me out of the corner of his eye and said, “Did you catch his name? It’s Fred.”

“Yeah, right. I clearly heard Ron.”

We both howled with laughter as Jim was trying to prank me so I’d say “FB Fred TNX for the QSO” when it was my turn in a few minutes. I was born at night, but not last night.

Once I got my chance to work Ron, it was a fast QSO and once again my signal report was lower than Jim’s. Ron said I was a 579.


Marine Mobile with Alvaro

Next up we got a dream QSO from Alvaro, IU1DUB/MM who was passing time while his large container ship, MSC Titanio, plied the Atlantic Ocean between Antwerp, Le Harve, Rotterdam, Caranias, and West African ports. It’s always very exciting for me to have a QSO with an operator on a moving ship at sea!

Here are a few photos that were taken by Alvaro of his wonderful vessel and his antenna.

Alvaro gave me a 579 signal report that was less than what Jim’s.

Then it dawned on me. Jim had been the control operator during the entire outing. Signal reports are a function of two things primarily:

  • the output power of the sending station
  • the fluctuating pulsing ionosphere

How easy it would be for him to turn down the KX3’s power while I wasn’t looking. If that were to happen, no wonder he was getting better signal reports.

He mentioned this possibility and I think the neighbors a half-mile away could hear us howling with laughter once again.

It’s always a good time out with Jim, even if he pranks me. That’s what friendship is all about, right?

QRP Longest Streak

QRP Streak – K3WWP John Shannon’s Incredible Feat

Note from Publisher, W3ATB – Tim Carter: John Shannon, K3WWP, granted me permission to reprint this story about his incredible feat of making at least one QRP contact every day for over 24 years. It’s a record that may stand for many many years. I asked for his permission to reprint the story so it could be curated on at least one more website. I’ve made arrangements in my will that this website not disappear so as to allow great stories like this to endure as an inspiration for amateur operators who have not yet been born. Thanks, John, for allowing me the pleasure to post you fabulous tale.

Here’s John Shannon at work extending his stunning streak.

On August 4, 2018 when I worked N1QY at 0014Z on 40 meters, my QRP/CW/simple wire antenna streak reached 24 years of age. Let’s see, that translates to 288 months or 8,766 days which means approximately 210,384 hours have passed since the streak started. Time sure passes fast. It seems like not too long ago I was excited that the streak reached 1 full year on August 4, 1995. Those 365 days doesn’t seem like much now compared to 8,766 days. It makes me feel old to think about it. I still enjoy getting that QSO each and every day though.

Perhaps this is the first time you’ve read much about the streak. I’ll start off where all stories start at the beginning and go from there. A lot of the material on this page does not need all that much updating from the previous times I’ve updated it so I’ll let a lot of it stand as it is (was), but I will update all the statistics involved.

Due to work and other reasons, I had been inactive in ham radio for about 10 years starting in 1983. Then in the early 1990s, my former next-door neighbor Eric (now KB3BFQ) who was 15 at the time expressed an interest in ham radio after seeing my collection of QSL cards and various awards I had garnered in my previous active days. We thought it would be nice to get my station together again and get back on the air so he could see firsthand what the hobby was all about.

I dug out my old gear from its resting place in the attic and the corner of my unused shack. It took a little bit of doing, but with Eric’s help, we did get it up and running again. At that time, it consisted of my homebrew transmitter originally built back in 1963 when I got my Novice license and subsequently modified several times. Originally it was a 75 watts (input) rig which probably put out about 50 watts or so. When I got back on the air a second time in the early 1980s after the first layoff of about 8 years, it was modified to about 30 watts or so input and maybe 20 or so out. I also ran other powers in that period down to 12 watts input. This third time it was resurrected as a QRP 5 watts or less output rig. That was the beginning of my operation as a QRP operator according to the current definition of 5 watts output or less for CW. Actually, when I was licensed in 1963 and for some years beyond that, the definition was 100 watts input or less. I don’t know exactly when the change in definition took place. I must also mention the receiver was an ICOM R-71A which served me faithfully for many years when I used separate transmitters and receivers.

With Eric in the shack, my first QSO of my third major period of activity took place on February 15, 1993, when I worked K3DQ in MD. That really got Eric hooked and me excited again. We continued to make QSOs including contest QSOs which Eric enjoyed very much. He would help out with some multiplier checking, a bit of spotting when he got better with Morse Code, and one other thing I remember was him using a map in the state QSO parties to track the mobiles to try to figure out what their next county would be.

The streak started around a year and a half later. It was suggested by Eric when we were in my shack talking about sports records. Many sports records are for doing something consecutively such as getting one hit or more in consecutive baseball games. That record belongs to the great “Yankee Clipper”, Joe DiMaggio, who did so in 56 consecutive games. We wondered what kind of comparable record could be attempted in ham radio, and Eric came up with the idea of making a QSO on consecutive days. It would have to be done using my minimal station setup consisting of QRP, CW, and simple wire antennas.

Looking back in my logs at the time, I found the first day going backward without a QSO was August 4, 1994, so the first QSO in the streak turned out to be with Chuck KG9N/C6A on August 5, 1994. Many years later, KG9N read about the streak on my web site and very kindly offered to send a belated QSL card to commemorate the beginning of the streak.

pix_qsl_kg9n_c6a (22K)

The rules for the streak were simple. Just make at least one QSO a day using QRP, CW, and simple wire antennas. I decided to use UTC days rather than local time days since UTC is the generally accepted system of dates and times used in ham radio. That meant my search for a QSO began each evening at 7 PM EST or 8 PM EDT which was a generally active time on the bands enabling me to make my QSO near the beginning of a day. I have gotten my streak QSO in the 0000-0200Z period on the vast majority of days.

My antennas then and now consist of a 110 foot end fed random wire for 160-30M mostly in my attic with a short extension down to my tiny backyard, a 20M dipole (flat top inverted vee to be more accurate) in the attic, a 15M vertical dipole on the side of my house also used for 17 and 12M, a 10M sloping dipole on my porch roof, and a rotatable 6M dipole in my attic. That’s it other than my occasional portable operations with NAQCC WPA Chapter members Tom WY3H, Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, Don K3RLL, Jody K3JZD, Jon AB3RU, Ken N3CU, and others at the local Kittanning Community Park, Moraine State Park, the submarine USS Requin, Skyview Radio Society, Breezeshooters hamfest and a couple other locations. At the parks, my antenna of choice is a multi-band jumper based on a design by K3RLL. Also, I’ve experimented at the parks with a couple other antennas such as an end fed random wire similar to my random wire here at home.

Before long the streak took on extra meaning. It showed and continues to show, that a minimal setup like mine really does work, despite the skepticism of some hams who believe you must use as much power and as big an antenna as possible to work anyone, especially DX stations. It has encouraged many hams who live in situations where they can’t use high power or big antennas to get on the air anyway with their own minimal setups and enjoy this wonderful hobby. Of course, what makes the success possible is the extreme efficiency of Morse code. With other modes you may indeed need the skeptics’ QRO and big antennas to succeed, but definitely not with CW. That is the most personally satisfying aspect of the streak for me. I’m delighted it has brought happiness to so many people.

Although some days it was hard and took some time to find a QSO, the streak continued on and on. When my friend Mike, AB5XP answered my 30M CQ on April 30, 1997, that brought the streak to 1000 consecutive days.

A major change in the streak as well as in my ham radio career came on September 1, 1999. On that day I purchased a Kenwood TS-570D transceiver – the first time I had ever used a commercial transmitter, as well as being the first transceiver. As soon as I unpacked it, I did two things. I put the microphone away in a drawer where it remains lost to this day. When I turned it on, I set the power to 5 watts output where it and all my rigs have remained to this day except for 3 experimental or accidental QSO’s that I don’t count in my streak totals. I used the 570 at QRO just to see how easy it was to work DX on 80M with high power. It was so easy, there was no satisfaction to it. I learned from those 2 QSO’s what I had always known. QRP is the way to go in ham radio to derive maximum satisfaction from the hobby. Later the third ‘accidental’ QRO QSO took place as described a little further on in the story.

Conditions were then getting better and better as the sunspots were starting to increase, and more and more DX QSO’s started showing up in my log. By the time my streak reached 2000 days on January 25, 2000, when Bill, N4QA answered my 40M CQ, the bands were really alive and hopping.

My interest in ham radio suffered a blow early in 2001 when my mother passed away after a six week battle in the hospital and a nursing home. She was 95 years old, and we’d lived together for all my life. For the past several years she had been in good health but needed me at home to take care of her, which I gladly did. I did not want to see her spend her last years in some uncaring nursing home. So her passing affected me quite a bit. One of the things that happened was that I lost some of my interest in hamming. I don’t really know why, unless it was because my mom always supported my hobby and she loved looking at all the DX QSL cards I would receive, especially those from her native Italy. For most of the rest of 2001 I did not enter as many contests as usual nor did I chase as much DX as before. However, the streak still continued during all that time.

Gradually I did start to get back into the bigger contests in earnest by the end of 2001 and set personal records in such contests as the RSGB 10/15M, Ukraine DX, OK/OM, ARRL 10M, and others. Then in early 2002 I really hit some of the bigger contests quite hard. In the January NAQP, I had a rate of 51.4 for the full 10 hours of the contest. The February ARRL DX contest saw me break the 600 QSO barrier for the first time ever with 633 QSO’s (and every one passed the ARRL log checking procedure of which I am proud). I continued to set personal best marks in many other contests in 2002 even though I still was not entering as many nor putting in as many hours as I once did.

Sometime early in the 2000s, a mailman delivered some QSL cards to me. It turned out that he was also a ham radio operator, and we became fast friends. Along the way, I gained a convert to CW and QRP. Previously most of his activity had been on that phone(y) mode of SSB with higher power. Now with a few exceptions for emergency work, he is a very dedicated QRP/CW/simple wire antenna operator also. I’m talking about Mike KC2EGL who is often mentioned in my diary and who in fact, has written a few diary entries for me.

One goal was reached during the streak when I worked J45RW for my QRP country # 200 on July 27, 2002. New countries had been coming very slowly and continue to do so since I still don’t devote all that much time searching the bands for new ones. I do mean searching because I NEVER use any kind of spotting to find the stations I work. However I’m proud to have made it to 200 with just 5 watts and simple wire antennas.

When I worked several of you starting with AA1SP on October 21, 2002, that extended the streak to 3000 consecutive days. In November of 2003, my cousin Virginia whose health had been declining a bit asked me to stay with her a few days after Thanksgiving while her husband was away on a hunting trip. It happened that included the weekend of the CQWW DX contest. I thought I’d try setting up there for the contest as well as for my streak QSOs. She lived outside the river valley in which I live, and I was curious to know how conditions would be there without the surrounding hills. It turned out there was a world of difference. The QSOs came much easier there even with just a simple end fed wire about 70 feet long running down from ‘my’ bedroom to a grape arbor in their backyard. The story of the contest can be found among other contest stories in the CONTESTING section of my website so I won’t dwell more on it now except to say that my streak QSOs from 11/29 through 12/2 all came from Virginia’s house.

Now I set my sights on making it to 10 years, and on August 4, 2004, I reached that goal. Helping me complete the ten years with QSO’s on that day were: K4IR, N4CU, NB6M/MM, WE8UP, WD9F, WB5BRD, KS4OY, VE3AIJ, VA3RE, N4FI, & K3DQ (whom I realized when typing this was my first QSO when I became active again on February 15, 1993). Thanks to all of you.

About a month before the 10-year point of the streak I got a request from a reporter for the local newspaper to let him write a story about my ham radio activities for the paper. As with the start of the streak, I didn’t realize that this event would also be the start of something. It turned out the reporter was also a ham radio operator. I had read his articles in the paper, but never knew he was a ham until we talked about the article. I’m talking about Tom Mitchell, KB3LFC (now WY3H). Tom and I quickly became fast friends since his interests in ham radio were also CW, QRP, and simple wire antennas. He had been inactive and was just getting back into ham radio about that time. That was why we had never worked each other on the air despite our similar interests.

Not too long after the article was published, I again was contacted by Tom. This time he asked me if I was interested in helping him start up a new QRP club. To be honest, and Tom knows it, I thought there were too many QRP clubs already. However, Tom said this would be a QRP CW club and would place emphasis on minimal QRP operation, i.e. using simple wire antennas and only using CW, no other modes. Well, that immediately piqued my interest and I said I certainly would be interested if the club stuck to those ideals. He agreed it would, and the North American QRP CW Club (NAQCC) was born in October of 2004.

Tom was the President, and I assumed the post of VP. Although my duties with the club which included being the webmaster for the club website, processing awards and contest results, etc. took away from my on air time, that was countered by the club activities encouraging me to get on the air more. I felt the club, dubbed “The QRP Club With A Difference” was doing things that other QRP clubs were not, and I really enjoyed the club awards program, the monthly sprints, and something I think is unique, the monthly Challenges. An example of a Challenge is making 30 QSOs on 30 meters in a month. Another is to ‘get’ all 26 letters of the alphabet from the call letters of stations you work or to make up a pre-selected list of words about a certain theme in the same way. Each month we try to come up with something different but all have the bottom line of just trying to get more CW activity on the bands to help preserve this wonderful mode. If I’ve piqued your curiousity and you want to know more, visit the club website at and be sure to watch the video there.

Shortly (18 days) before the 11 year mark was reached, I hit 4,000 consecutive days. I had planned to work as many stations as possible that day, but the death of my cousin Virginia that very same day changed those plans. I did work VE1XW, HI8RV, WZ2T, KC0TLN, and NB9D on the 4,000th day, but I would have liked to have worked a lot more of you since so many have expressed such an interest in the streak and followed it closely over the years.

During the 12th year of the streak, my activities consisted mostly of just continuing the streak, some contesting, the aforementioned NAQCC activities, and a little DXing when conditions permitted. My DX total entities remained at 204 as limited time and poor conditions kept me from working any new ones.

In April 2008, Mike loaned me his TS-480SAT rig after he bought an Elecraft K2 as his main rig. The 480 became my main rig until October 10, 2011, and the 570 was relegated to backup or standby status for a while, and now it is on loan to Eric KB3BFQ who has resumed his ham radio activity after a layoff for a while. The 480 gave me another band to play with – 6 meters. It was on that band that my 3rd QRO QSO happened. As with the 570, the power was set to 5 watts on all bands immediately. However, Mike and I missed setting the power on one of the three 6 meter positions. So my very first QSO on 6 meters with a VE2 station was done unaware at the time by me at 100 watts. Before making another QSO there, I noticed the LED power meter was lighting up a whole lot more segments than it should, and I set the power correctly back to 5 watts. End of my QRO confessions. HI.

As the streak continued to get longer and reached the 15 year mark, it continued to provide an incentive for me to be active on the ham bands. That activity provides continued satisfaction and thrills for me.

There were many highlights as the streak continued. Among them working Desecheo Island and later Navassa Island meant I now have all NA entities worked and confirmed.

Another highlight along the way was working VK6DXI near Perth in Western Australia on 40 meters via long path while the sun still hadn’t set here. I had to email VK6DXI to find out for sure it was a legitimate QSO, and he confirmed it was. The QSL from that contact is displayed on the main page of the DX section of my web site.

Perhaps one of the biggest thrills was working Hawaii on 80 meters not once but twice, and almost three times in the 2009 ARRL DX contest. Our 50th state became my 49th state on 80 meters. I still need Alaska for an 80 meters WAS.

On October 10, 2011, I had another major change in the streak. From that day on for about a year until something even better came along, virtually all my QSOs came on an Elecraft K2 which I used on loan from Mike KC2EGL for a while, and eventually in early 2012 purchased it from him. The fantastic receiver in the K2 made a big difference in my battle against local man-made QRN. I could now dig out much weaker signals than before. I also got Mike’s KX1 and have used it for portable operations. That’s the one I helped him build as a NAQCC project back in 2008/2009.

In 2012, Mike bought a KX3, the latest at that time (and in my opinion, greatest) of the Elecraft rigs. After using his and seeing how good it was, I had to have one of my own. I purchased and assembled it in October 2012, and have used it virtually exclusively since then, even for portable operations since its small size makes it ideal for both a home rig and a portable rig. Its excellent filtering helps in eliminating my local noise as well as separating stations in crowded conditions. In fact, it is so good, it’s hard to tell there is a strong station just a few dozen Hz or less away from the station I am working. The ease of setting up for split operation when chasing DX is another great feature among many more that I won’t go into here. One thing I will add though is the computer interface which allows the firmware to be updated regularly. It’s like buying a new rig for free every so often. Also, the computer interface allowed the use of a panadapter (HDSDR) to scan the ham bands. That is a tremendous time-saver when you can look at a computer screen and immediately see all the activity on a large portion of each ham band. No more laborious tuning across the band and listening for activity. Since I started using a panadapter early in 2013, it has saved me countless hours while continuing my streak. The HDSDR was eventually upgraded to the Elecraft PX3 which was specifically designed to work with the KX3. It proved to be even better than the HDSDR. I think the KX3/PX3 combo is the absolutely most perfect QRP/CW setup in the world.

One particularly enjoyable aspect of the streak was doing what Mike KC2EGL and I christened ‘tag-team’ efforts. That is where one of us would work a station in my shack with our own call, then switch operating positions for the other one to work the same station with his call. Eventually we also simply set up dual headphones and keys to eliminate the jumping around in the faster paced contests. We did that for many contests and for working many DX stations outside contests. I’m not sure just when we started that, but it peaked in early 2013 when Mike was off work recovering from a shoulder operation.

Also in 2013, March 1 to be exact, I started a DX streak with the same qualifications as the main streak except that one (at least) QSO a day must be DX, i.e. non-W/VE. That continued until it came to an end when I couldn’t find any workable DX on August 2, 2018, just 20 days short of 2000. That streak is written up in a separate page, so no need to describe it further here.

Summing up now. All QSO’s in the streak came without any special arrangements. No skeds or regular net check-ins were involved in extending the streak. I just got on the air each day and called CQ or answered someone’s CQ for my QSO. Even if I did have a sked with someone to give them Armstrong County or some other reason, I’d always make it a point to get another random QSO that day. The readers of my web site diary tell me it would be OK to make a sked with someone to insure the streak continues, but I’m hesitant to do so. One other thing requires mention. I never signed /QRP after my call to attract attention to the fact I was using QRP. I don’t believe in doing that anyway. I’m just a normal ham operator who happens to use QRP.

I don’t know if a streak this long could be maintained under the same conditions using another mode than CW. At least I’m sure it wouldn’t be as easy. I’ve never come seriously close to missing a day, although on a few days here and there it took a lot of listening and/or calling CQ before a contact came along.

Most of the time I got that first QSO of the day during the first hour of the day. The 0100Z hour provided the second highest total. The latest time to get that first QSO was 2311Z back on 14 Feb 1995 when I worked EA8/DJ1OT on 30M. That was the only first QSO that came in the 2300Z hour. Twelve came in the 2200Z hour. Most of those late hour QSOs came before the streak was all that well established.

Now on to some statistics for the first 24 years of the streak. Notice I said the ‘first 24 years’ which means I have no intention of ending the streak just yet. It will continue to go on until some unforseen circumstance brings it to an end. I would love to make it to 25 years as I think something like “A quarter century of daily QRP/CW/simple wire antennas QSOs” would sound very nice as a tribute to the effectiveness of QRP/CW/simple wire antennas.

First a couple of notes on the stats. There are some minor discrepancies in the totals caused mainly by my not being sure about the location of /MM stations. Also, Aves Island was worked before the streak started and not since, so my overall and streak DX entity totals are one apart. All stats below are as of 08/04/18 (24 full years of the streak). Of course, it really doesn’t need saying, but everything in the stats was done using QRP or QRPp, CW, and simple wire antennas:

W/VE QSOs          -    46,103
DX QSOs            -    23,568
Total QSOs         -    69,671

W/VE Contest QSOs  -    35,274
DX Contest QSOs    -    17,466
Total Contest QSOs -    52,740

W/VE Regular QSOs  -    10,829
DX Regular QSOs    -     6,102
Total Regular QSOs -    16,931
/MM Regular QSOs   -        15
/MM Contest QSOs   -        13
Total /MM QSOs     -        28

Unique stations    -    19,483

KMPW (1000+ miles per watt) QSOs - 2,078

Most QSOs by Date:
 11/7/99 - 416 (SS)
 2/16/02 - 370 (ARRL DX)
 2/17/01 - 342 (ARRL DX)
 11/2/97 - 341 (SS)
 11/5/95 - 341 (SS)
 2/19/00 - 306 (ARRL DX)
 11/5/00 - 301 (SS)
 1/12/02 - 291 (NAQP)
 11/6/94 - 285 (SS)
11/27/99 - 283 (CQWW DX)

States worked: All 50

Most often worked:
Pennsylvania - 3,686
Wisconsin -    2,295
Illinois -     2,221
California -   2,179
Virginia -     2,041

Least often worked:
Wyoming -      62
North Dakota - 73
Idaho -        92
Nebraska -     96
Nevada -       97

QSOs by Continent:
North America - 50,478
Europe -        15,534
South America -  1,978
Africa -           738
Asia -             592
Oceania -          323
Antarctica -        18

Countries worked: 224 (225 counting Aves Is. worked before the streak started)

Most often worked of the 224 (excluding W/VE):
Germany - 1,901
Italy -   1,125
England -   895
Slovenia -  894
Hungary -   871

Top Countries by Continent:
EU - Germany -     1,901
NA - Puerto Rico -   427
SA - Aruba -         349
AF - Canary Is. -    250
AS - Japan -         241
OC - Hawaii -        230

CQ Zones worked: 36 (need 22, 24, 26, 28)

Most often worked CQ Zones:
 4 - 21,770
 5 - 20,593
15 -  7,449
14 -  6,543
 3 -  3,789
 8 -  3,139
Percent of QSOs that were DX by year:
1994 - 10.7
1995 -  9.3
1996 -  5.9
1997 - 13.6
1998 - 30.4
1999 - 37.0
2000 - 54.5
2001 - 55.3
2002 - 50.0
2003 - 31.3
2004 - 29.9
2005 - 19.2
2006 - 15.0
2007 - 12.0
2008 -  6.7
2009 -  7.5
2010 - 11.3
2011 - 36.5
2012 - 42.1
2013 - 61.0
2014 - 67.5
2015 - 75.2
2016 - 51.9
2017 - 42,4
2018 - 57.1 (Through August 4)

QSOs by Band:
 40 - 18,627
 20 - 14,781
 80 - 11,450
 15 -  8,939
 10 -  7,020
 30 -  3,889
160 -  3,409
 17 -  1,068
 12 -    421
  6 -     39 
 60 -     28

QSOs with 5 watts -           67,789

QSOs <5 watts and >1 watt -      371

QSOs with 1 watt or less -     1,511

Significant number of days in the streak and the ham(s) I worked those days:

Day             Date       Worked (band)
0001            08/05/94 - KG9N/C6A (30,40), FS/DL8WAA (40) 
0365 (1 yr)     08/04/95 - VE3LOE/3, N5ION (17), KG8IT (40), W8RJW (30)
0500            12/17/95 - K4HPP, KE4AUN (30), VF5AAD (17), NG3H (160)
0731 (2 yrs)    08/04/96 - 68 stations in NAQP contest
1000            04/30/97 - AB5XP (30)
1096 (3 yrs)    08/04/97 - KB0RGU (40), K1AF (30)
1461 (4 yrs)    08/04/98 - KB0JTS (20)
1500            09/12/98 - W2BJ (30)
1826 (5 yrs)    08/04/99 - WN9U (40), 9A0DX (20)
2000            01/25/00 - WA3WSJ, N3AO (80), N6NF (15)
2192 (6 yrs)    08/04/00 - K4PTU (40), 6W/DK8YY (20)
2500            06/08/01 - AA3CT (40)
2557 (7 yrs)    08/04/01 - WJ4P, IT9ESW (30)
2922 (8 yrs)    08/04/02 - 45 stations in NAQP contest
3000            10/21/02 - 29 stations (various)
3287 (9 yrs)    08/04/03 - KN4PR (30)
3500            03/04/04 - N1PVP (40)
3653 (10 yrs)   08/04/04 - 11 stations (20,30,&40)
4000            07/17/05 - VE1XW, HI8RV, WZ2T, KC0TLN, and NB9D
4018 (11 yrs)   08/04/05 - VE3GXU, KB3LFC
4383 (12 yrs)   08/04/06 - WA2VQV, VA3RKM, VA3CBE, W3PM, and KB2JWD
4500            11/29/06 - N2JJE (160)
4748 (13 yrs)   08/04/07 - 83 stations in NAQP contest
5000            04/12/08 - WA8REI, W2JEK, W9ILF, WB4YZA, KB9BIT, W4HAY, N1WSD, N0NBD
5114 (14 yrs)   08/04/08 - K0KP, NS9I, N1BUG, WY3H, NN0Q, K4LRX
5479 (15 yrs)   08/04/09 - WD4EKB
5500            08/25/09 - KA4RUR, WY3H
5844 (16 yrs)   08/04/10 - WY3H, N1EAV, N9SKN
6000            01/07/11 - K1IEE, KQ1P, W8LQ, AF4LV, KF8R, N2ESE, WA8REI, W4QO, W2JEK, WY3H
6209 (17 yrs)   08/04/11 - V44KAO, S52F, W2BPI
6500            05/21/12 - KW9R, K7M, CP4BT, HA4FF
6575 (18 yrs)   08/04/12 - AF4PD plus 108 NAQP QSOs
6940 (19 yrs)   08/04/13 - 57 NAQP QSOs plus EO73U
7000            10/03/13 - K4JPN, WP4L, K8JD, K3PSD, N5GW
7305 (20 yrs)   08/04/14 - F5PLC, VE1OMI
7500            02/15/15 - PA6NB, PI4A
7670 (21 yrs)   08/04/15 - KD5ZLB, HT7C
8000            06/29/16 - OK1CF, WD4EXI
8036 (22 yrs)   08/04/16 - KE2YK, AA2VG, F6ARL, HC2AO
8401 (23 yrs)   08/04/17 - K3NLT, P4/DF4XX, VE3OU
8500            11/11/17 - W0N, ZF9CW
8766 (24 yrs)   08/04/18 - N1QY

Highlights of the Streak:

Aug  5    First QSO of the streak - worked KG9N/C6A 30M
Aug  6    First USA QSO after 5 DX QSO's - AA9JY
Aug  6    First Europe - UR4QBL 40M
Aug 18    First South America - OA4FW 30M
Aug 31    Worked YV4DDT - Venezuela on 40M for entity # 25 in the streak
Sep  9    First Africa - ZD8OK 30M
Oct 20    Worked HB0/HB9L - Liechtenstein on 15M for entity # 50 in the streak
Dec 23    KB3BFQ received his ham ticket - he was the one who suggested the streak idea to me.
Dec 28    Worked KB3BFQ on 10M - My first 10M QSO ever

Jan 16    First of 17 straight days with one or more DX QSOs (DX #1 Streak)
Jan 18    First Oceania - KH6AK 40M
Feb 14    34 minute rag chew with EA8/DJ1OT
Feb 15    Worked K3KLC in MD on 160M - My first 160M QSO ever
Feb 17    Worked 9A3MA - Croatia on 40M for entity # 75 in the streak
Jun 28    Worked K0OSW in MN on 12M - My first 12M QSO ever
Jul 30    Worked RW0A - Asiatic Russia on 20M for entity # 100 and first Asia

Jan 24    Worked P49I with 70 mW on 30M
Feb 20    Worked LU6Z - South Orkney Is. on 30 for entity # 110 in the streak
Mar 16    Worked EA6BH with 500 mW on 30M
Apr  6    First Antarctica - EM1KA 30M
May 10    VK6HQ answered my CQ on 30M - most distant QSO of the streak
Jun 12    Worked W4HG in NC on 10, 12, 15, 17, 20, 30, 40, & 80 meters in 31 minutes
Nov 24    Solar Flux rises to 100 for the first time during the streak
Nov 24    JA3ZOH & JH0ZHQ show up in my log - My first Japanese QSOs

Mar 27    Worked R1ANF - South Shetland Is. on 30M for entity # 120 in the streak
Oct  6    Worked RA9CKQ to complete 15M WAC
Nov  2    Near clean sweep in the SS - missed YT & NE
Nov 30    Worked WAC in a single day within 5h 22m
Nov 30    Worked MJ0AWR - Jersey on 15M for entity # 130 in the streak

May  1    Worked 4Z5AX - Israel for entity # 140 in the streak
Nov 28    Worked 5V7A - Togo on 20 for entity # 150 in the streak

Jun 19    VK6HQ again answers my 30M CQ
Aug 26    Worked NH6D/KH3 - Johnson Is. on 30M for entity # 160 in the streak
Sep  1    Purchased a Kenwood TS-570D after many years of wanting a xcvr
Sep  1    First QSO with the Kenwood was KO1C on 40M
Nov  4    Worked EA8CN to complete 17M WAC
Nov  7    Busiest day with 416 QSO's
Nov  7    537 QSOs in the SS - My most QSOs ever in a test
Nov 23    First of 81 straight days with some DX worked (DX #2A Streak)
Nov 27    Busiest DX day with 273 DX QSOs
Nov 27    Worked CT3BX to complete 10M WAC
Nov 27    Worked 25 JAs in a couple hours
Nov 28    500 QSOs in the CQWW DX test - Best DX test ever
Nov 28    6V6U on 15M is country # 100 with my new Kenwood
Nov 30    Worked 5C8M to complete 12M WAC

Jan  1    Worked my friend of 30+ years, VA3RJ for first QSO of the 2000s
Feb 11    UA0ABK worked - 81 straight days with a DX QSO
Feb 13    After missing DX on the 12th, started a new DX streak with KG4KO (DX #2B Streak)
Feb 19-20 512 DX QSOs in the ARRL DX test
Mar  4    Worked JT1DA - Mongolia on 15M for entity # 170 in the streak - First zone 23 QSO
Mar 18    Worked country # 100 in the year 2000 - VP2VI
Mar 21    Made 23 DX QSOs including new countries EX2X and SV0LK
Apr 21    WAC in 6 straight QSOs on 5 bands - RV9CP-20M, VK4XA-17M, UX1MM-10M, W5UJA-15M, YV6AZC-12M, EA8ALP-20M
May 22    100th straight day with a DX QSO - RA2FBC + others
Jun 20    Worked 5H3RK - Tanzania on 20 for entity # 180 in the streak - First zone 37 QSO
Jul 15    154th straight day with a DX QSO - FP/AI5P
Aug 10    Worked OY/DL5YLM - Faroe Is. on 20M for entity # 185 in the streak
Nov 25    Worked JX7DFA - Jan Mayen on 10M for entity # 190 in the streak

Jan  1    Lots of fun as usual in the ARRL SKN event
Jan 13    457 QSOs in the NAQP - best contest rate at 46.9/hr
Feb 17    558 QSOs in the ARRL DX test - most QSO's ever in a test

Jan 12    514 QSOs in the NAQP - best contest rate at 51.4/hr
Feb 16    633 QSOs in the ARRL DX test - most QSO's ever in a test
Feb 16    Worked 5U9C - Niger on 15M for entity # 195 in the streak
Nov 24    Worked S9MX - Sao Tome & Principe on 20M for entity # 200 in the streak
Dec  4    Worked 4J6ZZ - Azerbaijan on 15M for entity # 201 in the streak

Jan 11    Second year in a row with a 51+ hourly rate in the NAQP
Feb  1    Approximately when conditions begin to decline from the superb propagation of the past 3-4 years
Feb 16    DF0LI is my QSO #1,000 with Germany in the streak
Nov 29-30 Worked the CQWW DX contest portable from my cousin's house.
Nov 30    Worked SU9NC - Egypt on 10M for entity # 202 in the streak
Dec 27    Best ever RAC contest with 222 QSOs

Jan 10    Declining conditions show up with 109 less QSOs in NAQP
Feb 21-22 367 QSOs in ARRL DX - down from 633 just 2 years ago
Mar 14    Best ever WIQP with 143 QSOs

May 28    Worked 4L8A - Georgia on 20M for entity # 203 in the streak
May 30    Worked Hoot Owl Sprint in field with KB3LFC

May 29    Second time in the field in the streak - Hoot Owl Sprint w/ KB3LFC
Jun  2    For the third time VK6AU (ex-VK6HQ) answers my 30M CQ
Aug 25    Have a QSO with WA8REI 40 years to the day after our first QSO
Dec 16    4J6ZZ's QSL card makes 198 countries verified

Feb 18    Worke 5Z4/9A3A - Kenya on 20M for entity # 204 in the streak
Aug  2    5Z4/9A3A's QSL card makes 199 countries verified
Oct 10    I win my 14th NAQCC sprint - SWA category

Jan 28    Worked W0BH in Kansas to complete Kansas all bands 160-10M
Feb  6    OH0R's QSL card makes 100 countries verified on 40 meters
Apr  3    The 45th anniversary of my Novice ticket - KN3WWP
Apr 14    KC2EGL loans me a Kenwood TS-480SAT which becomes my main rig
Apr 29    Workde FJ/DJ2VO - St. Barthelemy on 30M for entity # 205 in the streak
Jun 29    First ever 6 meter QSO - W0GKP - MN first state worked on 10 bands
Aug 12    First 6 meters QSL received - WY3H - PA 1st state veried 10 bands

Feb 15    Worked K5D - Desecheo Is. on 30M for entity # 206 in the streak
Feb 16    First QSO with KC2EGL's KX-1 built as a NAQCC project
Feb 22    KH6MB is new state (#49), new country, new zone, new continent on 80 meters
May  1    KH6MB's QSL card received to verify on 80M state #49, first Oceania, first zone 31
Jul 26    VK6DXI worked in daylight (8PM EDT) via long path on 40 meters
Aug  2    W9TTT is unique station #15,000 in streak
Aug 18    Got KL7J on 30 to complete 30 meters WAS - finally

May  1    The beginning of a mW 'streak within a streak' (mW Streak)
Aug 15    Worked 403A - Montenegro on 20M for entity # 207 in the streak
Oct 19    Worked PJ6A - Saba/St. Eustatius on 30M for entity # 208 in the streak
Nov 28    Worked PJ22 - (New) Curacao on 15M for entity # 209 in the streak

Feb  7    The beginning of a multi-QSO per day streak (2 QSOs Streak)
Feb 19    Worked PJ4A - (New) Bonaire on 80M for entity # 210 in the streak
Feb 19    Worked T30YA - West Kiribati on 40M for entity # 211 in the streak
Mar 19    Worked R0QA and RW0CWA with mW to complete mW WAC
Mar 27    The beginning of a DX streak that lasted 120 days (DX #3 Streak)
Jun 25    10 and 6 meters open for Field Day - 82 QSOs in 31 states on 10
Jul  3    Made 14 QSOs in a portable N3AQC op with KC2EGL and K3RLL (tot 14) at Kittanning Community Park
Jul 21    Last day of mW QSO Streak - 447 days
Jul 24    Last day of DX #3 Streak - 120 days
Oct 10    My first QSO using what would become my K2 when purchased later from Mike KC2EGL
Nov 14    Worked MU0FAL for overall band-entity # 1,000 (pre-streak and streak)
Nov 19    Worked VE4WI for last province for NAQCC WAVE award
Nov 26/27 Made 296 DX QSOs in 93 countries in the CQ WW DX contest
Nov 28    Worked PJ4/K4BAI for entity # 100 on 12 meters

Mar 16    Worked PJ7PT - Sint Maarten on 30M for entity # 212 in the streak
May 26/27 Made 291 DX QSOs in the CQ WPX contest
Jun  7    Worked D3AA - Angola on 20M for entity # 213 in the streak
Jun 24    Worked NI0DX in NE to complete NAQCC mW WAS and Elecraft WAS

Feb-Apr   Tag team contests (16) with KC2EGL including the first two below
Feb 16    324 QSOs in the ARRL DX contest
Mar 16    108 QSOs in the Russian DX contest - personal best in that contest
Mar  1    DX #4 Streak begins with IK2SND on 17M
Mar 31    Worked T2YY - Tuvalu on 15M for entity # 214 in the streak
Apr  3    The 50th anniversary of my Novice ticket - KN3WWP
Apr 13    Worked A71CM - Qatar on 20M for entity # 215 in the streak
May 11    Worked Z81X - South Sudan on 15M for entity # 216 in the streak
Jun 22    257 QSOs as part of a N3AQC multi-op FD operation with KC2EGL and K3RLL at the QTH of WY3H in Garretts Run, PA
Aug  3    222 QSOs (20/15M only) in the NAQP
Aug 28    Worked 5T0JL - Mauritania on 20M for entity # 217 in the streak
Oct 19    106 QSOs in the WAG contest - personal best in that contest
Nov 16    45 QSOs in the LZ DX contest - personal best in that contest
Nov 23    421 QSOs in the CQWW DX contest

Feb 15    480 QSOs in the ARRL DX contest - most in a contest in several years.
Feb 28    DX Streak #4 reaches 1 year - 365 days with D44CF - Cape Verde on 20M
Mar 27    Worked TX6G - Austral Islands on 10M for entity # 218 in the streak
Apr 12    74 QSOs in the GA QSO Party a new personal record for that contest
Jun 28    213 QSOs in a portable FD operation from my front porch as N3AQC with KC2EGL (75)
Jul 23    DX Streak #4 reaches 500 days with EI/SP3CW - Ireland on 20M
Jul 23    Worked W1AW/9 - Indiana for state # 49 from W1AW/# in 2014 leaving only Maine to work
Aug 27    Worked W1AW/1 - Maine to complete the W1AW/# WAS in 2014
Oct  1    Added the Elecraft PX3 panadapter to my station
Nov 29/30 Made 381 QSOs in the CQWW DX contest
Nov 30    Worked 3B8MU - Mauritius on 20M for entity # 219 in the streak
Nov 30    Worked AH0K - Marianas Islands on 15M for entity # 220 in the streak

Feb  9    Worked K1N - Navassa Island on 20M for entity # 221 in the streak - Completes all NA enitities
Feb 12    Worked S01WS - Western Sahara on 30M for entity # 222 in the streak
Feb 21    Made 449 QSOs in the ARRL DX contest
Feb 28    DX Streak #4 reaches 2 years - CO8LY on 15 + T77C, UA3KW, YO3APJ, SP9LJD, and OR5T
Jun 27/28 Made 253 QSOs in FD with KC2EGL and WB3FAE (tot 309) using N3AQC at Chicora, PA
Jul 22    Received plaque for working W1AW portable from all 50 states during 2014
Jul 28    Gave a QRP/CW presentation at the Skyview Radio Society - New Kensington, PA 
Nov 10    Gave a QRP/CW presentation at the Butler County ARA meeting with KC2EGL and WB3FAE helping out
Nov 24    DX Streak #4 reaches 1,000 days with PJ2/KB7Q - Curacao on 40M
Nov 25    Made 14 QSOs from the sub USS Requin in Pittsburgh as NY3EC with Mike KC2EGL (15)
Nov 28/29 Made 254 QSOs in the CQWW DX contest

Feb 20/21 Made 303 QSOs in the ARRL DX contest
Feb 28    DX Streak #4 reaches 3 years - HI3TEJ on 40
May 28    Worked 5W1SA - Samoa on 15M for entity # 223 in the streak
May 28    Worked KH8/KC0W - American Samoa on 15M for entity # 224 in the streak
Jun 25/26 Made 617 QSOs in FD with KC2EGL and WB3FAE using N3AQC at Chicora, PA
Jun 25/26 My share was 382 QSOs on 40M - probably the most single band QSOs I've made
          in a contest other than some 10M contests
Jul 1-6   Worked all 13 Colonies stations plus WM3PEN - Received nice certificate in a couple weeks
Jul 31    Made 34 QSOs with Mike KC2EGL (35) as N3AQC in the FOBB from Kittanning Community Park - won first place overall
Aug 21    Made 52 QSOs from Moraine State Park with Mike KC2EGL (0) and Tom WB3FAE (19) in the Skeeter Hunt
          & NPOTA (TR04) activation as N3AQC
Nov 26/27 Only 76 QSOs in the CQWW DX contest

Feb 18/19 Made 214 QSOs in 120 multipliers in the ARRL DX Contest
Feb 28    DX Streak #4 reaches 4 years - PJ7AA on 30
Apr  8    DX streak #4 reaches 1,500 days with 6Y5WJ - Jamaica on 17M
Apr 12    Made 64 QSOs in our NAQCC sprint - Most ever
Jun 24/25 Made 381 QSOs in FD from my front porch as N3AQC with Mike KC2EGL (110) - total of 491 QSOs, 44 states, 5 provinces, 2 DX
Jul 1-6   For the second year in a row, I worked all 13 Colonies stations plus WM3PEN - Received nice certificate in a couple weeks
Jul 30    Made 42 QSOs with Mike KC2EGL (10) in the FOBB from Kittanning Community Park
Aug 20    Made 37 QSOs on 40 in the Skeeter Hunt from Kittanning Community Park (with Mike KC3EGL and Tom WB3FAE)
Aug 27    Made 20 QSOs from the Skyview club house radio room (with KC2EGL, WB3FAE, AB3RU, W3FFZ and K3JZD)
Sep 24    Made 12 QSOs from the USS Requin (with Mike KC2EGL)
Oct  9    Made 34 QSOs from my home in the NAQCC anniversary celebration (with Mike KC2EGL)

Feb 9     I worked Bill W9ZN in Chicago for QSO # 90,000 in my 55 years of hamming.
Feb 17/18 Only 116 QSOs in the ARRL DX Contest. Lowest total in several years.
Feb 28    DX Streak #4 reaches 5 years - 6Y5WJ on 40
Apr 3     The 55th anniversary of my Novice ticket - KN3WWP
Jun 3     Operated the Museum Ships on the Air activity from NY3EC, the USS Requin moored in Pittsburgh, with Mike KC2EGL and Art WA3BKD (sub caretaker).
          This was an independent activity and we used QRO power to make as many QSOs as possible for the Requin's results in the event.
Jun 23/24 Field Day with Mike from my front porch. We made 482 QSOs total.
Jul 1-6   For the third year in a row, I worked all 13 Colonies stations plus WM3PEN - Received nice certificate in a couple weeks
Aug 2     For the first day since Feb 28, 2013 I failed to work a DX station ending my DX streak at 1,980 days.

Significant QSO Numbers In The Streak:
             ALL QSOs            DX QSOs
QSO #     DATE    CALL        DATE    CALL
 1,000  10/09/94  NM9C       2/16/97  LP3E
 2,000  12/12/94  8P9GE      7/19/98  C6A25FV
 3,000   3/19/95  N4MM       2/20/99  EA4TX
 4,000   6/25/95  W9OFR     10/09/99  OX3FV
 5,000   9/04/95  WB8IJN     2/13/00  KG4KO
 6,000  11/05/95  N2CKZ      5/28/00  OH9W
 7,000   1/13/96  N4BP      12/09/00  GM3POI
 8,000   5/05/96  KB9LRP     3/17/01  UA3AGW
 9,000   8/13/96  N1WMG     12/23/01  DL8BDF
10,000  11/03/96  W9LT       5/05/02  IR4T
11,000   1/12/97  K2WK      12/21/02  9A5W
12,000   5/25/97  P40W       2/22/04  TM6X
13,000  10/05/97  N6AA       2/19/06  OH6AC
14,000  11/09/97  WB3KVR     2/20/11  V48M
15,000   1/11/98  N8BJQ      3/03/12  VP2MSN
16,000   5/03/98  KN4Y/M     2/16/13  C6AKQ
17,000   8/01/98  K4LQ       6/28/13  HA3FTA
18,000  10/18/98  W9LNQ     12/14/13  OQ5M
19,000  12/14/98  IZ1BPR     5/24/14  YL2KO
20,000   2/21/99  EA3AR     12/14/14  E7DX
21,000   5/30/99  WX4CW      5/31/15  OE3K
22,000   9/05/99  K7KU       4/09/16  4A1DX
23,000  11/06/99  N0AT      10/21/17  GB8OPW
24,000  11/28/99  DA0FF
25,000   1/08/00  K3WW
26,000   3/12/00  K9KL
27,000   8/03/00  W8PNS
28,000  11/12/00  OL0E
29,000  12/31/00  IK2EAD
30,000   2/17/01  M0C
31,000   8/11/01  S58A
32,000  12/15/01  NA7NA
33,000   1/20/02  HA9RC
34,000   3/16/02  LY7Z
35,000   7/14/02  HG0HQ
36,000  12/15/02  JA7YQV
37,000   2/15/03  V31YN
38,000  11/30/03  9A1P
39,000   1/25/04  N2CU
40,000   9/18/05  N8WBI
41,000   2/08/05  K5NZ
42,000   8/02/05  WN1B
43,000  12/26/05  WB2FXK
44,000   6/14/06  W3DP
45,000   1/13/07  K3WU
46,000   7/14/07  N9FC
47,000  12/02/07  KB8U
48,000   6/02/08  AF2Q
49,000  11/20/08  N1LU
50,000   8/01/09  KV8Q
51,000   4/14/10  N3IK
52,000   2/03/11  WA3VAT
53,000   6/15/11  K4NP
54,000  11/26/11  ND2C
55,000   3/26/12  K0GZX
56,000   8/05/12  EA4DRV
57,000  12/08/12  AK4JA
58,000   2/20/13  K9ZMU
59,000   7/29/13  GV4BUW
60,000  11/21/13  WG8Y
61,000   2/15/14  JA7NVF
62,000   5/24/14  G5O
63,000  11/29/14  SN2M
64,000   2/21/15  IR4X
65,000   9/02/15  SP2GWH
66,000   2/24/16  YN7SU
67,000  10/12/16  AA0FD
68,000   5/04/17  WB3BBY
69,000   1/26/18  WA8REI

To reiterate, the purpose of my giving all this information about my streak is simply to show anyone who reads this that QRP does work well, even with simple wire antennas and a less than average location, especially with CW. If you are in a situation where you can’t use high power or put up huge antennas, maybe my results will encourage you to get on the air with a simple setup and give it a try. I guarantee that you will succeed and be able to enjoy the finest of all hobbies. Give it a try – you may never go QRO again.

Wellington State Park | Wind and Chilly

wellington state park newfound lake

We wanted to set up at this picnic table but the wind was blasting us from across the water. We decided to find a place farther from the beach that had protection from the cutting breeze that was one step below a gale. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Yesterday I set up at Wellington State Park on a gorgeous mid-October day in central New Hampshire. Wellington State Park is on the west shore of Newfound Lake. Local lore has it that this body of water has the cleanest and purest water of any lake in the state.

Joining me on the adventure was Dave Benson, K1SWL and my friend JT better known as Jim.

k1swl w1pid

Jim is on the left and Dave has his eyes closed to prevent sand from getting in his eyes. They’re both facing the stunning Newfound Lake. Note hands in pockets and Dave’s winter jacket, yet it’s the middle of October. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

The sun was brilliant but it was offset by a stiff wind and temperatures that tried to claw their way to 50 F but never quite made it. New Hampshire had a hot and humid summer and the transition from heat to cold has been very rapid. All three of us complained about the wind that cut like a knife.

As we hunted for a spot to set up, I spied this giant carved woodpecker. I’m glad it’s not been vandalized. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Dave and I retreated to a picnic table nestled in some giant pine trees about 200 feet back from the beach. It had quite a bit of protection from the wind and had a splash of sunlight on it.

Here I am hard at work trying to find a strong signal from an operator calling CQ. Hunt and pounce is the only way to score contacts. Copyright 2018 Dave Benson

Jim decided to saunter back to the parking lot to soak up the generous solar radiation that was in full force. His location had even more protection from the biting chill.

Within minutes I was on the air with my Elecraft KX-2. I had put up my standard 29-foot vertical wire. The end of it was attached to a 9:1 unun. A 19-foot counterpoise wire extended from the unun across the carpet of pine needles. The counterpoise really helps get a perfect SWR match with the internal tuner inside the KX-2.

It took at least ten or fifteen minutes before Dave and I found Stefan, DK1HL in Germany on 20 meters at 14.021 Mhz. Both Dave and I successfully made contact.

Next up was Jamie, M0SDV in England. I was thrilled to have two contacts in the log because the propagation was not the greatest. We heard some stations, but they were weak or didn’t answer us back.

Finally, I heard our dear friend Bert Banlier, F6HKA. I answered his call and then handed the iambic micro pico paddles to Dave. Watch the video below to hear part of the conversation between Bert and Dave.

The chilly wind won the battle and we packed up to go find some hot coffee. It was great to get out but we left knowing we need to toughen up. Soon it will be below freezing and a foot of snow will be on the ground.

I was reminded of an old Swedish saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.”

We need good clothes.


Potter Place Sans W1PID

potter place nh

This is the epic historic Potter Place Railroad Station. The grave of Richard Potter is just this side of the front of the caboose. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Potter Place NH – A Railroad Museum

Today I set up at Potter Place just west of Andover, New Hampshire. I’ve always come here in the past with my good friend Jim Cluett, W1PID, but today he was not feeling well.

Before arriving I had driven northwest to Gardner Memorial Wayside Park. I was on a mission to try to locate Dave Benson’s micro Pico Paddles that he misplaced a week earlier.

This is the picnic table where Dave set up. You can see I’ve blown all the leaves away. Nothing was on the ground but two .44 Magnum shell casings. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

I had taken my battery-powered leaf blower with me. I was sure the tiny paddles were hiding beneath some leaves, but I had no luck locating them.

This is a magical little park with a mesmerizing stream next to the two picnic tables. Just downstream is an old mill foundation.

The sun was just starting to peek out as I was leaving the park. I’d love to go back in time to see this mill in operation. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

It was blustery and overcast while I was at the Gardner Memorial Wayside State Park, so I left to head back towards Andover, NH.

Potter Place has a rich history. Richard Potter, a famous magician, lived here and the Boston & Main Railroad’s main line was here. If you close your eyes, you can often hear in the distance a chugging steam engine and a train whistle. Those that can’t are non-believers when it comes to all things railroad.

richard potter nh facts

This is all you need to know about Richard Potter. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

I ate lunch and walked around taking some photos enjoying the sunshine before I set up my radio. I think I was just trying to stay busy since Jim was not there.

Richard Potter’s grave is just next to the railroad tracks and I’m hoping that somehow his headstone is restored because in another 200 years you’ll no longer be able to read his name.

RIP Richard – I wish I could have seen your magic show! Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

It only took me a few minutes to set up. One throw got my water bottle over the tree and within a few minutes, my 29-foot wire was attached to my 9:1 unun. I decided to also connect a 19-foot counterpoise from the unun and it’s really helped me get a perfect SWR with my Elecraft KX-2.

tim carter w3atb potter place

Jim takes better photos of me. I hope he gets better soon so we can go out again. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Within a few minutes of turning on my radio, I heard activity on 20 meters. I first heard a German station with a prefix of DK8, but I couldn’t make out the rest of his callsign.

Minutes later I heard Gerald, PA3GEG calling CQ. I responded and he heard me. What’s more, he recorded our QSO! You can listen to it by CLICKING HERE.

Next up I contacted Björn, DH3LLB. It was exhilarating as I was able to fully copy everything he sent. That’s a first for me. I only wish Jim had been there to watch me do it.

I could have made more contacts, but I decided to pack up and head home. Next week I hope to get out with Jim and maybe Dave Benson. Soon the weather will be frigid, so now’s the time to get as many QSOs as possible in the stunning New Hampshire fall weather.

radio gear at potter place

This is my gear for today’s Potter Place adventure. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Bald Ledge NH QRP Afield 2018


Here I am in the green t-shirt with Jim in the background holding my Palm Micro-Pico iambic Morse code paddles. He’s almost in a zen state because it was a perfect day at a perfect place. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Bald Ledge NH – Outdoor Radio Adventure

Today Jim Cluett, W1PID, and I hiked to the scenic Bald Ledge overlook about one mile east of Sky Pond in central NH. It was a perfect late-summer day with the temperature just above 80 F and a crystal-blue sky.

We intended to participate in the QRP-Afield event hoping to contact other radio operators who were using low power as were we.

To get to the scenic overlook, you hike up a rugged Class VI road that’s not maintained by the town. Soon you have to turn left at a crude roadway blocked by an orange metal gate.

Then you have to walk about a half mile to where the trail through the woods begins. If you pass the small sign, you could be in trouble. I decided to get the GPS coordinates this time in case you want to find the small trail.

Related Links

Bald Ledge Adventure 2016

Elecraft KX2 Case

GPS for Bald Ledge Trail NH

Here are the coordinates that will get you to the trail through the woods to the Bald Ledge scenic overlook. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

We passed a few hikers who were coming back from the overlook. When we arrived, we were the only ones there. Jim got absorbed in the view and I did all the work to get us on the air.

antenna tree at Bald Ledge NH

This is the tree that supported my 29-foot wire. Attached at the bottom was a 9:1 unun. Copyright 2108 Tim Carter

KX2 W3ATB Bald Ledge NH

We used my KX2 and all other gear to get on the air. It did a superb job today and the sun rewarded us with fair propagation. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Here is Jim walking back up from looking at the view. I had just finished setting up and he was anxious to make the first contact. One must respect one’s elders so I didn’t complain and handed him the Pico paddles. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Here’s the view of the Sandwich Mountain Range that captivated Jim.

Sandwich Mountain NH

This is the view to the Sandwich Mountain Range from Bald Ledge. Look at the cool screenshot from the PeakFinder app below that tells you what you’re looking at. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

PeakFinder App – Very cool. Download it. Well worth the purchase price. Copyright 2018 PeakFinder

We heard stations right away and here’s our log:

Here’s our log. Copyright 2018 Jim Cluett

We had lots of fun and decided to leave.

w3atb tim carter

You can see that low-powered outdoor radio (QRP) can be scads of fun. I’m lucky to have a friend like Jim who tolerates my tall tales. We have so much fun on certain outings it should be illegal. Copyright 2018 Jim Cluett

Our timing was perfect because just as we started back into the woods, a large group of twelve people and three dogs showed up. That would have been mayhem with all of my equipment out and questions coming at us faster than flies showing up at a picnic.

Jim wanted to set up his APRS HT radio to track our journey home. It worked well.

Ellacoya State Park POTA Activation K-2651

ellacoya state park

This is the Ellacoya State Park beach where we set up. You’re looking to the north at the Ossipee Mountains. Millions of years ago this massive rock complex was the basement of a giant volcano. Look closely to the left of the distant lifeguard chair and you can see the MS Mt. Washington plying the clear waters of Lake Winnipesaukee. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

This afternoon I was fortunate to activate Ellacoya State Park in central New Hampshire. I had all sorts of help from Jim Cluett, W1PID and Norman Jackson, K1NAJ. Norman had reached out to me itching to participate with an activation and I was determined to introduce him to the outdoor aspect of Parks on the Air.

Jim had helped me a week before attempt to activate Ahern State Park, but we fell a few contacts short of a valid activation. You need to have ten contacts the same day to qualify for an activation.

ellacoya state park

I’m ready to pluck contacts from thin air. The view out across Lake Winnipesaukee was remarkable. Copyright 2018 Jim Cluett

We set up on a picnic table just 30 feet from the lapping waters of Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire. A few other people were there enjoying the delicious sunshine and low humidity. Had we been here just four days prior on Labor Day, we would have had to fight for a table and the beach would have been wall-to-wall people.

The Goal for Ellacoya State Park – Ten Contacts or QSOs

The goal was to have fun, enjoy the jaw-dropping weather, and make ten contacts with other radio operators in that order I might add.

We decided to use my radio gear and I didn’t waste any time throwing my water bottle about 50 feet up in the air over a pine tree branch. The placement worked well as it allowed my 29-foot antenna wire to hang vertically without touching any of the other branches or needles. I was able to get the top of the antenna wire 40 feet up in the air.

Talking to France From the Lifeguard Chair

While I was getting ready to get on the air, Jim decided to set his radio up about 150 feet away. He spied a lifeguard chair and was determined to operate from this perch above the warm sand.

ellacoya state park

Jim is a clever operator. He’s attracted to anything that’s unique or different. He might be the first person in the world to have made an amateur radio contact while sitting in a lifeguard chair. No doubt he’s the first in New Hampshire. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

As soon as he turned on his radio, he was able to hear and communicate with his good friend Bert in France, F6HKA.

ellacoya state park

What a view Jim had from his perch! He’s busy setting up getting ready to do Morse code with Bert in France. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Patience Pays Off

Once Jim finished his conversation with Bert, I jumped in so I could log my first contact. I needed ten QSOs to qualify as a valid activation. I thought it wouldn’t be a problem and we’d be done in short order. Bert heard me and we had a brief conversation at 12:50 pm.

The other nine contacts were clawed from the ether with lots of patience. Here’s my log:

CALL SIGN                   TIME                    FREQUENCY         SIGNAL REPORT

F6HKA 1650 UTC 14.051 339
K3RTV 1750 UTC  7.057 559
KB3WAV 1800 UTC 7.049 599
W2QE 1810 UTC 7.027 569
N2AK 1822 UTC 7.026 549
W3JRR 1826 UTC 7.049 579
KN4ZQ 1832 UTC 7.034 579
W1PID 1847 UTC 7.030 599
K1NAJ 1849 UTC 7.030 599
N4CQD 1915 UTC 14.030 559

Look at the times and you’ll see it took quite a while to get the ten contacts.

Here I am trying to get ten contacts as fast as possible. It took over two hours! Norman is sitting to my left. Copyright 2018 Jim Cluett

Rare Signal Report Opportunity

About halfway through the activation we heard a conversation happening between two operators and one of them had an issue with his equipment. His signal sounded like a buzzing bee. Listen for yourself:

We tried to contact him, but he didn’t hear us. It would have been a rare opportunity to send back a signal report like 593 as there’s no way he deserves a 9 for the tone part of the RST.

Ducks and Gulls at Ellacoya State Park

A few other people were enjoying the late summer day, but we were all outnumbered by tame ducks and aggressive seagulls that had been spoiled all summer long getting food handouts from many people who visited this wonderful state park.

Seagulls are brave and fierce. They’ll steal your food or other things. Don’t turn your back on these creatures. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

The gulls would steal food from the ducks and squawk raising quite the racket. My guess is there were just under 100 gulls resting on the beach and perhaps ten ducks.

Jim, Norman and I had a marvelous time and this beach is a great place to spend a warm late spring, summer, or fall day. I don’t recommend coming here to do radio in July unless you want a beach ball bouncing on your radio or knocking your antenna out of a tree!


Cheap HF Antenna

cheap hf antenna

This cheap HF antenna is 29-feet long. The antenna works on all HF bands from 80 to 6 meters. It cost me less than $2 US. What more can you ask for? Oh, you want to know how I got it up in the air with the kite? That’s another post on another day. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Cheap HF Antenna – Just Use A Simple Wire

A cheap HF antenna can be made using a simple piece of wire. You can’t get much cheaper than that. Yes, a giant yagi antenna on a tower would be ideal, but you said you wanted cheap.

The key is the wire can only be one of a few lengths if you want it to work on just about all the high-frequency (HF) amateur radio bands here in the USA and the rest of the world.

Related Link

29-Foot Wire Antenna Winder

Stay Away From 1/4 and Half-Wave Lengths

My friend Dave Benson, K1SWL, is an electrical engineer and the founder of Small Wonders Lab. When I asked him about these antennas, here’s what he had to say:

“A half-wave – or its multiples – presents a high impedance when fed at one end.

A quarter-wave – and its odd multiples- presents a low impedance when fed at one end. This low-impedance situation is much easier for most tuners to handle. A counterpoise – whether a length of wire or the outside of a coax shield- is highly recommended.

It gets confusing when a half-wavelength wire is fed in the center. It looks out into two quarter-wavelengths of wire, so its impedance is low.  Move the feed point to one end, though, and the impedance is quite high.

Geek stuff: If you move the feed point partway toward one end, the feed point impedance is higher – but it’s still a resonant antenna.”

For a single length of wire to work, you need two things:

  • a tuner
  • the wire length that’s not too close to a quarter or half-wave of the frequencies you want to ply

End-fed wire antennas tend to create very high impedance and a tuner will need help to get a low SWR. You might need to use a 9:1 unun or some balun at the end of the wire to help lower the impedance.

It’s important to realize that an antenna that is a half or quarter-wavelength of the band you’re working on should create a low, or lower, impedance and your tuner should be able to give you a nice low SWR match for your radio.

If you want to operate on multiple bands from a single simple wire antenna, you need to be sure the length of the wire is not a full, half, or quarter wave of the popular HF bands you intend to transmit and receive on.

Fortunately, Jack, VE3EED got out his trusty calculator and did all the work for you.

What are Ideal Lengths for a Cheap HF Antenna?

Here are the lengths, in feet, your cheap HF antenna should be so you can use one antenna to work on multiple bands:

  • 29
  • 35.5
  • 41
  • 58
  • 71
  • 84
  • 107
  • 119
  • 148
  • 203
  • 347
  • 407
  • 423

Jack’s a silent key and I know I’m thankful for the work he did to come up with the lengths you can find in this column.

Do You Need A Counterpoise Wire?

I find a counterpoise about 17 feet long works well if I want to get on 40 meters. You can experiment with different lengths. Steve Galchutt, WG0AT, uses a 58-foot wire length with a 25-foot counterpoise.

Do You Need a Balun or Unun?

I connect my 29-foot cheap HF antenna to a 9:1 unun to lower the impedance. This makes less work for the tuner and I can almost always count on a very low SWR using the internal tuner in my Elecraft KX3 or KX2.

Ahern State Park POTA Activation K-2641

ahern state park

We were sitting on a small rock outcrop just above and to the left of this photo. You’d think we were along the ocean up in Downeast Maine! Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Ahern State Park – Beauty Beyond the Beach

Yesterday my good buddy Jim Cluett, W1PID, and I decided to try to activate Ahern State Park along the eastern shore of Lake Winnisquam in central New Hampshire. I’d been there at least three other times, but it was a first for Jim even though this magical place is less than six miles from his house as the eagle flies.

The two previous days were blistering hot with temperatures above 90 F and a dewpoint kissing up against 70 F. That translates to sticky and steamy. Overnight a cool front was bulldozing in a lobe of cooler dry air so it was a perfect day to get out to do some outdoor radio.

ahern state park

This is the beach that draws people to Ahern State Park. It’s in a nice small sheltered cove. Jim and I set up on that rocky point just across the water in the photo. It was only a 100-yard walk from where we parked. Copyright 2018 State of NH

Ahern State Park is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in central New Hampshire. You enter the park off a driveway that leads to the old state prison and reform school. Thousands of people, I’m sure, drive by and fail to see the old brown state park sign that’s about 200 feet off State Route 106.

As you make the turn into the park, you start to bump across a dusty well-worn gravel road that seems to lead to nowhere. For the most part, Ahern is a nothing park. It’s undeveloped in the sense that the only improvement is the gravel road. The reward for absorbing the pothole punishment is a sandy beach in a sheltered cove that soaks up the warm afternoon sun.

Once you exit your car in the turnaround circle at the beach, you’ll discover there are no picnic tables, no shelter, no nothing other than a dramatic view across, up and down Lake Winnisquam. This crystal-clear body of water is the third largest lake fully within the boundaries of the great state of New Hampshire. It boasts 7.2 square miles of surface area.

The Jaw-Dropping View at Ahern State Park

“Let’s go set up at that rocky point over there,” Jim suggested after gazing at the beach and the stunning view across the water. “There’s surely a trail leading to it.”

Jim loves the outdoors and I doubt I’ll ever get him hooked on Parks on the Air (POTA) activations. Just five days earlier we had activated Fay State Forest here in New Hampshire using my call sign. He just enjoys being outdoors and if he can collect a few Qs, or contacts, as we call them, it’s all the better.

I must say Jim makes a great teammate as his radio skills are far beyond mine. He’s been a radio operator for 50+ more years than me.  It was just six years ago I got serious about the hobby.

Within two minutes this is the view Jim and I saw after we walked from the beach to the rocky point. This is looking northwest right at my house just two miles diagonally across Lake Winnisquam. Ladd Mountain is that center bump across the lake. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Sure enough, there was a small trail just behind the beach. There were no signs telling you anything, you just had to be brave and believe.

As we walked up a slight grade next to a rotting pine tree, I could tell the view was going to be spectacular. I could see three miles down the lake and another three up the lake. Just across from us was the fabled Steele Hill and Ladd Mountain that’s not much more than a hill rising up behind my home.

ahern state park

Jim’s in the zone. He’s outdoors, he’s got a radio on and it’s spectacular weather. I’m looking northwest in this photo. The panoramic view from this rocky spot was one of the best views we’ve ever had on one of our outings. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

“Watch out for the dog doo,” Jim announced as I was soaking up the stunning view. The cool front had picked up speed and the wind was whipping up whitecaps on the lake. Some previous visitor must have had a large dog and it relieved itself right where we decided to set up. There was lots of doo to deal with.

“These two trees are just far enough apart that we can set up the 44-foot dipole,” Jim exclaimed. We used all my equipment including the dipole I modeled after one that Jim has. You can make one using thin 26-gauge twisted-pair wire. It connects to my Elecraft KX3 with a standard banana plug. The internal tuner in the KX3 has no trouble at all delivering a satisfactory SWR.

The flat dipole was about 40 feet above the water and the axis of the wire was roughly on a north-south line. This means the signal should radiate pretty well to the east and west.

ahern state park

This is the rocky point just north of the beach at Ahern State Park. It’s in the shade and bring a cushion if you intend to have a picnic lunch here. Without the cushion, you’ll have a sore derrière, for sure. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

40 Meters Was The Place to Be

As soon as we powered up the radio, I went to 20 meters. It was quiet and there was not much activity. I did hear one faint signal and Jim was able to copy Norm Jackson, K1NAJ, on a ground wave as he’s a fellow NH operator. My guess is Norm was probably just ten miles, or less, from us.

Jim was sitting on a rounded piece of the Meredith Porphyritic Granite in a trance looking out across the water. I could tell he was really enjoying this magical place so close to his home.

“Switch to 40 meters and see what’s happening,” Jim suggested. I often wonder if he’s not a soothsayer as that band had lots of strong signals.

Soon we started to make contacts, one of them a park-to-park contact with KD8DEU.

Here’s who we captured in my logbook:

CALL SIGN                 TIME                     FREQUENCY            SIGNAL REPORT

K1NAJ 1715 UTC 14.056 559
AB8EL 1724 UTC 7.059 559
KD8DEU 1730 UTC 7.036 559 (P2P)
VE3ZN 1735 UTC 7.036 559
WB3GCK 1744 UTC 7.029 449

Five Contacts Short – But Well Worth It

You need ten contacts within 24 hours on the same day to activate the park. We came up five short because the cranky sun is asleep. We’re at the bottom of solar activity in the eleven-year cycle and this can make low-powered outdoor radio quite a challenge.

ahern state park

The wind was really howling as Jim shot this photo. You can see it flipped up my log book cover onto the Elecraft KX3. My hair is quite unruly too. Believe me, you want to bring a cushion as the Meredith Porphyritic Granite pokes your bones! Copyright 2018 Jim Cluett

I had a great time but the wind made it hard for me to hear some of the stations. I’ve got some occupational hearing loss that I sometimes struggle with. That’s why it’s a great idea to have a teammate like Jim along who’s hearing is so much better than mine.

I guarantee you we’ll be back with cushions next time on a brilliant autumn day. I’m hoping to get the required ten contacts so we get credit as well as the wonderful POTA operators who try to contact us.

Fay State Forest NH – K-4900 POTA

fay state forest nh

Here I am on the loop trail at Fay State Forest in New Hampshire. I didn’t expect it to be as gorgeous as it was. I’ll be back for sure in the fall. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Fay State Forest – An Enchanted Tiny Woodland

Today I activated Fay State Forest in New Hampshire as part of the Parks on the Air (POTA) program. I did it with loads of help from my outdoor radio and CW mentor, Jim Cluett – W1PID.

Kay State Forest is a small 200-acre piece of pristine forest just west of both Route 3 and Lincoln, NH.  The southern boundary of the forest shares the Woodstock, NH  northern town line.

You can see Fay State Forest. Copyright 2018

It’s an undeveloped piece of land with no roads or improvements on it whatsoever. We discovered a small gravel turnout on Route 3 just 100 feet north of the sign welcoming you into Woodstock.

fay state forest nh

Here’s Jim getting ready to wander up into Fay State Forest. We were lucky to find this turnout on the west side of Route 3 just north of the Woodstock town line. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Much to our surprise, there was a well-worn footpath leading you into the magic forestland. We were glad to not have to bushwack up into the trees to find a place to set up my Elecraft KX2 radio.

The Fay State Forest Loop Trail

Jim and I saw what appeared to be a loop trail and we made a left turn to proceed clockwise around the trail. The path was covered with a carpet of soft brown pine needles. It was like walking on a pillow.

Giant boulders plucked from the bedrock by the last period of Continental Glaciation were strewn about the forest. We even contemplated setting up on top of one that must have been 15 feet tall and 60, or more, feet in circumference.

fay state forest glacial boulder

This boulder may not look that big, but it was huge. Six people could easily sit on top and not be crowded. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

After walking just ten minutes we could tell we were on our way back to my truck so we decided to use a massive 200-foot-tall pine tree as our antenna support.

Jim used my water bottle and made a remarkable throw at least 50 feet up into the air snagging the perfect branch so we’d have a vertical antenna. He wanted me to make the throw at first to a higher branch, but I thought the challenge was too great.

This is just part of the giant pine tree! I cut off at least 12 feet at the bottom and the top of the tree must be 100 feet, or more, higher than the top of the photo. That yellow line is the halyard ready to pull up my 29-foot 26-gauge antenna wire. A 9:1 unun is attached to the bottom of the wire and a 25-foot coax cable stretches back to the radio. The top of the antenna was about 42 feet off the ground. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Little did I know he’d carry the day in more ways than just this throw.

Switch From Plan A to Plan B

Earlier in the day, I had posted on the POTA Scheduled Activations page that I’d be on the air by 1730 UTC, or 1:30 PM Eastern Time. Jim and I were set up and on the air seven minutes early.

While I had posted the frequencies I’d be on, 20, 30, and 40 meters, I didn’t post a specific frequency. That’s hard to do because you never know if that frequency is already in use when you power up your radio.

I called CQ POTA W3ATB W3ATB K4900 K several times hoping the skimmers would hear me and/or a POTA chaser operator. No one answered my call.

My signal was heard by two skimmers, but it wasn’t enough to alert POTA chaser operators who might answer my call all at the same time. When that happens, you get a mini pile-up. I was hoping for that to happen as we drove to the forest.

You can see my call sign and the 1730 UTC time stamp for today. The Reverse Beacon Network is an amazing tool that helps you see who’s hearing your signal and how strong it is.

After five minutes of growing frustration, Jim said, “Spin the dial and go find someone and make a QSO.”

Thank the Contesters!

We were fortunate that we did this activation on a weekend. Long ago Jim taught me that low-powered outdoor radio is very likely the toughest thing to do.

The conditions can be challenging, the antenna might be marginal, and you’re lucky to be transmitting at, or above, 5 watts. If you don’t know much about amateur radio, that’s the amount of power you use to illuminate an incandescent night light.

It didn’t take long for us to find activity. Fortunately, there were quite a few signals on 20 meters. The Kansas QSO party was in full swing and my log book started to fill up with contacts. We needed ten to activate this rare POTA entity. I was the first person in the USA to attempt an activation here, so I wanted to get the required ten contacts.

My fourth contact was a DX one, OZ2TF, in Denmark. I was quite happy to see my signal was bouncing well off the waters of the Atlantic Ocean! Jim and I are lucky to live in New Hampshire and we regularly log European stations because the nearby ocean helps reflect our weak signals eastward.

We milked 20 meters for all we could and switched to 40 meters. The Ohio QSO party stations were booming into us and in short order, we hit the required ten contacts. I was elated and Jim was happy to help log contacts.

I’m pretty happy about my log book filling up with contacts. Victory! First to activate Fay State Forest K-4900. Copyright 2018 Jim Cluett

Here’s my log:

Call Sign                  Time                        Frequency             Signal Report

W0K 1738 UTC 14.044 599
N0C 1745 UTC 14.049 599
NS8G 1750 UTC 14.045 599
OZ2TF 1755 UTC 14.050 599
K0N 1759 UTC 14.031 599
W0S 1800 UTC 14.030 599
K8AJS 1808 UTC 7.045 599
N8BJG 1810 UTC 7.047 599
KE8G 1811 UTC 7.041 599
KI8R 1813 UTC 7.046 599
W8ERD 1824 UTC 14.046 599

A Learning Experience at Fay State Forest K-4900 POTA

I have to admit the day turned out far different than what I envisioned. While driving to Kay State Forest I said to Jim, “Today you’re going to see what a well-oiled machine can do during a POTA activation.” Jim wisely didn’t respond. He’s more an actions-speak-louder-than-words type of guy.

Here are my main takeaways from today’s adventure at Fay State Forest:

  • If operating QRP, low power, then, by all means, favor contesting days
  • Don’t underestimate your ability to sling a water bottle 60 feet into the air
  • Respect solar minimums
  • Always invite a seasoned outdoor operator on a POTA activation

I’m very satisfied with the results of this activation, but as I drove back down I-93 I thought about how much I still have to learn. Just a few weeks ago I pronounced to Jim during the QRP Bumblebee contest I was a flippin’ operator. After today I wonder if I shouldn’t dial that assessment back a notch or two.