Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 24, 011
30 Degrees, Clear Skys, Cool Wind from the North

On the Eve of Christmas I hiked into Penwood State Park located in Bloomfield, Connecticut.   Less than 1/4 mile from the parking lot, you can take the Metacomet Trail to a nice peak for portable radio operation.   I have to thank all those who worked to restore the trail after this past October's winter storm.  You can still see the extent of damage to the native forest.   Fortunately, the Metacomet Trail path was well cleared.....many had obviously put  in a lot of work.

I packed the Yaesu 817, Par Endfedz 20-40 antenna, and a 7 amp hour SLA battery for the short hike.  This was the first time I took along my American Morse Porta Paddle II assembled from a kit, along with their small (yet heavy) base.  I took longer untangling the wire antenna than getting everything else on the air.    Within 2 minutes of hitting the ON button, I made contact with W0AEW, Art in Colorado.   Next up was VE7KBN, Ken in British Columbia.    There was quite a bit of noise on the band (QRN) and I was surprised by a trail runner showing up at my site looking for directions.   I got Ken's information, and hope that I'm in his log.  Sitting out in the woods alone with headphones on and working Morse code has a bit of Zen to it...until somebody (something) unexpected shows up at your side.   At 30 degrees it wasn't a bear, and a friendly trail runner was a better option.  Finally, I had a nice 2 way contact (QSO) with VE3PMQ, Gary in Windsor Ontario.   We were both using low power (QRP) and wire antennas.

The toes got cold and it was time to hike back for lunch (hey, it's winter vacation).   Before the stores closed early for Christmas eve, I made a quick run to the local hardware store for a 99 cent power cord spindle.   This will handle the Endfedz antenna nicely for future easy setup and 'wrap-up'.

Thanks to Art, Ken, and Gary for some nice QRP contacts from the Metacomet Trail.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Casual contesting and then some

This weekend was a "casual contesters" dream.  I operated mostly CW during the ARRL 10 meter contest.  I made more 10 meter contacts in 2 hours than in the last 4 years, propagation and motivation all accounted for.  It was fun meeting local 10 meter "neighbors" here in Connecticut the first night of the contest.  This includes Sean, KX9X, ARRL Contest Branch Manager.  Next was the SKCC Weekend Sprint, a 24 hour straight key event.  I managed to make my usual meager showing of around 10 contacts.    I did use the event, and lots of CW stations calling, to try out my future hiking setup of a Yaesu 817 and Par End Fedz 20/40 wire antenna.   It took about 10 minutes to deploy the antenna using a 31' jackite pole, and my garbage can made for a handy operating position...   The 817 tuned wonderfully on the CW portions of 20 meters and 40 meters without a hitch.  No tuner required.  Thanks to  W9DLN, WW30, K2PAY, and W9HLY for answering my QRP call.