Friday, July 3, 2020

QRP CW - Activated!

This being the national day of observance for the 4th of July National Independence holiday, I was not working.  So I met up with Wayne AC9HP and Bruce N9DBJ and we went to the Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area to throw up some antennas and get on the air.  This is park K-4183 in the POTA (Parks on the Air) program. 

I arrived at about 8:30AM and started setting up my new POTA portable system.  The humidity was about 80% and the temperature was hovering around 80 F.  Wayne and Bruce had not yet arrived.  I was very happy to find that I could deploy my Eagle One vertical antenna on my hitch mount, without the assistance of anyone else....making the dream of solo POTA runs possible.  Notice the POTA sticker now proudly displayed on my POTA Mobile.  I feel so fancy now. 

My Eagle One vertical on the Hitch of my POTA Mobile

I had also packed my K2 and LDG Z11 tuner this time, instead of the ever trusty and faithful K1.   This ended up being a great combo for me today.  However there were issues.....

LDG, makers of fine amateur radio equipment, and incredible antenna tuners, really shined today.   So with everything all setup and ready to go for operation, I hit the tune button for 40m at 5 watts and got....WHAT?? RED LIGHTS???  I NEED GREEN LIGHTS!!!  WHAT THE HECK??!!...same thing on 30m, 20m, 15m, 17m, and 80m,  Nothing would tune.  Dejected?  Are you kidding?  I'm sitting in the sweaty humidity of central Indiana, and my patience is non-existent.  I just BOUGHT this new antenna and now it won't work on any band.  I am thinking of throwing everything in the trash and moving to Mexico.  

POTA Portable Station at K-4183 on July 3, 2020

OK, so things were not going well...I started wondering what it could be, so I checked the coax connections, I disconnected and reconnected all the cables, I talked nice to my K2, I said some prayers that I might retain my sanity and figure this out...when I saw it.  You have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.  On my Z11 auto tuner, there are two coax is PLAINLY marked ANTENNA, and the other is marked TRANSMITTER.  It became apparent to me that I, an Extra Class Amateur Radio Operator, licensed by non other than the federal government of these United States of America...had the cables in the wrong connectors.   The LDG took the abuse like a rock solid pro.  Thankfully I was only running 5w for tune up.  So I swapped them...and just like that...things started working.

Don Wilhelm built K2...about 15 years old 
I had the first 10 contacts in the book in about 12 minutes on 7062 Khz,  I was getting spotted on the POTA spotting site and boy was I ever happy.  The Eagle One and this tuner were working very well.  40m hasn't really been very open in the morning the last few days, so I was thrilled to see it working this morning.  I stayed on 40m for about a half an hour total and then moved over to 30m, hit the tune button and I was golden on 10115 Khz.  I started working POTA hunters almost immediately,  the vertical seemed to be doing decent in all directions as I worked Maine, Louisiana, Texas, Kansas, as well as Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.  I was running 5w on 30m, so I was pretty happy with those results.  I then moved to 17m, hit tune, and I was green to go.  I worked three or four stations on 18090 and got them in the log.  By now it was pushing 11AM and I went QRT to go see if I could help Bruce N9DBJ out with his setup.

CW Morse Straight Key
Bruce N9DBJ was running  a KX2 at 5w in to a LNR end fed antenna.  He is sort of new to CW and was doing a great job.  Kudos to the hunters that went QRS for him and showed patience while he made the contact.  Bruce also had a real nice straight key from CW Morse.  Seemed to be very smooth in action and worked well with the KX2.  I think we were working 20m for most of the time and he was very close to having his 10 contacts the last time I looked. 

Wayne was running his LNR Mountaintopper 3 Band radio into his W9PDC end fed antenna and was knocking off contacts as fast as he could CQ.  Today he brought his new Blue Racer bug from Vibroplex.  I have tried off and on to use a bug for at least 10, maybe 15 years and I have been unable to master it. 
Vibroplex Blue Racer

I sound like a stuttering machine gun...unreadable but Wayne has mastered the bug in no time.   He was also successful in activating K-4183 today.  All in all it was a great morning to be out working portable.  We ended up in search of pizza but landed at a nice Mexican place and feasted on Fajitas and chips with salsa.  Now I think I need a nap. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

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