WFD is, first & foremost, an emergency communications exercise conducted under less-than-optimal conditions (at least for those of us in the Northern states, lol). This year I made a virtue of necessity and used my lack of planning (see the previous post) as part of the exercise; after all, emergencies do not give us advance warning, right?
About 11:30 I filled a mid-sized vacuum bottle with cold Brawndo (“It’s got electrolytes!”) and preheated a larger one to be filled with coffee. A few minutes earlier I had posted my location on the WFD website (Visitors Welcome!). I fed the little dog, then grabbed my radio bag and was out the door. A quick trip to Kwik-Trip yielded a sufficiency of hot coffee and I was off to Wildcat Mountain State Park!
I wish I had paid more attention to the WFD map, or screenshotted it … can’t really give numbers, but there were not a lot of Wisconsin stations on it, and very few in public locations, to the best of my recollection. The weather (for January in Wisconsin) was mild; heavy overcast, fog, about 37F.
I already had a pretty good idea of where I was going to set up, so I pulled right in and started to set up my faithful 17′ telescopic-whip vertical on the Buddipole pole and tripod. By sudden inspiration as I was extending the pole, I used the little Leatherman multitool to cut open a loop in the tangled mess that is my counterpoise, which lengthened it to 18 or 19 feet.
Antenna to BNC, powerpoles for the battery cord, plug in the microphone and push the “PWR” button; I’m on the air! The phone end of the 20 meter band is a cacophony of stations all talking on top of each other as I start looking for my first contact. Even though I am operating on 12 volt external power, I leave the transmitter at 5 watts to qualify for the QRP multiplier.
My expectations today are low, whatever ambitious thoughts I may have had in past days and weeks; my time is limited, so I left the satellite antenna on its tripod in the garage, and though I have multiple antennas with me I will not deploy any of them today. It will be enough to make some contacts for WFD; if I can get enough to make this a POTA activation that will be a nice bonus. I have activated K-1480 a total of 13 times, and one of these days I will qualify for the coveted Repeat Offender award.
As often happens, there is a loud station right on frequency when the radio comes on, so I wait for the opening at the end of a CQ and call. And call. And call. QRP SSB is an exercise all its own, mostly in patience and perseverance. After a while, a fragment of my call will coincide with 100 milliseconds of silence and I hear “The whiskey nine station again?” or “The call ending in November?” and it is my turn! Make the exchange, 73 and good luck! Tune a few kHz along and do it again!
Number 7 in the log was a pleasant surprise, a chatty operator! We spent several minutes comparing OK vs. WI weather, rig and antenna, and other stuff. I like a little bit of extra content in a QSO when possible, over the hard-line contest style … that said, I easily fall into it when in either side of a pileup! I made one park-to-park contact with a Canadian operator in Quebec.
Though a vertical is theoretically omnidirectional, propagation seemed to favor the Southeast; I heard stations to the west like CO, SD, AZ and even SJV, but I didn’t get through to them. 20 meters was rather unstable though, fading and un-fading could be rapid, and at its worst, cover the whole range from clearly audible to gone in 30 seconds or less. Still, one by one I filled pages in the log until the already gloomy light started to hint at approaching dusk.
The antenna came down, the radio went back in the case; the last of the hot coffee was poured, and I started the drive home.
No job is ever complete until the paperwork is finished (and filed!), so I transferred the paper log to Xlog, and exported adif and Cabrillo versions to send off. Here’s my own blog post, and I am going to do soapbox comments over at winterfieldday.org next.
Thanks for visiting! Stop by again soon for even more QRP fun!