I had all day free Saturday and managed to complete a whopping four contacts. Several events were happening on the bands that I wanted to participate in — the Straight Key Century Club Weekend Sprint and a Summits on the Air event in the northeast part of the US, New England SOTA Day.
I hooked up my straight key in anticipation of participating in my first SKCC event and headed to the K3UK Sked Page to try and hunt down some of the participants. They were out there, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t hear any of them. When I finally did get a lock on one guy, he QSYed before I could call him and I never found him again.
I decided to check out the SOTA action via www.sotawatch.org and found a handful of activations in progress. The only one I heard was Jeff, NT1K on SSB, stationed on Mt. Tom in Massachusetts. I completed a QSO with him on 20 meters, even though he was buried in the noise. He gave me a rather terrible signal report, even though I was running 100W. I’ve worked Jeff three times before (two of those times were SOTA activations on 20 and 40 meters) and we’ve always had a good signals. The bands were not in my favor on Saturday.
The most satisfying SOTA contact I’ve had to date came on 40 meters Saturday afternoon. Tommy, W4TZM, had a loud signal on Apple Orchid Mountain in Virginia operating CW. I called him on the straight key and we had a textbook QSO. It felt good using the old key to accomplish it.
Another fun contact came later in the day when I managed to work Randy, KX1NH as part of the SKCC sprint. The exchange is a little long for the the sprint — Name, QTH, RST and SKCC number — but I just took it slowly and carefully and got through it. Randy’s code was very legible, both in signal strength and in terms of spacing and timing, and for that I was grateful.