Chipping away…

One of the most helpless feelings in radio is knowing that stations are out there, on the air, that you’d like to contact, but you aren’t in front of a radio. That’s the sinking feeling I get when I’m at work, 20 minutes away from home, and I check the Sked Page and see rare states like North Dakota or Wyoming handing out signal reports.

That’s precisely what happened today. Wyoming hung in there for several hours but I just missed him as it was nearly 7 p.m. when I finally arrived home. I messaged both he and the gentleman from North Dakota and we’ve hopefully setup a scheduled contact for later this week.

Anyway, I managed to clear two more stations tonight: Arkansas on CW, and South Dakota on SSB.

W5JAY was managing a “pile-up” of DX stations who wanted him on the JT modes. I waited a time with patience and he got around to me and we had a textbook CW QSO on 17 meters.

While I was waiting, W0VD wanted to attempt a code QSO with me on 15M and 80M. It was a rough contact in both cases owing to QSB and strange propagation. We completed the 15M contact and while I could hear his 1000 watts of power on 80M, he couldn’t hear my meager 100.

I worked IK2WZM once again, this time on RTTY, then broke for dinner.

Coming back into the shack, I noticed K0JV was still on and he graciously agreed to give 20 meters a shot with me. I’ve tried QSOs with him several times over the past few days with no luck. Conditions weren’t much better tonight, but he copied me and we exchanged 33 signal reports. His signal seemed to come up to 35, while mine apparently went down. At any rate, it was enough to get in his log and we’ve already QSLed. That was a contact two years in the making!

I noticed W8LMG (West Virginia) and KG3BOZ (Maryland) on 40 meters and both were booming. I mentioned it on the K3UK board and they invited me into the QSO. We all logged each other and I called it a night.

With any luck I will be able to pick up Wyoming on CW and North Dakota on digital this week. That leaves some easy grabs on CW and one phone contact to complete the triple play. Delaware! Nebraska! Where are y’all hiding?

4 thoughts on “Chipping away…

  1. Hey I was looking around the web for advice on backpack portable. I saw your blog here and was reading the stuff under the backpacking portable heading but it looked like the last post there was over a year ago. Was wondering what your experiences using portable backpacking setups since then have been like.

    • Hi Weston,

      I haven’t been operating in the field recently. But the weather is getting warmer and it is time to consider getting back out and running out of a backpack.

      I guess if I had any observations on the experience, it would be to minimize your backpack rig as much as possible, making it as light as you can, and easy to setup. If you are doing SOTA and can deal with CW, then there are many lightweight CW-only rigs. I have the Yaesu 817, and while it’s a great little box, it eats batteries and it’s a bit of a brick in your pack. I use a Buddistick vertical antenna, but even that is added weight … an end-fed would be easier to deal with, provided there is a tree you can launch up into.

      • Hey, I don’t know CW, but you just inspired me to learn. Wow, those ultraportable CW rigs are really impressive!

      • I started puttering around with CW about a year and a half ago but only learned about half the characters and didn’t really start learning them again until someone loaned me some paddles to practice with. About this time last year I attended the Charlotte Hamfest and sat in on a forum about Summits on the Air, because I have been interested in SOTA since I was licensed.

        I quickly learned that most of the SOTA guys there were almost exclusively code operators. I was particularly inspired by one gentleman who used a 5 watt “Mountain Topper” radio that was built into an Altoid tin. He even had a tiny set of paddles for it. His antenna was simply a length of thin wire, and he carried ear buds for listening and a tiny notebook for logging. (I should also mention this guy is an exceptional operator, he was the first ham to complete DXCC as a novice-class operator when he was 12 years old, all CW). Seeing a small, lightweight station in the palm of his hand made an impact… Suddenly, my Yaesu 817 looked very clunky and heavy!

        I went home that day and started learning the code seriously and I’ve nearly completed CW WAS. I still haven’t had a chance to operate from a summit though, mostly because here in SC, there are so few mountains, and those that we have are a 2.5 hour drive away.

        Perhaps this spring though, because I am itching to get out and do some hiking.

        Thanks for reading and 73!

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