Field Day 1998
Station K0IW
Our Late-Night Contact With Poland
Doug operating late Saturday night

Here's a transcript of our Polish contact (our messages are in blue, and his are in red). It was 0450 UTC (10:50pm Saturday night), and I was operating CW (morse code), spinning the tuning dial looking for signals. It was cold, and I think we were all wondering how we were going to make it through the night.

I heard a station was calling "CQ DX", which is an abbreviation for "Hello, are there any stations in a foreign country that would like to communicate with me?":

CQ DX CQ DX CQ DX DE SP8BAB SP8BAB SP8BAB K

Since we could identify his callsign (SP8) as being in Poland, we thought what the heck, let's respond. I sent:

SP8BAB DE K0IW K

He came back with:

K0IW? K0IW? de SP8BAB

He wasn't sure who was calling him, so I repeated our callsign several times:

SP8BAB SP8BAB DE K0IW K0IW K0IW K

Well, it turned out his name was Joe, and he was in the mood to chat. The following are fragments of our conversation:

UR 569 WITH QRM 569 QRM 569 QRM IN QTH LUBLIN LUBLIN NAME JOE SO HW?

He said my signal was readable but not very strong, and he was having trouble with some interference. His location was Lublin, and his name was Joe. I responded with a very brief message saying that we were in the Field Day contest, and I sent him our official Field Day message ("1A CO"). But he wanted to know my name:

K0IW de SP8BAB FB PSE GIVE UR NAME NAME

So I told him my name, Doug.

TNX 579 FROM CO NEW RST 579 WX HR OVRCAST TEMP 17C PSE QSL

He said thanks, and by the way my signal was a bit stronger. He went on to tell me that the weather there was overcast and 17C, and would I please send him a special ham radio postcard confirming the details of our contact. I responded by telling him the temperature where we were (I estimated it was about 20F, which was colder than it actually was), our location (CO) and our altitude (4000m, my oxygen-starved brain once again struggling to make educated guesses and do metric conversions all at the same time); I was trying to give him a feel for our location and operating conditions. And I told him that we would be happy to exchange QSL cards with him.

Operators-eye view: radio display on the left, headlamp illuminating the logbook on the right GN TNX FER QSO es HP CUAGN

He signed off with, "Good Night, thanks for the chat and I hope to talk to you again".

And I sank back into the darkness of the peaks around me, cold yet somehow comforted by the luminous glow of the radio and the crispy friendly squawk of the morse code signals in the headset.

Doug Young, K0DUG