W4IM's Corner May 2000



    Operating in the field is great fun, that is if the elements and critters cooperate.  This years QRPTTF contest fell on the same weekend as the Men’s Retreat for my church.  I really enjoy both of these activities so it looked I was going to have a tough decision.  But as luck would have it, the schedule for the retreat had most of Saturday afternoon as ‘free time’.  I usually like to play ball or hike or go fishing during the ‘free time’ but playing QRP would be the activity of choice this year.

    The retreat location was great, nestled in the mountains of eastern West Virginia, complete with basketball court, shooting range, lodge, and a POND!   Upon arrival Friday afternoon, I surveyed the pond for antenna hanging locations and there were plenty!  This was great.  Nothing more to do until after lunch Saturday so I retreated. 

    Immediately after lunch on Saturday I drive my truck down to the pond and begin setting up. QRPttf pic # 1  I use my 40 meter ‘L’ antenna last used in QRPTTF 1999.  It again proves to work well as I hear W4VQS back in Stafford calling CQ.  Of course, I kind of expected him to be on the air and he was my first contact.  Ain’t ham radio/QRP great!!  My 3 watts from my OHR Explorer were getting out!!  But as in most things there is a catch, or in this case, lack of signals.  There was very little activity on forty.  Where are all the QRP’ers??  I work a fellow in NJ and one in NC but they are weak and not much else is happening.  I knew the pond was in a valley and the hills of West Virginia would work against me some but I was hoping for a little more than what I heard.  Well ,time to put up the 20 dipole.

    So, down comes the ‘L’ and up goes the Gusher.   Hook up the NC 20 and WOW!!  QRPTTF signals all over the place.  This is more like it.  But, just as I start to get cranking on 20m, I notice something moving out of the corner of my eye.   It is a bee, a BIG bee.  He is kind of plump like a bumble bee but BIGGER and browner.   And, he has taken a liking to me.  I try to shoo him away, but he just adjusts a few degrees.   He looks me all over, going 360 degrees.   Now I’m getting worried that maybe I camped my stuff right over his nest or something.  I move around some, sending CQ standing up, ready for flight.  He keeps up his vigil.  I work an Ill. station standing up and he is still there.  So, I take a break and head over to the guys fishing in the pond.   I figure I’ll give the bee a chance to find other entertainment.  The fish are biting, wish I had brought my pole.

    After 10 minutes or so, I head back and start working more stations.  The big guns have no reason to worry about me, but I make enough QSO’s to make it fun.  Even have time to chat with the owner of the retreat center, who came down to see what I was doing.  So, another great QRPTTF is in the log.  A great time was had by all, even the bee.  He lived to tell his fellow bees of his encounter, while Doug’s (W4IDW) brush with the wildlife was not as mutually edifying as mine.  Check out his tale of man vs. serpent, QRPTTF style, on the W4VQS home page.  Meanwhile, the thoughts of Field Day dance in my head!!  Look for BIG signals from W4VQS this year.

QRPttf 2000 Pic # 2
QRPttf 2000 Pic # 3

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