My QTTF 2018 Tale of Woe

Boy, if I thought last year’s QRP to the Field (QTTF) contest was rough, this year was even worse. Solar wackiness and high local noise levels teamed up and made for a miserable day.

My (far) better half and I spent our first camping trip of the year at nearby French Creek State Park here in southeastern Pennsylvania. We were in a campsite that we have used many times over the years. Radio-wise, I used my 29.5-foot vertical and 9:1 unun. Since we were having an unusually chilly and windy April day, I wimped out and operated from inside our little travel trailer.

My mobile QRP shack at French Creek State Park. My antenna is in the background near the trees.
My mobile QRP shack at French Creek State Park. My antenna is in the background near the trees.

In between some beginning-of-the-season maintenance tasks on the trailer, I planned to get on the radio for some QTTF fun. Sadly, there wasn’t much fun to be had. Reportedly, there was a G2-level geomagnetic storm on Friday with effects that appeared to last through the weekend. I haven’t seen the bands that bad in a while. To make matters worse, our little trailer had some larger RVs for neighbors this weekend and all of their electrical doo-dads were causing some horrendous noise levels on the bands. The 40M band was the worst with near-constant S9 noise levels.

My vertical antenna out behind the trailer
My vertical antenna out behind the trailer

My high noise levels and weak signals on the bands made for a frustrating day. My contacts were few and far between. A few times, I just had to walk away from the rig and do something else. At the end of the day, I had worked only 2 other QTTF stations and 2 International Marconi Day (IMD) special event stations.

My apologies to those who tried to work me and to those who suffered through my requests for repeats.  I hope things go better next year.

72, Craig WB3GCK

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