My location in the park was exactly the same as the last time I was here. I once again used my KX3 (5 watts) and homebrew vertical mounted on the back of my truck. After a few minutes of setting up, I was ready to go.
The 40M band (CW) was really hopping. When I turned on the rig, I came across a POTA activator in Massachusetts and quickly had them in the log. When I started calling “CQ,” the calls came in non-stop for the next 45 minutes.
I had some excitement at one point. As I was working fellow QRPer, N4DJ in Virginia, I heard a loud bang, and the radio suddenly went quiet. I got out of the truck and noticed that the 20-foot pole holding my vertical wire had collapsed.
The pole in question is a 20-foot Black Widow pole from B’n’M that has served me well for over 25 years. When it collapsed, the impact broke and bent the little eyelet at the top of the pole. Using the little multi-tool that I always carry, I did a quick “MacGyver” repair. After untangling the antenna wire, I had the antenna back up in less than 10 minutes. By that time, N4DJ was long gone. I emailed him later to let him know he was in my log.
Back on 40M, the pile-ups resumed. Right before I changed bands, it surprised me to hear a call from KL7E in Alaska. I had a grin on my face as I logged our QSO. I don’t think I have ever worked Alaska from Pennsylvania on 40M, let alone with 5 watts in broad daylight.
The 20M band was also in good shape. I was pleased to work my QRP friend, Fred KA4RUR in St. Louis. He had a weak copy on me, but we got it done. Not long after that, I had back-to-back QSOs with CU3DI and CU3HY in the Azores. I finished with a handful of QSOs on 17M.
After an hour and a half, I had 55 contacts in my log. Sometime this week, I’ll take a closer look at my Black Widow pole to see if I can do a more permanent repair. After 25-plus years of use, I certainly got my money’s worth out of that pole.
73, Craig WB3GCK