I almost talked myself out of going out today. My grandkids got together and gave me one heck of a cold for Christmas. Thanks a lot, kids. 🙂 Despite being a little under the weather, I packed up and headed out. I’m glad I did.
I drove to nearby Black Rock Sanctuary to test the equipment I plan to use for a National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) activation on New Year’s Day. My antenna today was a 29.5-foot vertical wire with two similar wires on the ground for a counterpoise. I ran one of the wires around the tires of my truck. I ran the other wire into a grassy area directly behind the truck. I figured I was in an area that wouldn’t see any pedestrians. (More on that faulty assumption later.) My rig was my old Yaesu FT-817 and Z-817 tuner.
I had last used the FT-817 on 14.060. So, when I powered up the radio, I immediately heard my QRP buddy, Ed WA3WSJ, and gave him a call. Ed was operating pedestrian mobile on Monocacy Hill about 20 miles away from me. He had a great signal. Right after I signed with WA3WSJ, Ed W1GUE gave me a call from New Hampshire.
On 15 meters, I called CQ on 21.060 and got a quick response from WA8IWK/8. Allen was portable in Michigan. While I was working Allen, a woman walked her dog directly behind my truck. I noticed her child looking down at the ground. After they left, I went back to check. They apparently had gotten caught up in my counterpoise wire. I re-routed the wire around the truck. Fortunately, I didn’t notice any difference in the antenna tuning.
I moved down to 17 meters and heard Jim W1PID working HK1MW. Jim was hiking in New Hampshire with W3ATB. I moved down a little bit and called CQ. I was hoping that I would catch Jim’s attention. It worked! Conditions were great on 17 meters and Jim said I was very strong into New Hampshire.
On 30 meters, I got a call from a familiar callsign. Wink WA8KOQ from Tennessee is a regular on 30 meters. I’ve worked Wink many times over the years and it was good to hear him again.
I went back to 20 meters to see if I could find Tim W3ATB. No luck today.
Finally, I went back to 17 meters and had a quick QSO with John, YV5IUA in Venezuela.
I’m glad I went out today. The bands were in good shape and my antenna seems to be working great. I should be ready for my NPOTA activation next week.
72, Craig WB3GCK