I heard the sad news this morning that Ron Polityka WB3AAL passed away on March 30th. Ron was an avid QRPer who was well-known throughout the QRP community. Ron was known for his portable operations, particularly from the Appalachian Trail.
Ron and I go back about 25 years or so. Back in the early 90s, I was contacted by Ron, who was starting up the Eastern Pennsylvania QRP Club. My first meeting with Ron was at a local hamfest and I became an active EPA-QRP member after that.
Over the years, I participated in many EPA-QRP Field Days with Ron. I also camped out with Ron a few times for various QRP field contests. I spent an interesting weekend with Ron aboard the Lightship Chesapeake (LV-116) in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 2003. We activated the Chesapeake for a Lighthouse/Lightship Week event.
Ron was one of the founding members of the Polar Bear QRP Club. I was fortunate enough to take part in one of the very early Polar Bear Moonlight Madness Events with Ron and others at Pulpit Rock on the Appalachian Trail.
In recent years, I only had occasional contact with Ron. So, I was stunned to learn of his passing at the young age of 58. Ron touched the lives of many in the QRP Community and his presence will be missed.
This was a busy weekend, radio-wise. First, the Polar Bear QRP Club held their monthly Moonlight Madness Event on Saturday. Also, the Facebook-based Field Radio group was holding their second International Field Radio Event (IFRE) this weekend. Finally, the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC) was holding their monthly Weekend Sprintathon (WES) contest. To take advantage of all of this, I went portable twice over the weekend.
It was a bit chilly here in southeastern Pennsylvania, so I operated “stationary-mobile” from a local park. I used my KX3 with a 29.5-foot vertical on the back of my truck. When I powered up the radio, I immediately heard fellow Polar Bear, Chuck AF4O, calling CQ from a park in Tennessee. I gave him a shout and had a nice chat. His HB-1A sounded great.
I tuned around listening for stations operating in the International Field Radio Event. Not hearing any, I called CQ on 20 meters and got a call from HA3NU. I think he was search and pouncing in a contest but he gave me a contact anyway. I shifted over to SSB (which I don’t do very often) and worked 4 stations that way on 20 and 40 meters.
Since the SKCC WES was also going on, I put the KX3 in straight key mode and laid my Palm mini paddles on their side and used one paddle as a straight key. I made two contacts that way, including F6HKA, (Bert always has good ears.)
I ended my session by working Joe N2CX who was doing an NPOTA activation (Fort Necessity National Battlefield in southwestern Pennsylvania).
I wound up with 10 contacts total including 1 Polar Bear, 2 SKCC WES, 1 NPOTA and no IFRE stations.
I took a bike ride on the Schuylkill River Trail, which connects to the Perkiomen Valley Trail. I stopped at Lower Perkiomen Valley Park to set up the radio. This is one of my favorite spots for QRP portable. I put a 29.5-foot wire up in a tree and set up my KX3 on a conveniently located bench.
The bands were definitely not as hot as yesterday. I tuned around the Field Radio calling frequencies but didn’t hear any IFRE activity. I called “CQ IFR” on both 40 and 20 meters but had no takers. The SKCC WES contest was still going on, so I made a few SKCC contacts. One of those was with F6EJN. It took a few tries to complete the QSO but Bob was able to pull me out of the noise. While tuning around 40 meters, I had an NPOTA contact with WK2S. Art was in the Pinelands National Reserve Affiliated Area (AA19) in New Jersey, which is a new one for me.
The weather was absolutely beautiful today but, as the sun began to set behind the trees, it started getting cold. So, I loaded up the bike and headed back down the trail.
This was my second IFRE with no contacts. Oh well, maybe next time.
I went out in search of some polar bears this afternoon. The Polar Bear Moonlight Madness Event (PBMME), sponsored by the Polar Bear QRP Ops group, is a very informal QRP field event. It occurs monthly from October through March on the Saturday closest to a full moon.
For this month’s event, I traveled to Towpath Park near Pottstown, PA on the banks of the Schuylkill River. This was my first time operating from this park, so I did a little exploring when I arrived. I set up my KX3 and AlexLoop on a picnic table underneath a little pavilion.
Polar Bears generally hang out near the traditional QRP calling frequencies so I started out on 14.060 MHz. I called CQ for a while with no takers. I was about to change bands when I got a call from OK1DVM. Miro had a very nice signal and gave me a 559. I moved down the band a bit and worked PF30EUDXF, a special event station in the Netherlands. At least I was making it into Europe.
I didn’t work any bears down on 40 meters but I did work a couple of stations in the New York QSO Party. Thirty meters seemed to be open but I had no takers there. Back on 20 meters, I worked a station in the Iowa QSO Party before calling it quits.
Sadly, I didn’t work any of my Polar Bear friends today but it was nice to be out on this beautiful Fall day. Hopefully, I’ll be able to give it another shot next month.