Polar Bear Moonlight Madness – November 2019

Although the Polar Bear QRP Club has been around for 13 years, the club hasn’t been very active in recent years. The club’s recent move from Yahoo Groups to groups.io prompted renewed interest among the members.

Mike VE3WMB/VA2NB organized one of the club’s Polar Bear Moonlight Madness Events (PBMME). The PBMME is an informal event where we get on the air—typically outdoors—on a Saturday closest to a full moon.

For today’s PBMME, I drove out to Upper Schuylkill Valley Park near Royersford, PA, one of my favorite portable locations. I was tempted to set up at a picnic table but, with the 39°F temperature (and a windchill of 29°F), I opted to operate from my truck. I went with my usual set up: my homebrew 19-foot vertical mounted on the truck and my KX3 up in the cab.

My operating location in Upper Schuylkill Valley Park for the November 2019 Polar Bear Moonlight Madness Event (PBMME).
My operating location in Upper Schuylkill Valley Park for the November 2019 Polar Bear Moonlight Madness Event (PBMME).

I started on 40M and almost immediately got a call from VA2NB. Mike was operating from his cottage in Quebec. This was the first Polar Bear QSO for each of us in a long time. Unfortunately, Mike would be the only Polar Bear in my log today.

After working Mike, I went on to make another half-dozen QSOs, including a couple of two-way QRP contacts and some nice rag chews. I also picked up a new SKCC number from NC7H Idaho. There were a few other Polar Bears on the air but, sadly, I never heard them.

The Schuylkill River at Upper Schuylkill Valley Park
The Schuylkill River at Upper Schuylkill Valley Park

I was only out for 2 hours but it was a fun time. Thanks to VA2NB for preventing me from getting skunked today. I’m hoping that activity in the Polar Bear QRP Club will continue to grow.

72, Craig WB3GCK

Heads Up: Boschveldt QRP Club on the Air

Boschveldt QRP Club patchThis weekend (January 18-20, 2019), the Boschveldt QRP Club will be holding our annual Winter get together. We’ll be converging on a cabin at the Mohican Outdoor Center in northern New Jersey for a weekend of QRP fun.

This year, our group will be resurrecting the Polar Bear Moonlight Madness Event (PBMME). We’ll be using our club’s callsign, W3BQC. Some operators will be in the cabin and others will be out portable and pedestrian-mobile. Operations will be CW/SSB/Digital on various bands, 80M through 70cm. Times, modes, and frequencies are at the discretion of the individual operators. Your best bet is to watch for W3BQC on the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) or QRPSPOTS.com.

The Mohican Outdoor Center in northern New Jersey is a popular stop along the Appalachian Trail.
The Mohican Outdoor Center in northern New Jersey is a popular stop along the Appalachian Trail.

Everyone who works W3BQC over the weekend will receive a PBMME certificate. See the Boschveldt QRP Club website for full details.

If you hear us, give us a call!

72, Craig WB3GCK

Ron Polityka WB3AAL (SK)

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.

Ron WB3AAL operating CW at the EPA-QRP Field Day in 2006
Ron WB3AAL operating CW at the EPA-QRP Field Day in 2006

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.

WB3AAL aboard the Lightship Chesapeake (LV-116) in 2003
WB3AAL aboard the Lightship Chesapeake (LV-116) in 2003

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.

RIP and 72, Ron.

de WB3GCK

Busy Radio Weekend

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.

Saturday:
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.

My “stationary-mobile” location in Upper Schuylkill Valley Park.
My “stationary-mobile” location in Upper Schuylkill Valley Park.

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.

Sunday
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.

My bike was again used to tie off my antenna.
My bike was again used to tie off my antenna.

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.

Operating from a bench in Lower Perkiomen Valley Park
Operating from a bench in Lower Perkiomen Valley Park

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.

72, Craig WB3GCK

Polar Bear Moonlight Madness – October 2016

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.

My pavilion at Towpath Park.
My pavilion at Towpath Park.

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.

My operating position. The AlexLoop is attached to the picnic table.
My operating position. The AlexLoop is attached to the picnic table.

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.

72, Craig WB3GCK
Polar Bear #7

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