A few years ago, I started a tradition of going out on January 1st for some QRP portable operating. Since the ARRL National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) program kicked off today, I headed over to nearby Valley Forge National Historical Park to operate.
I set up in the parking lot for the Wayne’s Woods area of the park. I picked a secluded corner of the lot so I would be away from hikers and bikers using a nearby trail. I used my drive-on mast support to support my antenna. I used a 29.5-foot vertical wire supported by a 31-foot pole. I laid out two 29.5-foot radials. One was run around my truck and the other was laid out in a grassy area behind the truck. The antenna was coax-fed through a 4:1 unun.
I used my FT-817 at 5 watts, along with a Z-817 tuner. As mentioned in an earlier post, I used the YFKtest logging program on my little Linux netbook computer.
I started out on 20M and my first contact was with RA1M/MM who was also running QRP. After making a second contact on 20M things slowed down. I dropped down to 40M and started calling, “CQ NPOTA.” It took a while before I got a response. I was beginning to think I wasn’t going to make the requisite 10 contacts to validate my activation. Just then, Dave Benson, K1SWL, called from New Hampshire, followed by Jim W1PID. After Dave spotted me on QRPSPOTS, I had a mini pile-up on my hands. I’m normally a “search and pounce” kind of operator, so I wasn’t prepared to hear a bunch of stations calling me at the same time!
As it turns out, I wasn’t the only Valley Forge activator today. Fellow QRPer, Walt KB3SBC, was parked on Mount Joy about a mile or so away. Walt and I worked each other on 2 meters simplex. Walt was running SSB and had a good morning. He logged about 38 QSOs until he ran out of paper!
After two hours, I was starting to get hungry and a little chilly. I packed up and headed home. I ended my activation with 25 CW QSOs and the one FM contact with Walt.
My next activation will be the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area and Appalachian Trail in New Jersey in a few weeks. Walt, KB3SBC, will be there also. This is going to be a fun year!
72, Craig WB3GCK