My better half and I took our little travel trailer down to one of my favorite campgrounds for the Father’s Day weekend. Although rest and relaxation was my main objective, I also worked in some QRP, too.
Our destination for the weekend was Elk Neck State Park in northeastern Maryland. After getting the trailer set up on Friday night, I strapped a Jackite pole to a lantern post and set up a 29.5-foot vertical. I did a quick test and found the area to be very quiet from both an audio (i.e., quiet neighbors) and an RF perspective.
On Saturday morning, I fired up the radio while the coffee was brewing and made a few SKCC contacts. I also had a nice CW chat with Butch NM1I in Massachusetts.
After lunch, I decided to do an impromptu Parks on the Air activation. Despite having poor cell service, I managed to post my plans on POTA and WWFF-KFF Facebook pages.
Things got off to a slow start on 40M until Emily KB3VVE found me and spotted me. After that, things began to pick up a bit. Most of my contacts were on 20M but sadly, I didn’t from any of the European regulars. Before wrapping up, I dropped down to 30M and picked up a couple more.
After about an hour, I had 13 contacts in the log, including WB9OWN in Wisconsin who worked me on both 20M and 30M. I made another 7 contacts over the course of the weekend. That’s more than enough for a valid POTA activation but I’m still about 6 contacts shy of the 44 needed for a WWFF activation. We’re planning to visit Elk Neck again in the Fall, so I should be able to make the remaining WWFF QSOs I need.
It was nice to finally have a camping trip this year with decent weather and no rain. I more than satisfied my rest and relaxation objective for the weekend.
The loosely organized group of QRPers known as the Boschveldt QRP Club made their annual pilgrimage to the Mohican Outdoor Center (MOC) for a weekend of radios and tall stories. Each year we rent a cabin and use that as a home base for hiking and QRP-portable operating. This year’s participants included Ed WA3WSJ, Ed K3YTR, Ron WA8IYH, John NU3E, Glen NK1N, Walt KB3SBC, Bill KA3RMM and me.
We all arrived Friday afternoon and it wasn’t long before a couple of stations were set up in the cabin. Friday evening’s activities included lots of socializing and a great dinner prepared by Ed K3YTR. KB3SBC set up a small projector and we looked at some pictures from the many WA3WSJ/KB3SBC NPOTA activations. We also saw a preview of WA3WSJ’s upcoming NPOTA presentation at the Four Days in May (FDIM) gathering.
The Club also had some door prizes, courtesy of Ed WA3WSJ. WA8IYH won a neat little QRPver 20M QRP rig. Other prizes included a QRPver antenna tuner, a set of Palm Mini paddles and a few other goodies. I was surprised when Ed presented me with a uBITX rig for making the most QSOs at past Field Days. (I later traded it to NU3E for the Palm Mini paddles.)
During the evening, we lost power to the cabin, including heat and running water. The Team channeled their inner MacGyver and collected rainwater for flushing toilets, firewood for the fireplace and battery-operated lights. Despite the sub-freezing temperatures outside, the cabin stayed remarkably warm through the night.
On Saturday morning, KB3SBC and KA3RMM made a much-needed coffee and donut run. A few folks stayed behind at the cabin, while the rest of us drove up to High Point State Park. At 1803 feet above sea level, this is the highest point in the state of New Jersey. Since the rain from the night before was now ice, we opted to forego hiking on this trip.
The road up to the High Point Monument was closed and it was too cold and windy for hiking, so we stayed in the parking lots and operated from our vehicles. WA3WSJ did a Parks on the Air (POTA) activation. NK1N set up his portable satellite equipment to work the “birds.” I put my 19-foot vertical on my truck and operated in the SKCC Weekend Sprintathon (WES) contest. By this time, the temperature was in the teens with a wind chill in the single digits. Needless to say, putting up antennas was a real challenge. Despite the challenges, everyone had a successful day. After a few hours of operating, we packed up and made the hour-long drive back to the cabin.
On Saturday evening, power was restored to the camp and we all headed into town for a great dinner. The evening concluded with more tall stories and some more radio operating.
On Sunday morning, we had a huge breakfast before packing up and heading out. John NU3E made his famous Belgian waffles, while Ron WA8YIH made some incredible omelets. Needless to say, our little group includes some amazing culinary talent.
After packing up and saying our goodbyes, we closed the book on another fun Camp Run-a-MOC weekend. We’re all looking forward to coming back again next year.
During my last visit a couple of months ago, my results were less than stellar. This weekend, the bands seemed to be in better shape. My results this time were much improved.
On the WES front, I worked a lot of the SKCC regulars and added a few new ones to my log. In particular, 80 meters was very active Saturday night and Monday morning. Tony K6ELQ in California managed to hear my QRP signals on two bands. One of those bands was 40 meters, so he really must have good ears. It was also good to work Bert F6HKA again. Bert also has great ears.
My POTA activation got off to a slow start. I had poor cell phone coverage from the campsite, so self-spotting on Facebook and the DX cluster was difficult. I attempted to post a spot on Facebook but I’m not sure if it actually got through the first time or not. I spent about 30 or 40 minutes calling CQ on 40 and 20 meters with no takers. I knew that Joe N2CX was activating a park up the Susquehanna River from me so I set up on a frequency just below Joe’s usual 40M hangout. My hope was that folks looking for Joe would also stumble across me. It worked! I started getting some calls from POTA regulars who spotted me on the DX clusters.
When I wrapped up for the weekend, my log included France (3 QSOs), Croatia (2 QSOs), Netherlands, Belgium and park-to-park QSOs with N2CX and F4GYG. Coupled with my earlier visit, I amassed enough QSOs to exceed the 44 QSOs needed for a Worldwide Flora and Fauna (WWFF) activation.
After spending a relaxing weekend in the woods playing radio, I’m pleased to report that I’m feeling much better now.
My XYL and I took our “QRP” travel trailer down to Maryland over the weekend. We stayed in one of our favorite campgrounds, Elk Neck State Park. I did a brief Parks on the Air activation on Saturday.
Elk Neck State Park is located on a peninsula bounded by the Chesapeake Bay to the west and the Elk River to the East. Besides camping, there are numerous hiking trails, a beach on the Chesapeake side for swimming and access for boating. The park is home to the scenic Turkey Point Lighthouse, which overlooks the Chesapeake Bay.
Our campsite was located on the Elk River side near Stony Point. For this trip, we chose a campsite without electrical hookups. Since the trailer was powered only by battery, I didn’t have any noise to contend with. This made for some nice, quiet conditions on the bands.
I operated on Saturday afternoon for about an hour. I made a few contacts on 40M but interference from an RTTY contest made it tough. When I moved up to 20M, things perked up a bit. To the west, I worked British Columbia and California. To the east, several of the European regulars showed up. I worked stations in Sweden, Poland, Germany, and Croatia.
Later in the evening, I got on 80M for about 20 minutes. I worked a few relatively local stations plus two in Michigan. It was starting to get dark so I shut down for the night and got a campfire started.
I ended the weekend with 19 stations in my log. Not too bad, considering the short amount of time I invested.
The XYL and I made the 2+ hour trip to spend the weekend at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, one of our favorite campgrounds. It’s a beautiful park and is the halfway point on the 2000 mile Appalachian Trail. It had been 2 years since our last visit here, so we were definitely overdue.
Located in south-central Pennsylvania, Pine Grove Furnace is one of Pennsylvania’s gems. The park features the remains of the Pine Grove Iron Works, along with two mountain lakes, hiking trails (in addition to the Appalachian Trail) and a beautifully wooded campground. If you stop by the camp store, you might see Applachian Trail “thru hikers” celebrate reaching the halfway point by taking the “Half-Gallon Challenge”. The challenge is to eat a half-gallon of ice cream in one sitting. Pine Grove is also home to the fascinating Appalachian Trail museum.
We had almost no cell phone service at our campsite, so I was concerned about not being able to spot myself for the POTA activation. Fortunately, while we were out getting a few supplies, I managed to post my operating plans on the POTA Facebook group.
When I got back to our campsite, I called CQ for about 30 minutes on 40, 30 and 20 meters with no success. Eventually, KG8P found me on 40 meters and gave me a call from Michigan. After he spotted me on the DX reflector things picked up for a bit. I wrapped up my one-hour session falling a few short of the ten contacts needed to qualify my activation. The good news, however, is that the SKCC contacts I made pushed me well over the top.
It was a nice weekend with some great Fall weather. We won’t wait so long for our next trip to this great park.
I took some time on Labor Day to do a quick Parks-on-the-Air (POTA) activation from Norristown Farm Park. This nearby park has only been activated one other time. In fact, KFF-4363 was activated for the first time yesterday by K0BAK.
Earlier this year, our local ARES-RACES group provided the communications for a March of Dimes event at this park. In preparation, I spent some time running communications tests around the park. Being familiar with this park and its terrain, I set up today in a parking lot across from the park office. This spot is the highest elevation in the park that you can get to by car.
I operated from my truck today, using my trusty KX3 and a 29.5-foot vertical. I started out on 20M and things were a bit slow at first. After people noticed my spots, I worked enough to qualify my activation including a couple of the European regulars. I dropped down to 40M and picked up several more stations but came up empty on 30M. I went back to 20M and picked up two more to finish out the day. I was hoping to work some West Coast stations but Kansas was as far west as I got today.
At one point, a couple of curious Park Rangers rolled up to see what I was up to. They were familiar with ham radio since the park hosts several public service events each year. After chatting for a few minutes, they wished me luck and moved on.
I wasn’t out very long but I had a great time today. I hope all of my U.S. friends also had a happy and safe Labor Day.
My XYL and I took our little camper up to nearby French Creek State Park (PA) for the weekend. In between entertaining our visiting grand-kids and grilling hotdogs, I managed to get in a brief Parks on the Air (POTA) activation (KFF-1355).
We usually camp at French Creek several times each year. It’s a great campground and just a short drive from home. It’s an easy weekend getaway for us. This weekend, our two daughters and our three grand-kids came up on Saturday to visit our campsite for the day.
At one point, everyone headed down to the playground with the kids. I stayed behind and got on the radio for about 20 minutes or so. I spotted myself on the Facebook POTA group and on the DX cluster. Twenty meters must have been in pretty good shape because I was soon met with a mini pileup of European stations. I wasn’t expecting that.
After I worked my way through the calling stations, I had worked Sweden, Belgium (2 stations), Croatia (2 stations), Italy and Spain. There were also two Texas stations and one from Oregon. My trusty 29.5-foot vertical wire had really gone the distance for me.
I got on again later in the evening and picked up a few more POTA hunters before re-joining my better half at the campfire. I worked a few more the next morning (including EA1DR in Spain for the second time) before packing up and heading for home. There were a lot of familiar callsigns in the log.
I didn’t have a lot of time for radio this trip but the dedicated POTA “regulars” came out to play and made it a lot of fun.