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Hoot Owl Sprint - II

QRP With K3WWP - Column # 70 - This issue features part 2 of my portable operation on Memorial Day Weekend in the Hoot Owl Sprint.

First a brief note. Apparently there has been some kind of email problem between me and Nancy. That plus a couple of special Keynotes is why there hasn't been any QRP column in the last three issues, and why there are hopefully two columns in this issue to get caught up. Now to part 2 of the Hoot Owl Sprint story.

Tom started on 80M, and I on 40M. I was still having the same problem with the power output, and wasn't sure what was going on. I kept calling stations without success. Finally after a half-hour, I started making QSO's. I worked a couple S&P, then called CQ. My meter started getting even flakier now, and after working Jim, W1PID who told me I was chirping and jumping in frequency, I knew for sure something wasn't right.

I had assumed that the car battery I was using was providing the proper voltage to the rig since the power meter on the QRP+ was showing 5 watts output. However I was really putting out only a watt or so of a very chirpy unstable signal. No wonder I wasn't being heard at all or only weakly. At an hour and a half into the test, I had only 7 QSO's despite hearing a multitude of stations.

Tom had two gel cells, and told me to try the spare one on the QRP+. I did and immediately the results were better. Now my tuner was showing the full 5 watts output. I got the SWR down to 1.3:1 or so, and soon was working stations with ease. The next 16 minutes brought as many QSO's as I had in the first 82 minutes.

Apparently Tom's car battery that I was using was not putting out its full voltage despite seemingly being fully charged. The next time I use a battery, I definitely will make sure of its voltage. Also I will believe my tuner meter rather than the one on the rig.

All in all it was a learning experience, and a fun one as well. I wound up with 40 QSO's in 19 states plus Ontario. The most distant QSO was with Randy, K7TQ in Idaho. I stayed on 40M all the time, and Tom stayed on 80M so we both will be single band entrants. I believe Tom wound up with 17 QSO's on 80M. He is going to write his own story and post it on the NAQCC web site, so I won't say more about his efforts here. However I will say thanks Tom for getting me into doing some real portable work. I truly enjoyed it. I wound up with a First Place Pennsylvania certificate (including all-band entrants) for my efforts so it was also a rewarding experience.

JoAnne came and picked us up just after Midnight. After we extinguished the lantern, we finished tearing down by flashlight. I kidded Tom that we should have something like miner's caps to help us. Holding a flashlight with one hand and working with the other when you really needed two hands to work wasn't easy. We did finish though and packed the stuff into the car and headed home. It was interesting getting the tent into the car. I'm always amazed how small something like that is when it's in its original package, and how big it becomes once it has been opened. It's almost impossible to ever get it back to that original small packaged size.

A couple days after the sprint I learned something from Larry, W2LJ that I have always suspected. Larry said my signals in the Sprint were the strongest he's ever heard from me. So I do lose something by living down here in the valley. The Sprint was operated from the top of one of the hills that surround Kittanning.

If you, as it was with me, have never operated truly portable, I'd suggest giving it a try. I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

I'm doing some minor redesign work on my web site at http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/ including some updated pictures of my station and my antennas. A lot of you have asked about my random wire, so I now have much more detailed pictures to describe it more clearly. Hopefully by the time you are reading this, those pictures will be on-line.

There are a couple of anniversaries to mention here. My web site became 9 years old on September 8 and is now beginning its 10th year of promoting the use of Morse Code on the ham bands.

The North American QRP CW Club will be one year old on October 15. Tom - KB3LFC, Larry - W2LJ, and I are proud that we reached the 1,000 member level on September 11 at the Butler, PA hamfest when Mike - KD0AR joined up. I suspect that 1,000 members in just 11 months is one of the fastest starts any club has ever gotten off to, and it shows that CW is still a very popular mode on the ham bands, and can be very efficient even with a minimal QRP setup. The NAQCC web site is at http://naqcc.info/. Come visit and join up if you haven't already. Lifetime membership is now, and always will be completely FREE. Till next column, great keying to you. 73 -30-