Last night was the third installment of the QRP-L 40 Meter Foxhunt. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of a QRP Foxhunt, this is how it works.
We get these tiny, small clubs ........ No, No, NO !!!! No wild animals are bothered, injured or harassed. The way it goes is that two volunteer "Foxxi" get on an unnanounced frequency somewhere between 7.030 and 7.050 MHz. For the next 90 minutes, they call "CQ Fox" and then it's up for the rest of us "Hounds" to find the Fox; and have a successful exchange of RST, State, first name and output power. When the exchange has been successfully made, then and only then, can you consider yourself to have "bagged a pelt". If any of you out there have animal sensitivities and are bothered by the jargon; then I can only tell you to "Get a life". It's all in fun and there is no harm done to anything except for maybe knocking off a few charged particles up in the ionosphere.
At any rate, the current Foxunt season began three weeks ago and will continue to run every Thursday night until sometime in March 2006. Last night the Foxii were Doc KØEVZ and John W1RT, who are two very, very good QRPers. I didn't expect to hear John at all last night. He lives in Viriginia, which is too close for good communications on 40 Meters at that time of night at this time of year. I was not disappointed. I heard the pack of houds baying at him; but as expected, I heard nary a peep out of W1RT. I was disappointed, however, with Doc's signal. Doc lives in New Mexico and normally at this time of year, propagation to Texas and Louisiana and a lot of the great SouthWest is an easy hop for me.
I don't know if the ions decided to take the night off for Veteran's Day, or what. I heard absolutuely nothing of Doc or the pack of Hounds chasing him. Disappointed, I took a quick run down to 80 Meters and had a quick QSO with W9TO to at least fulfill my "QSO a Day" obligation.
With a half hour to go, I popped on back to 40 Meters and lo and behold, I was able to hear the faint whispers of Doc on the air. QSB was fast and deep, with Doc rising out of the ashes to be a solid 559; only to go to ESP levels within seconds. What made a bad situation worse was that I could hear Doc handing out exchanges to stations; but I couldn't hear any of those guys he was working! It was impossible for me to tell if Doc was working simplex (on his own frequency) or split (listiening on one frequency and transmitting on another). So I decided I was going to work split; but carefully. I started out almost simplex and then with each try I would move my transmit frequency just a touch higher and higher.
It didn't look good; but finally, with about 5 or 6 minutes left in the Hunt, Doc came back to "??LJ". I sent my call and heard it comeback, along with Doc's info. I sent mine only to hear "QRN agn pse". So I sent my information again, this time just about a WPM slower and sent each bit twice in an attempt to overcome the cruddy band conditions. I was awarded with a "Tnx Larry 72 de KØEVZ".
There's nothing like a fresh pelt hanging in the larder!
73 de Larry W2LJ
By the way, to all of you out there who have served; or are serving in the Armed Forces - "Happy Veteran's Day" !!!!! I thank you for your service to our country. These feelings of gratitude come from the heart and are not just "words" for me. I would like to especially thank a man from New Jersey who served as a Sergeant in the Signal Corps. during WWII in England, France and Germany. He was known as Master Sergeant Alexander Makoski. He is my Dad, who passed away in February 2001. I used to really enjoy his recounting of his experiences in Europe during the war.