Last night was my last stint as a Fox in the QRP Fox hunts for the 2013/2014 season. I served as the 80 Meter Fox last night, and I was chomping at the bit, all ready to have a fantastic night handing out pelts. I've been having very good success nabbing the 80 Meter Foxes this season as a Hound, so I was expecting reciprocity last night as Fox. When I turned the radio on at about 0045 UTC and heard a very low noise floor, I was happy. I was also a bit surprised as we're now officially in Spring and I was expecting it to be way noisier. I should have know something would be "off".
I started right on the mark and was off to a running start, but then about 0120 UTC, it seemed like the bottom of the band fell out. I went from a decent pileup to calling CQ over and over. Switching between the vertical and the wire seemed to not make much of a difference. I was surprised that the QSB was so deep and sharp. My buddy, Bob W3BBO joined the fray last night, and using him as an example - when he called me, the W3 was a good and honest 579 - the BBO was ESP!
And so it went for the last hour - calling CQ over and over with takers here and there. A very short mini pileup at about 0150 UTC for a few minutes and back to calling CQ. In all, I handed out 41 pelts. While I had a ton of fun, it was also a huge disappointment to me as I had set a personal goal of handing out 60. After the hunt, I took a look at my spots on RBN. I was heard by skimmers up and down the East coast and out as far as Illinois. My best DX for the night was working Dale WC7S in Wyoming and Tim KR0U in Colorado.
Afterwards, I was reading e-mails on the Q-FOX reflector, where most of the Hounds were reporting very high noise levels on 80 Meters last night. I guess that added to the misery for the night. My fellow Fox, Jim KG0PP handed out only two more pelts than I did, so it's obvious that he had to face the same obstacles in Colorado that I faced in New Jersey.
It's funny how perspective can change. Last month, when I was serving as 40 Meter Fox and band conditions were excellent, it seemed that 90 minutes for the hunt was nowhere long enough. Last night, with lousy band conditions, that same 90 minutes was interminable.
Ending the season as a Fox on a low note was not what I had in mind, but as the Brooklyn Dodger fans used to say - "Wait 'til next year!"
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!