We survived our first snowpocalypse of the season over the past few days. The final snow maps published pre-storm forecasted 5-8 inches for the area of Northern Middlesex County, where I live. We ended up with maybe a 1/4 inch to 1/2 an inch? Not even close.
I had to drive my daughter back to college on Sunday for her return to school post-Thanksgiving. That was a hairy ride! Interstate 80, which is the road I normally take, was closed westbound due to motor vehicle accidents from icy roads. Google Maps took me a different and quicker way. But the trip was icy and when we arrived at the school, my Jeep was one big ice cube. My VHF/UHF mobile antenna and the broadcast radio antenna looked like icicles. And in fact, icicles were hanging off my side view mirrors! Thanks be to God that I got her there safely and got back home safely.
Last night's 40 Meter QRP Foxhunt was another exercise in frustration. The Foxes were Dan N7CQR in Oregon, whom I did not expect to hear - and was not disappointed. The other Fox was Dave N1IX in New Hampshire, whom I did expect to hear and work. He was weak all evening - 339 or maybe 449 at best - but I thought he was definitely workable. Sadly, it didn't turn out that way. I tried calling all session and was not heard. I'm sure you've all experienced this ...... a station that you can hear pretty well calls CQ ...... you call back ...... only to get another CQ right in your face. Argh! Maybe this is the Elecraft curse? Having a receiver so sensitive that you can hear stations that can't hear you back? I tried calling on both antennas. I really thought I would have been heard with at least one of them. Oh, well.
On another note - to stop me from whining ....... George Heron N2APB and Dave Benson K1SWL (two of the smartest and kindest gentlemen that it has been my privilege to know) have teamed up to produce the Phaser.
This is a kit radio, priced under 50 US Dollars, designed specifically to take advantage of the digital modes. It will also do SSB and puts out about 4 Watts. The details can be found here: http://www.midnightdesignsolutions.com/phaser/. It's a monoband rig and you have your choice as to which band you want to choose. There is even an enclosure kit available for it.
This may not be my cup of tea, but if N2APB and K1SWL have teamed up to provide something, you can rest assured that it will perform well and will be well worth the cost. Thanks you, George and Dave for providing something that can still be built without having to resort to special equipment. That's becoming harder and harder these days with SMT becoming even more and more common,
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!