Sunday, July 26, 2015

FOBB after action report

The weather held off! For the duration of the Flight of the Bumblebees, I was not bothered by rain, lighting, or thunder. In fact, one really couldn't ask for better weather! Throughout it was warm, in the upper 80s (32C), but where I was located there was a light breeze, and I was in a shady spot.

I went up to Washington Rock State Park, a favorite QRP operating haunt of mine. The trees are tall, there are plenty of picnic tables and not too many people to classify as "crowded". I arrived at about 12:20 PM EDT and promptly launched the antenna line. Once again, the Joplin MO ARC pneumatic launcher did not dissapoint. I easily shot a line over a tree at what I would estimate to be was the 60-65 foot level.

You can see the gray jacket of the coax running up to the PAR END FEDZ which was the antenna of choice for the day. I didn't put up the NorCal, but I think I will for the Skeeter Hunt.

As with any of these QRP Sprints, the activity level was low from the beginning. Before it got busy, I was joined by good friend and fellow SPARC member Dave Hackett KD2FSI who brought me a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee and a cinnamon roll.  After finishing off his coffee, Dave asked if I would mind if he set up his portable station. I was estatic to have the company!

Dave set up his gear for for 6 Meters and also tried for some JT65 contacts while I played Bumblebee. It was great to have the company, as four hours can be a long time when you're alone. Dave and I are hoping to make a trip to High Point before Summer ends for a SOTA activation.

Of the 35 QSOs that I ended up making, all but seven were on 20 Meters. I don't know if there was a severe lack of activity on 40 Meters; or if I just couldn't hear what activity may have been there. I had almost an S7 background noise level on 40 Meters, which astounded me. I was in the middle of a state park on battery power and the RF hash was worse than at my house in my suburban neighborhood!

When I took this photo of my KX3, there was no signal present on frequency, at least none that I could hear!

20 Meters, was the "money band" but was full of QSB. At times, various stations, such as NK9G, K4BAI, AB9CA, KX0R and NM4T would qualify as "the loudest station on the band" only to totally disappear from ear shot within a very few short minutes, only to come back strong again at a later time.

Despite that, it was a good time.  And as Dave KD2FSI said, "If it was easy, it wouldn't be fun." and he hit the nail on the head with that one. My disappointments were not making 40 QSOs, a personal goal I had set, and not being able to work Kelly K4UPG, fellow QRP Polar Bear. I heard him several times on 20 Meters, but couldn't make myself heard. Maybe next time I'll try a flare gun.

We're now 2/3rds of the way through the Summer Trifecta. SYBO and FOBB are in the books. On to the Skeeter Hunt!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

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