As planned, I set up in the backyard. The Jackite pole held my PAR END FEDZ 40/20/10 aloft and the radio was of course, my KX3. With the ATU out of line, the PAR delivers a nice 1.2:1 SWR. Setup is a matter of routine, now. I started setting up with about 20 minute to go before the bell rang for the beginning of the Skeeter Hunt and I still had about 12 minutes to spare when all was said and done.
The terrestrial weather was cloudy to mostly cloudy with only a few peeks of sunshine here and there. It was hot, hovering between 88F and 91F depending on whether or not the sun was out. It was muggy, but not too uncomfortably so. I was glad I decided to set up in the back yard as I was afforded many opportunities to go inside for a refreshing glass of cold water.
Band conditions were not what I was hoping for. At the 17:00 start, I answered John Shannon K3WWP who was calling CQ on 20 Meters using the NAQCC Club call N3AQC. He was loud, and that made me do a double take. Basically - loud signals between Central New Jersey and Western Pennsylvania on 20 Meters? I expected to work N3AQC on 40 Meters - not 20 Meters. It was harbinger of things to come.
As it turned out, skip was relatively short for the day on 20 Meters. later on in the afternoon, TX and OK stations started rolling in, but for the most part 20 Meters remained what I would call "relatively local". I never heard the West coast and the only VEs that I worked were in Ontario and New Brunswick - nothing to the West.
40 Meters was just plain bad. I only worked two stations - N3AQC again, this time with Mike KC2EGL behind the key and AF1N in Vermont. I spent some time calling CQ on 40 Meters but had no luck.
I started the event calling "CQ QRP" but changed over to "CQ BZZ" after two stations on 20 Meters answered my "CQ QRP" call and initiated rag chew type QSOs. I consider it rude to snub someone who wants to have a conversation just because I am in a QRP Sprint, so I sacrificed some contact time (maybe, maybe not) as a result of those two QSOs.
From my QSO total, I probably didn't miss out on too much, anyway. I ended up with only 24 Skeeter QSOs, 2 non-Skeeter 5 Watt QSOs and the one ragchew was with a guy running 100 Watts. My personal goal was to make 30 contacts for the day and I came up three short.
I don't know why 40 Meters was so underpopulated with signals. Usually, it can be a money band for in-close stations, especially towards the end of the Sprint. In the past, it's been customary to see activity switch from 20 Meters to 40 Meters towards the last hour or so. Not yesterday.
Participation seemed to be high from what I could tell. My utmost thanks to everyone who participated! You guys are the best and you overwhelmingly support this Sprint year after year. The NJQRP Skeeter Hunt is what it is because of all of you! I remember a slogan from my youth - it was popular among those who were protesting the war in Vietnam.
"What if they held a war and nobody came?"
What if we held the Skeeter Hunt and nobody came? The point is you folks DO come and participate. Like I said before, many of you return year after year after year. My part in any of this is small potatoes. All of you out there are the wind beneath the Skeeter's wings!
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!