Flight of the Bumblebees 2012: Try Plan C
One of the year’s premier operating events for us low-power enthusiasts, Flight of the Bumblebees, is now in the log — a great afternoon in a second-choice location and a third-choice operating position, otherwise known as Plan C.
The four-hour operating event run by the Adventure Radio Society is one of the high points of many a QRP enthusiast’s summer. If you want to operate as a “bee,” you must leave the hive, otherwise known as comfy desk and chair at home, and under your own power to reach the operating site, although boats are permitted.
Step forward as a bee, and you get a number. The number means you’re worth some extra points to those who contact you. And the event is open to hams at home, as well as those willing to hit the road for an afternoon.
I originally had planned to operate from Joe’s Rock, in a neighboring town. The rocky promontory rises above a once-shimmering pond that has since given way to meadow and a puddle. The promontory is a popular rock-climbing spot for people in the area.
Apparently it’s also been a great place to get to know your spouse or significant other, er, more intimately as birds, bugs, and hikers flit by. Several years back, police increased their patrols there after visitors complained of coming across couples in the midst of “lewd and lascivious acts.”
Two weeks before FBB, as the event is known, I had scoped out a location at the top of the rock that looked like it would work well as an operating site.
But a quick check of the weather forecast Sunday morning, the day of the event, suggested something with some shelter would please my electronic apparatus a bit more. Trying to strike the station and hustle down a slick trail once rain started seemed like a non-starter. And I wanted to operate for the entire four hours, not “until downpour.”
So it was back to King Street Memorial Park in Franklin and one of its shelters.
Even that was a third choice for an operating position. After working the day before to set up a guying system for the Jackite pole I use as an antenna support, I arrived at the park with skies looking light enough to set up out in the open between two far-flung trees, each of which would support one end of an 88-foot doublet.
But the sky soon began to darken, suggesting that the shelter would still be the best spot to occupy.
I re-arranged the furniture a bit to set up my antenna (a wire vertical in this case, with a pair of radials).
Then I set out the gear and began to hunt for other bees.
Ah, but the wind changed direction and a light mist turned into a heavy, wind-driven drizzle. I had but one Gortex shell, so it went to the radio — weighed down on the widnward end by a water bottle and a hammer I’d brought to drive in the spike and tent pegs I elected not to use on asphalt.
As for the station operator, the windward side of his shirt got quite damp. Life was good to leeward.
Note to self: Next time, two slickers — the Gortex for me, the cheapie for the station!
The driving drizzle lasted for the first hour of operation, although the skies remained cloudy and sometimes threatening throughout the rest of the four-hour event. By take-down time, the sun came out — briefly, but long enough to get the gear stowed in my pack.
During the contest, 40 meters was OK for contacts with relatively local stations. But pickings were slim down there, so I slid up to 20 meters. That’s where most of the action was taking place. Overall, I bagged 49 contacts, 33 with other bumblebees. Contacts ranged from Germany to the east and Oregon and California to the west, to Texas and Mississippi to the south. And points in-between.
The high point, however, was finally making the on-air acquaintance with His Goatness, WG0AT. Steve and his two goats, Rooster and Peanut, regularly regale the rest of us with their QRPxpedition exploits into the mountains behind Steve’s home town outside of Colorado Springs. Steve leads the goats, who bear most of the cargo burden and inject their own wry observations about the journey as it progresses.
In all, FBB was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Next up, the New Jersey QRP Club’s Skeeter Hunt on Aug. 12. Hmmm. What’s with all the insects??
This entry was posted on 2012/07/30 at 19:55 and is filed under Contests, Flight of the Bumble Bees, General Operating, Portable operations, Skeeter Hunt with tags amateur radio, CW, Ham radio, ham radio outdoors, portable operating, QRP. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.