1st annual Skeeter Hunt: a new feather in the NJQRP club’s cap
From one QRPer’s perspective (moi), it’s the best thing to come out of New Jersey since Bruce Springsteen.
The four-hour, take-your-gear-into-the-field event comes none too soon — a sure cure for Flight of the Bumblebee withdrawal symptoms.
Admit it. You know those symptoms: hanging a pine-scented, pine-tree-shaped car air freshener in front of a whirring fan; playing various sounds — a gurgling stream, yipping coyotes, or the call of the loon — on your docked iPod or through PC speakers as you sit at your radio making contacts.
So this year, along comes NJQRP with the “Skeeter Hunt,” and an active event at that.
Larry and crew issued numbers to 123 “skeeters” to operate portable, with a clever scoring system that encouraged the homebrewer (as in hardware, not beer — sorry) or kit-builder to use those sweat-equity radios, and even homebrew keys and paddles.
Looking at the FBB sign-up, the Adventure Amateur Radio Society attracted 149 Bumblebees. (Yours truly was number 34.) With 123 skeeters for an inaugural event, I’d say the NJQRP club’s event has gotten off to a fine start.
I offer this up not as a “who’s on first” comparison, but rather as an indication of the level of interest these events generate within the QRP subculture. I haven’t set the rosters side by side to compare them call sign by call sign. But from what I heard on the air and saw on the skeeter roster, many of the hams snagging skeeter numbers also were bumblebees back in July.
So well done, Joisey QRPers!
Location: Bumblebee redux
For this event, I returned to my foul-weather site, King Street Memorial Park in Franklin, the site of my Flight of the Bumblebees foray. Once again, the weather wizards who peep and mutter put the odds of rain at about 60 percent. To ensure I could operate the full four hours (minus any down time for a passing thunderstorm), I headed for this excessively civilized spot.
Well, maybe excessively engineered spot. Civilized might be a bit strong. You still have to find bushes so you can do your part — with a modicum of privacy – to ease the effects of abnormally dry weather. And after the first 20 minutes, the picnic-table benches seem as hard as a lot of rocks on which I’ve perched my posterior through the years.
As for my score, oh, likely middle of the pack — 40 QSOs, 30 with other skeeters, from 17 states, as well as from Germany and the Netherlands. My total score came to 4,620 after multipliers and bonuses. I know Larry will check my math!
But it’s not just scores, it’s highlights that make it memorable. This time around, I swapped on-air info with His Skeeterness himself, W2LJ. And I snagged KD7WPJ while he was on an 8-point SOTA summit, Bridger Peak, rising 9,255 above sea level. It’s northeast of Logan, Utah, just a hair’s breadth south of the Utah-Idaho state line .
Testing new batteries
I was running my FT-817ND into my trusty Jackite pole wire vertical. And I was giving some new batteries their first test — a pair of (allegedly) 9.8 amp-hour lithium-ion batteries from across the Pacific.
I say allegedly, because a member of the New England QRP Cub, Bruce Beford, N1RX, told me he’d tested a similar battery pack not long ago and got about half the amp-hours shown on the label.
Still, at $32 a pop with wall-wart charger, I got three hours out of one 11-ounce battery, then switched to the second for the Skeeter Hunt’s final hour. Six hours of operating time at 22 ounces total and an outlay of $64, postage paid by shipper? Still a good value, as Bruce suggested. With other QRP rigs more miserly with receive-current needs (we know who you are, Elecraft), I could well see far more operating time with these puppies.
Although the batteries start out at between 12.3 and 12.6 volts, they quickly slip to 11.1 volts and cruise there for most of their operating time. It’s time to swap them out when they hit 10.8 vdc during receive, or so aficionados tell me.
I could extend that time by running the FT-817ND at 2.5 watts rather than 5. I may try that for Chowdercon/QRP Afield, which will take place this year on Sept. 15 (always the third Saturday in September).
Man, I love this QRP stuff!
This entry was posted on 2012/08/13 at 09:54 and is filed under Portable operations, Skeeter Hunt, Summits on the Air with tags amateur radio, contests, CW, Ham radio, ham radio outdoors, portable operating, QRP, Skeeter Hunt. 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.