Working Mobiles at 500 mWatts during the 2002 3M Convention in Murfreesboro, TN

de WD3P/QRPp

In mid October every year many county hunters converge on Murfreesburo, TN for their "3M" mini convention. Having been to a few of these I can say this is much more of a social gathering than a real convention. One of the real highlights of the convention is the convergence of the various mobiles as they drive to the convention. It is all great fun again on Sunday morning as they leave the convention. This is a county hunting convention and of course one of the prime interests is in running counties and in working the mobiles as they move from county to county. So most of those going to the convention drive rather than fly. They seldom take a direct route to the convention but rather can be found on many of the back roads. For the 2002 convention we saw W6TMD coming in from CA via LA, MS, AL, GA, SC, and NC. We saw AI5P/M coming in from AR via GA, SC, and NC. In 1996 KA3MMM/M returned to PA from the convention via southern GA to give me my last three counties to finish up USA-CA.

I found I could not attend the 2002 convention. So instead I took a few days off from work to work the mobiles on their way to the convention. Now after finishing USA-CA in 1996 I got into QRP. So I am now working the counties QRP. In a fit of fun during the Christmas season of 1997 I started playing around working the mobiles at 500 mWatts. Now this started out as a lark and just a bit of fun. But there was KC4UG/M giving me 579s and 599s from his mobile in MS. Well before long I was hooked. So now when I can I set the power on the rig at 500 mWatts and see what can be done.

Going into the 3M convention I didn't need any TN counties for USA-CA 2nd time, and I needed only three to finish up TN QRP so of course I was playing around at my more customary 500 mWatts. I stared off just working the new ones that I had not yet worked at that power level. But then I got into seeing just how many counties I could work at during the convention at that power level. Now there are 95 counties in TN so there are a lot to work and I never expected to work the majority of them. But with a late start by the time the convention started I ended up having worked 37 counties QRPp. W6TMD/M went out and ran a few Saturday afternoon to add to the total. That left Sunday when the mobiles all scattered on their way home from the convetion to work some of the remaining counties.

So the bottom line was 37 counties worked prior to the convention, 7 worked the Saturday of the convention, and another 8 worked on Sunday after the convetion. That made for a total of 52 counties worked at 500 mWatts or less. In 30 of the 59 QSOs into TN I recieved a signal report of 559 or better for my measly half a watt. The map above shows colored in black which counties made it into the log. I want to thank the following mobiles for pulling in my "weak" signals: AI5P/M, K9DAF/M, KB4XK/M, KC0JG/M, KD8HB/M, N4CD/M, N4RS/M, W0GXQ/M, W4RKV/M, W6TMD/M, W9OP/M, WA9QNI/M.

At the start of the week I needed 18 of the 95 counties in TN to have them all worked QRPp and only 3 were left to have worked all TN counties QRP. I managed to work 14 QRPp. On Wednesday morning Darrel,W6TMD/M, gave my 500 mWatts a 559 for Johnson, TN. Later that afternoon Tom, N4RS/M, gave my 500 mWatts a 339 for Sequatchie, TN. And finally on Sunday morning Joyce, KD8HB/M, gave my 500 mWatts a 559 for Pickett, TN for the last county QRP in TN. And to add to the adage that the rare counties are only the ones you have not worked N4RS/M shows up in Pickett, TN just two hours later. Now I only need 4 more to have them worked all QRPp.

The equipment on this end was an Elacraft K1 and simple dipole.

How the map was made.

Making the map was very simple. I obtained the basic TN county ouline map from with their permission. I then changed most of the colors to white and filled in the counties I worked using Paint.

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