Playing QRP Mobile in the 2002 County Hunting Contest
I played in the 2002 County Hunting Contest mostly from home running anything from 500 mwatts to 100 watts depending on the reason I wanted to work the county the other fellow was in. But Sunday evening I had to take the youngest harmonic down to Charles County, Maryland for her church group. So I took along the Elecraft K1 and a set of batteries to play QRP mobile for evening.
This turned out to be a fun little excursion. In the space of about an hour and a half I managed to run off 17 QSOs using my call sign. I also was running the MARAC club call, WB0DPD for the contest. For the past two plus years I have been coordinating an effort to use that call to earn USA-CA all CW for the club. I ran off an additional 6 QSOs to get counties needed for that effort.
Since I already had 90% of the counties worked running QRP I did not expect to get any new ones. Rather I was out to have some fun and give out Charles county to the mobiles who had been out running for the weekend. The fun started when I worked LY3BA in Lithuania. Almost all of the contacts were made running 4 watts. However when Bob, W7BD/M showed up in Greer, OK, I had to turn the power down to 500 mWatts. Into the log he went. Later as I was tuning the dial I heard NV7A in Story, NV. I had already worked him for WB0DPD at 4 watts so I again turned the power down and worked him at 500 mWatts. That one was just for the fun of it.
As this was a temporary setup I just set the rig and power supply on the passenger seat and ran the contest form the driver side. I was not going to be driving for the contest so I did not have to be too concerned with the placement of the rig, key, and the like. The photo on the left shows the Elecraft K1 on the seat. The power supply consisting of 10 AA NiMH batteries was placed on the drivers seat for the photo. I only used the one set of batteries. They were freshly charged just prior to the trip. When I recharged them that evening after retuning home I found that they they had still had about two thirds of their original charge left. This little rig conserves power. The rig itself is configured to run on 40 and 20 meters. I have a module that I have not yet build to make it a four band rig. It has an nice internal antenna tuner. There is even an option to include an internal set of 8 AA NiMH batteries. This rig is the little brother to the Elecraft K2.
I used a recently acquired a G4ZPY mini key. I received this from Gordon within the past month. The key is a joy to use. I had some initial problems with it, but discovered I had not fully inserted the plug into the rig. Old Murphy raised his head as I spent some time thinking it was the key. The key is small and has a magnetic base so it can be mounted on any metal base, or it can be placed on your leg with a suitable strap. The K1 has internal keyer so the key, rig, and batteries is all that is needed to get me on the air.
No mobile installation is complete without the mobile ground plane and the antenna. The ground plane is a 1995 Honda Civic. The antenna is an Outbacker. I use that antenna around town where I can get away with just one band and do not need to guy the thing. When doing more serious mobile work or when on a trip I use a Hustler spider mount or the like with both 40 and 20 meters mounted. That system has to be guyed and is not very convienent to disassemble when parking in the garage each night. I am also not too high on the idea of advertizing the rig is in the car when parking at the local mall.
The QTH in Charles County is located about three miles north of where the F5 tornado went through LaPlata, MD exactly one week earlier. Had I been there then the car would have had several dents from the baseball size hail and almost surely would have had both the front and rear windows broken. I was fortunate that when the tornado went through the week before I was parked at the local mall two miles further north where we had 1 inch hail and no damage. My xyl and harmonics however were at the church at the time. That car had $2,500 damage, having sustained several hail stone dents and a broken front window. That was nothing compared to the damage in LaPlata itself. I've included a couple of pictures of the hail. By the time the photos of the hail were taken they had had a couple of hours ot melt and had been in the freezer for a couple of days.
And yes I must include the log in tribute to those who copied my weak signals. Thanks
And yes I must include the log in tribute to those who copied my weak signals. Thanks to all.