QRP weekend

This weekend has been 2/3 good for radio.

Saturday I went out to Queen's Park to throw a water bottle over a tree branch, haul up a dipole, and see what I could drum up.

A couple of weeks ago I got a longer coax cable (50 feet, instead of 16 feet), so I was able to get the dipole up a little higher than usual. I'm not sure if that made the difference, or if was just bands opening up, but what a difference on 20m! The Reverse Beacon Network was showing me reaching clear across the continent:


One of those stations, W1NT, is in Massachusetts -- over 3900km away!

Not only that, I was able to leverage that and actually make a CW QSO. With only 15 watts, and me calling CQ, I had a nice chat with Gary, AB0BM, in Cherokee, Iowa. I got a report of 559 -- not bad at all!

Sunday I was at my inlaws for Thanksgiving. My father-in-law enjoys experimenting as much as I do, so he has put together a vertical made of stainless steel pipe he just happens to have lying around his garage. After laying out a bunch of radials on the ground, we gave it a try...and got nowhere on 20m: no spots, and we couldn't see our signal on any of the receivers we tried on sdr.hu. I couldn't figure out what was going on, since the length (18 feet) was about right for a 1/4 wave vertical. After we added another 7ft length, though, everything changed: the RBN showed me again reaching clear across the continent on 15W, and an SDR in New York State picked us up clearly -- 3856 km!

As for QSOs, this time it was a little closer to home: VE7UBC, the UBC Amateur Radio Society. Only 18 km away, but still good to get one in.

Today, I went back out to Queen's Park. Luck wasn't good: I forgot the coax (and ran back home to get it), got the water bottle halyard stuck in a tree and had to cut the rope, made a replacement with a bundle of sticks that didn't go nearly so well, and had nearly no luck on 20m at all...no spots or anything, until suddenly it opened up a bit: AC0C in Missouri and WB6BEE in Colorado spotted me. Couldn't turn it into a QSO though.

Fell back to 40m where it was noisy as anything -- not sure what was going on. Heard lots of folks showing up for the Novice Rig Night, but couldn't manage to convert any of them. Dang!