This weekend was my first chance to really go all out with my new SSB adapter for the K2 and my wife had to work so I had the whole day to play on Saturday. It was also QRP Afield, a contest set up by the NE QRP Club. Basically the purpose is to go out into the field and operate - basically a mini QRP Field Day. The weather here in Iowa seemed favorable temperature wise at about 65 but there was no sun and it looked like it could rain any minute. The dreary weather kept me inside for the day but did allow me to do some other things I had not planned.
The solar numbers looked pretty bad all day and the bands showed it, there were 2 QSO parties going on but not a ton of activity. QRPers were not many even on 20m during the contest. I did manage to work a few here and there and every hour or so, I’d go back to 14.060 and see if anybody had come up.
As for the SSB adapter, I have been trying all the digital modes I used to run when I was younger. PSK, RTTY, etc. So as I tuned around 14.070 and above, I heard a familiar ticking: it was Hellschreiber. The Feld Hell Sprint was this weekend and I found a couple stations CQing. I am very fond of Hell, I do not know why but it always struck me as a very cool mode. No need for a computer to figure out what the other station is sending, it is up to me to decipher the scrolling text. It is also a CW type mode, with ons and offs so it is much easier to run at high power without damaging your finals (I’ve run at 700w back in college with no problem). That said, I did keep it under 5w for this little sprint. I made a few contacts there - fun stuff!
As I spun the dial up the band some more, I ran across all the W7 stations calling CQ for the Washington State QSO Party, AKA Salmon Run. I surprised myself and became even MORE proud of my little K2 when I worked a number of them with only 1w on voice!
Througout the day, I kept my eye on QRPSPOTS.com looking for more QRP Afield guys or anything else that might pop up. Later in the day, NS0TA came up on the list announcing that they were about to summit East Point in Oregon. I have become enamored with the guys out West who have access to all these peaks for SOTA, very jealous! They were operating CW and Voice on 20m so I found their QRGs but the voice pileup was huge and I could not get their CW. Later on, I saw that they were QSYing to voice again and I sat and waited and hoped to be the first caller, and so I was! I cranked up to 10w to ensure the contact and got a 57 from the premier USA SOTA man himself, wG0AT, Steve. This was the first SSB contact I have had with Steve, though we’ve talked many times on CW and even in person a couple times. I’m hoping next time I’m in Colorado we can get together and do a mountain together, maybe even with the goats!
That pretty much sums up yesterday’s operating, and today looks to be about the same weather wise with a higher chance of rain, so it doesn’t look like any portable operating today either. Maybe I’ll clean the shack up... Here’s to dreaming!
See you guys next week, if not sooner!