Well my QRP To The Field contest turned out to be anything but! Had hopes to hit the Appalachian Trail in the morning with Ron, WB3ALL, who I met on 30 meters CW a couple of weeks ago, but it just didn’t work out on my end with scheduling. But I did manage to get up in the field later in the day for an hour or two to work some 20 meter SSB and CW.

(camera failure during cw contacts, sorry!)
Although I called CQ many times for the QRP TTF contest, the band was hopping with activity for the Florida QSO party, so I thought “what the heck” lets join in the fun! I made about a dozen FL QSO’s in the first 10 minutes before moving up the band a bit to try to find a lengthy qso. After one or two calls, I was joined by several stations wanting a qso, including a qrp station with an indoor antenna in his living room! (Thanks to AA0AW, WY0M, K8GI, AND NI0W, for the nice chats!)

So all was fun. And although I didn’t get to make any contacts for the QRP TTF contest, ham radio is all about having fun in whatever you’re doing. Experimenting, testing, and playing are what it’s all about for me. And having a chance to work so many stations is such a short amount of time was exciting. And, with the up and down band conditions lately, just seeing 20 meters with so much activity was great.

Setting up went pretty smooth, and met some locals who were scouting the area for an engagement photo shoot (Good luck Eric!) The antenna, which is always the most difficult to hang, was a 20 meter dipole that I made last October with my dad in TN. Originally a 30 meter dipole, I cut it to resonate on 14070 mhz to experiment with QRP PSK31 digital mode. The antenna works so well, it has become my 20 meter field antenna and rolls up in the pack – nice and light weight.

The power source, a 12 volt motorcycle battery, was a great addition to my QRP pack. It’s only about 4 lbs., and it features the Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) technology. AGM batteries are an improvement to the usual lead-acid battery and are a no-spill design. The electrolyte in the battery soaks completely into glass mats which are sandwiched between the plates. Therefore, no spill. I still keep the battery housed in a case while hiking, just in case, but you can pick up one of these batteries at Wal-Mart for about $34.99.

If you have an old battery laying around, make sure you bring it with you for an exchange or you will be charged an extra $9.00 core charge until you bring one in.

All in all, I only got to operate for about an hour and a half at most today, but it seems to me that I could have gone on for hours at full power with no problem. Further testing will tell so I’m looking forward to a nice, long day in the field (for testing purposes, of course!) The sun started to set, and the breeze became chilly. And me without anything but a t-shirt on began to feel the chill of the spring evening that was only minutes away.

Breaking down the portable station was done in less than 5 minutes and I was on my way back to the car just before dark. It was a good day in the field.

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73’s -Brian