DX in the Park

October 12, 2014

The final “official” HF in the Park event of 2014 took place yesterday, the 11th. We had pretty much a perfect autumn day, hardly any clouds in the skies, reasonable wind, and most importantly, no rain!

I’ve had some considerable time with my KX3 by now, and I was pretty comfortable with the operation and setup. I also brought along my homebrew end-fed half-wave vertical antenna that I built prior to my trip to Canada, and I had quite a bit of success (More on that shortly). I also had my hand mic & external speaker in tow as well, which made operating quite a bit easier than messing with a headset and the XMIT button.

First order was getting my antenna up. I had brought along a slingshot and fishing line, but neglected to bring fishing weights. Josh, KD0ZWN offered up his multi-tool for sacrifice, and in short order was attempting to launch the multitool into a tree with the hopes of getting it high enough for my 30-foot radiator wire. After a minor injury to his hand, Josh deemed the placement in the tree a success, and I quickly hoisted my antenna up into the tree. A little bent at the top, but more than serviceable.

After this setup, I quickly decided that using a slingshot for this antenna is a giant pain in the butt, and I’ve been eyeing a 31’ fiberglass telescoping mast that would drastically speed up station set-up.

Chuck, KD0UIH, brought his portable PSK station and was making contact. We had three HF stations in close proximity, and perhaps next time we’ll bring some band-pass filters along. When Chuck’s radio would key up, both mine and Josh’s front ends would get wiped out. Gotta work on that.

Josh and Chuck operating Josh & Chuck operating
Chris, K9EQ shows off a repeater Chris, K9EQ (right) shows off a repeater.

There were not one but two QSO parties going on this weekend, Arizona and Pennsylvania. 20m was packed with stations calling either “CQ Arizona QSO party” or “CQ Pennsylvania QSO party.” I tuned around and heard a couple special event stations, but I decided to bump up to 17m to see what was going on. Because it’s a WARC band, there’s no contesting, and quickly made contacts with both W1AW/4 (Virginia) and W100AW/6 (California). I received some positive feedback on my QRP signal as well.

The highlight of the day (and probably my whole weekend), however, was later in the afternoon, when I heard a very raspy signal coming out of my speaker. I copied the call HA3NU (Hungary), and he was working stations stateside. I decided to give it a shot, and bumped my power up to 5 watts.

I very specifically recall uttering the phrase, “There’s no way I’m going to work Hungary on 5 watts.” After listening for a little bit, I gave my call on his next “QRZ”, and to my surprise, he came back: “Station ending in RUA.” My mind was blown, and I think it surprised not only Josh and Chuck, but a few bystanders as well. I came back and gave him a 59, and he came back with a 57 report.

After my contact, I shot a couple quick videos of HA3NU’s signal:

At that point, I was on cloud nine, and I didn’t really care if I made any more contacts that day. I did pick up a French station calling CQ stateside, and gave it a couple tries. Eventually he said something to the effect of, “I’m tired and I need to go QRT, this is the last call, QRZ,” and I gave my call one last time. “VE3 station” he replied. I was a bit disappointed to not get Hungary AND France, but Hungary on 5 watts was more than awesome.

In all, I had a blast, and I’m bummed this was the last “official” HF in the Park event. The days are getting shorter, and the weather is nice, but my weekends are filling up fast. I have a multiband fan dipole kit I need to assemble and get up in the air before the snow flies.

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