I had a great time in QRP To The Field this year operating W1OH from the site of Marconi's Cape Cod station CC. This year's theme, "Park It Here", led me to set up at the Marconi staion site at the Cape Cod National Seashore. I've always thought it would be great to operate from here, in the presence of Marconi's spirit! I arrived at the site about 9AM EDT (1300Z), giving me 2 hours to set up before the start of the contest. Weather for the day was predicted to be sunny but in the low 50's F, with northeast winds of about 20 MPH. At 9, it was still in the 40's and the wind was already blowing about 20 - I leaned into the wind, walked out to the interpretive shelter near the cliff edge, looked at all those whitecaps, and opted to setup at a nice picnic table by the parking area about 200 feet back from the cliff edge, and sheltered by a small dune and intervening scrub. This turned out to be a wise choice, as the wind was much less, and later as the temp reached the low 50's, I only needed a light jacket to keep warm.
Marconi Station Site Display Shelter
(photo taken while standing near remaining NW tower base, looking south. The cliff is about 10 feet to the left.)
The steel frame picnic table was the perfect base support for an MFJ fiberglass mast. I attached my 40 M doublet with 300 ohm twinlead feed, pushed the mast up to 30 feet (top 3 feet is really unusable on these masts), and stretched the ends out to scrub pines to the north and south. As nothing is taller than 15 feet or so nearby, this got the center of the antenna above trees at this site. The cliff top is about 85 feet above sea level, so my antenna was 100 ft ASL (a bit lower than W0RW's site)
Picnic Table Operating Position and Display Board
MFJ Fiberglass Mast with 40M Doublet attached to Picnic Table
Since I hoped to use my KX1 for 40M and 20M, but my FT-897 for 15M (and
10M maybe?), I first hooked up the MFJ tuner and found match settings
for all 4 bands right away. That was too easy, so I just used the KX1
in straight-thru mode all day, and swapped to the FT897 occasionally to
check 15M periodically (mostly on the hour). Never did hear any
activity on 15M during the contest, though there had been a couple of
decent sounding signals in the morning while I was setting up. Gee,
gang, ya gotta make some noise!! 17M seemed to have activity most of
the day, so maybe 15M really was dead?
Anyway, once the station was set up, I had about 45 minutes to spare before 1500Z, so I put up a small display board with my call, and a copy of the new ARRL "Hello" brochure, a NPS Marconi brochure, and some QSL cards. Remember the rules Jan posted:
What better way to showcase amateur radio than to set up in a
public place and draw onlookers. This is a good opportunity to
do a little recruiting for the hobby.
Well, little did I know! Just before start time, I had my first visitor, who chatted for about 20 minutes or so, and was immediately followed by another group. I should have had a signup sheet!! I handed folks copies of the "Hello" and Marconi brochures, as well as my Falmouth Amateur Radio Association contact info card, and hoped they might read the stuff later! Finally made my first contact with N4DD in VA about 1520Z on 20M, and had VA, IL, FL, CO, and MN in the log (all 20M) in the first 30 minutes of actual operating with the KX1. I spent the next hour plus talking to visitors, handing out info, letting folks listen to CW on the little battery powered speaker (an old computer speaker with a compartment for 4 AA cells). A nice day seemed to be bringing out a lot of visitors to the Marconi station site.
Another View of the Operating Position (Note small speaker at right)
By about 1700Z, I got a quick break, and gulped a sandwich and milk,
while trying 40M for 1 contact, also VA, before returning to 20M. More
folks came by, time passed, I made a few more contacts with the KX1 on
20M. Hey, W0RW/pm - made that one at 1820Z, that's 100ft ASL to
10,570ft ASL - is that line-of-sight from Cape Cod, MA to CO?! Went
back to 40M for the rest of the hour, but used the FT897 now, as I
figured I had enough internal battery capacity to last til my intended
stop time around 6PM EDT, and QRM from ALQP was fierce on 40. Only
made 4 contacts on 40M before another big break for visitors during the
- Total contacts: 22
At 2000Z, I heard IK2RMZ send CQ right near 14060, so called him, then realized he was not in TTF, and had a quick chat with him, though he was fighting thunderstorm QRN on his end. But since this was "across the pond" from the Marconi site, I was pretty happy! At this point, a little after 4PM EDT, I started to lose the sun on my operating position, and the temp was starting to fall back below 50F. I made several more contacts on 20M, including one with PA0CMU, who answered my CQ at 2105Z, and was thrilled to work a station from Marconi's Cape Cod station site. Looks like I need to make up a special QSL. Last contact was at 2112Z with AK0M, who had actually started a contact with me just before PA0CMU called, but had a "keyer explosion" mid-contact. He recovered and waited while I chatted for 7 minutes with 'CMU, then called me and finished up - thanks, Steve!
Well, at this point, talking to still another visitor, I realized that even with a fleece shirt, light jacket, and winter parka shell, my teeth were starting to chatter (figured out today that the wind chill was probably in the low-40's or upper 30's by the cliff edge, and only a little better where I was setup!) . So I decided to pack it in and tear everything down a bit earlier than I'd planned.
Still a very successful day! Including trans-Atlantic contacts running a few watts with a rig and antenna system I can carry in two hands!
QRP To The Field is a great little contest. See you next year! 73 de W1OH
- Contacts "across the pond" : 2 (with a little less tonnage in equipment than that other fellow in 1903!)
- Total number of visitors: lost count, but at least a dozen groups, ranging from 1 or 2 folks, up to about a 1/2 dozen at a time) - handed out a bunch of brochures. Seemed like at least half of them had a ham in the family or knew a ham somewhere.
- Total contacts: 22