UPDATE!!! WE FINISHED FIRST IN FLORIDA AND 3RD PLACE OVERALL IN OUR CATEGORY!!!
On Sunday, August 21st, 2022, Myself, Frank KB4T, and Steve K8SR participated in the annual NJQRP Skeeter Hunt. For several years, I have participated in this event solo, usually from a small park near my home in Port Orange. At one of our recent DB CERT ART meetings, Frank mentioned “doing radio in the field”….so I told him about this operating event. In minutes both he and Steve were “hooked”. We made it a multi op date!
The Skeeter Hunt is a very simple field outing. The objective is to get QRPers out of their shacks for the day, into the fresh air and sunshine, to spread their wings and fill the airwaves with “Skeeters”. Bonus points are awarded for those home brewed or kit built equipment. It’s a four hour sprint – from 1:00 to 5:00 PM EDT.
Our adventure started out…..where else???…..at Gina’s Restaurant in Holly Hill for breakfast at 11:00 AM. We all imbibed in the usual morning fare, bacon, eggs, potatoes, grits and toast. The meal was yummy…..and even better, as Frank KB4T generously pick up the tab (and tip!!) – THANK YOU FRANK!
We arrived at Sunrise Park in Holly Hill just after 12 noon. We lucked out and got one of the larger covered pavilions near the center of the park. Within minutes, we got our antennas and equipment set up.
Our equipment consisted of a kit built Elecraft K1-2 (2-bands, 40M and 20M CW) that runs 5W output. This nifty little radio is fully functional transceiver with digital readout, CW keyer, 2 CW memories, and Antenna Tuner and 300Hx CW filter. It was powered by a Bienno Li-Po 12V/8Ahr battery, and we used an American Morse Equipment Porta-Paddle. We also used GenLog as out logging program.
We had two antennas – my Buddipole Vertical tuned for 20M with a single tuned radial pointed NW, and Frank’s recently obtained Wolf River Coil “SOTA Special” Vertical Antenna tuned for 20M with four 30-foot radials. Frank brought an antenna A/B switch so we could compare antennas. We did, and while his antenna showed a slight improvement on receive, transmit was about the same as reflected on the Reverse Beacon Network. Over the 4 hours, our signals got out about 1100 miles.
On our arrival, it was a testy 89 degrees; before we left it hit 93 degrees on my monitor, along with 70% humidity. But unlike prior years, the steady river breeze form the Intracoastal Halifax River, and the shade in the ample sized pavilion surprised all three of us. it was comfortable and we never really broke a sweat.
We started out OK on 20M – the band was fairly quiet and we had some QSB but we made 12 Qs in the first hour; after that, it became increasingly difficult make contacts; 7 Qs in the second hour; 2 in the third hour; and 5 in the last hour. Got a total of 26 Qs, all Skeeters, in 14 states/provinces. Like pulling teeth! Checking the Reverse Beacon Network, it looked like we a decent signal out to about 1K miles; signal strengths were good; but that all dropped some after the first hour. Maybe it was the propagation, but we didn’t hear many Skeeters – and the other band (40M) has no signals here at all for us.
GenLog, a usually stable and really easy to use logging program with a Skeeter Hunt sub-program was updated the morning of the Hunt – and it gave us fits. For some reason it wanted the QSOs operator name but the Skeeter Hunt event didn’t require it. When we entered the contact and tried to log the QSO it erased the State, and we had to enter it again. Then it would log the contact. Fortunately, the contact pace was slow (crawling!) so we were able to get the Qs in log correctly.
BUT…….we had a ball! Like usual, we spent most of the time cracking jokes and laughing. And, I have to say that after several years of “solo” operation, this year’s multi-op was more fun than a barrel of monkeys! We most definitely enjoyed each other company! We agreed we would multi-op next years event too. And……… maybe a few others…..Flight of the Bumblebees immediately comes to mind!
We’ll see how we fare in the results.