/MM QRP on Hermit Lake


Hanz and I went canoeing on Hermit Lake this morning. We made a QSO with NC while /mm and then we stopped on an island and made a few more… it was all makeshift because I forgot a tuner!

It was 85 degrees on Hermit Lake… hot and humid, but with a nice breeze. We set out about 10:30 with an FT-817, a bit of wire and hopes for a great adventure. That’s when things started going wrong…

As I began to raise the 14 foot fiberglass pole, I broke off the tip and had to rethink my strategy for attaching a wire. I knotted the wire around the tip and pretended everything was fine. I reached for the tuner, only to discover I had left it behind in a last minute gear switch. I thought the adventure was over… but recovered quickly. Oh well… who needs a tuner? We’ll just find the band with the lowest SWR and hope for the best.


After putting up the antenna, I stuffed the wire into the center conductor of the SO239 on the back of the rig. I didn’t even use a counterpoise. I turned the rig on 17 meters and there was K2J, the 13 Colonies Special Event Station from North Carolina, calling CQ with an S9 signal. I called him signing /MM. He came right back to me. Hanz and I grinned from ear to ear. I told the operator I was on a lake in New Hampshire and thanks for the contact! Then I realized I had forgotten to switch on the external battery. I was running with 2 1/2 watts on the internal AAs with no tuner. And all that with a few feet of wire wrapped around a 14 foot pole lashed to the canoe with rubber bands… and no counterpoise. To make things worse, the bands were clearly very poor. Geepers!


We floated around for a while but there wasn’t a lot of activity. At one point we heard KG4TO in Guantanamo Bay. He heard us and tried coming back to the /MM, but he couldn’t quite get our call. We headed for an island to get
out of the wind a bit.

Once there, we decided to land and set up a dipole cut to frequency. We grabbed the gear, and headed up a short but steep hill. At the top was a clearing with some tall trees. We heaved a wire over a branch and pulled up 33 feet of wire and laid a counterpoise over the tops of some bushes, and listened around. 20 meters sounded like the best bet. We had to shorten the wires a bit to lower the SWR, but quickly made contact with Paul, KW7D in NM. Paul gave me a 579 and we were thrilled. Hanz took the key.


Hanz worked K2G, the 13 Colonies station in Georgia. Tim gave us a 599. We figured we’d beaten the odds of an outing with no tuner and called it quits.


Jim Cluett, W1PID, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Hampshire, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “/MM QRP on Hermit Lake”

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Jim, seems we both had an outing today. Seems we both had very hot and humid weather. I too have had stuff happen and had to think hard to come up with a cure for things. Great that you were able to get to the island and setup for more contacts. Jim I have done the same in the past with portable op’s. I am so excited about getting out that once there I find out that all is not with me that should be!! Great work on the contact with no tuner.

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