On Learning Humility; a POTA Evening with Bugs in Florida
Monday April 30 I set up at Hobe Sound Nature Preserve, KFF-0241, to activate on 40 and 20 meters. I waited till late in the day, arriving on site about 5:30pm EDT to set up and get ready for 40m to wake up as the sun goes down. Took my time walking the entire area to scout a good spot. Was previously here two weeks ago in a
time-pressured situation and hurriedly set up at the first thing I found, a simple park bench. Not that much from which to choose here as this is principally a minimally-developed natural resource area, appealing to fishermen, hikers and nature-lovers, and not as well furnished with picnic areas like a State Park.
Got a eleven or twelve qso’s that day with the Link Dipole arranged up only a dozen feet in the beloved inverted vee style. Not the best operating position, but sufficient.
Here I am on the original activation, looking optimistic despite the ominous smoke on the horizon (just a controlled burn, actually).
After an outrageously successful activation of Jonathan Dickinson State Park, only a few miles from here, this past weekend, I just knew I could return to Hobe Sound Preserve and catch many more Q’s to make my 44 needed to earn the coveted WWFF recognition. At JD I got 23 qso’s Saturday but needed more to make the grand total of 44 so went back Sunday and got on the air a little
past seven on 40m, receiving a total of 49 more in under an hour! Wow, I said; Gosh, I even had a little pileup going a few minutes at a time. “Oh Baby, That’s a What I Like,” (with a Hatlo Hat Tip to the Big Bopper). Couldn’t wait to do that again at Hobe Sound today.
Confidently, I left the house 5pm to head to the site. Sorry I don’t have a picture of me confidently driving my car but just look how confident I’m still looking upon arrival; who wouldn’t want to work a ham like this one?
Took my time to walk most of the trails to scout the best location to set up and found this tranquil spot:
No cooperating trees in vicinity, so let’s set up a tower.s Below’s the view from the idyllic picnic table and thatched roof. The open area is to the North-NorthWest, ideal aiming direction for Southeast coast of Florida. Same orientation as yesterday – good omens.
I’ve learned how to erect a tower alone; step one is to lay out the antenna (EndFedz in this case) to judge where to place the tower and its guy lines. Lay the tower down, tie on the guy lines and provisionally place your tent stakes. Remember to attach the antenna and attach your coax to said antenna (this is the voice of experience speaking) before pushing up the tower. This is the dicey part, when having an assistant would be helpful, but in the spirit of self reliance, you can do this if you’ve guessed well where to place the tent stakes. Something I’ve started to say to the Curious, especially when the Curious is a Park Ranger, when they ask what you’re doing, say “I’m setting up a radio station in a simulated emergency situation.” They will eat this up.
After some fumbling, your tower will finally look like this:
This tower tip is at 22-23 feet; yesterday, same time, same antenna, and same band, I was up 35′ thanks to a handy tree. But still, this looked really good so I expected similar if not better results, qso-wise. Here’s the low end of the EndFedz on a photographer’s lighting tripod, up ten feet and guyed.
Bodacious good SWR as you can see in image below. All’s well, it seems.
Eager and self-assured, about 6:30 I begin calling CQ, ready for the inevitable pileups. Quickly I stumbled into a net and was invited to check in, so I did. Not POTA, but
a start. A next contact happened 2-3 minutes later. These always start slow, right? Twenty-seven minutes pass, my confidence dwindling, before getting another contact, AA5UZ, whom I worked yesterday. I’m going, “what’s wrong?” This same setup yesterday was causing pileups; I could hardly write down the call signs fast enough. I fiddled with the antenna, getting it higher, but no improvement in qso rate.
So what is it? Is it Monday versus Sunday, are the bands that different one day to the next, is it that I the antenna location is that much different to limit results? I kept at it, watching the sun go down and aware I failed to pack a table lamp or a decent flashlight but wanting the darkness to come and boost results. Had a few small stretch when I got 4-5 contacts in quick succession, and heard others trying me that I just could make out, but nothing like yesterday.
I dunno; packed up at 8:17 (end of civil twilight), and it was pretty dark when I finally departed, rather deflated. This was a lot of work for eleven qso’s, and I’m still only half way to the magic forty four. From the time I left the house to when I returned, it was over four hours invested. As an experiment, I will return to the happy spot at JD State Park where I got the 49 in an hour, and try again there to see if similar results occur at the same time, same band, same antenna setup. Stay tuned!
But for now, it’s time for ice cream; that usually makes me feel better. Thanks for listening; you’re in the log. De k4wk, Wayne, http://www.hamdom.com
I’d rather see rigs and operation rather than park benches and tables. at least there were photos of the antennas. Dont Hams know from these events we want to see radios?????????????????
Beautiful shot of the sunset, even if there aren’t any radios in it! 😉
Thanks Rick for your comment; yes, it was a nice sunset. Most of them are, down in Florida.