September 20, 2020

KL2A/P: NA Sprint CW | Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho #hamradio #camping #prepper

NAQP CW Sprint by KL2A/P

Camping in the Sawtooth Wilderness @ Stanley Lake, Idaho.

Packed up my ski bag ham radio, portable go kit which included the Greyline OCF vertical antenna for HF, and headed for the mountains of Southcentral Idaho, north of Sun Valley in the Sawtooth Wilderness Preserve. Luck had it, there was a four-hour CW sprint contest called NAQP (North America QSO Party) Saturday night, just about the time I would land at a campground for the evening.

Arrived at the campsite amidst a smoke bank coming in from WA/OR.
Built the station in about 20 minutes and started about halfway into the contest.
Super quiet location that took a while to find. Most spots were below a hill along a river. This location was almost ridge-line. Once on the air, I felt pretty good considering half power or less at 40W. Almost everyone I called heard the signal.

24' Greyline DX Vertical tied to a stump. 3' of PVC pipe and ground support are not part of the active antenna. The lower dipole starts just above where the ladder line comes out (this exit and insulator is meant to be ground level by design but adding 3' to the height didn't hurt). 24' of radiator above the feed point.

Antenna System Order of parts: From the Antenna, the ladder line feedline transitions to a PL259 adapter that plugs into the LDG RT-100 remote tuner. Then, the RF Choke which is 7 ferrite slip-over-coax beads for adequate RF choking, then the 75' LMR-400 coax to the Suburban.

Cockpit inside the suburban. Using standard power from the 12V AC/DC outlet in the truck I was able to get 40W out without tripping the Chevy circuit breaker. The heater was on low to keep the fan noise down and the fingers warm. 40 and 80M were hopping full of CW signals from coast to coast. It felt like I was looking down on all of them from up here. Also, it seemed the stalls granite peaks around me were reflecting signal in my favor... it certainly felt I was indeed that loud compared to my home QTH below the hill.

KL2A/P Ski Bag Portable Ham Radio station:


Lately, this summer, I've been tinkering with HF vertical antenna designs at the lake house QTH in Northern Idaho. The QTH is great for swimming, boating, and relaxing on the beach deck but it is not a good QTH at all for radio other than working KL7, VE7, UA9 (Central Russia), or the occasional Northern European. Oh, it's a great shot due north and nowhere else as the hills are straight up in all other directions. #lakelife.

So, this camp trip was a great opportunity to try the ski bag radio station from another QTH. By comparison, it was night and day to the lake QTH. The campsite had no other people or structures for miles, super quiet, I could hear everything and everyone on the bands. W1-4 signals filled 40 and 80M CW (east coast) and I worked them easily on both bands with the 40W from the radio (not something that's possible thus far from the lake house with double the power, at 100W). You have to hear them, right?

Having guys hear me easily was a treat. Amazing what a quiet location and a high up in the hills take-off will do for a 24' vertical dipole antenna.
NA CW SPRINT: 140 QSOs in about 90-100 mins on the air.

Best 4-hours in radio!

Bonus: Tuned the bands at sunrise before packing out of camp and warming up the truck. It was cold in the tent, 28F at sunrise, and still smokey.

+ found PJ4A (NN3W) at the Bonaire Island Radio Station PJ4A on 20M WAE SSB
+ a 40M tune found W6YA working YF8HVY. Very quiet QTH in the mountain country.

W6YA + YF8HVY 40M CW DX (sunrise)

PJ4A (NN3W) WAE SSB 2020

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