Tuesday, October 23, 2018

2018 Illinois QSO Party recap

Alexander/Pulaski County line

The day started out with a 2.5 hour drive to the bottom of the state to an area called Mounds IL. There is a parking lot that has the Alexander and Pulaski county line passing through it. This will be the second year for this location and it also is part of the WWFF park program. The park designation is KFF-0283 Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge. I arrived about 30 minutes late as I made a wrong turn due to trust issues with the directions from Garmin since it was a different route from last year. I started setting up at 10:30AM and was done by 11:10 so that gave me time to eat lunch and record canned CQ phone scripts into the IC-7100 radio. My plan was to operate 2.5 hours from this location.

Antenna was a low 40 meter doublet. The picture below would make you wonder why the center was not higher. I forgot that I had shortened the ladder line so I raised the center until I ran out of ladder line. I need to make an extension for next time.

40 meters was a little long at the start of the contest as I made a test with W9W up at Rend Lake and 40 meters would not work but 80 meters worked great. Too bad most folks think 80 meters is only good once it starts getting dark. If you can't make 40 meters work for local communications you should try 80 meters. I never did make it up to 20 meters and as you can see from the picture above I was sitting in a hole.

Above is a picture of the AH-4 tuner with the ladder line feed.

Massac/Johnson/Pulaski County line

This is my 5th year of operating from this location. Luckily the farmer had just finished with the bean harvest there but it sure was dusty. This location no longer allows a safe deployment of a dipole/doublet without working in the roadway or trespassing on the farmers property. I have a 12 foot wide farm road to operate on so I park on the corner and run a wire to the north. It is set up as an inverted L. 25 feet vertical section with about 50 feet of horizontal section. This set up has worked great now for two years. It is easier to set up than the doublet. 

I operated here about 3.5 hours and made my last contact about 15 minutes before the end of the contest. Everything was torn down and packed up by 8:30 PM and then I was off for my McDonald's drive thru feast in Vienna IL. 

I have not processed my log yet but I had fewer multipliers than last year but had a higher score mostly due to working more CW this year. 

Looks like my claimed score will be around 90K for this year and if that score holds up to the scoring folks this will be my best score yet for ILQP.

 Placed 3rd in the Rover category. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

2018 Illinois QSO Party prep

This is be mostly pictures with captions. The ILQP is Sunday the 21st starting at 1700z and ends at 0100z. Looks like a good weather day so at least we won't get soaked like last year!

I will be doing the same route as last year as a rover station. This means I can be mobile and still operate from county lines and corners. Operation will be mostly 20 and 40 phone.

I will start at the Pulaski/Alexander county line in an area that is also KFF- 0283 Cypress Creek for WWFF. I will then move to the county corner of Pulaski, Johnson and Massac which is KFF-4112 Cache River.  Operation will be mostly 40 and 80 phone.

There will be an update sometime early next week on how the contest went.

Took my LED headlamp out of the center console of my truck and I guess someone forgot to remove the batteries again. Vinegar and alcohol fixed it up. 

SOTA wire winders are great for cables and ropes. Here are my guy ropes for the pushup mast on the left and on the right is my end fed wire for my Inverted L. The Inverted L will be fed by an AH-4 tuner.

The 40 meter doublet all nice a neat in its bag. It will not look like this tomorrow evening but that is what Monday is for. Winding up all the ropes and wires. 

The mobile contesting console installed on the left. The rats nest on the right is a 35ah battery, DC booster and powergate. This ensures that the IC-7100 always has 14 volts and full power output even if I shut the engine off for awhile. Not seen in these pictures is the 110 watt GE RangR VHF radio that will primarily be used for any simplex contacts and chat with others in the area on the repeaters. This radio has its own 35ah battery in the rear seat floorboard. 

Push-up mast, 2 painters poles, 2 meter antenna, AH-4 tuner and concrete blocks. I find setting up 3 masts by yourself is enough of a challenge and trying to get the stakes for the end guys in the right spot is hard for me so this year I am going to try using only the concrete blocks. I needed the blocks for my second operating location anyway because it is all rock and I can't get a stake driven through the rocks.