Paul Butzi |||

Bad Condx at Lake Sammamish State Park (US-3216)

activation spot

Notwithstanding crappy band condx, today was POTA day.

Off I trundled to Lake Sammamish State Park, US-3216.

I had a cunning plan: do enough (ten) SSB QSOs to validate the activation and then switch to CW.

SSB

Setting up the G90 outputting 20W into the Chelegance MC-750 on 20m, it took five minutes from spotting myself to the first bite, and then over the next half hour I had another 12 contacts, raising the total to 13.

20W was enough to get my signal into CA, AZ, AK, and ID. I don’t know if it’s conditions or running 20W instead of 50W on the IC-7300, but it seems that’s about my reach on recent activations.

In any case, without exception hunters were apparently having a fine time. I had a very FB chat with Mike, AL7KC, who appears in my activation logs more than any other ham. It was nice to thank him for his patience during my last activation, where it took me quite a long time to get his callsign sorted out.

After a little more than half an hour of running SSB I turned off the G90, set up the KX2 and key, and respotted myself on 20m CW.

CW

I’ve been doing a lot of 20wpm callsign practice, so my anxiety level was a little lower as I started calling CQ at 10w on 20m. My CW skills are improving from all the practice, so apparently practice really does work, just as people have been telling me.

My first caller was W6CJM, who was very patient as I took several repeats to get that CJM sorted properly, and then took several tries before I managed to actually sent W6CJM properly as well.

Another four minutes of letting the KX2 call CQ, and I heard a nice, strong signal that started with AL, which thankfully I managed to recognize as Mike AL7KC without asking for repeats, but then I managed to bobble sending and took perhaps four tries before I managed to properly send his callsign back. I am resolved to practice sending Mike’s callsign so that next time, I can just rattle it off perfectly.

There were several callers who were pretty weak, and when I sent partial callsigns followed by ?’, didn’t respond. It’s not clear to me whether those callers just abandoned me, or if QSB gobbled their signal up.

One time, I got two callers answering my CQ, worked the first caller, and then when trying for the second caller, got no response. That’s frustrating but I don’t see how I can do much about that scenario, as hunters not unreasonably sometimes don’t want to wait around.

In another case, I got two callers answering my CQ, and worked one of them with some difficulty because the other one had apparently concluded I was responding to him. I would have put both of them in the log, but alas I didn’t have all of the second caller’s callsign. Anyway it was a very confusing situation and I’m not entirely sure how I might have handled it better, so I’ll have to think on that. It’s complicated, because while I can hear both caller A and caller B, it’s entirely possible that A cannot hear B and B cannot hear A, so I can’t realistically expect A and B to sort it out.

Pragmatics

I picked a nice, shaded picnic table to set up, but some miscreant had dumped a bunch of sand on the seat. A whisk to sweep it clear, or just a pad to lay over the top, would have been nice. Probably a pad is best, as it also would help if the seat is wet from dew or rain.

During the last half hour or so, I was getting bitten by mosquitos pretty badly. I should try remember to bring the Thermacell with a fresh pad to use during afternoon activations.

Finally, while driving to the park, I’d driven about 10-15 minutes before I realized that I’d forgotten to pack the headset, and I had to turn back, get it, and head back to the park. I lost about half an hour of time with that, which is frustrating and I should make a checklist so that I don’t repeat that goofup.

Box Score

fun-o-meter

Total QSOs: 23
Total CW QSOs: 10 (Yay!)
Time spent operating: 110 minutes
Solo CW bonus points: 10

Things lost: 0
Things broken: 0
Gear not included in loadout: 1

Final fun-o-metertm reading: 8.4

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