It was a warm day for February. The kind of day you contemplate grabbing the sunscreen before you leave. Being fare skinned and stubborn, I left the sunscreen behind. Later I would regret this decision and wish sunscreen had been the only thing I left behind. . .
I arrived about 1:02p, Dave Lear (NE5DL) beat me to Rotary Park where we do our monthly radio outings. The park was full of kids. “I’ve never seen this many people here!” I say to Dave. “Which table do you want?” was his response. Dave’s a pretty focused guy, he has the objective in mind.
What is the objective you ask? The ARRL DX CW contest. The 48 hours a year you can work DXCC if you can stay awake for 12 hours a day. Might even work it on multiple bands.
As we are determining where to set up, our ‘normal’ picnic table becomes available so I stroll across the low water bridge with my 2 small bags. Dave has to open up the hatchback and make a couple of trips. I’m feeling good about myself. I’m pretty minimal with my set up. I won a KX2 in a YouTube contest recently (you can watch that here start at 11:13). This is the KX2 field test. Elecraft sent me everything but the CW key and a carry case, which is OK, I have a key!
I’m also testing a new antenna set up. My friend Myron (WV0H) is a grand master of RF and has me back into doublets. I’ve attempted his set up multiple times, but have never mastered it. (click here to see his set up). After much studying I think I have it all figured out.
With my crappie pole, bag of antenna wire, KX2 and confidence I am ready. I laid out the pole and the wires. I staked out the bottom stake and clipped the wires. Disaster ensued. Properly tensioning the wire with the pole is a little more difficult than it looks. After an hour of attempting to set it up I figured out how to bungee the balun to the picnic table and get it tensioned.
Finally I’m ready to operate.
The KX2 comes out, its beautiful and its never been turned on. I pull out my palm mini paddle and am prepared to make my first DX contact on my new rig.
But wait. . .
While I have the paddles, I do not have the cable that plugs into the radio. . .
I do have a KXPD3 from my KX3, but I know that it should not be used with the KX2 as one of the screws is too long. Hearing French Guina calling, I pushed the KXPD3 into the radio, held it with my left hand ,no screw to hold it in, and sent my call. My first contact made with my new radio. . . #BOOM Truly in the spirit of ham radio, this is a totally scrounged together set up.
Lucky for me Dave has one of these paddles and a spare cable. While it took him two trips from the car, he had enough stuff to outfit us both. It worked out perfectly and I will owe Dave.
We made 5-10 contacts between the 2 of us over the next hour. The highlight of the day was attempting to work Italy. Neither Dave nor I could get the Italian station to copy our entire call sign. His KW was loud and clear in Tx. My lowly 5W was just above the noise, but not enough above the noise in Italy.
After a couple of hours it was hot, I was starting to wish I had brought sunscreen, and it was time to focus on the family. Dave and I packed up and I helped carry some of his gear so he only had to make one trip this time.
Lessons learned from this experience.
- If a YouTube channel is giving away a KX2, enter.
- Wires are dangerous items that can be forgotten. Make sure you have all your wires before you leave the house. And if you think you’ve checked, check again.
- Don’t leave the sunscreen behind.
- It pays to go out with friends. Be a good friend!
I’m a relatively new ham. Got my license, joined a club and I’m having fun! I enjoy CW, pedestrian mobile, backpacking, and I dream of building radios at some point. At present I have a wife and daughters so my building time is limited.