10564 miles and three oil changes on the RV
Logged LOTW QSO’s 10,749
Confirmed LOTW 5,955
As of today I am #7 out of 1,023 activators
The XYL did a blog of the trip and I had a SPOT real time tracker going both can be linked from my QRZ page.
Mounted the Flex 6700 behind the driver seat and
ran SmartSDR from a small Intel I5 NUC cube computer. I used a 15 inch usb monitor mounted on the
dash. Everything running on 12v. Had
the Maestro shipped to me in Kentucky but didn’t
get the RadioSport cable until Salt
Lake city. I
never did get it to work with router to the radio.
A hex beam on a 35ft Will-Burt pneumatic Mast or a 31 ft vertical wire
held up by telescoping fiberglass pole with
SG-237 auto tuner at the base. Sometimes I would put out a few
radials but most of the time would just use the RV chassis as counter.
A few thoughts on radio operation.
1. It is a whole lot different being on the receiving end of a Pileup.
It is very fun but a lot of pressure to log the contacts correctly.
I tried to never QRT from a site if people were still calling.
I tried to work at least 100 stations from each park. An average activation was from one to
two hours. The most sentimental, for me, was AA18, Oklahoma City
a. Two important things: consistency of exchange which I didn’t do all that well.
b. ID the park and your call very very often. I did ok on that.
I would work a good many of the strong stations then pick out a weak s2 or 3 station and then call for any other stations in what ever area that happened to be. I don't like stations that only work by the numbers. I would mix it up. My objective was to work every station that needed the park.
Being chased, it is not necessarily good to have a lot of
power. Your not trying to bust the pile.
Your usually not trying to maintain a freq as in a contest with a crowded band. If you run 1000 watts and have a high noise
level, then 300 people are going to hear you that you have no chance of hearing but together they
are going to be enough to cause qrm. I
would call cq at 100 watts and once I had things going I would drop to around
50. Since I was running on straight
battery I would have plenty without running the generator. If the flex shuts down do to low voltage it
takes an eternity to re boot and everyone thinks your gone.
2. You will never find all the noise sources in an RV. LED lighting and solar panels can be a big problem. I would get in what you would think would be a remote, noise free location in a park parking lot and have a huge noise level. Look up and see they are eco minded and have solar charging batteries for the lights. Most of the time you could not get far enough away to still be “legally” on the park property. But it was heaven when I was on a mountain top no power lines, nothing. On 20m I could run 10 to 20 db preamp and hear stations that were only thinking about giving me a call. I never wanted to leave and was so sad when I had worked everyone.
I used N1MM with a DXpedition log for each activation. That was probably not the best option but it worked. I now have 122 logs that I would like to merge somehow and sort by call sign and number of times worked. I had some stations with contacts from well over 20 parks. If I had internet via tether to my phone I would upload after the last contact from a park. I would monitor the freq for a late caller while getting the log saved and loaded.
My biggest lid mistake was getting my park designation wrong twice. The first time was the xly’s mistake. She was writing my notes for the activation and wrote the thing down wrong The second was all me. I had written “PV whatever it was” but then when I started xmitting I said no this is a National Park and should be NP whatever” fortunately I didn’t make but 2 or three contacts before someone ask are you in Alaska? No No No Montana... Car 54 where are you....From then on I checked and double checked and checked again my location.
5. It is unbelievable how many people have bad to very bad audio.
6. Unlike some DX pileups I’ve heard, stations for the most part were courteous.7. Pet peeve. People tuning up on freq. Sometimes it was intentional qrm
But most of the time it was not
Minor .peeve. You got a good run going a some nice person wants to rag chew, with their station set up etc. You acknowledge how good it is working and thank you for the contact. Then he comes back with the current wx report and then the extended forecast. How do you be nice and get back to the people patiently waiting? This is not to say that on occasion I would not break the flow with “what part of WVA you in or hi Jay haven’t heard you in awhile glad to have you back" but that was usually when I needed a sip of lemonade to clear my throat.
8. There are a
heck of a lot of nets on the air. Too many for me to keep track of the freq
and times. I ended up on “their” frequency several times. The worst was the Collins net. I had
been on over an hour when they decided to all tune and then call cq while I
still had a consistent pile up going. Another time I had a hug pile going
and one of the net people called made the contact and then ask if I would
consider QSY. That was not a problem and
worked well. I found another freq and the net person spotted me on the new
It was great fun and there are still 5 months to go.