Bumblebee #90 Report

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From: Ken Edwards (ken.edwards@oit.gatech.edu)
Date: Tue Jul 27 1999 - 09:37:27 EDT


First, I want to apologize to my contacts for my sometimes incoherent
transmissions....I had some "issues"!
Second, I would like to applaud their great "ears" for being able to hear
my station!
My XYL and I arrived at our chosen spot in the North Georgia mountains
(about 2.5 hours NW of Atlanta) on
Saturday afternoon, unpacked and got settled in. One of the initial things
I did was conduct an RF survey, using my
Tokyo Hy-Power HT-750, to check out electrical environment. It sounded
pretty good!

Sunday, we arose and had a leisurely breakfast, decided to hike a riverside
path of a couple
of miles and enjoy the scenery. The morning was warm, but not too bad.
After a nice walk, we arrived
back at the base camp with, what I thought, was ample time to prepare for
the contest.
By now the ambient temperature was 95 degrees and climbing, with a 80+
percent humidity...
(95 degrees + 80% humidity = HOT). I got the antenna situated, the Index
Labs QRP++ setup, and plugged
up the power station.

THE RF NOISE WAS S9+40!?

I could not hear a thing. What had happened? There were some high-power lines
in the distance, but they'd posed no issue yesterday. Well, it was now
12:30 with no time to waste. What to do?

I recalled a park, several miles away, that was devoid of trees (and power
lines!) on all sides. OK! Break down
the station, antenna, accessories, load 'em up and move out.

Did I mention it was HOT?

I got it all together and got moving. I felt I' make it OK!

Well, here in Georgia, folks attend church on Sunday. The local church
apparently let out at 12:30. The road
was full of vehicles (all "Sunday" drivers), going in my direction, at a
leisurely pace. Fortunately, many
eventually turned at the local Dairy Queen and I had a free shot at getting
to the park.

I got there, got all the gear out, checked the noise floor, and IT WAS
STILL NOISY! OK- everything back in the car,
move down the way about a mile and check again. The noise was acceptable! YEA!

So, I re-erect the OUTbacker (did I mention it was HOT??), setup the
station, plug in the power station....
and promptly short out the connector and blow a fuse. Of course, I don't
have any more miniature fuses, BUT I do
have another battery! I hook it up, and the rig is working like a champ.

At this juncture, with all the activity I am generating, a crowd (...well,
maybe three people...) gathers to see what
all the ruckus is about. The questions start:
ONLOOKER-"You going fishing (referring to the antenna)?"
ME-"No. This is a radio station,and I am going to work a contest".
ONLOOKER-"Oh".
>pause<
ONLOOKER-"You catching any fish?"
ME - >pause< I try again

....and so it goes.

Did I mention it was HOT?

I commence operating in earnest. Twenty meters is a hive of activity. Many,
many stations. I make a couple of contacts, then stake
out a frequency and call CQ BB. It's great! Antenna and station are working
well, and I am generating contacts. YEA!

Then I notice this slight RF noise. Not bad at first, it steadily increases
in volume, until it's above S9!
What the heck is going on?

Looking around, I notice a diligent city/county employee on a riding lawn
mower, cutting the grass in the park. He's cutting
long, long rows, and as he approaches the noise builds, and as he turns and
heads away, it slowly declines...

Now tell me, how many public service employees do you know who work on Sunday?

Did I mention it was HOT??

So...what to do? Basically, my decision was to bear with it, and put the
headphones up on my temple, which somehow
mitigated the noise and allowed me to copy the CW, even when the mobile RF
generator (i.e., grass mower) was quite
strong.

OH- totals...I was able to work 39 stations/15 other Bumblebees, as far
away as Montana and Wyoming, in three hours of
operation. I feel pretty good about it, considering...

Now, about next year...


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