QRP To The Field

Lake Lanier, GA, April 29, 2000

By Karl Phillips, K4GZZ

Click thumbnail to view full-sized image

Lake Lanier, GA

Greetings, Fellow Hams!

During the weekend of April 29th and 30th, I, along with Tom Dooley - K4TJD, Mike Boatright - KO4WX, Pickett Cummins - AD4S and Betsy, Pickett's wife, visited the Cummins lake resort home near Dawsonville to participate in the annual "QRP to the Field", low power, CW contest. They have a beautiful home located on Lake Lanier near the Chestatee River at the Athens Boat Club.

Lake Lanier, GA
After arriving on Friday evening, we awoke Saturday morning and gathered up all of the necessary things we would need to set up for operation. We loaded the QRP rigs, tools, antennas, sling shots and rope aboard our reserved pontoon boat and took off across the lake. Our destination was a dock on an extended gangway on Lake Lanier.
Preparing for the contest

Upon arrival, we proceeded to tie up and prepare to put up the antennas that we would use for the contest. We shot a 500 foot wire over the lake into a 50 foot pine and bent it over dry land to a support tree. Tom assembled and erected his fishing pole vertical and stood it on the gangway and also threw up Tom's multi-band dipole between two trees at about 25 feet.

After all of the antennas were up and the SWR's were checked, we prepared to take to the airwaves. This was my first QRP contest so I really didn't know what to expect.

Rigs used were the Elecraft K2, the "tiny" SMK-1 and the QRP Plus Index. Mike and Pickett operated the SMK-1 and the Index through most of the contest and Tom and I spent our time on 20 meters, on the Elecraft K2. Mike and Pickett took turns sending and logging and switching between the vertical and the dipole, while Tom and I used the 500 foot longwire. Although we could have used less power, each rig ran a whopping 5 watts and we used our North Georgia QRP Club call - NQ4RP.

K4GZZ and K4TJD operating the K2 on 500' longwire

At the beginning of the contest the water was calm with virtually no wind at all but the occasional passing boat at 60 miles per hour made it real interesting operating! We began the contest at 1524 Z. Although the contest would run 8 hours, you were only allowed to operate 6 out of the 8 hours. Being aboard the boat and on the water we were to sign as Maritime Mobile. A contact with us would be good for 25 points. I assumed we would be a hot item on the air and it appeared that was the case.

The stations were plentiful and we stayed occupied throughout the contest. We ALL had a great time!!! It was like a 6 hour mini-Field Day on water. We suffered only one minor mishap, not counting me cutting my finger in an effort to get off the boat to steady a swaying vertical from tipping over. At one point, Tom - K4TJD discovered that it seemed the dock was a little further away from us than when we started. Tom yelped "WHERE ARE WE GOING?" A mad scramble from Pickett and Mike ensued as they abandoned ship to re-tie us back up to the dock. We were actually underway...drifting out to sea. It left Tom off in a corner of the boat clutching the logbook, while I never let go of the key !

K4GZZ and K4TJD operating the K2 on 500' longwire

Around 3 P.M. things got real interesting. The passing boats got faster and closer to us and the wind really picked up. The seas had become difficult to maneuver in. Tom suffers from motion sickness. He got real green...real fast. At one point, I lost him with the trees in the backdrop. That's how green the guy got!! I was very glad to see him return to his normal pink color shortly thereafter. Tom held his own and was able to take a break and eat lunch. With the wind and the boats rocking us back and forth....sending, logging and hearing became a real challenge but for the entire 6 hours on the air...none of us missed a single dit-dah.

Our adventure was also sprinkled with some "on the air" excitement as Mike let out a yell! He had just worked ALHA in Hawaii on the fishing pole vertical. No joke, that was his call!! Mike got so worked up that he had to turn the key over to Pickett for some relief.

Over on 20 meters, Tom and I snagged a couple of VE's and an OK1 in Czechoslovakia. We couldn't believe our ears. How about working Hawaii and Czechoslovakia on 5 watts. Unbelievable.

NQ4RP/KO4WX working AL0HA

We ended our transmitting right on the nose - 6 hours straight from beginning to end. We dropped the antennas and headed for our port of call. Results were good. We worked around 122 stations and our points at last count were near the 320,000 range.

After the ceremonial QRP to the Field steak dinner we turned in for the night and prepared to leave for home the next morning.

This was a most enjoyable event and our sincere thanks goes out to Pickett and Betsy Cummins for the warm hospitality and putting us up (or would that be putting up with us ???) I am so glad I participated in this event.

72's - Karl - K4GZZ

Editors note: The NOGA Pig was spotted in the woods shortly after the event. Click here to see his secrets revealed! KO4WX

QRPTTF Photo Galleries