by William Eric McFadden



Two members of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team and a guest participated in the 2014 Freeze Your B___ Off, an operating event sponsored by the Arizona ScQRPions. Eric McFadden, WD8RIF; Miles McFadden, KD8KNC; and soon-to-be-licensed Tim Creamer operated the event in Tim's Aliner camper parked on Tim's driveway. Neither Miles nor Tim operated the radio.

The forecast for this day was partly cloudy with temperatures rising from about 35° to about 60°; this high temperature was a welcome change from over a week of temps remaining below freezing.

The camper -- click to enlarge Eric and Miles arrived at Tim's QTH about 9:45AM to find the Aliner camper already set up and ready for the installation of the radio equipment. Unfortunately, Tim had turned on the camper's electric heater and the camper was a comfy 70°; upon discovering this, Eric left the camper door open in an attempt to earn a low-temp multiplier.

Eric and Miles quickly erected the MFJ-1910 33' fiberglass mast and used it to support the center of Eric's W3EDP antenna at 30'.

This event was to be Eric's first use of his Elecraft KX3 in a field operation. Eric set up his KX3 on the camper's small table, using the KX3 Travel Kit's 10-cell Eneloop battery-pack and Whiterook MK-33 Mini Single Lever Paddle. Eric configured the KX3 to continuously display the power-supply voltage so he could track the Eneloop battery-pack's performance.

This being the first time Eric had used the KX3 with the W3EDP antenna, he quickly verified that the KX3's internal antenna tuner could match the W3EDP on all bands without a 4:1 balun. However, he found that KXAT3 could find a better match, and more quickly, on some bands with the 4:1 balun so this was the configuration Eric kept for the contest.

By the time the station was ready for operation, the interior of the camper had dropped to 49°. Eric's first QSO was at 1537Z and the temperature for this QSO was the lowest recorded. As the afternoon progressed, the temperature inside the trailer rose to almost 60°.

Eric found FYBO stations to be few and far between. FYBO stations were heard and worked on 20m and 40m. No stations were heard on 15m; 10m and 80m weren't checked. A surprising number of stations operating the Minnesota QSO Party were found on the 40m QRP calling frequency. 20m was surprisingly noisy—by the end of Eric's operation, the noise floor had risen to S9.

Stations Worked by WD8RIF
Time Freq Callsign RST(s) RST(r) SPC Name Pwr Temp(s) Temp(r) Notes
1537 7031 AA8MK 599 599 OH Jim 100w 49 73 Eric's CQ
1603 14061 AB9CA 599 559 AL Dave 5w 55 68
1622 14061 W5MSQ 559 559 TX Ed 5w 59 65
1634 7030 AB8DF 599 599 MI Ed 5w 59 62
1655 14063 K4BYF 559 559 FL Jack 5w 59 70 Eric's CQ
1700 14063 W1SFR 559 559 VT Steve 5w 59 36 Eric's CQ
1704 14060 N4BP 599 599 FL Bob 5w 59 77
1725 7030 K4UY 599 599 AL Ron 100w 59 69 24-minute rag-chew

Because of the very slow progress of making QSOs, and because of the sunny 60° day that begged to be enjoyed on a bicycle, Eric tore down the station about 1800Z. By the end of the operation, the Eneloop battery-pack was measuring 12v during receive.