by William Eric McFadden



Three members of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team operated the 1998 Freeze Your B___ Off (sponsored by the Arizona ScQRPions). Mike Hansgen, AA8EB; Drew McDaniel, W8MHV/9M2MC; and Eric McFadden, WD8RIF operated the event from the Kiwanis Shelter at the Athens County Fairgrounds in Athens, Ohio. They were joined by guest Greg Weinfurtner, NS8O.

As they did last year, the RATs wrapped the Kiwanis shelter in sheet plastic. This year, Mike and Eric arrived about 10am of the event to find beautiful, sunny skies, snow-covered ground, and a temperature in the upper thirties. Unlike last year, there was no significant wind. Mike and Eric quickly wrapped the plastic around the shelter and erected the W3EDP antenna from Eric's QRP Station in a Bag and his 20m full-wave delta loop.

By the time the first two antennas were strung, Drew had arrived. Three stations were set up. Eric set up his QRP+, tuner/bridge, keyer, and accessories from the QRP Station in a Bag, and tuned up on 40m. His solar panel and bright sun helped to maintain the charge of the 2.5Ah battery. Mike set up his Scout and new DSP-9 and tuned up on 20m. Drew set up his QRP++ and homebrew QRP tuner/bridge, hung Eric's 10m/15m RS-12 fan dipole from a tree, and started operating 15m. The first QSO was made with a temperature of forty-six degrees "at the key".

Mike was inspired to hang his 40m half-square, and managed to enlist the aid of Eric. Ropes were thrown into the trees just high enough to almost get the vertical elements off the ground.

Mike, Drew, and Eric swapped bands throughout the afternoon. It was quickly found that even at QRP levels operations on 20m were seriously hindered by the operations on 40m. Indeed, nearly all the 40m QSOs Eric managed were with the 20dB attenuator engaged to avoid the interference from the 20m station.

The trio was joined by guest Greg, who took the key of Eric's QRP+ and quickly worked two stations. Family obligations required Greg to leave soon thereafter, but he worked several more stations from his home QTH later in the afternoon. (And the temperature of his basement shack was lower than the temperature eventually reached within the shelter.)

The outside temperature climbed to the upper forties as the afternoon progressed. Inside the shelter, however, the plastic and the bright sun conspired to increase the inside temperature to a high of sixty-eight degrees. (Passive solar works!) However, as the sun reached the western horizon, the temperature inside quickly dropped to fifty-four degrees.

Eric prepared the gourmet lunch: canned beef stew and homemade banana-nut bread. (Eric's wife Vickie baked the latter. Eric opened the can of the former all by himself and heated it for the group on his Sterno stove.)

The RATs shut down operations about 5pm so as to drop the antennas and remove the plastic from the shelter before dark. Eric's wife Vickie and the kids arrived just in time to help fold the plastic and remove the staples.

During the operation, Mike managed about eighteen QSOs on 20m and 40m. Drew made a handful of QSOs on 15m and several on 20m and 40m. Eric made twenty-nine QSOs on 20m and 40m, all with the W3EDP antenna.

Lessons Learned

Reports from Others