by William Eric McFadden


Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, spent a few afternoon hours participating in the 2008 NE QRP Afield contest at a potluck/picnic from the shelter house at Southside Park in Athens, Ohio. This was the first field event in which he used his new-to-him Elecraft K2.

Initially, Eric used his 20' Black Widow to support the center of his 44' doublet. However, with this antenna very few signals were heard on any band and the background noise changed when he touched the paddle or metal cases of the K2 transceiver or Z-11 autotuner, leading him to suspect that something wasn't right with the antenna.

Eric replaced the 44' doublet with the W3EDP end-fed wire, using the 20' pole to support the center of the wire. More signals were heard with this antenna, and noise-level didn't change when he touched the station components, but only one QRP Afield participant was heard on any of the bands and he was so weak Eric couldn't even copy his callsign. Eric did hear several Route 66 special-event stations, one Colorado QSO Party participant (on SSB), and several Salmon Run special-event stations. One Route 66 station was the only station Eric worked.

Despite the poor results, Eric was not too disappointed. One of the young children at the picnic spent considerable time with Eric at the station while he tried to find QRP Afield stations or called CQ and the child seemed to very intrigued by ham radio. Several of the dads present also expressed interest in the hobby. Eric verified that an entire station built around the K2 (except for the 20' Black Widow and Bencher paddles) fits nicely in the old grey laptop case formerly used to carry the QRP Station in a Bag. Eric got to spend some time with the K2 and learned how to use the built-in keyer memories.

Station Description

  • Elecraft K2 at 5 watts
  • LDG Z-11 QRP Autotuner and homebrew balun
  • 44' doublet fed width 72-ohm twinlead; 20' Black Widow fishing pole/mast
  • W3EDP end-fed wire antenna
  • 2.5Ah gel cell battery
  • Bencher paddle