by William Eric McFadden



Three members of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team operated the 1999 E-PA QRP Club TAC. Mike Hansgen, AA8EB; Drew McDaniel, W8MHV/9M2MC; and Eric McFadden, WD8RIF operated the event from the campground at Strouds Run State Park in Athens County, Ohio. Each operator used his own station and callsign. The team was joined by Tom Witherspoon, KF4TZK, and his lovely girl, Heather.

Mike arrived first and selected and paid for the campsite. Eric arrived shortly thereafter and quickly erected his newly-constructed W6MMA vertical, and then Mike and Eric tried--with dramatically little success--to throw lines into the well-spaced trees to support Mike's 135' Zepp. Tom took over the line-throwing task when he arrived and quickly had the doublet suspended about 25' from the ground. While this was going on, Eric set up his QRP Station in a Bag, and as the event start time had arrived, started making QSOs.

About the time the doublet was finally suspended, Drew arrived and suspended his stealth 20m dipole between two trees just above head height. Drew set up his QRP Plus field station and began making QSOs.

Mike, set up his Yaesu FT-920 and DSP unit. He was eager to demonstrate the switch board he added that allows cascading of IF CW filters. The performance of this rig as he has configured it is impressive. In addition, Mike was pleasantly surprised to learn that the FT-920's internal tuner easily tuned the Zepp on all bands when the Zepp was fed through an LDG "balun box". Of course, Mike kept the '920 turned down to less than 5 watts for this event!

The trio's primary goal for this outing was to try out the two new antennas--the 135' Zepp and the W6MMA vertical--and to test the recently acquired band-pass filters. The 135' Zepp performed well and tuned easily for Mike on all bands he tried. The W6MMA vertical performed well and allowed easy operation on 20m and 40m, the only two bands it was tried on. Eric tried both the W6MMA and the Zepp, and found the performance of the vertical to be about the same as that of the Zepp. The W6MMA is very easy to deploy--it looks to be a keeper.

In previous events, it was discovered that even at QRP levels inter-station interference was so bad that at times only one rig could be in operation at a time. To help alleviate this, Mike studied band-pass filters and eventually purchased 15m, 20m, and 40m band-pass filters by ICE. Drew homebrewed a 40m version. These filters work! Operation was able to take place on 15, 20, and 40m without any interference from the other rigs.

The bands weren't as good as could have been hoped. No signals were heard on 15m, and very few were heard on 20m. 40m was better but few contest stations were heard.

Eric logged seventeen QSOs on 20 and 40m. The majority of Eric's QSOs were made on 40m. Eric's highlight QSO was with HP1AC on 20m using the Zepp--Cam tail-ended at the end of a QSO to call Eric. Mike and Drew each logged a handful of QSOs.

Update! It looks like Eric earned third place in "QRP Tactical" category.