I was on a mission today and there were three things I wanted to accomplish. With one trip to a local park, I was able to check them all off of my list.
First, I submitted a write-up on my homebrew, drive-on antenna mount for the Ideas Exchange column in the QRP Quarterly publication. Mike WA8MCQ, the column’s editor, asked for some more pictures. So, I needed to get out and set up somewhere to take a few shots.
Next, I wanted to field test my little American Morse MS2 straight key and the homebrew magnetic mount I built for it. I had used it at home but I was anxious to see how it works out in a portable setting.
Finally, I wanted to get out and make some Straight Key Century Club (SKCC) QSOs using a real antenna (as opposed to using my downspout at home). I only had an hour, so I needed to move quick.
I headed out for Black Rock Sanctuary, which is just outside Phoenixville, PA. On arrival, I set up the drive-on mount and took some pictures before and after deploying my 31-foot Jackite pole. I used a 29.5-foot vertical wire with one counterpoise wire fed through a 4:1 unun. My rig today was my trusty YouKits HB-1B powered from a small gel cell battery.
I started on 40M and posted my frequency on the SKCC Sked Page. Almost immediately, I got a call from KB1WOD in Vermont. He gave me a decent signal report, despite some less-than-optimal band conditions. A few minutes later, I had a 2-way QRP QSO with KD3CA here in Pennsylvania. I finished out my brief session with a 2-way QRP QSO on 20 meters with AA4MX in Florida.
As for the MS2 straight key, I have to say it worked pretty well. My homebrew magnetic mount held the key firmly to my clipboard. I was pleased with that. Using a straight key in the confines of my pickup truck’s cab was a little challenging, though. I also found the feel of the key a little loose, so I’ll need to tighten up the spring tension a bit.
So, in about an hour, I accomplished my mission. I got the pictures I needed, tested my little straight key/clipboard setup, and made a few SKCC QSOs to boot.
72, Craig WB3GCK