For the past 15 years, Tom Kravec, W8TK and I have been tweaking our 1B
2ops entry in FD from his farm in Delaware County, Ohio. Each year, we
learn from and correct any mistakes made the previous year. At first,
we made notes to refer back to. Later, we just remembered. Or perhaps
there were fewer mistakes. Finally, the past 2 years, it became easy.
Tom and I knew exactly what to do. We each had our assigned tasks.
Actually, it was becoming too easy... if that is possible.
Our routine went like this:
Arrive at Tom's house on Friday afternoon. Swim and cookout. Tell
stories, and tuck his kids in bed. Early to rise Saturday morning.
About half hour to the farm. Tom sets up the wires and radios. I
string out the Rohn 50 foot telescoping mast. He helps me pull it up.
I set up the VHF station. Quick run into town for a burger. Start at
2:30pm. 1400 CW qsos later it is over. Won it again by a big
margin.... ho - hum. Tear down, shake hands and "See you next year,
This year we broke from tradition. I moved to Independence, KY as a
result of a work change (who hasn't had one lately???) and Tom had some
health problems. He is ok now. But, we decided to try FD this year
from Northern Kentucky - just south of Cincinnati, OH. Almost 5 acres.
Smaller than his farm, but plenty of space and a few 100' trees to boot!
Northern Kentucky is beautiful. Rolling hills, creeks, sunsets painted
in the west sky nearly every evening, and birds - everywhere. I was
lucky. I bought the farm from a farmer's first born son who decided
that his parcel given him by his father was too much to handle. Too
many weeds, grass to cut, chores... etc. You get the picture.
Anyway, we decided to keep with the 1B 2 ops category that had worked so
well for us. This time, we would trade the pole barn for a tent. A six
man tent turned out to be more like a 2 man/2 table tent. At best.
Thank God hot showers were close by (the house is 100' from the
operating site). It was 110 degrees in the tent or more. Fans had to
be placed strategically to keep us from suffocating. The equipment was
smoking hot. Not a good plan for a FT-1000D. A fan was placed on it to
keep it happy. Towels were placed on the VHF station when not in
action. Lesson for next year... put the tent in the shade. (There is
not much on my property... just the 100 foot trees in the corners of the
We have been lucky over the years. No rain to speak of, and only a few
isolated thunderstorms in the distance. Never has one hit us during
operating hours. This year was no exception. But, there was one that
hit just at the finish. Rained for hours afterward. Thank-you.
I mentioned Murphy. More like distractions, rather. We forgot our CT
keying interface and failed to scope out the RS 12 satellite passes.
(Ultimately cost us 100 points) Plus, the 2 computers were not working
with the TNC-2 packet interfact. Could be another 100 points...
Finally got the packet set up working. The TNC-2 had a funky IRQ or
protocol mismatch with my usual CT COMTSR setups... scrapped the TNC-2
and went to my trusty KPC-3. Home brewed a keying interface out of a
spare high power PNP transitter, (2) 470 ohms resistors in series, and a
butchered 25 pin LPT cable. Just soldered them together, and placed on
table. Worked first time... yea ha ! All set. 10 minutes to go
before we start.
I operated the first 4 hours, as per S.O.P. First hour, 75. Second
hour 75. 3rd hour over 60. We are off on record pace!!! The third
hour is ALWAYS a flop, for some unknown reason. Maybe it is me. Too
analytical, or something - affects my performance. 4th hour, well into
the 70's. Nearly 300 CW qsos in the log in the first 4 hours. 20 ahead
of any other year. So far, so good.
Uh, oh. 40 meters is crashing... And 80 meters is QRN city. Signals
have tons of QSB, too. Rates drop WAY off. Looks like it will be the
first year our score declined in a decade. Blame it on conditions, I
say, knowing full well that everything else seems to be working just FB.
Or will it be a bust. Tom has some fantastic hours Sunday morning.
They are always good on Sunday morning, but Tom has rate meter well over
100 again. QSOS piling up. But, wow... 80 was so crummy in the wee
hours of the morning that he had to switch to 160 meters. 1 qso
there... At least it was a qso. ( Rate dropped below 30 an hour
overnight for first time in history). ALMOST warranted going to SSB.
Both Tom and I hate SSB. Have always done it 100 percent CW (except 2
meter SSB and a few years ago experimented with small mix of SSB). Not
gonna make 1400 qsos this year... :(
I try the Russian satellites, as usual... using the satellite programs
that have always made it possible. The passes this year are crummy.
Low in the sky, and short duration. The new satellite RS16 seems to be
silent... Plus, I experienced brain-lock this year. Blame it on the
change in venue. Or the heat. Whatever. I forgot that there was a
coax switch in the line on the satellite rig. Took me till Sunday to
figure it out. 3 more passes of the bird to go. Never heard it those
passes. Did hear it early in the morning, but it was at the end of the
pass. Was listening on the main rig, and was not set up to try qso from
there. That is how I figured out there was no antenna on the satellite
Alas, we were gonna lose 100 bonus points in addition to our lower qso
count. But, I was having a ball. Saturday night was so much fun when
the sun finally set and the tent temperature recovered to Earth-like
Actually, I think we both had fun. The score was only slightly down
from last year (an all time high for us by a big margin). And the score
was considerably higher than a few years ago, which was at that time a
good score... No complaints from me !
The totals are 1225 cw qsos, 17 SSB qsos (2 meters) and 150 watts.
Bonus points of 700 points equals a claimed score of 5,634.
Will we do it from KY next year, or return to the familiar Delaware
County, OH farm? Can't say for sure. But, I can say for sure that my
friend, W8TK and I will be on next year 1B 2 ops. See you then...
Doug Klein, K4LT (ex-WD8AUB)
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