[3830] TxQP NO5W Single Op LP

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Tue Sep 26 14:32:36 EDT 2006

                    Texas QSO Party

Call: NO5W
Operator(s): NO5W
Station: NO5W

Class: Single Op LP
Operating Time (hrs): 10

 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  Dig Qs
   80:    4              
   40:   96              
   20:  428              
Total:  528     0       0  Mults = 53  Total Score = 102,952



The score includes 19000 points for activating 19 counties with five or more

Hardware: IC-7000, HiQ 4/80, WinKey, GPS-18PC
Platform: 2002 Pathfinder
Sofware: CQ/X de NO5W version 1.6

Returning from my Hurricane Rita imposed evacuation site on the Sunday of TxQP
2005 I had several concerns, some immediate and significant, others less
immediate and, at least to some, rather trivial in the grand scheme of things.
After those significant in the grand scheme of things were put to rest I began
to consider those related to TxQP. 

In 2006 would it regain the momentum lost in 2005 due to weather? Would gas be
available in 2006, and, if available, at what price? Would the mobiles that add
so much fun to these parties return with enthusiasm? Would those outside Texas
make the drive worthwhile by returning for more fun after the disappointment of
2005? Would 2006 be the year the K5NA Driving Burrito Brothers would finally
find a decent breakfast taco for their SSB op? 

Reading the 3830 posts that have appeared so far and recalling the activity
from this past Saturday I think that the answer to those questions is yes, yes,
less than $2.20 where I was, yes, and yes. Folks, mobile and otherwise, inside
and outside of Texas showed up with enthusiasm and a fun time was apparently
had by all. I'll have to wait for the K5NA post to find the answer to the taco
question. Of course, as is usually the case, some had more fun than others --
present author included, but more about that later.

Our Saturday route was basically west and southwest from Houston including a
big loop south and west of San Antonio and, after about a nine hour drive, a
stopover in Fredericksburg northwest of San Antonio. It included a bunch of
counties that we had never put on before and quite a bit of Texas that we had
never seen. So the driver and the radio guy were both excited to see what it
would be like. The route was a good one and, for the most part, met Dave's
(N5DO) description of good Texas highways. Notable exceptions being Mill Creek
Road from Bellville to Cat Spring which threatened at each turn to vanish into
the creek bed and a farm to market road in Live Oak that I had found in Streets
and Trips that appeared to provide a short cut from Bee county through Live 
Oak and over to I37 in Atascosa. This shortcut would form the east-west part of
an essentially equilateral triangle each side being about 15 miles. So, instead
of going all the way to Three Rivers we would save about 15 miles using this
shortcut. That was the plan.  

In Crossing from Karnes into Bee county on Hwy 72 it got real "busy" during the
first ten minutes but after the buzzing pileup subsided a bit I glanced at the
real-time map display and saw that we had missed the shortcut but only by about
a mile. So I convinced the driver to hang a quick U-turn and back we went and
found that shortcut. It was a bit bumpy but before long we were in Live Oak
where things got "lively". After a bit of that lively pile-up I glanced at the
real-time map again and we were in free space untethered to any road, or at
least to any road that Streets and Trips knew about. On our "space-walk" we
seemed to be going in a big cirle and the farm-to-market road that was supposed
to complete our short cut was no where in sight. The program changed all the 
messages back over to Karnes further confirming our circuitous path. Sure
enough Hwy 72 on which we had come out of Karnes into Bee showed up again. So
we took it. And this time we continued on down to Three Rivers and said to heck
with the shortcut that had added at least 15 miles to our route instead of
subtracting. When we came back north from Three Rivers on I37 there was a
turnoff to the road we had been looking for. We had found both ends but could 
not find the middle. If it hadn't been for TxQP, curiousity would have
prevailed and we would probably have gone in search of it from the I37 end.
After that the driving part was pretty uneventful but with some beautiful
scenery in Medina, Bandera, Kerr, and Kendall counties.

Here are the operating results from Saturday:

The following counties were activated with indicated minutes in county, QSOs in
county, initial ten-minute hourly rate, and average hourly rate.  

Montgomery	10:00	8	30	48
Waller		26:00	21	72	48
Harris		 8:00	9	54	67
Washington	11:00	13	78	71
Austin		31:00	22	60	43
Colorado	40:00	25	66	38
Fayette		11:00	11	66	60
Lavaca		31:00	37	120	72
Dewitt		49:00	32	120	39
Karnes		44:00	34	132	46
Bee		21:00	35	168	100
Live Oak	36:00	44	126	73
Atascosa	48:00	53	126	66
Frio		13:00	19	90	88
Medina		57:00	29	102	30
Bandera		19:00	34	126	107
Kerr		39:00	44	150	68
Kendall		11:00	29	150	158
Gillespie	95:00	35	156	60

The time in Gillespie reflects a futile attempt to get something going during
the last hour of the Saturday session on 80M while parked in Fredericksburg as
a refugee from the 40M RTTY chaos. Removing that hour from Gillespie and just
considering drive time the above averages out to about 29 minutes per county
which is a little high of my usual target of around 20 minutes per county.
Certainly there was a good bit of down time in counties like Colorado, Dewitt,
Karnes, Atascosa, and Medina especially since I was CW only and given the QRM
on 40M. 15M was probed several times but with no results. Probably 20 minutes
of the time in Medina was spent on the side of the road trouble shooting and
replacing a WinKey that stopped keying -- fortunately I had brought along a 
spare which is not difficult to do at less than $30.00 a pop.  If you were
trying to work me during that time and wondered why I suddengly disappeared
that is the story. Bee, Kerr, Kendall, and Gillespie provided some nice pileups
on crossing the county line.

Thanks to the following stations for contributing more than half the QSOs
N4PN(13), N6MU(13), AB7RW(11), W0EAR(10), K5UV(10), W9IU(10), VE3KZ(10), 
N4VA(10), N8II(10), K8CW(9), NC4KW(9), N5DO(9), W7GVE(8), K4LTA(8), K8MR(8),
WB8JUI(8), K8IR(8), WA7JHQ(8), WE9N(7), K7REL(7), K9CW(7), N8NA(7), N4JF(7),
W0NTA(6), N2WN(6), K0IO(6), K4AMC(6), KN4Y(6), K4XU(6), N2CU(6), K4BAI(6),
KA3QLF(6), WF5X(5), N4CD(5)

Saturday evening, just as we pulled into Fredericksburg a front came through
resulting in cool and crisp weather on Sunday morning as we prepared to get
underway. It looked like a great day for finishing up TxQP. I didn't realize it
at the time but it was already finished for NO5W. Having worked out Gillespie
the evening before we decided to head for the Llano county line for the Sunday
start. All systems appeared to be go as we travelled up Hwy 16 sending out a
few test signals on 40M. Shortly after crossing into Llano county the driver
commented, "Do you smell that?", to which I replied "Probably the roadkill we
just passed -- skunk I think it was". Well it quickly became clear, after
sending out a few CQs and trying a few S&P with no results, that it wasn't
roadkill -- NO5W had been skunked. Checking further the power output from the
radio was not going above 1%. After a few quick checks of other possible causes
it became clear that NO5W had used up all of his 2006 TxQP presence on Saturday.
But a fine Saturday it was. So we packed it in, changed drivers, and drove into
Austin to have lunch at one of our favorite spots, visited around Austin a bit,
and took a leisurely drive back to Houston.

So, on a personal basis TxQP 2006 was somewhat disappointing. But from the
standpoint of the health of TxQP it was very encouraging. Thanks to all who
participated and a special thanks to my wife Keri who, as usual, did an
outstanding job of driving. Think about it, 8:30am to 6:00pm, 9.5 hours with
only a few short breaks to stretch our legs and a stop for gasoline. Truly a
"top-shelf" performance and well-deserving of that top-shelf margarita at the
end of the day.     

Hope to see everyone back in 2007 and, who knows, NO5W might appear in some
parties in between. After all I've got six hours of unused QSO party gas in my
tank to burn.


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