[3830] ARRL FD K4XD 1D HP

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Mon Jun 30 07:17:41 EDT 2008

                    ARRL Field Day

Call: K4XD
Operator(s): K4XD
Station: K4XD

Class: 1D HP
QTH: Raleigh, NC
Operating Time (hrs): 3

 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  Dig Qs
   10:    9     23       
    6:    1     27       
Total:   10     50      0  Total Score = 70

Club: Potomac Valley Radio Club


Was out of town until Sunday afternoon so just got on to hand out a few points. 
Six was open very nicely to the NE and added CT, MA, NH, NJ and VT to my 6M WAS
totals, now have 23 states worked.  I built a new 6M "Home Depot Special"
antenna a couple weeks back from a design in Popular Communications and it is
making a real difference for me, lots of "big signal" reports (don't you love
that feeling!?).  It is literally made entirely from Home Depot parts -- copper
pipes (painted camo brown) for the six elements, a boom rigged up from square
aluminum tubing, etc.  It's up on one of Henry K4TMC's surplus military masts,
only about 25 feet at the moment, on a small Channel Master TV rotator.  I need
to clear out some more tree limbs so I can relocate it to a better spot and get
a little more altitude, but it is actually doing the job fine for me where it
is.  Even worked my first 6M EU station on it, although not in FD so let me get
back to the subject at hand. 

The other area where I'm weak on WAS is 10M, since I've only had my ticket
about 2 years and 10M has not exactly been popping in that timeframe.  So I
figured with my limited couple of hours I would see if I could pick up some new
states there as well, and happily 10M was in good shape too, full of signals and
I worked ME, MI, NY and RI to bring my WAS totals there to 42.  Also outside of
FD activity, but I worked my first VE and W stations on 12M!  Talk about a
neglected band.  I guess it also speaks to the broad range of different things
we can do in this hobby -- I've been pretty active over the past two years but
hadn't even worked my own country on 12M!

With 90 minutes left to FD, I was feeling guilty about operating only from my
home shack, so I decided to try and get a couple of Q's done "FD style."  I
took my Elecraft KX1 QRP rig, loaded with batteries, and a 10-20-40M QRP Par
End Fedz antenna out to the back yard.  Threw a line over a branch and hauled
up the antenna, plugged 'er in, and got to work.  I use a Palm mini-paddle with
the KX1  and it has an amazingly nice feel for such a tiny paddle.  I started
tuning around on 20M and immediately heard some FD stations CQ'ing.  I tapped
out K4XD on the Palm... back comes another CQ.  Hmmm, QRP takes some getting
used to when you normally run 100W to 1000W from a home station!  Tuned up the
band, found another CQ'er, sent K4XD, heard another CQ.  OK, we can do this. 
Checked all the connections, made sure some menu setting wasn't set that turned
the KX1 into a code practice oscillator, and got back to work.  I finally ran
across a loud 8 station who sent ? instead of CQ when I called.  This is
progress.  I sent my call again... and the Palm mini paddle suddenly developed
a mind of it's own.  It was like my first CW QSO.  I'd hold the "dah" paddle
down to send the 4 dah's of the 1 in 1B, and it would send dah-dah-dah-di-dah. 
What the #$??  Try again -- dah-dah-di-dah-dah.  I could imagine the puzzled
expression of my QSO mate on the receiving end of this.  I was sending "jazz,"
not "CW."  Even my own call sign was getting embellished with random dit's
interspersed among the dah's.  

After several attempts, I started whacking the paddles for each dit and dah,
and finally hammered out a staccato rendition of "1B NC." I breathed a sigh of
relief when I heard the "TU" come back (he probably wanted to send "TU ES PSE
GO PRACTICE SENDING CW"), pulled the cord on the paddle and slumped in my

Thus ended my FD style operating experience!  I later figured out that the
paddle was adjusted a bit tight, and I suspect just squeezing the right paddle
was causing the center contact to lean left a bit and touch the left paddle. 
Loosening it up a tad restored order and sanity -- but FD was already in the

73 and thanks for the new 10M/6M states!


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