[3830] AzQP K7IA Cnty Exped LP

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Tue Oct 11 22:58:57 PDT 2011

                    Arizona QSO Party

Call: K7IA
Operator(s): K7IA
Station: K7IA

Class: Cnty Exped LP
QTH: AZ cnty line
Operating Time (hrs): 16:46

 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  Dig Qs
   80:    2      4       
   40:   32     64       
   20:  134    618       
   15:   76     96       
   10:   10              
Total:  254    782      0  Mults = 94  Total Score = 121,560



Single op county line (Coconino-Navajo Counties), low power, grid DM44.

Preparation for this event began in late August, when wife, Erin, and I took a
day trip over to last year's AZQP and 7QP county line site to survey the damage
from the HUGH man-caused forest fire in Arizona late last spring.  Repports
indicated that although the forest damage was very widespread, it was patchy in
nature, with many islands of normal timber surviving in a wasteland of complete
destruction.  We wondered if our productive county line site was an "island" or
worse. Alas, while last events' trees remained standing, they were so scorched
that they were no longer green, representing a real danger of personal injury
from falling as they slowly rotted away.  Besides, the area was closed by the
Forest Service.

On to Plan B: find another county line and activate a couple of different
Arizona counties.  I poured over Forest Service charts, topographical maps, and
Google Earth for hours and found a number of possibilities.  I picked off
coordinates of a half dozen in Arizona's Mogollon Rim country (pronounced
"moggie-own").  The Rim is tens of miles in length and runs generally
east-west.  It is a sharp edge where terrain drops suddenly to elevations
2-3000 feet lower.  While not as spectacular as Arizona's Grand Canyon (what
is?), the vistas are magnificent.  At Rim level, the elevation is about 7500
feet, and the vegetation is mostly Ponderosa Pine, Juniper (up to 30 feet
tall), Aspen, and scrub Oak.  It is home to the largest stand of Ponderosa
Pines in the world.  Hence my interest: tall trees for wire antennas and
favorable terrain for propagation.

NOAA Weather predictions were not favorable, but we were committed to going. 
Predicted were strong winds, rain, and 10% chance of snow flurries on
Wednesday--Friday before the event weekend and warm sunshine on Sat-Sunday of
the event.  Well, we've had bad portable ops wx before, so what could be worse
than the past?  Ha!

We left home on Tuesday afternoon and arrived at the closest of the Google
Earth sites I surveyed at noon on Wednesday.  Except for a lone horse grazing
among the pines, we had the place to ourselves.  That was the friendliest horse
we have ever encountered anywhere!  He followed us around as we surveyed the
various sites to set up camp and surveyed the available trees for wire
antennas.  We even wondered if he would allow us to put up antennas, but once
he determined that unlike the others who have camped in the area, we had
nothing tasty to offer him, he wandered off not to be seen again.  We attempted
shooting fishing line into treetops with the trusty slingshot, but it was far
too windy (and too cold) to put the line anywhere near the desired spots, so
Wednesday was a bust.

The torrential rains began sometime on Wednesday night and continued through
Thursday.  Wished we had a rain gauge.  At daybreak, the entire area was a
loblolly of mud, but we were on rocky soil with a good bottom and on a high
point where drainage was good.  Late on Thursday afternoon, we got a 40m vee up
at about 50 feet between rain squalls.

Friday morning broke with cold temps (mid 30's). gusty winds, and without a
cloud in the sky so we got the other antennas up after about five hours of
work.  I've never had so many failed attempts at getting a fishing line into
acceptable positions for subsequent hauls of dacron rope.  Until that day, I
had thought that cold slingshot elastic tubing would have more zip than when
warm.  Not so!  The best I could do in those temps/winds was 50 feet, compared
to the usual 65 feet.

Ten to 15 minutes after the antennas were up (but not tested) it began snowing.
 Fortunately, the total accumulation was only about 0.5 to 0.75 inches, and even
before sundown, warmer temps melted it off.

Saturday and Sunday were beautiful--cloudless, windless, and warm days (in the
50's).  But we no longer had the place to ourselves, for swarms of people in
RVs arrived with their noise-making generators, ATV's, and "quads."  Where did
they come from??  "Fall Break."  What's that??  Some youngsters came over to
inspect the antenna farm, but they didn't hang around for an invitation to ham

homebrew Moxon Rectangles for 20 and 15m
vees for 40 & 80m
vertical wire plus Smarttuner for 10m and backup

This was my third AZQP, and it was by far the slowest.  As usual, I had my
hour-by-hour rate sheet from last year handy, but from the first hour I was
behind last year's tally.  Of course, I wondered why:  antennas lower than
usual?  steady S5 noise level on 20 & 15, peaking to S9 and occasionally to 10
over?  generally weak signals on Rx despite dozens of reports from others
claiming I was "20 over"  had the K3's Rx gone sour?  tricky and awkward QSO
exchange this year--did it scare folks off?  heavy penetration by and extended
hours of the PAQP? 

I've been suspicious about the K3 Rx for the past six months and have talked to
Rene at Elecraft about it, so I'm going to accept his invitation to send it to
him for a tune up and for any hardware mods I haven't yet made.  After all,
it's s/n 388, and it will come back like brand new.

QSO Parties can benefit each other by providing additional activity--witness
the weekend of the 7th Call Area QP, New England QP, and Indiana QP all on the
same weekend.  In fact, to accomodate how busy that weekend in May is for all
operators, N1MM Logger can log all three QPs in a single datafile for those
"out of state" ops.  Unfortunately, such wasn't the case this past weekend. 
Most of the PAQP ops were unaware that there was another QP on the air.  While
all of the PA SSB ops were happy to give their names (when asked) for the AZQP
exchange, a few CW ops refused to do so, stating that it wasn't required for
the PAQP.  I created a second log for PAQP CW contacts, but after working only
eleven running ops, most with no names for the "Note" field, I gave up--a real
blow to this CW op!  I manually kept track of my outgoing serial numbers
(pencil & paper) for all PAQP ops that I worked either in Run or S&P mode.  For
PAQP ops who answered my CQ, I gave them both their needed exchange followed by
the AZ exchange--but I nearly always had to ask for a name, which was not a
great problem.  The PAQP has been on the air for far longer than the AZQP, so I
understand all of the above.  It appears that Arizona and Pennsylvania will be
sharing the same QP weekend for many years to come, so I think it is time for
the sponsors of the AZQP and the PAQP to get together, alert their operators
through their respective rules to the presence of the other QP, explain the
advantages of a second QP sharing the spectrum, and even point out each other's
QSO exchanges. 

Regarding the AZQP exchange this year, it was certainly different.  Some posts
said "awkward" and "confusing," but this AZQP is getting the jump on 2012, the
100th anniversary of Arizona statehood (the Valentine state, Feb 14, 1912). 
Perhaps it was my memories of 8th grade Arizona civics class at dear old
Mansfeld Junior High in Tucson, because I really enjoyed reviewing the list of
important dates (years) of important events in Arizona history and picking one
that I thought to be important (1848).  Now that the dust has settled, I'll be
taking a look at the years the other AZ ops have picked--not all were 1912. 
Naturally, a lot of non-AZ, non-PA were mystified by the AZ
exchange--especially in the last couple of hours on Sunday.  Most offered
serial numbers, etc.  At times I wished I had programmed a macro key .wav file
to say "name and state for the AZQP," but that would have been far too
mechanical and impersonal for ops who just wanted to operate a dozen or so AZ
ops.  A few ops were amazed by my serial number of 1848 so early in the
contest, so that began a chat and a little history lesson about what happened
that year and why I thought it important.  After all, it was supposed to be a
"party," no?

So I say Bravo Zulu and hat's off to Catalina Radio Club for this year's

As they say, thanks for the QSOs, but this is heartfelt for me, because I had
to ask for so many repeats.  My receiver simply wasn't working well, and most
of the signals were just above the noise levels I mentioned above.  I'm certain
that with my reported "20 over" signals, the ops at the other end rightly
thought I was copying the same.  I "partied" with many ops who seemed
interested in Arizona history lessons at the 8th grade level.  Some memorable
chats include KK7AC, Andy, in Alpine, AZ (Apache County) about the Arizona fire
that threatened his house instead of merely destroying my county line site; 
W3TDF, Ray, who is in his mid-80's and was just completing the PAQP and who
lives in the town adjacent to where wife Erin was born.  I should have put Erin
on the air instead of being the QSP, but both Erin and Ray enjoyed it immensely.
 WB4PWZ, Steve--an interesting and enjoyable chat about Moxon Rectangles, and
WA1GS, Guy--another baseball fan who had much to say about the MLB playoffs in
general and the Yankees in particular (for example, with Yankee wealth, why not
a stadium with a dome--25 rainouts in 2011).

Yep, this one was a party.  Thanks!

73, dan, k7ia

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