In the event you need a reminder, the Maryland/DC QSO Party for 2016 was held on the weekend of August 13 & 14. As many of you will recall, last year’s QSO Party was held at the Port Tobacco Marina thanks to the efforts of Paul (KB3YXS). Those who were in attendance last year were all in agreement that the location was great and that we’d had an enjoyable time so we opted to once again operate from the marina this year, thanks to the efforts of Paul.
One big difference this year, and the factor that none of us could predict or control, was the weather. As you may remember, last year on Saturday, Aug. 15th we were treated to a delightful break in the heat and humidity resulting in an outstanding day for outdoor operation. This year was just the opposite with the prolonged tropical heat wave making even sitting in the shade uncomfortable.
We started on Friday evening with Paul, Boy Scout Bob (KB3KOW) and me showing up around 7:30PM to set up Paul’s large canopy. Unfortunately the canopy is so large that it really needs a minimum of four people to set it up. So under Paul’s direction, Bob and I did what we could by assembling the frame, attaching the canopy and getting everything ready for final assembly the next morning. Local sunset didn’t occur until after 8PM so it was still quite warm when the three of us departed, after agreeing on a time to arrive on Saturday morning.
The old adage of “If you don’t like the weather, wait a day it will change” unfortunately didn’t hold true as we were in for another day of the three H’s – hazy, hot and humid. Paul, Bob and I were joined by Rob (N2OMC) and the first order of business, as the sun rose in the east above the Port Tobacco River, was to finish the assembly of the canopy. With the canopy up it was time for the most important function, the setting up of the antennas. After all, what is a radio without an antenna?
This year the antennas used were an S9 31 foot vertical and an inverted V 40 meter dipole. With the antennas up, we placed a few tables under the canopy and set up our operating stations. Radios used for the event included an Icom 706 MkIIG, an Icom 715 and a Kenwood D-710. The was no commercial power readily available this year so Paul brought along his surprisingly quiet Honda EU2000i generator which supplied more than ample power for the session.
The only downside to last year’s session was the lack of activity on the bands. Unfortunately the same held true this year although we did make a few more contacts this time. While it was hot, and got hotter as the day went on, there was a pleasant breeze coming off the river that made things a little more bearable. During the course of the day we were visited by Ralph (KC3ASH) and Jim (K3DRJ). After Jim’s departure we made a couple of contacts with him on different bands to add to his contact list and ours. I managed two contacts, (Two more than last year!) one with a gentleman in Harford County who, unbeknownst to us at the time, had authored the logging software we were using. The second was with an individual in Florida (Using a “3” call) who said he was running low power but for a period came booming in.
In the afternoon, Rob stated that the heat was getting to him and departed, leaving Paul, Rob and I as the holdouts. By this time the sun was at our backs and while we had the cover over our heads, the sun was shining on the ground from behind us. This heated up the black cinders under us which was somewhat akin to sitting on blacktop. So, not too long after Rob’s departure, Paul, Bob and I also decided to call it quits, despite the fact that the bands seemed to be opening up with the changing aspect of the sun. We took down the antennas and put most of the equipment in Rob’s and Paul’s vehicles, leaving the canopy for teardown on Sunday morning.
As scheduled, Bob, Rob, Paul and I met one last time on Sunday morning, again around 7AM before it got too warm, so that the large canopy could be taken down. It came down a lot quicker that it went up and once everything was loaded into Paul’s truck we departed within 2 hours.
Again this year, we owe a big “Thank You” to Paul for providing so much equipment, for all of the effort he put in and for arranging the site in the first place. Also a big tip of the CCARC cap to Mike Mona for allowing the CCARC to set up at this fine location.
73, Art, AA3RT