Fog on the Cumberland


Greetings from the North Central Chapter of the Flying Pigs QRP Club International located in Clarksville Tennessee. On this outing we finally got together a few more of the gang. Even though the weather took a cool turn we came out in what I considered force.
At one of our pig pin coffee get together we decided that before it got too cold we should go out again. We put out the word at our local C.A.T.S. club meeting and could not wait for all the folks to come and join us. Well the weather man must have heard us because he decided to cool us off just a bit. We decided to work one of our local walkways along the Cumberland River that runs through our town. We chose a parking area right behind a local restaurant that backs up to the river. It is a great place with plenty of parking and an area lined with trees for our wire OCF (hand made by Terry-N5HOT). On the day of our outing I got up to frost on my windshield and a heavy fog hanging like a sheet over my yard. I was hoping that it would burn off or at least be lighter down by the river but on my drive to the pig pen (local Mc Donalds here in Clarksville) it just seemed to hang in the air like a wet blanket.
When I got to Mc Donalds I met up with Lewis-KF4WK, Terry-N5HOT and Richard-KJ4MXI. We had some coffee and slop to keep us warm for the outing and away we went. We pulled into the parking area and set about putting out our equipment. Terry brought his K-3 and his home make OCF wire antenna, along with his straight key and keyer. I grabbed the table out of Lewis' truck and set about finding a picturesque location to operate from. Looking out over the walkway we had a great view of the river with the fog hanging onto the water and flowing up to the tree tops.
After setting up the table we broke out the chairs and Terry and I got to work putting up the OCF antenna. Terry uses his wrist rocket which has a fishing reel attached to the front with a bracket. It works so good that he was able to put it over a limb high up in the tree of our choice. The only problem was the limb he reached was higher than he had fishing line on the reel. Well I just happen to have my rig of the same construction with me in the truck so I broke it out and tied off my line to his and between us we were able to finish setting the antenna up. The wind was blowing off the river and sending a chill down our spines that was a little uncomfortable. Being used to the heat from our last few outings made us wish for the past four months or so of summer. We are not unaccustomed to cold weather as we often go on outings when it is below freezing. But I think most of us prefer the warmer temps for open air operation.
Today we had to brake tradition in regards to the first contact. Doc-NV4T who is our Boss Hog most often makes the first contact on our outings. But because of personal commitment he was not able to be with us today. Richard-KJ4MXI is one of our newer members and is working to get his code speed up. Today we decided to let him make the first contact. He searched and searched for someone working at a speed he could feel good at but just could not find someone. I think working out in the open with others watching makes it a little harder when you are first learning CW. A little stage fright or something like that. Next Terry-N5HOT got to work scanning the bands for someone to give a shout out to. Terry made sure the VOX was on so that the radio would put out the signals and did some fine tuning on the K3 but he didn't find anyone. We were looking on the 20 meter band and it seemed a little slow.
So it was my turn and I had changed the band to 15 meters just for fun. All of a sudden the sound of CW came ringing out of the radio and to our surprise it was a strong DX station HA3FTA-Ferenc Neumann was hammering out great CW from Alisca, Hungary. Man this radio stuff is too much fun. Ferenc is located 5,100 miles from Clarksville according to QRZ'd and we worked him with 5 watts. That is what QRP radio is all about. With that contact in the log I got all excited and started looking for more. I changed to 40 meters to check out some local US signals and came across AA8MI-Eugene Pearsons in Perrysburg Ohio. His signal was great (599) and his fist was nice and smooth. During our QSO I had to ask him to standby several times so I could warm my sending hand. The wind was blowing across our operating location and making sending CW a real chore. Eugene is involved in QRP also and he was working only 5 watts from his end. I told him about our Flying Pigs operation and Club and he expressed an interest. We had a real good QSO that almost added up to a Rag Chew. I looked up Eugene on QRZ'd and noticed he is active in several radio clubs and is a real good QRP CW operator. Man this to me is what radio is all about. Making new friends while hanging out with your local friends. Speaking of local friends, while we were operating we had Jim Shelton-KT4FQ show up and give us some words of encouragement. Of course he stayed in his truck to stay warm. He knows CW but just keeps holding back and does not get on the radio. He has been on several of our outings and we will get him on the radio in the near future. During the time we were searching for signals we had several people stop and watch our operation. A few asked questions and seemed quite interested in what we were doing. We always take time to talk about what and why we are doing what we doing. You would be surprised how many people know morse code but do not get involved in ham radio. We are always looking for converts. Well it was time to shut down the station so we set about turning off radio and braking down the antenna. What a great time we had even with only a few contacts. One of which qualifies for an award from one of our radio clubs. One watt for the distance of a thousand miles or better is another thing to look forward to our club credits. I love this radio stuff.
Thanks from all the Flying Pig gang and we hope to see you on the air. 72 and OINK OINK
John, KM6NN