Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Loaded Whips and Portable Trips
Because of my very restricted location, I recently purchased the one of the few antenna's I have ever paid money for. It is a coil loaded MFJ 1840T telescopic whip for 40 meters. Granted, I knew it would be a compromise but it turned out to be quite a nice little device. I have no complaints as it does exactly what it should for what it is. Nevertheless, time and time again, I continue to find that there is only one true remedy for a bad location. Portable Trips. Despite the colder autumn temperatures, I decided to pack up and head out in order to try and get in at least one more trip before mother nature starts pooping all manner of nasty stuff upon us. As well, I usually get at least one contact out of a trip which is often far more than I get at home.
Portable trips have come to mean more to me now than I previously suspected they would. For me, they are not just about the magic of QRP and CW anymore. They have become an adventure and exercise in distraction. The main distraction of course is the weather but that is only one aspect. During many of these trips, I have had all manner of wild life visitors: ants, hungry squirrels who love doughnut holes, butterflies, inch worms on my power cord, curious daddy long legs, spiders and other assorted park creatures, apparently anxious to observe first hand the workings of a wireless telegraph station. Ha! Then there are the people who are no less curious. Some seem quite friendly & interested and stop to ask questions.
Others seem to dawn a look of disbelief at the prospect of anyone using Morse code in this dire age of Ipads and Smart Phones. Others trudge by with assorted looks ranging from solid disregard to shear contempt. Finally there are those awesome children. Children are great because for them, everything is still new and magic. They are full of wonderful questions and the very little ones can transmit a light that would make any QRO operator envious. Indeed, one morning a mother with a tiny two year old walked by my pic-nic table and that little one shot me an unexpected and cheerful “good morning” that a heat sink could not dissipate. Today was no different.
Towards the end of my trip today, about six of those big old yellow Bluebird school buses pulled up and offloaded a herd of school kids. Wow! Suddenly, I could hardly hear the fella I was working CW with. Soccer and Basket balls were being kicked all over creation. Then, some boys, just being boys of course, came over and started heaving big wet nasty walnuts at a squirrel that was very near me. I figured that was my cue to pack up for the day. But, as I was doing so, I could hear a teacher asking a rather large group of squirmy younger kids if they wanted to walk over to the play area, to which they all answered in unison, “YES.” “Are we going to walk,” she asked? “YES,” again in unison they replied. When she gave the signal to go, in unison, they all RAN! I could suddenly hear the Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom theme in my mind as I watched this unbridled and colorful stampede of happy little faces. I almost busted out laughing at the faces of the poor teachers who sauntered by flinging words of frustration at one another. Standing there in all my forty nine year old aching glory, it brought back a flood of memories, and reminded me that I am getting old. GEESH!
Portable trips are great for CW and QRP, but also for seeing our great countryside, nature, and the landscape of human living... Think about it