Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Well, I have now worked 50 states.

Well, I have now worked 50 states.

I bagged Rhode Island yesterday by sort of crashing a party.

I found out about this 40 meter net that was primarily a New England net and started listening and looking up call signs and suddenly realized the guy running the net was from the Nutmeg state.

So I threw in my call sign to check in and we exchanged call signs and signal reports. When that was done I told him he was my 50th state in my WAS project. I asked him for a QSL card and he agreed. I think by the tone of his voice he realized he wasn't too pleased.

The other guys seemed to think it was pretty cool and a couple of them congragulated me.

His is in the mailbox now along with an SASE to make it harder for him to weasel out of sending me a card.

Postage is going up so I guess if you want a paper card back these days it is probably a pretty good idea to incluse an SASE. I have not really been doing this unless asked so that may be part of the reason I will probably have to work a couple states again to get paper.

While all of this can be done by computer, the ARRL requires either paper or their own electronic QSL bureau. I really do not want to open an account at the ARRL because the bureau at the ARL is not really too user friendly. Maybe it's me, but for this project it is going to be paper.

Alaska was the roughest but things like that are where I really shine. It was about a three hour long drawn out drama where I had to improvise, overcome and truly focus. I only left the rig once for about three seconds to yank my dinner out of the oven when it was ready to burn. I threw the baking fish full of cod on the rug beneath my feet until it cooled and yaffled it down with bare hands, wiping them off on my clothing.

Clothing can be washed. Soap is cheap. Opportunities are priceless and have to be taken advantage of. The truth is simple. Ya gotta wanna. I wanted this state bad. Real bad.

The Alaska contact actually took three of us because there was a guy in the middle of us cheering us on and middle manning things. When someone wanted to try another band he passed the work back and forth.

Right after a sloppy dinner I had to urinate and it I mean now. There was a small wastebasket nearby and I had been meaning to ditch it anyway. I used that and tossed it out the window. It has since been picked up, rinsed out and now resides in the trash.

I'm no stranger to things like this. When I was fishing in Alaska I have peed my pants while working gear. I am not alone. In fact, I suffered a touch of food poisoning once and projectile vomited all over a shipmate once. I said "Excuse me, Randy".

"Well, certainly, Pic," he replied. Not a single word was ever said about the incident. A couple of seconds the heavy seas washed everything away.

Anyway, it came down to where the man in Alaska was receving me but I was not receiving him. We had changed between the 17, 20 and 40 meter bands a few times to no avail. I had an idea and ran with it.

I chopped power by switching rigs. I switched to Old Reliable, the little backpack rig, the PRC 320. While it only supposidly puts out 30 watts (I think less) the receiver can pull a signal out of a tomb. I also put on the headset and experimented with the volume control. It is a misnomer that to hear throough the noise that you turn up the volume.

When you do that you also turn up the background noise. You fiddle around until you find the spot that fits so you can hear the signal best through the noise. Sometimes you turn the set down.

In a way he was kind of stuck because he had one rig to work and was doing pretty much what I was, working on a simple improvised antenna. I was lucky because I had another tool to work with.

I tuned the antenna and clamped on the headset and went into a Zen focus.

I found out what he had already told me via internet before we started. He had the entire Chugach mountain range blocking his signal. Apparently I was skipping over it and he could receive me even though I was down in the mud of the background noise on the band.

We swapped bands to 17 meters. Same deal. We tried 40 meters but no luck. His tuner would tune 40 but the fact remains the wire had been cut for 20 meters and after a while went back to 20 meters. On 40 meters the antenna, although tuned, was ineffecient. No dice on 40.

Finally out of the mud I could make him out a little and the band lifted just enough for his signal to reach me. It was weak, garbled somewhat but distinct enough to allow me to pick out his call sign and a basic signal report and that is enough to qualify for a 2x2 QSO.

We called it a wrap.

I got his QSL card today. It is hand made as his printed ones are not in Alaska but you can bet your ass I am going to use that one to submit for credit for Alaska even if I bag AK again and get a pretty card from the Last Frontier. You're damned right!

This will be a wonderful memory for me.

I'm damned glad I found a ham with the same intensity I had that night and also damned glad there was a middle man there that stood by us the entire time. They don't make a whole lot of people like that these days. I owe them both for their stick-with-itness. It's a rare quality.

This is only my side of the QSO. I can't speak for the other guys but it was something I really enjoyed doing. I needed a chase to clean out my liver.

I don't chase things too often but when I do there are going to be one of three outcomes. I will either catch what I am after, I will fall from complete and total exhaustion from running entirely out of fuel or I will die.

I'm glad I decided to chase this because it made me feel alive and whole again.

A few minutes afterwards I pulled a big snort out of the Jameson's bottle, went outside and rinsed out the wastebasket and threw it in the trash. Then I came inside and took off my fishy clothes and threw them in the hamper. After being a savage it was time to be civilized again. I grabbed a shower and poured myself another stiff one and sat a while enjoying success.

my other blog is: http://officerpiccolo.blogspot.com/ http://piccolosbutler.blogspot.com/

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on the achievement. You're stories have convinced me to get my license this summer when the exam is offered.

    Thanks for the great blog!