Friday morning had me all set for my next adventure. This time it was a 3-hour drive to Black Rock Mountain State Park. It was my first time at this park and I wasn’t disappointed. The park is located on Black Rock Mountain. The overlook near the visitors center gave an altitude of 3446 ft above sea level (ASL). My campsite was a little lower at 3220 ft asl according to my GPS-enabled phone.
This was the second flight of the Radio Flyer. This was going to be a cold weekend (at least for here in Georgia). Friday night/Saturday morning was going to be in the high 20s and a Saturday night/Sunday morning was going to be in the low 20s. This will be the Radio Flyers’ first campout in sub-freezing weather. The Radio Flyer has a 2″ receiver hitch on its rear so this time I mounted the antenna to the camper and not the truck. This reduced the amount of loose cable on the ground for me to trip over.
I brought two radios with me, Apollo (TR-45L) and Sheldon (FTDX10), and their associated antenna tuners. The antenna was my homebrew random wire antenna. I was only planning on operating for part of the weekend. My original thought was a “me and the key” weekend, running QRP CW. The TR-45L is a new radio to me and I was eager to try it out. However, the propagation gods were not in my favor. QRP netted me 3 CW contacts and when tuning the bands I heard very little traffic. After a fashion, I turned off the TR-45L and switched to the FTDX10 and FT8. I started at 25 watts and increased power until I was getting some QSOs. I ended up running between 35 to 45 watts. I ran Friday night and Saturday morning netting about 200 Qs.
In the picture above, you can see the QSB on 20 meters. It was like that on all bands. Up and down, now you hear it, now you don’t. While I made a good amount of contacts, I saw far fewer DX than I usually do.
I plan these trips 3-4 months in advance to ensure I get a campsite so propagation on these weekends, is a crap shoot. I typically bring a QRP radio as a backup on these trips as I can use one of my big radios for both QRP and QRO. I like to use the QRP radios, for short activations near home, where I may be setting up in the cab of my truck.
All in all, it was a good trip. The Radio Flyer is now qualified for cold weather operations. I ran a small 500-watt electric heater from Amazon, and it did just fine https://tinyurl.com/8c2cyheb. Next trip I will try for another me and the key weekend. Stay warm and 73 – Scott
You can see my YouTube video here: