Each year, the Portage County Amateur Radio Service aka PCARS hosts a QRP “contest” at Fred Fuller Park in Kent, OH. It usually occurs in February, but because of many, many factors, it was delayed to November. Now, typically in NE Ohio the weather isn’t great. It’s usually grey, cold, maybe snowy or rainy, and not much fun to be outside. You could, in fact, freeze your acorns off. But, well, 2022 had other plans.
The weather was amazing. Just incredible for November.
As contests go, this is mostly an excuse to get out to the park and play with radios on low power. People wear Hawaiian shirts because it’s usually held in February and the weather is usually miserable. There’s a chili cook-off that is the real main event and people bring side dishes. It’s a great time for the club to get together and hang out. Oh, and there are radios too!
This year, my dad (AC8NT) and I grabbed a pavilion and I set up my rig so we could get down to business at 10 AM local when the contest started. As I spun the big knob to run across the dial, I heard…nothing. 40 was empty. 20 was empty. I thought I’d done something dumb with my rig settings (again) so I spun down to the FT8 frequencies and there was traffic! The bands were…dead. Big time dead. As I moved across the bands, I saw a huge spike and it was another club member calling CQ into the abyss.
This year the club allowed FT8 for the first time and I’m glad! My dad and I fired that up and we started getting contacts. But not nearly so many as I would have expected. We really only netted about 25 contacts in the time that I could stay around. It was rough. But that wasn’t really the point. I got to hang out with my dad and chat with other club members. I have no idea how we scored, but here’s what the QSOMap looked like:
I’m looking forward to 2023 and the real deal in February. We’ll see if the propagation fairy brings us better conditions. At least there will be tasty food.