The start of the cycling season was a rough one. Within a seven day stretch there were 4 different tubes replaced on the bike. The roads and trails seemed littered with things bent on causing punctures. And to be honest, it instills The Fear. So as not to totally derail this post from the subject of radio I’ll simply say that I got serious and bought some tires that have strips of kevlar in them to make them far more puncture resistant. Also, they roll better. Which is a weird thing to say, but as a guy who was always more of a mountain bike kinda guy, having a commuter bike with the right tires does make a real difference in both speed and the amount of effort required to keep the bike moving. It makes sense, but, well, there ya go.
With the tire situation on the bike resolved, this weekend proved to be perfect for a Sunday trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park – K-0020. For a gorgeous weekend, both the trails and the park felt a little underused. This is probably because the first few weeks of spring in NE Ohio bring everyone outside. Everyone is at the park. Everyone is cycling or walking the paths and shaking off the shackles of the indoors imposed by winter. We’re probably back to “normal” usage levels and it just feels like it’s empty. In any case, the picnic table that I’ve become accustomed to at The Ledges was wide open – not a surprise. Though the number of flies and bugs did catch me off guard.
I tossed my gear on the table and got set up. The antenna this round was the Chamelon whip without the extension. I wanted to be able to play around with adjusting the size of the whip for SWR but I didn’t get to messing around with that.
I don’t know if there was a contest over the weekend or if the bands were just a bit tempermental, but FT8 was quiet almost everywhere but 20m. And even on 20m it wasn’t crowded.
It was a bit slower than I’ve seen in a while to load up the log. But I did get to about 12 FT8 contacts before I decided to close the computer and pick up the paddle. This time out, I got 4 CW QSOs. 1 was on 40m. But 40m wasn’t very stable. Or something about my setup wasn’t doing it. I moved up to 17m and picked up 3 more QSOs pretty quickly. All told, I got VA, SD, ID, and NC on CW. That’s quite a spread! I will admit to being shocked when I decoded “ID” for a QTH. I’d like to think that I’m improving, but I think the operators I worked were just extremely patient.
Here’s what the QSO Map looks like:
As a note for myself as much as anyone else, the Heil HTHD-I headset I got to work OSPOTA last year are really great over the ear headphones. They don’t isolate too much sound, but they are clean and don’t tax my ears. In a park, I like to be able to hear people coming up around me and these are great for that. They’re also NOT earbuds – which I have come to loathe. These also sit well on my ears for long periods of time. They were supposed to be a very inexpensive option for one event and have ended up as a well-used piece of my portable station. And for the price? Amazing performance.
Thanks for reading!