I recently bought two new "dipoles" for 15 and 30 meters, so last Thursday, I drove into the mountains to set up and operate "outdoors" for a few hours. The bands are picking up and I hoped to work into Europe and maybe talk to my friends in England and the Netherlands on the 15 meter band.
There have been some "good" band openings on 15 meters and I listen to 30 meters occasionally and I like what I hear on this band. (it's limited to only CW and a maximum power of 200 watts)
I can get out of the valley and into a decent elevation in about an hours drive from here but my goal was the 4,000 ft "scenic highway" near Richwood, WV. I've been there many times and can usually drive to this place in about 2 hours.
I wanted to reach a "very nice" area about 10 miles across the highway but after reaching the 4 mile mark, to my astonishment, the road came to an abrupt end with about 2 feet of SNOW in the middle of the road. What a surprise! This highway isn't maintained during the winter months and there were many trees in the road which I had to swerve between to reach this spot which was a "trail head" with a small parking area on the side of the road at about 4,200 feet.
Not the "best" place to operate, but it's still above 4,000 ft, and I was lucky to find this parking lot and get my stuff set up. It was easy to get the 15 meter antenna into the trees, at about 20 feet, with the slingshot (only two good shots). I put up the table and a lawn chair and I was ready to operate.
Much to my dismay, 15 meters was NOT open and I only heard "one" German station, so I immediately dropped the antenna and stretched out the 30 meter dipole.
After listening to the band for a few minutes there were "many" stations and I heard VE9WW in New Brunswick Canada. Its well about Maine and Bill was VERY strong at almost 1,000 miles. We were both hearing each other well above the "599" level.
After a few minutes QSO, we signed off and I listened again to DL3AO in Germany as he worked another VERY strong station in Melbourne, Florida. I desperately tried to get his attention when the they ended their QSO but no luck.
I then sent out my CQ and was answered by a station in Sherbrooke, Canada. Also hearing each other at the 599 level, I recognized his call immediately. Pierre (VE2PID) and I have talked several times over the last few years.
Today he was using his QRP rig and a dipole at 5 watts. What a great day to work another QRP station!
Unfortunately, I needed to break down everything soon afterwards, and get ready for the long drive back into the valley. I'm looking forward to the next "field trip" and was impressed with the 30 meter band. I heard a LOT of activity on it while up there.
I'm looking forward to doing a LOT more of this as the weather improves.
This is why I use QRP equipment. It's portable and I can use it outdoors when I want to do a little traveling and also spend a nice day outdoors.