I went mobile again for the 2016 Virginia QSO Party, using the callsign KT4KA. I use that callsign so as not to confuse everyone when calling CQ (with my normal “3”call). The goal this year was to beat last year, and hopefully win the Mobile all-Band category. No matter what happens, this is always enjoyable. It is a challenge assembling a usable HF Mobile station, and I get to see some parts of the State that I don’t often visit. Following is a summary of this year’s event, and some photos of the equipment.
This year I decided to take my newest radio, the Yaesu FTDX-3000 with me. It was not exactly made for the road, but I love the receiver in it, and it is much better on the low Bands than my other radio, the made-for-mobile Icom-7000. I also planned to use my two-radio controller, the DX Doubler in the setup. that did not exactly work out, but so it goes.
The map below shoes my route this year, as reported by the APRS system.
Day one – I started near Richmond and headed out toward skyline drive, making stops in the following Counties/Cities: Richmond City, Louisa, Orange, Rockingham, Harrisonburg, Shenandoah, Warren, and Fauquier
When I got to the entrance to Skyline Drive, I was told that it was closed due to snow at the high elevations. Not exactly what I had in mind, but I was in the higher elevations and was able to add on many VHF QSOs from that area. Nowhere near what I could have had on the Skyline, but that’s life.
Day two – I started in the Falls Church area, and worked my way to the west, toward my home in the Warrenton area. Stops were made in: Falls Church City, Fairfax, Fairfax City, Manassas Park City, Manassas City, Prince William, Loudon, and Culpeper.
Here is a shot of the Mobile antennas in the parking lot of The Stone House at the Manassas Battlefield Park. You can easily see the Hi-Q Antennas 4/80 HF screwdriver antenna. That did most of the work for me in VAQP this year, with 40m and 80m being the big Bands. there is a smaller antenna on the passenger side roof for 2m and 440 MHz.
The next photo is a shot of the Mobile station from inside the Ford F-150. You can see the Laptop, FTDX-3000 in the middle, and the Head unit of the IC-7000 on the left. The cell phone that is barely visible is showing the VAQP Spotting network hosted by QSOPARTY.COM. That is the brainchild of John, KX4O and it has become a widely used spotting system by FARA members and recently by many others. he software was, or course, N1MM Logger+. If you work contests and you are not using N1MM, you need to see what you are missing.
In the later hours, here is how it looked:
Overall it was a very enjoyable weekend. Band conditions were not good on Saturday, with VA stations barely able to hear each other on HF. I attempted to compensate by working more CW contacts, with the usual breakthrough ability of CW. I found a number of stations in several other Call areas that were willing to work me many times. Overall score was better than last year despite the Saturday doldrums. We will see how it all works out. The FTDX-3000 will be joining me on the road again next year. I just love the rig. I need to do some improvement on the antenna switching setup. I also plan to take a complete SO2R setup next year, with the DX Doubler.