I live in a really crappy situation for Ham Radio. I live on the second story of a five story apartment building, surrounded by units on all sides and facing an interior court yard. I have no way to run an antenna, and my building is so full of QRM that setting anything up on the premises is virtually a waste of time. I also live about 100 linear feet away from a very active section of the DC Metro lines.
Because of these conditions, I have to operate exclusively portable until my YL and I find better radio living conditions. My customary setup is a Yaesu FT-817ND and a Buddipole Deluxe antenna. I spent the weekend back in Kentucky visiting my parents, but I brought along my station to setup to test my new logging setup (Win-EQF) in preparations for the 2011 Virginia QSO Party happening next weekend (March 19 and 20). My FT-817ND has three upgrades (TCXO, Collins SSB filter, 2000mah battery) and while I purchased the long whips for my Buddipole last week, they had not yet arrived.
Saturday was a great day in my old KY home. I was treated to my mom's famous french toast for breakfast, and around 11am, I ventured out onto my parents' deck to set my station up. The temperature was 62, the skies were completely devoid of clouds, and there was only an occasional burst of wind. I assembled my Buddipole for 20m OCF dipole on a far corner of the deck, hooked my laptop up to the radio, and started tuning around the general portion of the band. I started my day by making contact with VE6AO, nearly 1900 miles away in AB, Canada. I worked MI, Ontario, NJ, NY, MA, VT, and MN with relative easy. After almost two hours of constantly calling CQ on 14.270, I took a break for lunch. When I came back out I decided to try 15m. I made contact with a station in ID working the ID QSO Party. 15 was both noisy and vacant, so I switched down to 10m and heard some good DX. I worked another ID station and a DXpedition station in Antigua! I tried for a long time to work a Dominican station but had no luck breaking the pile up. All in all, I worked about 2h 45m on Saturday, completely off of the internal battery and bagged 12 phone contacts.
I'm sure a 4 QSO/hour rate sounds slow to a lot of folks, but I was running 5 watts off of a AA battery pack into a compromise of an antenna, but boy did I have a blast. My elmer loves to remind me that life is too short for QRP, but I look at this like trying to shoot a fly at 500 yards with a .22: it's not going to happen often, but boy does it feel good when it does!
I will be operating QRP again next weekend for the VA QSO party from Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park. Maybe I'll even hear some of you on the air.
Great write-up! It does sound like you had fun. Thanks for sharing your experience. I have got to get me an HF rig!