Spoiler… it was fun
I participated in the Missouri QSO party this year from in the state. Being in the Illinois side of the Saint Louis area made it an easy trip. It took a while to decide on a location though. Originally I planned on camping in a state park on a county line, but the early summer heat made me start looking for something else. I ended up renting a cabin on AirBnB.
When I first started planning for the 2021 MOQP I was planning on using my Icom IC-706 with a maypole style 20/40/80 inverted-v dipole. Then I started getting really into CW and decided to give it a run with just CW. I also ended up selling my 706 and my FT-817 and bought an IC-705 and it’s matching tuner. That lead me to going crazy and entering as Single Op, Expedition, QRP. I also did just CW but there is no specific category for that in Missouri. Scrolling through the history it looks like they started the expedition in 2016, and it doesn’t seem to have any entries until this year. To me cw, qrp, and temporary stations all go together naturally!
I tried to keep the station simple. The whole station fit inside my backpack, but I ended up bringing out way more stuff that I didn’t use just in case. I’d never seen the site before so I came over-prepared.
The cabin had a nice tree straight out the window on the east side so I decided to setup inside on the 2nd floor to avoid the bugs as much as possible. For the main antenna I used a 41′ “random wire” with a 17′ counterpoise connected to the AH-705. I then just stuck the tuner out the window and held it there with the same cable strap I used for it’s cables.
I also wanted to try and setup an 80m NVIS antenna so I put up an inverted-v and ran coax back into the cabin.
I had previously made this as a linked dipole for 20/80. It was giving me some wacky swr graphs with the rigexpert so I decided to remake it with large spool of 18awg that I picked up at a recent hamfest. That worked as expected and got the swr down to normal levels after some quick trimming.
I used a slingshot and a fishing rod to get the lines up in the trees.
This setup worked great and made it real easy to place the line right where you wanted it, then pull a heavier line up for the actual antenna. When I was setting up the random wire the weight I was using wrapped around a branch so bad I couldn’t get it back down. With all the stuff I brought I somehow forgot to bring more weights, so I ended up using random rocks which worked just fine.
MOQP was at the end of July and I had just started learning CW in April so I was a bit gun shy to call CQ. I did managed to work every station I could find calling CQ though. 5W and a wire really work well when you have almost no band noise. I wish the bands were that quite at home!
I did experience some significant noise with the computer connected via usb. It would also randomly disconnect while transmitting, even with just 5w. I decided to log without the N1MM connection to the rig, and that also meant that all of my code was sent by hand or through memories in the radio.
Saturday around lunch some storms started to blow through. They really started to pickup with heavy winds, thunder, and some very close lightning so I disconnected the antenna and made some lunch. The storm ended up pulling the tuner out the window, so it swung around in the rain for a bit but was just fine. After lunch, and a nice cold beer, I got back on worked until dinner. After dinner I was pretty tired and ended up shutting down around 10:30 local.
On Sunday I started off with a couple of quick contacts then decided to head into town for breakfast at huddle house. Got back and made a few more contacts then decided to try and call CQ for the first time. I was sweating bullets and those first couple of calls were rrrroooouuuggghhh. If you were one of them, thank you so much for your patience! Everyone was great about slowing down and repeating if necessary. After the first few I started getting calls and exchange on the first try. The states are easy, but I don’t hear counties all the time so I just kept the list next to me for reference.
In The End
I ended up working more stations by calling CQ than through search and pounce. I should of done it the whole time, but stage fright held me back. Next time I’ll know better and have more practice to not hold me back. By the time it ended I had made 34 QSOs, which isn’t a ton compared to some of the experienced operators out there, but it probably doubled the amount of CQ QSO’s I had ever made so for me it was a huge success. Not only did I call CQ for the first time, and make a good (for me) number of contacts, I also worked my first DX with OM2VL on 20 and 80. For me I see it as a huge success and a great starting point for future events like this.
I look forward to giving it a go next year in it’s normal month of April. This year it was held in July to coincide with Missouri’s Bicentennial celebration. Maybe next year I’ll give it a try from county line, get my computer connection working a little better, and start calling CQ earlier!
Until then, 73 de KK9U