Greetings from ND0C - a QRP station in southwestern Minnesota!
Please call me Randy - more friendly, less formal!
I was first licensed in 1968 as a Novice (WN0VBW) when I was 14 years old living in western Iowa. Since 1980 I have operated exclusively QRP from my home station using either an old Ten Tec Argonaut 509 (3 watts) or a Yaesu FT-897D (running 5 watts). I have now retired both of those rigs, moving up to a Yaesu FTdx3000 in July, 2014, which I run only at 5 watts.
My primary interests are contesting and DXing using QRP. So far, I've been able to work and confirm 319 DXCC entities with 5 watts or less - thanks to the skills of the DX operators on the other end and of course the whims of the propagation gods!
My 9 year old daughter, Kylee has a strong interest in operating. She has made quite a few casual QSOs and has also operated in several contests all by herself while I logged and served as the control operator. I'm not sure which one of us has more fun!
I live on a typical residential lot so my antenna options are limited. In April, 2013, we experienced a severe ice storm with over 1.5 inch of freezing rain followed by 8 inches of snow and high winds. The antennas were damaged beyond repair and I was also concerned about the integrity of the tower.
In September, 2013, I installed a new Rohn HDBX-40 free-standing tower to replace my old HBX-48 and put up new antennas, as shown.
Although the inverted vee isn't very high, I've managed to work 137 countries on 40 meters and 77 countries on 80 meters. Maybe 5BDXCC is possible with QRP after all! The inverted vee has also proven to be pretty decent on the WARC bands, but it is tough to compete with beams. I even play around a little on 160, primarily using it to pick up contest multipliers, loading the dipole. 160 is definitely rough going for 5 watts and a very mediocre antenna!
I've been fortunate enough to win the following major contest awards:
National Parks on the Air (NPOTA)
I chased NPOTA activators during all of 2016. And I made a couple activations of National Park Service Units as well.
On Oct 7-8 I activated the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail - not a very rare unit but I had fun anyway! I operated from the Lewis and Clark State Park (near Onawa, IA), right on the trail, about 1/4 mile upstream from the expedition's August 9th, 1804, encampment.
I operated using my FT-817ND running 5 watts out to an inverted vee with the apex about 20 feet high in a cottonwood tree. Even though this NPS unit is not in much demand due to so many previous activations along the Trail, I did get a lot of responses to my CQs. And I also contacted many other NPOTA and SOTA (see below) activators. I even had a QSO with Spain from this very modest setup. The pictures show my operating position with my daughter Kylee, and some of the beautiful autumn scenery at Blue Lake, a cut-off oxbow of the original Missouri River channel that Lewis and Clark traveled.
Later in the year I also activated Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota and Kylee made many of those contacts.
Summits on the Air (SOTA)
In August of 2010 I discovered a new facet of the hobby: Summits on the Air (SOTA). So far I've primarily "chased" summits, but in the summer of 2012 I activated three summits on a vacation trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone (see pictures below), plus two summits in the Black Hills during a business trip. In the summer of 2013, I activated two summits in the Wyoming Big Horn mountains. On that same trip, I also made the first SOTA activation from a North Dakota summit!
My SOTA summit station consists of a Yaesu FT 817ND running 5 watts to an inverted vee, supported by a 20' Jackite telescoping fiberglass mast, fed with ladderline. I use both SSB and CW. It was a blast being able to hand out the summits to other chasers, several of whom have activated many summits themselves. I just wish I lived closer to some mountains! For more information on SOTA, check out http://www.sota.org.uk/
On Oct 1st, 2013, the new MinneSOTA Association became a reality, thanks to the efforts of many folks including Sam, K0YAK. I was fortunate to be able to activate the first K0M summit on that day from K0M/SE-003 on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi, about 225 miles from home.
We now have new associations in both Nebraska (W0N) and the Dakotas (W0D) which opens up more possibilities for summit activations a little closer to home!
In the summer of 2008 I started playing around on 6 meters loading up the tribander (which actually worked!) and quickly fell in love with "the magic band". In 2009 I put up an M2 6M5X 5 element Yagi at 55 feet (17 meters) and have been amazed by what I can do with just 5 watts! So far I have worked 348 grids in 49 states and a total of 17 countries - but no Europeans yet.
In 2006 my wife, Amy, and I traveled to the US Virgin Islands for a few days. I took the FT897 and made a little mini-DXpedition out of it as NP2/ND0C. It was really fun to be on "the other end" (see my motel room station below left). For that operation, as well as a couple special event station operations to commemorate a local wind-surfing competion as W0W (below right), I ran 100 watts since I was portable with compromised antennas (low dipoles) and wanted to be able to hold a frequency and "run" consistently. Next time I get a chance to be DX I plan to stay with QRP.
Outside amateur radio:
Professionally I work as a technical services veterinarian for a company that manufactures vaccines for livestock. Amy and I have 3 children: David and Becky - both grown up, out of college and on their own,and a second-grader, Kylee. We are also grandparents: Becky and her husband Ben have two little boys, Landon and Easton. We enjoy hiking and camping in the mountains (usually Colorado) and boating. My other hobbies include collecting antique maps, wooden radios (broadcast receivers from the '20s and 30's) and antique non-fiction books.
I enjoy collecting QSLs and will typically QSL direct (with SAE and postage) to confirm new band-countries, or grids. All other DX QSLs are sent through the bureau. Although I confirm all contacts through the Logbook of the World, I still love getting the old-fashioned paper cards! I do not use eQSL. I also have custom-made picture QSLs for my SOTA activations and will be very glad to send them to confirm those contacts from my summit operations on request.
I will gladly respond to all QSLs received - no SASE is necessary. I believe that a QSL is the final courtesy of a QSO.
7976517 Last modified: 2017-03-19 14:47:06, 16028 bytes
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