Hello, my name is
rev 27 Dec
rev 6 April
rev 29 April
I am now back home. I made 117 contacts over 3 days, Fri-Sat-Sun. Early Mon. am my transmitter stopped working, so I began to break camp, and departed the Island the next morning, Tuesday. Farthest dx were Spain, Azores, Puerto Rico, Trinity/Tobago, and Washington State. But the FARTHEST dx was VK5MAV!! All contacts were on 20m. I monitored 6m beacons a couple times per hour, and nothing. And I was on 40m with my NVIS antenna, but nothing. All contacts were for POTA except for VK5MAV, who had been waiting years for EL84! My very first pile-up experience was here, and on Fri-Sat. But all day Sunday I called constantly, and got only 2 contacts, one of which I made myself, hearing someone else. The wind blew constantly, day/nite. Temps reached 95 and hi humidity, but the wind was cool off of the water, only about 50 feet away. Pix of the op will come later.
I will be busy moving back to SD for the summer and don't expect to upload my contacts to LOTW until late May -- mid-June.
Thanks to all who worked me--it was my pleasure!
Welcome to my website. Its purpose is primarily to provide information about my upcoming dxpedition to Dry Tortugas NP, 70 Mi. west of Key West, Florida. It will run from Friday, 22 April 2022 thru Monday, 25 April.
KNOW THIS FIRST!!
My primary reason for this dxped is to activate the grid EL84 for use by those chasing FFMA on 6 meters. I will use fone (ssb to you young 'uns) and cw. I will use LOTW, but will NOT upload it until I return to my home in SW FL. And I will not use digital modes. The secondary reasons are these:
2. Activate the Island, Garden Key, IOTA NA 079.
3. Activate the Garden Key Lighthouse, ARLHS USA-316 and Loggerhead Key, 216
4. Activate Dry Tortugas National Park, POTA K-0023, ARRL NP 17
5. Activate the Grid because it is so rare.
Further down will later be a brief description of my dxpedition to St. Martin, several years ago.
BANDS AND MODES
MODES: On 20 and 40 I will be on fone unless requested to be on cw.
On 6 I will alternate between fone and cw, probably 2-3 minutes on each, during each 6 m operating period.
HOURLY OPERATING SKED, beginning around 1300 z (0900 local), ending around 2100 z (1700 local):
0--05 6m fone & cw, alternating
On 6 I will use the standard calling freq 50.125, then move off to 50.145 vicinity.
On 20 I will call vic.14.340
On 40 I will call vic. 7.290
I will be alone, so will operate only during the day.
I plan to be on 20 m mostly; on 40 for daylight contacts with the "locals"; And on 6, all per the above sked.. This will not be the best time of year for operation on 6, but that's when I can be there. To optimize 6m operation, I'll monitor the appropriate beacons, use the calling freqs, and do whatever else I can.
ALSO ON 6, and for you 'No-coders" or you slow coders, now may be a good time to work cw. Regardless of how slow you send, I can handle you AS LONG AS you properly space your dahs and dits. Dahs are 3 x as long as dits. Practice with a friend, or copy W1AW, and jump in. I will respond at your speed with your call, your RST, and K. Tell me my RST. You'll be in the log, as long as I can read your fist, with properly-spaced dahs and dits. If I NEED to work SPLIT, (Perish the thought!) bone up on how to do it before you come on.
FOR ALL OF YOU, I'd like to light up the 6m band with cw during each hour. It's the old, "the contest 'undeadens' the bands" trick. Let's see if it works, because on 6, the openings are few at this time of the year. I'd like to maximize the chances for your contact, and think that this is worth a try, by all who can possibly be on cw. Your only other option is fone.
DATES AND TIMES
I will drive from my home in SW FL to Key West on Tues, 20 April, and plan to be flown on a commercial seaplane on Thursday morning. I'll spend the rest of the day setting up, and hope to be QRV MAYBE Thurs afternoon, but certainly Friday morning; and operate daily thru Monday 25 to 1700. Then I'Il break camp and depart on the plane sometime Wed. I will be mainly on 20, and will announce my intentions often. If you hear me. spot me!
PILOTS AND CONTACTING ME
I will have no pilots. I can be contacted until I depart via email or phone. My email is email@example.com . Email me to get my phone # if you need it. There is NO CELL coverage on DT!! I want to be as helpful as possible to get QSOs. Gene McPherson, 1807 3rd Street, Sturgis, SD 57785.
ANTENNAS AND EQUIPMENT
I will take a 30 ft. MFJ multi-band vertical, with a saltwater ground, so I should be as good as possible. I will also take a 40m ham-stick dipole, just a few feet off of the ground, to use as a NVIS antenna, so that I can communicate with any of the FL locals.
My rig is an IC 706, 100 watts. Power will come from the sun-- collector, LiFePo battery, and a charger because I can use a 117 vac receptacle in the changing house or one on the dock, if necessary. But the solar system is designed to be sufficient. The Permit allows me to camp next to the antenna, away from everyone else. I'll have a tent, and a sunshade over the OP. The QTH is just back from the beach, with the ground plate tossed into the water.
I considered a wind turbine because it will be windy there, but for technical reasons decided not to. That will be an "after-action" story.
I will send QSLs to anyone who sends a SASE. My mailing address is on this website. An SASE will get you a card. I will also use LOTW, uploading it when I return home. Expect a couple-months delay b4 you get the card. You can query me anytime in late May to get the qsl progress.
Because I'm flying, and camping, equipment weight is an obvious issue, so I'm minimizing the equipment load.
The location is on Garden Key, the last sizeable Key west of the South Florida Coast, and home of Ft. Jefferson, a pre-Civil War-era fort. Because of its remoteness, it is one of the least-visited national parks. AMERICA'S FORTRESS, by Thomas Reid, is a great read about its history and geography.
The National Park Service administers it and allows year-round visits, for day-trippers and for campers. But the camping limit is 48 hours max. without a Special Use Permit, which l have. All camping equipment, food, and water must be brought in. There is only a toilet provided.
Access is provided via concessionaires who offer daily ferry and seaplane flights from Key West. Otherwise, a visitor must use a private aircraft or boat. Swimming and snorkeling are the primary sports, along with sunbathing and walking around, and touring the fort, which is the largest masonry structure in the western hemisphere. A Visitor Center offers the customary tourist info and history. I will camp from Wed to the following Wed.
The location is so popular that, as of late December, the ferry was booked thru late August for campers, and thru mid-January for non-campers!
I became a Novice in 1959, in the 8th grade--and have been licensed since. AM was king. The "silly sidewinders" were off by themselves, and my BC348, with BFO, didn't let me copy them very good, anyhow. Was a Conditional until a number of years later, when I was administratively moved to General.
Much later, after a hiatus due to being a husband, a father, learning a new job, and building a house, the bug re-bit. I studied for the Extra and got it, and found that I could afford anything in any catalog--odd for me to find that out. And SSB had become king. I became an Extra in 05', and discovered the joys of chasing dx. Just 4 years later I made DXCC at the bottom of the sunspot cycle and with only 100 watts, but I had a secret weapon--a 3 element multiband Cubex Quad--otherwise known as an RF Cannon--swing it around and blast!
6 years ago I married the widow, who had a winter home in Punta Gorda, in South Florida. I'm down there for 6 months, then up at my QTH in Sturgis, SD
In 2016 I traveled with XYL to St. Martin and operated there for a week on the French side.
Our beach cottage was wonderful but didn't survive the last hurricane. With 100 w and a sea-water vertical, my farthest distances were NW to Oregon and N to Halifax, both on cw. Photos will be posted here later.