"A Nor'Easter to Remember"
The Trip to Core Banks, Outer Banks, NC, March 25 to 28, 1999

 

A story of a Great QRP adventure written by John Paul AB4PP

Also check out the DL Report on this website below John Paul's report.There some excellent pics of the DL side of this adventure at this link

 

This is my story about the trip we took to the Core Banks.
It is the story of our radio group and how we tried to make
contact with a group in Germany who also used a small
radio that we had put together in an ALTOIDS tin.
The radio cost about $10 to build and puts out less than
one watt. To be exact it puts out 180Milliwatts on 9v of
power and 250Milliwatts on 12Volts of power.
We opted for the later and had it beefed up so to speak.
Now for those of you who do not understand how much power
that is. It is less than 1 watt of transmit power. Or 1/4 of
what a CB radio usually puts out.

The story is a little long, but I hope all of you enjoy it.
John Paul/AB4PP

"A Nor'Easter to Remember"
The Trip to Core Banks, Outer Banks, NC, March 25 to 28, 1999

Cape Lookout National Seashore:
In Carteret County near Harkers Island. The only access to Cape
Lookout National Seashore is by toll ferry or private boat. Ferry
service is available from Harkers Island, Atlantic, Davis, Beaufort,
and Ocracoke.
Established in 1976 and 55 miles long, Cape Lookout National
Seashore is a series of three undeveloped barrier islands: North Core
(Portsmouth Village to Drum Inlet), South Core (From Drum Inlet to Cape
Lookout), and Shackleford Banks. 

Feared by early sailors because of its numerous treacherous shoals,
the cape also offered sheltered anchorage's that shielded many vessels
from northeasters. During WWII, a German submarine found shelter there to
prey on American ships. The Cape lookout Bight area and Shackleford Island
has one of the most extensive maritime forests in the National
Seashore. Shackleford Banks also has a herd of about 100 wild ponies.
Cape Lookout Lighthouse, completed in 1859, became the model for all
Lighthouses constructed along the Outer Banks. The first Cape Lookout
light, erected in 1812, was 96 feet high and built on a small sand dune
so that the light was 104 feet above sea level. During the 1850's,
federal officials attempted to renovate the light but eventually
decided to replace it with a 150-foot tower. The light stands 156 feet above
sea level.
Visitors to the seashore should be aware that weather conditions could
change quickly. During the summer, afternoon showers are common. The
hurricane season runs from June through November. Winter storms,
called nor'easters, occur December through March. Visitors are strongly
advised to check conditions before leaving the mainland.
(This part here we did not read until we came back on the ferry, and
was a small surprise to us.. hi hi.


(Excerpts from the North Carolina Outdoor Recreation Guide)

I have read many stories about trips to distant places, the hardships
they have encountered on the way there, at the actual location and even
some on the way back. Now I can say I partook of one of these trips
with the hardships.

The brochure for the Core Banks State Park says you need to take
everything that you will need to survive, including your drinking water
to camp over on the island. And believe me, it turned out to be true
in more ways than one. <
www.nps.gov/calo>


Well, needless to say, there was a lot of planning that went into this
particular trip, and a lot of interest shown by all who went. We only
had 10 Knightlites go last year, and this year we stirred so much
interest that we wound up with 17 people going on this trip. There
were originally several more that had expressed an interest in going, who had
planned on going, and a few who were actually going right up to the
last minute. One in particular made the mistake of answering the telephone
and being told by the boss that his vacation was cancelled and that he
had an assignment. Two others got sick at the last minute and luckily
for them they did not go. They would have been even sicker if they had
gone, so they were fortunate in that they did not go. Matt/KD4PBS was
sick to start with and did go. He wound up getting even sicker during
the weekend stay. He has since overcome the illness and is fine.
Our Crew for the '99 Core Banks Trip consisted of the following:
AA4XX/Paul
AB4PP/JohnPaul
AC4ZO/Jeff
AE4IC/Bob
KD4PBS/Matt
KD4ZVW/Bobbie
KE4JZK/Tom
KE4QOK/Robert
KF4EAG/Josh
KF4JKQ/Thomas
Thomas Jr.
KF4WVI/Anita
KF4YBI/Arlene
W3RDF/Don
Barrie
W4WDN/Lyn
WA4NID/Dave


From it's inception this was to be a special event for all concerned.
Some of the participants in the trip were new to the hobby; and, they
were searching for new ideas and avenues in amateur radio. So they
partook of the experience for a goal and wound up learning more than
they originally had searched for. They did even learn to survive. We
had made plans from the beginning to try to make contact with a station
in Europe on 80 meters. We planned to erect a beverage antenna and
several verticals for the bands. We would be operating CW and SSB for
this operation and would have plenty of operators for the different
bands. At least these were the tentative plans from the onset.

We even found out that this year we had to have a US Park Service
Permit to operate on the island. We did not last year. We got the permit and
we complied with their wishes. We did have a visit from one of the
park rangers. He did not stay long though. And I could not tell you who he
contacted with us. He got on and off before I could find out. Fact
is, though, that we did get a permit and we complied with their wishes. We
put it in the book and it is recorded for posterity that the WQ4RP did
make it there for the "Lil Ole Mullet Blow" of March '99. And another
recorded event is put in the US Historical Society logbook that we were
there.


As usual there was a need for a lot of things that we would be taking
and some of these were not readily available, so they had to be found,
made, or improvised.

Of course the radios and the ordinary antennas would be in ample supply
but the trip called for some very good listening antennas. After all
we planned to make a KnightSMiTe to KnightSMiTe contact if at all
possible.



So from the beginning we had to get some long stretches of wire. We
originally planned on a 5,000 foot beverage on the beach aimed at
Europe. So long wire and poles to hold it up, the transformer to end it, and
the coax to run from the antenna to the tent would be a necessity. Little
did we know, that because of the storm, we would have to have a longer
run of coax to the main cabin for the prime QSO we had planned for.

Then there would be the need for the ground radials for the verticals,
since we wanted to have maximum effectiveness for the low power signal
and several of us made use of the ON4UN "Low Band Dxing" Book and learned
(or relearned) some ways to make antennas and how to set them up
properly. And in addition we had to figure and refigure the formulae
for the transformer and make plans for that too.

There were going to be some ladies on this trip and that made it
different too. We were graced with their companionship for the whole
weekend and to say they were just there would be a poor statement.
They partook of a lot of the activities and since Anita, Barrie and Bobbie
helped with the cooking and preparing the meals it was not so desolate
a place after all. When you read about the first night there as I reconstruct the four
days you will understand it was a horrific time for some of us.

Paul/AA4XX, Lyn/W4WDN and I had to really spend a lot of time on the
phone, the radio and back and forth on the internet. We did a lot of
emails to get the ideas, and all our thoughts to gel and set in to
figure out just what we were going to do on this trip. Lyn came up
with the idea to contact the group in Europe, and when the seed was planted
he ran with it and got the DL group together. We made plans for them to
try to work us on the KnightSMiTe and we would have one here also. Now
the idea of working 4,000 plus miles with 180mW to 250mW was not brand
new, but we wanted to try it. We wanted to try it with our rig, the KnightSMiTe.

(A KnightSMiTe is an 80 meter transceiver designed to work on the crystal frequency of
3.686.4 and had to be modified for this particular operation. It is easily found on

this website for the Knightlites. SMITE And we would provide

one for the group on the other side of the pond also. Since the Knightlites had gotten this little
rig to work so well and have made so many contacts with it, the idea was
not out of the question to try the attempt for a DL/USA contact. With that
in motion the rest is all history.

Now co-ordination was just a matter of everyone pitching in and
getting it all done. The wire was found here and there, in junkyards,
from friends who had extra laying around in their sheds and whatnot.
We got all the wire, and in the process of looking for the wire, we also
came up with other obstacles to pass. With a Beverage antenna we were
going to need supports for the wire on the beach, and we might have
some winds down there to put up with. Little did we know how much wind, but
that comes later in the story. So we had to figure out how to put up a
long wire on the beach and keep it up. As it turned out, we had the
beverage antenna, and all the supports for the antenna to put it up on
the beach and stay up. We made the transformer, and got all the
supports and guys and stakes and it was all together.

Since provisions for 17 people would be a large amount Ms. Anita/KF4WVI
got together a menu that we ate from for the trip. As it turned out,
that was an ideal way to eat, and for us to get together on more than
one occasion just to see each other. Since some of us were on the
radio all the time trying to make contacts, put the antennas back up and just
make adjustments to the existing antennas, the get together's for the
meals were an added little help for us.

Materials were a responsibility of all, but when we had to do the
scavenging I usually got the assigned task. For some strange reason, I
usually can find whatever it is we are looking for. I have always been
lucky in that aspect. We knew that we were going to the beach, and with
no high spots and no trees were limited in our considerations for our
antennas. We had been there before and pretty much decided that we
would set up in the same areas for our operations from the last two
years. But, with the phased 80meter verticals, the 40 meter verticals,
the Carolina Beam, some other verticals and possibly another beam array
for the HF bands we had to have a lot of guy rope and stakes. I
managed to find a considerable amount of it laying on the side of the
Interstate highway while I was driving one day. With Paul's help we managed to
roll up over two miles of rope that had somehow come unrolled on the
interstate in the median. We used a large portion of this lightweight
nylon for all the antennas, and it was a great asset in that it was
lightweight and took up so little space.

After all was gathered we started on our trip on March 24th, the night
before our ride on the ferry. Several of us had taken vacation and
decided that an advance team would go down one day early this year. We
would set up the tents for the operating positions, the antennas and
get most of the gear ready so that when the remaining group came down on
Friday (the next day) we would be ready to roll. Well, Thursday
morning came; we started our convoy of vehicles and equipment. Well, almost
all of us did. A funny point here is that we all spent so much time and
energy in getting ready that we did not forget anything this trip. We
actually took too much with us. Can you imagine that?

Well, as it turned out, we all got on the radio on 2meters and planned
to meet for a quick breakfast on the way. Lyn/W4WDN and his wife
Anita/KF4WVI however, fell back asleep. Bless their souls, they had
done so much in packing and staying up late like the rest of us. So
they got a little later start than the rest of us. The good side of
this, though, is that they got a little more sleep than the rest of us,
and still made it down there a short while after we did. And we all
rode over on the ferry together. So all in all, they got a much
deserved rest. hi hi.

After a 4 hour journey (that was a total experience) we arrived at the
ferry. I rode down to the coast with Matt/KD4PBS. Since he is a
computer guru he had his laptop, connected to the GPS. We ran a
Delorme program that he had entered, and we had the computer talking to us the
whole way down. When we eventually arrived at the ferry it told us we were 17

feet from the ferry (or some like amount). It was totally awesome to watch and
hear the computer talk to us as we went. It even told us when to make
turns and which way to go. Amazingly, the program data was up to date
enough that we missed one turn and it told us. We had to turn around
and find the road, and sure enough it was there. Someone had removed
the sign we were looking for and it was mentioned to us. It is
something many of you can benefit from. More on that later. Matt got
on the air and introduced all of us to some new forms of communication
and put the Core Banks on the Air with the APRs while we were there
too, using the GPS and the Radio in conjunction with the laptop.

On our trip down to the coast we had fairly good weather, even though
the weather service was predicting a "little storm" for the evening.
When we arrived at the ferry we unloaded and got on for the excursion
that would take us on the IOTA-NA067 outing. We would put the Core
Banks on the air once again in a large way, or so we thought. On the
way over on the ferry we noticed that there were white caps on the
waves, and recorded it on both video and with pictures. It should have
been an omen we noticed and heeded; however, we did not. We got to the
island and were taken to our respective points of debarkation. You
have to picture in your minds that we are on a long lonely stretch of beach
and started our long tedious process of setting up the tents and
getting all the antennas in the air. I had gotten together several of the "hot
sticks" from the power companies for erections of the wire antennas.
(Hot Sticks are the telescopic fiberglass rods, 5 foot in length when
collapsed and some where between 30 and 40 feet long when extended
fully) I took all four of mine with us for the trip. I took several
different antennas for the trip. I was definitely going to use the
Carolina Beam for all bands. We had planned to attach the Carolina
Beam to the water tower on the island, or to the hotsticks. Then use the
water tower for some of the other antennas. I had one I used for years
that was destroyed by a storm two weeks prior to our trip. With good
fortune I contacted Jim/W4THU, (Radio Works) at home and he agreed to
let me come up to Virginia Beach and get a new Carolina Beam the day
before we left on our trip to replace the broken one. I did and it
went on the trip. Thank goodness too.

Hot sticks are those fiberglass extension poles the power companies use
to replace the fuses that blow out on the power lines and to hook up
wire etc. I was lucky enough to get four of those in the last couple of
years and took them to use for two different wire antennas. In my
collection of antennas I had a 160m dipole, two G5RV's, and the
Carolina Beam. I also put together a brand new Walking stick vertical for 40
meters (QST Dec 94) and put together 36 radials for that too. When I
got the tent set up, the winds had just started to pick up to about 25
mph gusts or so. It took over 1 hours to get the tent up, which
usually takes only 10 or 15 minutes. I knew we were in for a treat.
The skies started to darken fast; the winds were getting a lot
stronger. Then, when I started to put up the vertical finally the
winds were picking up even more, and we were having a real time with the guy
ropes. Last time I set up the vertical at home in the yard it was only
30 minutes for the set up of the vertical by myself. It took three of
us two hours to get it up this time. And we did finally get all the 36
radials on the ground, checked it with the analyzer and it was perfect,
just like in the book. Wow, I was ready to get on the air. I had the
tent set up, had the antenna in the air, and the equipment all ready to
go. We decided to set up Matt's brand new Dodge Ram Pick-up truck
there next to the beach with the 40 foot military aluminum mast and the 2
meter 11 element beam on the special hitch he had made up for the
operation. That did not make it up. We struggled and it collapsed in
the winds and we had to remove one damaged section. We wound up
setting it up only 25 feet in the air. The winds were blowing so hard
by that time we could not get it any higher. He was going to try to
get the APRs and 2 meter repeaters on the air.

At this point our world starts to fall apart. I walked up the beach
to the cabin that we were using for our site to eat. Matt had elected to
stay in his truck and did not want to leave it. Matt decided prior to
going on the trip that he would cook his own meals. I was going to
join the others for our meal and then return to my tent down the beach. When
we got there the rain, lightning and the hail and the high winds
started. I was away from my tent, and all my rain gear, all my
sleeping equipment, lanterns, coats and all were in his truck up the beach about
1 miles walk away. I had also left behind my flashlights and lanterns
too. Unfortunately we had guyed up the mast at two points and his
truck was pretty much there until we took the mast down.

The horrible night to remember was just starting for us all. The
winds picked up to a point that they were blowing about 50 to 60 mph in gusts
and sustained winds were clocked on the buoy off the coast at 47mph on
one reading. We gathered this data later from the weather service. We
estimated the winds from the cabin we were stuck in that night outside
the cabin at least 50 mph. We estimated the winds inside the cabin at
least 10 to 15 mph with higher gusts. It was the beginning of a long
night.


The following archive was downloaded and we found out that the winds at
the buoy at the south end of the island were actually recording the
winds when we were there. I had located these sites prior to our trip
but never figured we would have to see them to find the actual figures
for this event.

> Subject: wind
>
> MM DD hh mm SPD GSP MPH GUST MPH
>
> 25-Mar 12 0 2.5 4.1 5.58 9.14
> 25-Mar 13 0 1.4 3.4 3.12 7.58
> 25-Mar 14 0 1.3 2.6 2.90 5.80
> 25-Mar 15 0 6.9 8.5 15.39 18.96
> 25-Mar 16 0 9.1 10.5 20.29 23.42
> 25-Mar 17 0 8.5 11 18.96 24.53
> 25-Mar 18 0 9 11.4 20.07 25.42
> 25-Mar 19 0 9.5 10.9 21.19 24.31
> 25-Mar 20 0 9.8 11.8 21.85 26.31
> 25-Mar 21 0 9.1 11.8 20.29 26.31
> 25-Mar 21 50 11.2 99 24.98
> 25-Mar 22 0 10.1 13.1 22.52 29.21
> 25-Mar 22 50 11.8 99 26.31
> 25-Mar 23 0 11.2 14.2 24.98 31.67
> 25-Mar 23 50 13.3 99 29.66
> 26-Mar 0 0 12.9 16.3 28.77 36.35
> 26-Mar 0 10 12.7 99 28.32
> 26-Mar 0 30 13.4 99 29.88
> 26-Mar 1 0 13.1 16.8 29.21 37.46
> 26-Mar 2 0 10.6 16.7 23.64 37.24
> 26-Mar 3 0 11.3 15.8 25.20 35.23
> 26-Mar 3 20 13 99 28.99
> 26-Mar 4 0 13.7 17.8 30.55 39.69
> 26-Mar 4 40 14.3 99 31.89
> 26-Mar 5 0 11.1 18.1 24.75 40.36
> 26-Mar 6 0 15.5 20.1 34.57 44.82
> 26-Mar 7 0 14.8 19.6 33.00 43.71
> 26-Mar 8 0 16.3 20.8 36.35 46.38
> 26-Mar 9 0 12.4 19.3 27.65 43.04
> 26-Mar 10 0 13.4 17.8 29.88 39.69
> 26-Mar 10 10 14.1 99 31.44
> 26-Mar 10 20 15.2 99 33.90
> 26-Mar 11 0 14.3 19 31.89 42.37

We had estimated the gusts to be higher than this from our location
But we had no way to measure the speed of the winds..




Prior to this Paul/AA4xx and Lyn/W4WDN had Bob/AE4IC had erected the
80 meter phased verticals and run the coax to the tent at the base of that
erection site. However, we were soon to learn that their tent and mine
were both now down. The sustained winds had blown both of them down.
Matt, who was parked a short way from my tent, could barely see it from
his truck where he spent the remainder of the night. The blowing winds
with the sand squalls made it hard to see when outside. Matt would not
leave his truck for fear of not finding us up the beach. And he felt
he was secure in his truck and could see the waves the whole time. In
later conversations he admitted that if the winds and sea had kicked up
to a point he was worried he was going to cut the antenna loose from
the back of the truck and move. Matt stayed in constant contact with us
through the night on 2 meters on a simplex frequency and said it was
bad parked atop the beach with the waves crashing near where he was parked.
However, he did stay and worked a few stations on the radio while there
on the dunes. We were not able to get to our antennas and put a coax on that one to
the cabin. So for the remainder of the night we huddled up on our
bunks and slept in what small gear we could muster up to stay warm.
Most of our sleeping equipment (sleeping bags, sheets, jackets and the
like) were in another cabin or in Matt's truck. The other cabin we
were going to use was up the beach about to mile away from where we
were in the main cabin. It was just too treacherous in the dark to go
find that one.


For the remainder of that night we used a gas lantern and the gas
stove to gather what little heat we could in that cabin to stay warm. The
wind was blowing the rain so hard on the tin roof that it sounded like
rocks hitting it for the next 10 to 12 hours. In that period of time
we also had lightning, and thunder and an occasional spurt of hail. Since
we thought that the rain was hail, when the hail finally came, we were
totally amazed at what nature had wrought for us. The wind blew so
hard the rain came in from the holes in the floor, from the cracks in the
ceiling (if you could call it that,) and from all around the windows.
The main cabin was also so old that the cracks in the walls let in the
winds and the blown rain too. (We did get this fixed the next day. We
got the keepers who stayed on the island to come down and put some
tarps over the walls and that helped greatly.

When we were coming over on the ferry, one of the mates on the boat
had informed us that we might get a "lil ole mullet blow", or what they
call a little storm that night. Little did we know what nature had in store
for us. I can truly say that it was one of the few times in my life that I was
going to lay down and try to sleep in the noise of the howling winds,
and the constant thunder and lightning that I prayed I would see daylight.

All night I pictured my tent under water, gear strewn all over the
sand dunes and my brand new 40 meter vertical, with the special aluminum
sections I had cut and put together for the expedition, totally
destroyed.

Daylight came and we all started rousting out, and I ventured down the
beach and found Matt's truck. It was there. And low and behold so was
my tent. It had blown down and was lying flat; however, the water did
not get that high during the night and all the equipment was still in
the plastic boxes and they were dry. My "Mercury" paddle was sitting
on the table I had set up and the 30 meter TenTec was still there. Hooked
up to the antenna and ready to operate. The guy ropes we used to set
up the vertical were still in place, and we had used orange surveyor tape
to mark the guy ropes in fear of the four wheelers on the island
running into them and knocking down the antennas. (You can not imagine how hard
the wind blew, except that the surveyor tape we used had splintered and
disintegrated so badly that it was stuck in the sand dunes all around
the area where the guy ropes and the antenna were situated.) Little
did we know the four wheelers would be few and far between this particular
weekend. They were a lot smarter than we were.

The Core Banks is used in that particular part of the year as a haven
for fishermen. It is a place to go to where the fish are very
plentiful. That is when the weather cooperates. The few fishermen we
met on the beach that weekend spent most of their time in the cabins
and campers they occupied. The winds were so strong, the rain so bad, and
the weather so cold that they could not fish. They could not even get
a fishing line in the surf, and those who did try said the sinkers would
come right back up the sand to the beach.

Friday morning we got in our winter clothes and moved my campsite to a
cabin and reset the vertical antenna and put up the Carolina Beam.
With this change of locations came a fewer number of operating positions
too. We would now be limited in our number of radios on the air. The
antennas were not to be as plentiful as planned. When we did set up
the hotsticks this time at the cabin we took over 2 hours to get them in
the air with the high winds. It took 8 of us to get them up. It usually
only takes two or three people. But the winds were blowing and
changing direction so fiercely that we could not stand up, let alone get the
wire up. We had the fortune of having this reenactment of the Mt. Suribachi
event, as we later called it, on video for future generations to see
and hear it. We have pictures too.

Luckily for us, Matt works for one of the local TV stations in
Raleigh, and is the head engineer for that station. His expertise came in handy
for some of the picture taking, videos and also for the VHF operations
too. We also had Thomas/KF4JKQ who is a photographer by trade there
and he was constantly shooting pictures of everyone as we went. You can
only imagine how he was there at the right moments to record the events for
posterity. He would barely roll down the window in his Explorer and
take a couple of snaps and then roll up the windows and watch us.

Friday's weather was the same as Thursday night and the remainder of
the crew arrived on the next couple of ferries. It was amazing that
they could run the ferries in that weather, but they did. The sound
side of the island did not have the high waves that the ocean did.
They were stormy though and made for some rough travel. By Friday afternoon
most of the Core Banks crew were on the island for the duration. The
few remaining members would come down on Saturday. They would not get
to enjoy the first day or two with us.

Hot meals and warm hospitality made the event bearable and kept our
sense of humor alive for the remainder of the operation. Matt finally
decided to eat with us on one or two occasions also. We did get the
rigs on the air, and we started making contacts finally on Friday and
kept them going until we closed down the station on Sunday. We just
had to take turns at the operating positions and keep plugging away on the
bands.

Earlier in the story I mentioned that we had to carry our own drinking
water. Well, we did, and without exaggerating we had taken close to 60
gallons or fresh drinking water. This however did not stop us from
making a mistake during the preparation of coffee. Someone in the 2nd
cabin came in and brewed up a fresh batch of coffee. However, they
used the tap water from the sink. I am sure (as others are) that this
cause a lot of us to get a case of dysentry. We were overcome with it for
three days. We did have plenty of coffee though, and we kept working
the stations on the radios.

Conditions were good for us on the bands. We had used all the
available data we could gather for the trip and the operating was
pleasant in warmer cabins and kept us all going. We had foreseen cold

weather and taken along some heaters, but not enough. Matt had taken

a large generator and it came in handy for us to have lights in one of the

cabins that we named Core Banks 2 when communicating from cabin to

cabin. When Thomas got tot he island he brought with him two generators

on the back of his 4 wheel drive explorer. He drove onto the island. He had

a special rig made up for the back of his vehicle that carried them on the

trailer hitch. We used them for the electric heaters he bought and brought

along for the weekend. They came in very handy for us all to warm up.

We called him on the assigned repeater and he answered on the way

down. We got him to stop and get some emergency items before he

came over on the ferry. The heaters were some of these items.

The main cabin that we ate in was called Core Banks 1 and we had to
have the crew come down and put up plastic sheeting on the outside to
keep the winds gusts down (as mentioned earlier) and eventually we did
have some sort of heat in that cabin. Unfortunately that cabin had no
insulation, no ceiling, and really no walls to speak of. The rain came
in all night and day through the walls, around the door frames, and
anywhere along the roof there was a crack or a hole. So needless to
say, it was cold in there, until I got the gas catalytic heater going
in there. Lyn had purchased a brand new hose for that use with a coupling
to the 40 pound propane bottles we carried over there, but Murphy
intervened. The new hose did not work. We had to use the small
bottles of gas for the heater. Luckily we had about two dozen of those small
gas bottles. In the beginning of the story I said we took too much.
But never again will I ever say anything about taking too much with me
on a trip. Even for a Field day event, I will plan again like I did
for this trip. I will never forget it. Eventually we got another hoze
connector and that one worked fine and they had heat the remainder of
the weekend.

Cabin 2 (cabin # 14 on the map) was lucky in that it was insulated,
had a ceiling, and panel boards on the walls. It leaked too, and had
drafts of 5 to 10 miles an hour also (and those were inside the cabin). But
we used three large rolls of paper towels, several rolls of toilet paper,
and an assortment of paper bags and newspaper, along with two rolls of
duct tape to seal those up and kept the heat in that cabin. We did
have a four burner gas stove in each cabin. Luckily they were hooked up to
80 pound propane bottles outside, so we had plenty of heat from the stoves
too. Enough to make it warm enough to take our jackets off in the
cabin.

Thomas had rented a cabin at the North end of the beach (actual number
1 on the map) and had set up quite a nice place to stay for the
weekend. He had come down a day later than the rest of us, than
goodness. He was contacted on 2 meters on the way down and he brought
some of the necessities we would cherish for the remainder of the
weekend. Had he not done that we would surely have not had all the
warmth in some of the cabins, and we would surely been in the dark. He
brought along two generators which we kept running the whole time. He
was a real hero to us when it came to that part. He kept them running
and when they started to quit he went out and braved the weather to get
them running as they should. They were constantly needing fuel and he
kept that part up too. All in all, we used the generators for the heat
and for the lights and that was a provision we had only barely talked about.

In the end the use of the generators was a big asset.

On one of my jaunts up the beach, we visited Thomas' cabin. That boy
knew how to plan for the trip. A good boy scout he had the hottest
cabin, and when we arrived to check on him there was a large pot of
spaghetti and another one full of spaghetti sauce going on the stove.
As it turned out Thomas Jr. would not eat anything but spaghetti while
there so it was a necessary staple for them.

Friday turned out to be a day to reset our stations and get our
priorities realigned. We would not be able to sit in the tents and
enjoy the weather we had on the three prior trips. This was to be a
trip that would require a lot of different conditions. We would be
huddled, more or less, to keep warm and to maintain contact with one
another too. There was little venturing out on your own in the
weather. At night it was rough walking in the winds and it was an
extreme hardship to fight the winds and the sand blowing in your face.
As it was though, we did get the antennas moved and we got on the air.
WQ4RP was putting out a nice signal finally. And the log books started
filling up.

Friday night, as the time came closer, we all managed to go to the
main cabin. We were all anxious for the qso we had planned for so long.
All the equipment was set up and we all huddled around in the area of the
SmiTe and listened as the turns were taken to transmit and receive back
and forth. It had been pre-arranged that we would transmit for a short
period of time and then listen. In that way we could start out at
maximum power (5watts) and then slowly work down to the lower power
ranges. Friday night was a success in a certain degree and we heard
DF2OK and he heard us. But we never did get down to the SmiTe and the
level we needed to satisfy our needs.(An actual account of the events

 was recorded by DF2OK/Mike in Germany.
His log was very accurate to say the least. It is included as an extra
to this story for those of you who would like to read it.)DL Report on this website. Also check out some excellent pics on Mike's own webpage.

Prior to the trip we had carefully planned the times so that the DL
group would be able to hear us and the gray line would be at an
opportune time for them. A lot of time was spent on checking the
propagation charts and many an email was sent to confirm the times we
would use. So when the trip was finalized and we attempted the qso we had done
all we could to make sure we would make contact.

At 3:00UT the listening began.We were all sitting around waiting
anxiously for the speaker to start crackling. Don, Lyn, Paul, Robert,
Thomas, Jeff, Josh, Matt and I were very anxious. We had done so much
in the way of preparations. Now for the final test of all the work we
had put together. At 3:57UT a contact was confirmed using 500mW with a
KnightSMiTe from the Core Banks. In the confusion the wrong
frequencies were used in the following attempts and eventually we got back on
track. However, we did not make a SmiTe to SmiTe contact that night.
It did not occur. At 5:25 UT the attempts were called off for the
night. We had to wait again until Saturday night.

Saturday was anot her day like the first two as far as the weather.
The winds had died down to about 20 to 30 mph for the most part with higher
gusts, but not as strong as Friday night and Saturday morning. Getting
around on the island was easier and not quite as cruel.

A four wheel drive vehicle was a must. Even Thomas can attest to the
fact that when you are told not to go to certain places in the sand,
you do not venture there. We did have to push him out of one spot when he
tried to turn around. That was a moment to remember that I will never
forget. And needless to say I will not let him forget it either. It
was in an area where a lot of other vehicles were left behind.

You need to picture the beach as a graveyard for four wheel drive
vehicles too. As the storm was passing and the surf was pounding it
had uncovered quite a few vehicles that were buried in the sands along the
beach area. We saw many of them there. The metal all rotted away from
the rusting. The tires, however, were still intact for the most part
and looked almost new sitting there on the rusty masses. It made a
frightful scene on the beach.

During the day we also kept the bands hopping attempting to make qso's
on the bands. We had 10 meters on the air on SSB from Thomas' cabin
and Josh/KF4EAG kept the band hot for a long time. He was running 5 watts
to a kite supported wire antenna up 250 feet in the air for the most
part and had a good signal from the reports he got back. It was his
first real trip anywhere. He was enjoying making contacts all over the
world and kept asking on the 2 meter frequency we used where the
countries were. Now, Josh is a new ham and he is going over to the
Phillippines in July '99 for a long missionary trip. So he needed the
experience to learn how to use the radios, how to set up antennas, and
now more importantly, he will be able to remember what a "lil ole
mulletblow" was like. They have huge Typhoons over there, and hopefully he
will never see one. Being new to the hobby he was amazed how many
places he talked to. It renewed the feeling you have as a new ham. I
saw and heard him talk with jubilation and exhilaration at the
conquests on the bands. Of course he was operating in the SSB portions of the
bands and they were having a contest there. So when he advised that he
was QRP and on IOTA-NA-067 he stirred up some activity of his own.

Back in the CW shacks we were making the contacts as they came along.
The bands were in and out for us. Several of us had long qso's on 40
and 20 meters. I particularly had more fun making the longer qso's and
inviting the QRO operators to lower their power and get it down to qrp
standards. Almost all of them did and I feel we recruited several new
QRP ops as an end result.


Of course telling the story of our surroundings and the weather added
to the flavor of the chase too. Several ops got a real kick out of
hearing how bad the conditions were on the island and the hardships we were
going through to keep the stations on the air. I particularly told a
lot of you on the air that I could not wait to find a dry pair of socks and
underwear when I got home. That would also follow a long awaited
shower or bath. The longer the weekend lingered the more that seemed like a
heaven sent item.


Matt/KD4PBS got the APRS station on the air and managed to stir up
quite a bit of activity on the 2 meter bands from his new station on
the Core Banks. He even used a little island symbol with a Palm Tree to
show our location. This was the first time this had been done and with
him being sick and trying I think he really put forth an effort with
his activities.

While I was operating the 40 meter bands, Bob/AE4IC kept 20 meters
hot. He was working as many stations as he could find. On our prior
expeditions we had worried about a lot of different things than we did
on this trip. Earlier events I had worried about the raccoons breaking
into my tent and fighting me for my groceries. This time they had
spent the weekend at a different location. We did have a visit on the first
night from the raccoons. They were out in the worst of the weather.
Their footprints were all around the cabin in the mornings. There were
no mosquitos or gnats on this trip though. They were blown to the far
ends of the earth.

As Saturday night drew nearer we prepared for the DL/US qso again.
For this attempt I stayed at the 2nd cabin and listened on the Sierra on
the Carolina beam and on the TAC-1 on the 40 meter vertical. I switched
back and forth on the two receivers to listen for the DL group. I did
hear them on the QRP/p transmission on the Carolina Beam/Sierra and it
was passed along to the group in the main cabin. They also heard them
on the phased verticals. It was a long night again and it made it very
fruitful in the end.

Listening and hearing the ghost signals we waited for reminded me of
the many watches during the "Silent Period" at the 15 to 18 and 45 to
48 minute marks on the 500Khz watches for years. It brought back memories
of listening for the SOS you did not want to hear. After several
attempts the qso was made and at 5:16 UT the qso was made and confirmed
by the exchange of the signal reports. The DL group signed and then
our group made several more contacts and exchanged reports. The
6,798km/4225mi QRP/p qso at 250Mw both ways just goes to show that it
can be done.

After the long awaited qso was completed most of us went to bed. I
made several more contacts on 40 meters and then got a long awaited
sleep. When we woke on Sunday morning it was back to the bands and
more hot coffee. It was still cold and the weather had finally changed to
where we could see the sun. Walks on the beach to find missing items
were in store for some of us. I found some of the items that had been
buried in the sand where I put up my tent. A hand axe and some stakes
and a few other items. So all in all it was not a complete loss for
the weekend. Also we rode up and down the beach where we could and saw the
damage from the Nor'easter. It was there to be seen. There was a lot
of wash out and sand missing from what was there last year.

Speaking of last year, we sat on the beach last year in shorts and tee
shirts and braved the hot sun in tents and kept cool in the shade.
This year was a real difference in more than one way. We did not log the
amount of qso's this year we did last year. We answered all the calls
we got and filled the log sheets. However, there was not a wild frenzy
like last year. So I feel we have pretty much worn out that island.

As the afternoon came we packed up all the antennas and the gear and
made ready for the trip home. The long awaited trip home for some. It
was a horrific weekend and some were grumbling all the way through, but
here on Sunday, they had changed and were now talking about the next
trip.

We had successfully made our qso with the DL group. It was in the
history books. It was not a record as far as I know. We had done it
though, and we were there for the event. I still have yet to research
the real record.

The trip back for several of us came early. There were a few who left
on the early ferry and went back. The rest of us left in a group and
split in our separate ways to head home. All in all we had a wonderful
time. Even with the elements and the harsh weather we had all faired well. We had
come to the Core Banks to make the DL/US qso on the KnightSMiTe's and
we had completed that task.

There are a lot of fond memories from the harshness of the elements,
and it will be a definite recollection for all of us. We can well remember
the trying times you can have on a small island just off the coast.
Thank goodness we had not gone off a long way for this trip, as we might have
had to wait to return later.

We had used the following equipment on this trip for the qso's:
KnightSMiTe transceiver
2 K-2's
Wilderness Sierra
2 TAC-1's (80 and 40)
Ten-Tec 30Meters
Icom-IC-706MKIII
Yaesu FT 757
Assorted Handhelds
IBM ThinkPad
Several Homebrew keyers
LDG tuner
Kite supported verticals/dipoles
Walking Stick 40 meter Vertical
Carolina Beam (80-10)
Homebrewed 80 meter phased verticals
Norcal paddles
Mercury paddles
Homebrew paddles.

DL Report on this website

Here is the Report of the DL side of this story. Mike DF2OK certainly brings out the excitement of the adventure. Thanks Mike!


Hello dear Friends,

We have had a nice and exciting weekend!

Our SMiTe-DX-Test group members have been:

Jan-Olaf, DL6OBO, and me, Michael, DF2OK, active on both days,
Michael, DF5OQ, was only with us the second day because of family
obligation.

Our WW Locator: JO52FW. This is a distance to FM14TT of 6798 Km.
The meadow is 65m above sea level.

Jan-Olaf, DL6OBO is the owner of the meadow and we used his red
Jeep (yes, imported from US!) with roof top as our shack. The under-
ground water level is nearly the same as the top of the meadow.
A very good ground for HF.

The Equippment:

TRX Sierra and DL-QRP-PA, ATU MFJ-971, Keyer Junker and Norcal Paddle Kit
for the KC2. All powered by a 12V/10Ah lead-akku. HF output from 5 watt
down to zero, if wanted. Lowest power used: 250 milliwatt with the SMiTe.
Antennas: A G5RV in 9.6m hight build up as an inverted V and our
new vertical Helix made of 43m wire wound on a 9m long fishing rod.
The feedline was 27m long RG58CU.

10 Radials with 10 wires each 20m long spread arround 270 deg arround
the fishing rod directed to 291 deg azimut to WQ4RP on Core Banks Island.

Weather here: Temperature about 5-6 deg. C, mostly overcast, vy low wind,
very high humidity and - well, dark until the morning, of course :-)

Cluster WWV-Info of the earth and sun conditions:

Date hour SFlux A K Forecast From
28-Mar-1999 15 105 3 2 VY LOW/QUIET-UNSET;VY LOW/QUIET-UNSET <k3ske>
28-Mar-1999 15 105 3 2 vl/q-u -> vl/q-u <dj2zs>
28-Mar-1999 15 105 3 2 VyLow,Qt-Unset=>VyLow,Qt-Unset <n4ty-9>
28-Mar-1999 12 105 3 4 SA:QUIET - MF:QUIET <DK0WCY> <f8aih>
28-Mar-1999 12 105 3 3 vl/q-u -> vl/q-u <dj2zs>
28-Mar-1999 12 105 3 3 VyLow,Qt-Unset=>VyLow,Qt-Unset <n4ty-9>
28-Mar-1999 09 105 3 3 vl/q-u -> vl/q-u <dj2zs>
28-Mar-1999 09 105 3 3 VyLow,Qt-Unset=>VyLow,Qt-Unset <n4ty-9>
28-Mar-1999 06 105 2 1 sa=very low, gf=quiet-uns, <dj2lb>
28-Mar-1999 06 105 3 2 VyLow,Qt=>VyLow,Qt-Unset <n4ty-9>
28-Mar-1999 00 105 3 2 VyLow,Qt=>VyLow,Qt-Unset <n4ty-9>
27-Mar-1999 21 105 2 1 vl/q -> vl/q-u <dj2zs>
27-Mar-1999 18 104 6 0 vl/q -> vl/q-u <dj2zs>
27-Mar-1999 18 104 6 0 VyLow,Qt=>VyLow,Qt-Unset <n4ty-9>
27-Mar-1999 15 104 6 1 sa=very low, gf=quiet-uns, <dj2lb>
27-Mar-1999 10 104 6 3 sa quiet; mgf quiet R=(33)yst <iv3ibz-2>
27-Mar-1999 10 104 6 3 sa quiet; mgf quiet R=(33)yst <iv3ibz-2>
27-Mar-1999 09 104 6 2 sa=VeRy LoW;gf=quiet to unsettled 
27-Mar-1999 09 104 10 3 Quiet/Quiet R=33 (DK0WCY, Kiel) <ea5cw>



Now my report.


--------------------------------------------------------------
------ Saturday morning, the 27th of March, 1999 -------------
--------------------------------------------------------------

We have build up the final antenna one Friday afternoon before the test.
It took about 2 hours to get this aerial work, but it works!
Resonance with dipper and a good SWR on the right qrg - Whow! That's it!

Early to bed (much earlier than other days) good for 3-4 hours to sleep
until I woke up on 1:00 UT (2:oo local time). The car was ready and
Jan, DL6OBO and I met on the meadow at 1:45 UT. We tried to get
into packet net to get on the DL QRP Convers Channel 3560, but the
digipeater needs a preamplifier to receive us. So no chance.

In the meantime I fixed the station on a fold togehter plastic box
on the driving seat. All was adjusted, the measurements of both antennas
where taken for the MJF-Tuner.

Jan-Olaf took place on the back seat of the jeep. Whe closed the doors
and now we are going to sit there over 4 hours, packed in thick clothes
and blankets. Remember the weather conds outside. Hot tea, coffee and
something to eat for the rest of the morning.

Because of the tests with the packet we start listening at
3:00 UT on 3555,6....

Yeep! - DF2OK DF2OK de WQ4RP WQ4RP - We couldn't trust our ears! The
speaker rings out that signs. Yeah, there they are!
Out of QSB and some garbling noise disturbed with some peaks of an elec-
tronic fence we coul really copy you.

As arranged, WQ4RP called for 1 Minunte. But suddenly my notebook and
pencil drop down, the key after it. Oh, boy, a car isn't as confortable
as a well arranged shack at home...

So all things prepared again and now DL0AQB was called. No answer
from the group nr Berlin. We have heard them later on, but about
200 Hz beside our and your QRG vy vy weak. Did you hear them?

3h20 UT: Time for us. During the call from WQ4RP to DL0AQB we have
had time to change the antennas. The vertical was much better, hardly
to copy with the G5RV.

Now my call, slow because of the conds. First time with the Junker key,
a classic -Made in Germany- for this initial signs :-) Later on with
the build in KC2 and the paddle kit for clear signs.

Report from u with 5 watt out of the Sierra 229! Ok, lets go on!
We asked for QRS and as time goes on, the copy was better: 339 from
WQ4RP. Meanwhile the receiption here was much better, too: 449 with
QSB! The freq. was clear, no other stations. Only the garbeling noise
of the athmosphere keeps us feeling "in there".

WQ4RP get QRP after cfm down to 3 Watt. RST 329 hr and qsb.

3:40 UT we reduced the power down to 3 watts, too. 329 frm WQ4RP!
WQ4RP now down to 1 watt: still 329 here on the Sierra.

3:50 UT Now we both have reduced to 1 watt. Thanks to more and more better
conditions we recieved 229 and send 449! What a feeling -

A QRPp-QSO of 6.800 km distance on 3556,4 Khz in CW with 1 watt hf
at vertical antennas. Whow! - We where filled with enthusiasm!

Text from USA: - de wq4rp mike hr wq4rp don es lyn congrats hr 1w nw we go
hr to 500 mw 500mw -....

3:57 UT a RST 229 from us for a 500 milliwatt signal from the Core Banks!

Now Don and Lyn wanted to test the K2 and than qsy to 3531kHz for a
first test with the SMiTe. But I got somethink confused and QSYed soon
We didn't hear anythink, of course...

Up again to 3556 and there you are and called us. We felt a little ashamed
but could copy you with the K2. A good signal, nice to read.

Now we qsy'd to 3532 Khz.

5:02 UT. Both RST 559!!! With 5 Watt...
After a short pause WQ4RP came back with the SMiTe.

5:06 UT - Was there a Signal or not? I beleive everybody know the feeling
to hear "ghost signs" if we want to... Concentrate. RIT up and down,
bandwidth tune - Yes, there IS a CW. Same freq. RST to WQ4RP 119/219.
No dream. But you wouldn't hear it if you don't know that there is one.

We have switched our SMiTe on the antenna during a short test BEFORE the
first contact: 3 or more BC-stn on the same time. There would never be a
chance to get a 2-way SMITE qso. Thats the situation here, no chance...

Meanwhile we have unpacked our bred, drunk some hot coffee and tea.
The meat, which Jan's wife had prepared for us, tasted good.
A gentle but cold breeze came through the small door window of the
jeep. The coax feedline came through there. I took my coat a little bit
tighter and wrapped the whool blanket arround my legs.

5:12 UT. We qsy to 3555,7 kHz.

5:16 UT. We met again. As for shure Don and Lyn confimed our swl report
of 119 for their SMiTe transmission.

The darkness disappeard slowly, grayline! Good signs from both with
5 watt again. But stronger QSB.

5:20 UT Some european stations are active beside the freq. now.
The conditions are changing, WQ4RP signal goes up and more down.

5:25 UT, Jan, DL6OBO tried very often to get his call over there...
No easy job because of the conds nw.
After 73 and 72 we closed the station.

What a night! A QRPp QSO on 80m.
I didn't believe that this contact will be done. But it is true.

Now it is an early morning, silence arround us - No, some birds are
singing and we unwrapped our legs, left the car and - stretched our
body.

Tomorrow we will be there with Mike, DF5OQ, all togehter.

And hope to get over the pond with our SMiTe.
27.3.99 Test from 3:21 UT until 5:25 UT

--------------------------------------------------------------
---- Sunday morning, the 28th of March, 1999 -----------------
--------------------------------------------------------------

Now we met again.

Jan-Olaf, DL6OBO, Michael, DF5OQ and me, Michael, DF2OK.

The Jeep was our shack again. The temp outside: 1 deg. colder than
last night and much more humidity than yesterday. But no rain, the
moon was trying to get through the high clouds, but failed.

"Blue moon", I remember the eMails from you...

The antenneas are still in good condition.

2:10 UT We didn't hear WQ4RP on one of the freq. we used Saturday.
(3532,6 and 3555,7 kHz) We called, no answer.

I controlled the connections and - What a mess, the G5RV was connected
to the tuner. Grrrr... I changed as fast as I could to the Vertical.

Oh, WQ4RP was in a QSO with a VE (we didn't receive the VE).
Jeff (AC4ZO, right??) was at the key. We are now on 3556.1 kHz.

2:52 UT: DF2OK de WQ4RP. 459 from USA, 439 to WQ4RQ out of the Jeep.
Some more QRN this morning. Boulder A was on 3, Kiel A(DK0WCY) was 8 as
I listend to the beacon returned at home.

Jan, DL6OBO and I felt, that the conds have been little more better
last night.

03:08 UT agn QRS, QRN grows a little bit. Michael, DF5OQ exchange data with
Don, W3RDF, whoes Kite Beacon on 15 I received yesterday afternoon.

3:13 UT Jan-Olaf, DL6OBO managed a QSO with Don, too. Now we all haved
worked WQ4RP, hi.

The windows of the Jeep are wet - inside. 3 living men in thick clothes
drinking hot tea and coffee again. Exciting to listen to the
signals from the speaker.

We all used more time to prepare the next step for a test because of
the stronger QRN.

3:47 UT. WQ4RP wanted to receive OUR SMiTe! I took my well warmed
SMiTe out of the pocket of my jacket near my heart.

It is the SMiTe No 482.

4:04 UT Ok, lets go! See what happens over there!
4 Minutes of transmitting with the Junker key again.
The traditional one, hi

4:08 UT Now listen with the Sierra for the report of WQ4RP.

And-- and-- YES, we have been copied! 119 from USA. With 250 Milliwatt
and the 9V Batterie!

Now - congrats to all - from WQ4RP.

4:11 UT: WQ4RP now with SMiTe as yesterday - 119 and QSB from DF2OK!
4:16 UT cfm of the report.

As yesterday it is impossible to use the SMiTe for reception of
HAM-bands at this daytime.. But there was one advance during the
transmit test to you: We can hear musik. 3 Stn at the same time.
Only interrupted by cw. Hi hi...

4:50 UT Both stations stopped the test for 2-way SMiTe qso.
We tried to arrange a test: QRO (5 watt) from StateSide and
TRY a RX with the SMiTe. But WQ4RP transmits again QRPP...

Oh, that conds...

I'm not sure, but I believe that WQ4RP has received our
5 watt transmission with there SMiTe - cfm???


But, keep in mind: Both Stations are able to receive the
250 milliwatt signal from the SMiTe with a good receiver.

6800 km, on 3556,1 kHz in CW with good vertical antennas!
A faszinating result!

In the meantime "Mr. Grayline" did his job: The 5 watt signals
are copied 559/569 both sides.

We joked, should we switch the sierra to SSB ?...

Arround 5:05 UT, sunrise. A cold morning as yesterday,
7/8 overcast, no wind. Right beside us in 25m distance the tall
fishing rod, 9m long, pointing into the sky. 43m of 0.75 qmm isolated
wire wound arround as a helix. The baseplat with the 0.4mm isolated
copper wire, the radials.

Not spectacular as your system. But it works. Up and away 68oo km.
Faszinating. 22 years of amateur radio on my side, lots of thinks
I've played with. But really faszinating, again and again.

That must be the feeling of G. Marconi during his first result
crossing a hill with hf for the first time. Or the first time
over the Atlantic...

We now finished this test, whishing all the best, 73 and 72.

Our activity time: 28.3.1999 Test from 2:52 UT until 5:11 UT

After we signed of, annother CQ-call from WQ4RP.
Hanno, DL9SXX was the next one for a QSO.

It works.

Thank you for this exciting and important test. You did a very
fine job. 

It was a long time between the first mail from Bob

> Von: ae4ic@nr.infi.net ("Bob Kellogg")
> Betreff: North Carolina <-> Europe QRPp
> Gesendet am: 9 .ec .998 21:46:58 -0500
> Abgeholt am: 10.12.98 19:24

and the test this weekend.

Perhaps it is possible to repeat this test sometime. 

73/72 de Michael, DF2OK

Thank you.

 

If you are interested in the Knightlites and Amateur Radio contact Dick at

N4HAY@arrl.net    Home