Flight of the Bumblebees

July 29, 2001

The Flight of the Bumblebees is a fun QRP operating event sponsored by the Adventure Radio Society. It is an annual event, held the last Sunday in July every year.

The theme of the event is for QRP radio operators to take to the field with their portable equipment and set up stations in remote or wilderness locations. The "Bees" as they are known, agree to travel to their operating sites by human power, either by hiking, biking or boating. Many operators reach really remarkable and scenic locations. Home based hams also participate by contacting both the bees and other home stations, although the bee contacts are worth more points.

The distance traveled is at the discretion of the participants, so no one is excluded from the fun. The contest duration is only four hours, so everyone can travel to their selected locations and safely return the same day.

This year, Layne Campbell, WDØDDU and I headed for the Buffalo Hills Natural Area in rural McDonald County, Missouri, the most southwesterly county in the state. The natural area is heavily forested with an unmarked but obvious trail leading back into the woods. We hiked into the forest for a distance of a half mile carrying our equipment and supplies in back packs. The radio site was located on top of a hill in an area where the trees thinned out a bit to make antenna launching easier.

The weather for the event was typical Missouri summertime, hot and humid, with temperature about 90 and the humidity about the same.


We used two methods of launching our antennas. For the half-size G5RV, a slingshot launcher was used to place the support lines over branches about 35 feet up. A bow and arrow was used to deploy a 20 meter Extended Double Zepp over 40 feet up in a pair of friendly Oak trees. Both antennas were oriented generally north and south to maximize east-west radiation.

WDØDDU demonstrates the fine art of antenna launching.
WØCH takes aim at a friendly oak tree.

We selected a nice shady spot in between the two antennas for the stations. A 5 by 7 foot ground cloth was used to soften the rocks. It did nothing to discourage the ants and ticks however.

WØCH pulling a NorCal 40A out of the backpack.
WDØDDU in the shade.

For rigs, we used a NorCal 40A connected to the G5RV antenna for the 40 meter station. A small NiCad battery pack was used for power. There was not much activity on 40 meters however, and contacts were few and far between.

20 meters was a very busy band, with lots of coast to coast activity. Here we used an Elecraft K1 connected to the Extended Double Zepp antenna. The K1 with the internal battery is an excellent field radio and was a pleasure to operate.

WDØDDU logs a weak one on 40 CW using the NorCal 40A.
WØCH pounding brass on 20 meters using an Elecraft K1.

The Flight of the Bumblebees is really a lot of fun. Hope to see you next year. We will be buzzing for you......

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