Flight of the Bumblebees

July 28, 2002

The annual Adventure Radio Society sponsored "Flight of the Bumblebees" is one of my favorite out-of-doors QRP field activities. Held on the last Sunday in July each year, the Bumblebee encourages amateur radio operators to take their portable rigs to the field for a four hour exercise. The primary requirement to be a "bee", is to agree to travel to the operating location via human power. The bee must agree to walk, bike or boat to their sites. The distance traveled to the site is at the Bumblebee's discretion however.

During the four hour operation, both bees and home based hams work each other using CW on the 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter bands. Extra points are awarded for contacts with Bumblebee stations.

This year, Nancy NØFNZ and I traveled to Devil's Den State Park in northwest Arkansas, about 25 miles south of Fayetteville.

The campground and a lake are located in a deep valley surrounded by forested hills. Several excellent hiking trails are to be found within the park.

Nancy and I found an operating site just off the Yellow Rock trail, not too far from a scenic overlook. Our site was high on a forested hillside, above the main portion of the park.

Two friendly oak trees were used to support a 20 meter extended double zepp antenna, fed with 300 Ohm twinlead. A slingshot was used to launch the supporting lines over branches 40 feet in the air.

The radio used was an Elecraft K2, powered by a 7 AH gel cell battery. One battery lasted the entire 4 hour period with power to spare.

An Emtech ZM-2 antenna tuner was used to match the EDZ feedline to the K2.

The operating position was a simple ground cloth in the shade. Logging was with a #2 pencil and paper.

During the four hour operation, we had a total of 60 QSO's, of which 39 were with other Bumblebees. The log shows 23 contacts on 15 meters, 35 contacts on 20 meters and 2 contacts on the 40 meter band. Although I listened on 10 meters several times, no signals were heard on that band.

During our visit to the forest, we encountered only ants, ticks and the usual assortment of insects. One deer was spotted on the park access road a few minutes after the conclusion of this year's Bumblebee.

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