Flight of the Bumblebees 2003

July 27, 2003

The "Flight of the Bumblebees" is one of my favorite QRP field activities. Sponsored by the Adventure Radio Society, the Bumblebee is 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. As I get older, I seem to be getting more and more discretion!

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, I teamed up with Layne, WDØDDU and traveled to the wilds of Wildcat Park near Joplin, Missouri.

While not a wild as some of our western brethren's territory, it was nevertheless a lovely place to set up operation for a Sunday afternoon.

The weather cooperated nicely with a sunny day and temperature around 90 degrees. The park provided plenty of shade trees to keep the sun off the two portable stations.

Layne erected a 20 meter Extended Double Zepp antenna (88 foot flattop, center fed with 450 Ohm line) between two friendly trees. WDØDDU/BB worked 20 meters exclusively using a Small Wonder 20+ transceiver and a NorCal BLT tuner. Power for the rig was provided by a small NiCd battery pack.

Layne made 14 contacts, 10 of which were with other Bumblebees, with this compact station. Due to the close proximity of our two stations, we took turns when working 20 meters.


I chose a simple 33 foot end-fed wire installed as vertical right off the antenna connector of the Elecraft K1 transceiver. The small gauge antenna wire going straight up from the back of the rig is just barely visible in the photograph. Three radial wires were deployed on the ground. Easily erected, this antenna is one of my favorite field antennas. The internal K1 tuner made tuning a breeze!

Power was provided by a 7 AH gel cell battery, which was probably overkill for this activity as it had plenty of juice left after four hours.

WØCH/BB worked three bands. One contact on 15 meters, 18 contacts on 20 meters and 19 QSO's on 40 meters. A total of 29 other Bumblebees were contacted around the country.

Propagation was not the best on the upper bands as only one signal was heard on 15 meters (N4BP in Florida), however I was surprised about the amount of activity down on 40 meters. I worked as far east as AA4XX in North Carolina and as far west as KO7X in Wyoming on 40 meters. Not too bad for the daytime in summer!

Layne and I had an enjoyable day in the field. Thanks to the Adventure Radio Society for sponsoring the Flight of the Bumblebees!


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