QRP to the Field is an annual fun contest sponsored by NorCal, the Northern California QRP Club.
The theme for 2000's event was "Water World" where operators were encouraged to set up their low powered stations on or near bodies of water. Extra scoring points were given for marine mobile stations.
For this event, I did not have to travel very far to find a body of water to set up my station as I have a pond located on my farm near Seneca, Missouri. The marine mobile rig was installed on the good ship Minnow, a sturdy six foot human powered boat. In keeping with the QRP philosophy, this is an ideal vessel.
The hardest part of setting up a marine mobile station is getting an effective antenna. To be competitive, I wanted something better than a standard mobile whip. The antenna that I built was a half wave vertical for 20 meters which should have a bit of gain over shorter antennas. It was constructed from 16 feet of aluminum tubing upon which I lashed a 20 foot Black Widow fishing pole, for a total height of 33 feet. A single 24 AWG stranded wire running from the deck to the mast tip was the active radiating element. The counterpoise was several wires over the side of the boat in the water.
My rigs for the contest were a NorCal 20 for the 20 meter band. On 40, I used a Wilderness / Norcal 40A. For 15 meters, an old Heathkit HW-8 with all of a half watt of output power was used. Finally, a Radio Shack HTX-100 was used on 10 meters CW. All rigs were powered by a 7 amp-hour gel cell battery.
During 6 hours of operating time in the contest, I managed to work 86 QSO's while afloat in the pond. Only four other Marine Mobiles were worked. The best DX was working ALØHA in Hawaii on ten meters CW (my only 10 meter QSO).
Thanks to everyone who worked me. Combining QRP radio and being out in the sunshine makes for a very fun day!