I started out on 20 meters with my KX2 in full contest regalia, or, less dramatically, hooked up to N3FJP's contest software and a Winkeyer - just like real contesters do with their Big Rigs. Ditto for the Norcal 40a. I think this Big Rig treatment gave these tiny boxes extra mojo & boosted their self-esteem. They, in turn, rewarded me with easily-made QSO points.
Familiar old callsigns were heard and worked, mini pile-ups for North and South Dakota were fun to engage in and all the while, I pondered the two ends of the Wayne N6KR design timeline I was using and how well they both performed.
20 meters - 36 states/provinces - KX2
40 meters - 22 states/provinces - NC40a
80 meters - 35 states/provinces - KX2
207 contacts x 93 SPC's = 19,251 points
4 hours total operating time
The Norcal 40a is a bit sentimental to me. I built it over two decades ago, fresh out of the Navy and back into ham radio after a 10-year hiatus. It got me into QRP and fully engaged me into the concept of outdoor operation. My girlfriend-at-the-time (now wife) and I went on a 3-day backpacking trip of the Appalachian Trail and, geek that I am and was, this little rig was along for the adventure. I wrote about that trip and it was published in a Belgian ham radio magazine a few months later.
It was good to see the rig works as well as ever.
The Wilderness NC40a hasn't been available as a kit for years but a group of its fans, led by Chuck Adams K7QO are mounting their own remedy to that and you can follow along with their progress here.
To whet your appetite, here is my old classic in the heat of battle: