Tuesday, April 17, 2018

FT8 activation of KFF-3496

My activation of Davis Hill State Park (TX) two days ago was an exercise in frustration - nothing went as planned and making contacts was quite difficult. Actually, it was easy to make them - CQ's were answered each time I called - but completing them was another story.

When I arrived at the site, a group of birdwatchers were there with binoculars, huge telephoto lenses and funny hats. So no flying of the new quadcopter like I'd been hoping. They were interesting to talk to though and we laughed about each other's hobbies when I explained what I was doing there.

After getting the antenna deployed and the rig-computer marriage performed, I called CQ and was answered promptly. And then the pattern that would repeat itself began - numerous exchanges were required for the other station to copy my exchange. This was true for almost all contacts I would make, even if the other station gave me a strong signal report.

I initially thought it might have something to do with my TX audio levels but that and all other parameters were unchanged from what I'd proven operating from home. I experimented with different RF output levels but it made no difference. CQ's were answered quickly but subsequent transmissions of the FT8 data required 3 and sometimes 4 attempts to get through.

I did make 17 QSO's in all, including some callsigns of ops I know to have been looking for me from this park.

In a few weeks I'll make another attempt from another park with FT8. And I'll bring the new and, may I use the word awesome, quadcopter to fly if the bands are in poor shape.
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