TL;DR: 7 parks, 2156 QSOs, 1190 unique calls, 57 DXCC, 6 continents, 25 P2P. Good weather and good spirits. The thunder storms did not materialise but we did experience poor dx conditions.
Saturday - 4 parks - great start - disappointing end
We left PA early on Saturday morning and headed to the northern part of LX to LXFF-0049. We quickly found a good operating spot from one of the candidates. We set up the hexbeam - focusing on 20m - inverted v for 40m and 80m and a VHF 2/4/6m beam.
It turned out there were strong Sporadic E conditions. On 20m this resulted in a lot of short skip contacts and an endless pileup. Even 6m was open but the skip zone was almost directly over us, so we only managed to make 2 QSOs on this band. We stayed longer than planned as it stayed busy and logged 600 QSOs in 3 hours. This was far more than we anticipated and a very promising start.
We then made two choices that did not turn out well. First we decided to drive to a park that was 1h off our main route (LXFF-0059). We had added it as an optional location for Saturday. We were eager to work as many places as we could, so we went over there but struggled to find a good operating spot. We could only find a spot in the woods with suboptimal antenna's... To make matters worse I damaged the mobile amp we used on the higher bands so we were back to 100w on all bands.
We logged 147 QSOs in just over an hour and then decided to move out. Signals were poor and we were hungry. We had some pizza on our way to our late night location: LXFF-0045
|YNOMY crew about to dive into pizza|
Our second bad choice was to set up two stations in the dark in LXFF-0045. We hoped to work NA in a late night opening on 20m. The openings had been there in the preceding week. It took us quite some time to build things up in the dark. Especially the hexbeam was a challenge. On the low bands we logged about 130 QSOs but on the hex I logged only 2. Investing one hour setting up and breaking down an antenna for 2 contacts is not really inspiring.
|Compact mobile antenna @LXFF-0045|
Sunday - 3 parks - sunny - busy activations
We went to bed in the early morning - later than planned - and skipped the first park we had planned for the Sunday. We went to LXFF-0022 instead and found a nice operating location next to an open field. Conditions were not as good as on Saturday but we still logged more than 300 QSOs in 2 hours. The weather had improved and it was getting really warm outside - time to bring out the parasol.
We moved to the next park (LXFF-0052) some 10 minutes drive away and found that the conditions stayed the same with again 300 QSOs in 2 hours. We had some NA (up into TN and AL) and PY calling in.
We wanted to visit one more park before going home, so with pain in our hearts we had to go QRT while there were still ppl calling on 40m. We left the comfortable location and drove to LXFF-0029. In the preparation - using Google StreetView - we found a spot on a hill and that is where we set up our antennas for the last time. The area was too steep to set up the hexbeam so we relied on wire antennas again (inverted v for 40m and 80m and end fed vertical for 20m). We were on the air for almost 2 hours and logged 349 QSOs.
|Two poles set up on a hill in LXFF-0029|
With a goal of 1600 QSOs, dreaming of perhaps 2000, we are very pleased with the results.
Choosing different bands and modes we feel we have given chasers a fair chance to work one or more LXFF references. The only disappointment for us was the very small amount of DX due to the poor F-propagation (and the repair costs of the amp..).
We are organising our QSLs and hope to send out the first batch for direct QSL in about 2 weeks.