Last year Janice and I had such a good time in the 2013 MNQP mobiling in the 8 SE-most counties. Chatting with Jon W0ZQ, we learned that he intends to activate all 87 counties and is over halfway there. That idea appeals to us.
In the picture on the left we are in Rice county. We operated from a cemetery on the NE side of Northfield, MN.
Since last year's MNQP, Janice and I have roved in 6 grids for CQ-VHF, 7 grids for January VHF (just a few weeks ago), and 8 counties in the Iowa QSO Party last October. In addition, we've done several HF contests and QSO Parties from the cabin in Hillsboro, WI. So it's been a great year of ham radio contesting. We like the way that contesting gives us a big dose of "ham radio" all in one weekend. That works into our busy lives and living 200 miles apart (for now :-) ).
So we knew we were going to pick new counties--but which ones. Well, work demands dictated that we needed to start and end within a reasonable drive of Woodbury, MN. We use DeLorme map books for our planning. First, we look at the county line areas. I also call up RadioMobile terrain data. Unlike VHF, we don't need the absolute highest spots. But I just don't have the heart to sit down in a valley. Being in a car, we need the best radiation pattern possible--so we look for higher spots. We like to pick two spots (two counties) somewhat close together and then move to two new counties. It lets us get fuel, food, and nature stops during the moves between county pairs. I build a map graphic with our planned route that I can share with the MNQP "mobiles" website.
Unlike many mobiles, we don't operate on the fly. We operate only while stationary. Someday, we hope to deploy bigger antennas while stationary (in compliance with the particular State QSO Party). But turning the radio off while driving gives us a chance to enjoy the scenery and give our ears a rest. We don't mind that our score will be less. We are having a blast just being out there.
Here is the special QSL card we will send out this year. I make a small "limited edition". I've received only one QSL card inbound so far.
I upload to LOTW. For a mobile, it can be tedious. Stations working us sometimes log us as W9FZ, others as W9FZ/m, and the rest as W9FZ/XXX. Interestingly, I have to have three certificates for signing the ADIF logs: W9FZ, W9FZ/M, and W9FZ/XXX if I want to "match" with all the stations who upload to LOTW. (Actually, I apply for a child certificate for each /XXX county. So it's 2 + #counties activated for certificates.) It's tedious, but I'm just the guy to do that! I break up the big ADIF file into smaller files that I sign from each specific county. I've built "locations" in TQSL that are accurate with grid and county.I'm not sure if the county award programs use LOTW yet or not. Please know that we will gladly QSL any of our QSO's (and we'll probably send your SASE back to you).
We run a short coax underneath the passenger seat to the rear seat foot area. There, we have a two position coax switch. From there, coaxes run back and out the rear hatch to the roof. We have a mag-mount ham stick that we use the most. We bring along ham sticks for 80, 40, 20, and 15. This year we added an MFJ manual screwdriver vertical. It should really help our 40m signal particularly with the better grounding I've given it. But we only used it for two QSO's this time because we were having such fun on 20m.
MN QSOPARTY Summary Sheet Start Date : 2014-02-01 CallSign Used : W9FZ/m Operator(s) : W9FZ KA9VVQ Default Exchange : JAN MN Club/Team : Northern Lights Radio Society Band QSOs Pts Mul 7 2 4 1 14 209 418 40 21 21 42 4 Total 232 464 45 Score : 20,880
WAB 28 GOO 26 RIC 21 DAK 29 LES 16 SCO 40 NIC 39 SIB 34
w9fz (at) w9fz.com