Today it was great weather here in SE Minnesota for getting outside (and it was even a lazy Sunday afternoon!). Beth agreed and she also needed a little time to finish some reading before a Book Club meeting. We packed up a lunch and headed for Bear Creek Park here in Rochester.
Bear Creek Park has restrooms, picnic tables and plenty of tall (but not too tall) shade trees. While not on a hill, it is also not in a hole or valley. It works pretty well for an afternoon QRP outing. In short order Beth and I repositioned a table for shade and antenna.
When I flipped on my KX3 I was not impressed with band conditions. Across 20 mtrs I heard very few signals. I had thought I may try out KX3 / SSB by checking into the Elecraft net on 14303.5 KHz but I didn't bother trying. I moved down to around 14060, the 20 mtr QRP CW frequency, checked the frequency with a few "QRL?"s and then tried a CQ...still no luck. At this point I considered pulling out my own book and calling it a nice day for reading in the park. Chalk one up for solar cycle 24. I'm glad I reconsidered.
The KX3 does have what I call trolling mode. It can be set to send a canned message (such as a CQ), wait a programmable number on seconds, and then repeat the message. During the wait time RIT can be used to tune around for calls. The message buffer can be loaded using paddles but the easiest and most reliable method is to use the KX3 utility provided by Elecraft.
After a few minutes in KX3 trolling mode W5ESE, Scott, in Dripping Springs, TX came back to me. We had a fine QSO discussing the Flight of the Bumblebees QRP contest and central Texas. After wrapping up with Scott a short CQ netted a nice QSO with VE3/W8FIB. Tom was taking a break from fishing and running 3 watts using his K1. According to his grid square location his fishing spot is about 30 miles SW of North Bay, Ontario.
Two nice QSOs and a nice couple of hours in the park ... Don't be afraid to call CQ in a quiet band.