This year for the Kansas QSO Party, I participated as a Kansas rover station with plans to hit several counties throughout the weekend under the 1×1 N0S. This had me generally setting out to the east from Kansas City early Saturday morning for a couple county line operations on Saturday and three rural county operations on Sunday. My route was built with week-of consultation with Bob, W0BH, who coordinates the Kansas QSO Party (and does an excellent job I might add), with the aim of filling in counties to try to get as many on the air both days on both sideband and CW. While I knew I was participating as far back as last year, the couple months leading up to the QSO party were especially hectic as I volunteered at the 2023 YOTA Camp in July and was finishing my Commercial Pilot License training around then. I ended up having the practical exam (I passed!) the Tuesday before the Kansas QSO Party, so I was so busy as to have minimal preparation time to get everything dialed in like I wanted.
I tried several new things compared to 2021 and 2022‘s efforts on both the equipment and operation sides on the equation. I still operated purely SSB as with last year, but I used a Wolf River Coil antenna on a magmount. This let me keep the magmount on the car all day and simply through the antenna up at each stop. I generally used 20m with some 40m thrown in so I didn’t spend much time tuning the antenna between stops and could just screw it in and go. Due to the aforementioned business, I never really bother finding the perfect tune point on the antenna for 20m and 40m, but I had created a general guide months ago. This rough setting plus the built-in tuner in my FT-991a did the job well enough it appeared. Otherwise my setup was well-tested from previous QSO party and VHF contest operations using my laptop in the back seat all powered by a large power station and Bioenno 20Ah battery for the radio. From an operations perspective, this year I tried county line operations for the first time: one on the Riley/Geary county line and one on the Clay/Dickinson county line.
For the Riley/Geary county I actually found a small gravel lot right off of I-70 that was split down the middle with the line. I pulled into this spot and didn’t notice that a state trooper pulled in behind me. He came up to my window and said he saw me pull off and was wondering if I needed help. I’ve had some negative encounters with law enforcement before during ham radio operations, but this one was actually rather pleasant! After explaining what I was doing, the officer mentioned he was actually interested in amateur radio and had some questions about the radios I was using. After a brief conversation, he left and I was set to operate. I didn’t catch his name, but I must say I was impressed both with his professionalism and his demeanor toward my activities. He could have told me to leave or hassled me, but it was a very positive encounter. Perhaps it was even enough to motivate him to get his license. In general, this was a good spot for operating with some elevation and no RF noise. For the Clay/Dickinson county line, I found a dead-end dirt road that had a small pull off to access a cell tower (see featured image on this post). This was a nice and quiet spot as well where I was not hassled at all through my four or so hours on the line. I would use both of these locations again next year. At 9pm when the event ended for the day, I drove to my hotel in Manhattan, Kansas for the evening.
My other, non-county line operations on Sunday were relatively uneventful. I found a parking spot in a park in Washington, Kansas which was surprisingly full of RFI. I then went to a Nature Preserve parking in Republic County where it was RF and people quiet the entire time. I then headed over the county line to Jewell county near Formoso, Kansas where I found a spot to park on a driveway to a cell tower. While the bands were generally good all weekend, by my last stop in Jewell county, they had just about died out and I left about ten minutes before official event ended.
From a scoring perspective, I did not do quite as well as last year which I largely attribute to the shift from a 20/40 trap dipole in an inverted vee at 25 feet to the Wolf River Coil loaded vertical. However, adding the county line operation helped make up for a lot of that.
- 40m Phone: 46 QSOs (12%)
- 20m Phone: 327 QSOs (88%)
- Total Contacts: 373
- Total Multipliers: 42
- Claimed score: 31,332
All in all, it was another fun weekend participating in the Kansas QSO Party! For next year, I’ll certainly do more location planning trying to hit county lines or corners as those are the way to score big. I might also try some CW contacts next year to fill in my score when the bands aren’t doing as hot. I didn’t have any major notes for the equipment setup, other than my 20Ah battery did die Saturday evening and I had to take a break for an hour or so to recharge it from the power station. I generally tried to recharge the Bioenno and laptop when I was driving between locations, but since I only made a two stops, there wasn’t much time to do so Saturday.
One other note – for those who may have “worked me” on 20m CW, it was not me! Unfortunately, I got several reports (and a QSO card) of this, but it appears someone else may have been using my call sign from Johnson County. There was a late changeup of 1x1s a few days before the event, so it is possible someone got confused and used the wrong call sign as well.