Back in January, we decided to get a social event going with the ARK members. There had been a renewed interest among some of our members to learn CW during the Christmas holidays, and that weekend the “NRRL Fylkestest”, which is a CW-contest, was being held. Even though none of us were fluent on the CW yet, we figured that we could listen in and test our skills. With the corona rules and restrictions looming over us preventing usage of the clubhouse, we concluded that our best bet was to combine our hobby with a socially distanced ski trip.
As mentioned, none of us were skilled enough to transmit, but our expectations were more or less learning from the older generations of ARK’ers how to set up the portable equipment properly and having a nice seasonal trip. And, for those brave enough to stay the night, having a good night’s sleep in the lean-to at the campsite.
We met up at LA2QUA’s house midday and walked to Bymarka to start skiing. With the temperature dropping to -12°C, we were eager to get going and move around to stay warm. It took us on average around 20 minutes to ski in to the location, with wide variation across skiers. One of us was even skiing for the very first time!
Arriving at camp, the sleds filled with firewood brought from LA2QUA’s house were put to good use immediately, both for warmth and for roasting sausages. A few liters of boiled water were also brought by LB9WI to make delicious hot cocoa! Meanwhile, we were getting started on the antenna and radio setup. With us, we brought a Yaesu FT-891 (with a homemade battery regulator), a HF tuner, 40 meter dipole, as well as an extendable pole to raise the dipole with. We were aiming to create an inverted V-antenna with the pole we brought to be able to use NVIS, so we could avoid the dead zone since it was a domestic contest. However, the pole turned out to be too flexible to allow any weight to stay on the top of it when it was standing straight up in the air. It just ended up wobbling uncontrollably. We eventually had to tie the dipole a few meters off the ground to the surrounding trees. Utilizing NVIS, this proved to work very well, and we received a good signal.
After all was set and done, we were finally able to listen to the CW-signals and try to understand some of the transmissions being sent! Unfortunately, after only 2 minutes, our playful companion, Alpha, knocked the radio down, filling the vents with snow (it’s working fine!). That was the end of the radio-related part of the trip. We finished up with roasted marshmallows and packing the equipment down for the trek back to the parking lot. Wishing the three brave sleepers a warm night’s sleep, we arrived back at civilization after dark. Didn’t end up doing as much radio in the end, but a fun trip regardless, 73!
– LB9WI & LB5PI