W9FZ/m 2022 Minnesota QSO Party Travelogue

Reminded us of "Dr Zhivago"

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Previous MNQP travels:  2013 MNQP   2014 MNQP   2015 MNQP   2016 MNQP   2017 MNQP   2018 MNQP   2019 MNQP   2020 MNQP   2021 MNQP

This travelogue will have fewer pictures than some years. I must tell you that it was COLD on account of windchill. Although the temperature was 10 to 20 degrees warmer than 2021, the windchill made it unpleasant to be outside the car. So we did not set-up the tripod or stage any outdoor pictures.

Initially, we planned for seven counties with about 1 hour in each. As this year's event approached, we saw that Swift (SWI) would only have one operator--a mobile on CW. We decided to modify our plan to begin in Swift and shift our operating time to about 45 minutes per county.

There are two things I want to convey. One, how much fun we had with high activity rates while we were on-the-air. Second, how bleak some of the terrain was by the flatness, snow, and wind.

We pre-located to Morris, MN on Friday. We drove out starting at noon. Temp was 6 degrees at the start and -6 by the time we got to Morris, MN. The wind was howling out of the northwest as we headed west out of the Twin Cities. I have two pictures trying to show the "ground blizzards" we got in but they are a little blurry. We caught a nice BNSF train in Murdock, MN. We were on US Hwy 12 at this point.

In Morris, we stayed at the Grandstay Inn hotel. We ordered take out from "Old #1 Bar and Grill". We ate dinner in our hotel room. I went out to the car in the parking lot to mount antennas for the next day. It was pretty brutal in the -10 degree temps and then the howling winds dropping the windchill to much lower. We use (single) magmounts with hamsticks. High winds or high travel speeds "can" tip the magmounts over. So I fashioned light guylines running forward to try to keep them tipping over in the high winds. If we traveled 60 mph into a 30 mph wind, that would be an effective 90mph on the antennas. If we went with bigger triple magnet magmounts, I think they would weather the winds just fine.

We were up and out the door on time and noted that the temperatur had warmed to a plus 10 degrees but now there was a wind howling out of the southeast. The temperature slowly climbed throughout the day to a high of 24 by evening. We stopped by a Caribou Coffee store in Morris and got a coffee-treat to start the day. We arrived at our first location pretty much on-time and stayed pretty close to schedule all day.

The reason we use "Jan" for our name in the exchange is that we are a multi-op Mobile. We both take turns on the microphone. Janice, KA9VVQ (wife of Bruce) is half of our team. We think it's better for both of us to use the name "Jan" than the confusion that would arise if she had to keep saying "Bruce".

Let me talk about APRS tracking for MNQP mobiles. The Minnesota Wireless Association sponsors the MNQP. Among it's members are some talented folks (ok, folk: Pat K0PC) who make interesting Activity Maps and Rover Tracking Maps. These are normally accessible via the MNQP web page at: https://www.w0aa.org/mn-qso-party/

I've been chirping APRS for many years during VHF roves and MNQP treks. Back in the early days of APRS, most operators using APRS from their car were encouraged to use the -7 suffix. But also along that time, VHF rovers settled on -15 as a suffix. So that is how I got started with the -15 and "puppy dog" symbol.

On this MNQP trip, I noted on Friday night, while at our pre-position hotel in Morris, MN, that 2m APRS chirping had stopped for w9fz-15 back in Wilmer, MN--about 55 miles away. So I went out to the car and chirped several times in a row and heard no replies from digipeaters. What to do?

I have the aprs.fi app on my iPhone and use it occasionally to view other stations tracks. The app also has the ability to beacon. In the past, I have used it to beacon "w9fz-i" when I didn't have 2m APRS coverage. When that was the case, I was able to tell stations who were tracking me to search for "w9fz-i". Now, it's just hours to start-time of MNQP and I have no way to change the Rover Tracking webpage to track anything other than "w9fz-15". So I changed the beacon portion of the iPhone app to start chirping "w9fz-15". I wondered how a visit to aprs.fi would handle or view this new source of "w9fz-15" location data. Well, when one searches for w9fz-15, you are presented with two checkboxes to select which w9fz-15 you want to track. Checking both is an option. Another thing I like to do when I get to the aprs.fi website is to change "show last" and "track tail length" to 7 days. Or at least something longer than the default 1 hour.

So now my cellphone was making location updates for w9fz-15 even though I was not being heard on 2m APRS digis or i-gates. I note that 2m APRS coverage began again when we were on our way home approaching Sauk Centre, MN.

In the future, I will probably have to chirp a different suffix in order to not make everyone choose which "w9fz-15" they want to view. By next year's MNQP, I'll have this resolved.

If you click on the two graphics I offer in this section, you will see the 2m track in blue and the iPhone track in hot pink. One of the graphics has a county map overlay.

Here is the special QSL card we will send out this year. We make a small "limited edition" printing run.

We upload to LOTW. We build locations in each of the counties that we operate. We sign our logs as W9FZ, W9FZ/m, and as W9FZ/XXX. Looking in LOTW, of the 508 QSOs, I see 267 QSL'd QSOs. 129 to W9FZ, 130 to W9FZ/m, and 8 to W9FZ/XXX. (as of March 4, 2023)

Please know that we will gladly QSL any of our QSO's (and we'll probably send your SASE back to you).

                   MN QSO PARTY Summary Sheet       

    CallSign Used : W9FZ
      Operator(s) : W9FZ KA9VVQ

Operator Category : MULTI-OP Mobile
             Band : ALL
            Power : LOW
             Mode : SSB
 Default Exchange : JAN MN
     ARRL Section : MN
        Club/Team : Northern Lights Radio Society

        Band    QSOs     Pts   Mul
          7        1       2
         14      507    1014   
Total            508    1016    48    48,768

Q's per county:

SWI 53
BIG 63
TRA 50
STV 60
GRA 89
POP 71
DOU 71
TOD 51

These 508 QSOs blow away any of our previous years by more than 200 Qs. We think that the State QSO Party Challenge is really increasing interest in all State QSO Parties--particularly MNQP which starts off the year (along with VT and BC). Because we don't operate while driving, our operating time is only while we are stopped. That means out of a 10 hour event, we spent about 3.75 hours driving and 6.25 hours operating. If you take the 508 QSOs and spread them over the 6.25 hours of operating time, it is something like an 81 QSO/hour rate for the entire time!!! We did very little CQing to dead air (unlike previous years). We had a blast working the pile-ups which were frequently four or more deep.

Our goals for MNQP are to have fun and see some of Minnesota that we have not seen before. We achieved that in abundance!

We appreciate every operator who finds us CQ'ing and works us. As the day proceeded, we would hear familiar callsigns as we were found multiple times by some operators. These multiple q's were 285 of our 508 QSOs. So we apparently worked 223 other stations just once.

2022 W9FZ/M Honor Roll
    8 contacts:  WA5COV
    7 contacts:  KC8QDQ
    6 contacts:  K9RS, NN4DX
    5 contacts:  K1RO, K7SEN, K8TE, KC3X, KC8QDP, KJ8F, N8II, N8ZSA, W6AFA, WA1SAY
    4 contacts:  AC4MC, AI4DB, K3WJV, KA6BIM, KB6UF, KC9JML, KD2KW, KE8VU, NE8P, VE3GJP, VE9RK, W7STV
    3 contacts:  AA4TI, K2DFC, K3DNE, K3GWK, K4SHW, KC6UCN, KE5ET, KE6FQC, KF6HI, KM4YW, 

You'll note that we log on paper. Once home after the contest, I load the log into N3FJP software to help me prepare the Cabrillo file and the .adifs to upload to LOTW.

As we went from Stevens to Grant, it was only supposed to be about a four mile move. Victor, WB0TEV, volunteered to hold our frequency while we moved. Well, as we were turning onto the gravel road that we were going to use in Grant County, I apparently tapped the brakes too hard and the hamsticks that were stored in the storage tube on the roof came sliding out the front of the tube on to the hood of the car and down on to the road at the intersection. Victor, WB0TEV, was ready to go chase some other mults but I needed to hop out of the car and pick up the unused hamsticks and the tube cap. I got everything put away and there seems to be no permanent harm. (I will hoseclamp that endcap for future roves.) We pulled a few yards down the road, thanked Victor for holding the freq, and proceeded to work the new Grant County pile-up.

Our last three spots--Pope, Douglas, and Todd were only about 4 miles apart. So we kept CQ'ing while moving the car and "held" our frequency for these moves. But as happens most years, 20 meters softened up and fell apart with about 30 minutes to go in the event. We went over to 40m and could only work one station W1VNT in the Vermont QSO Party. Next year, we will shift to 80m for the last 30 minutes.

We drove home arriving about 9:00pm. It was a fine day to get out of the house. A nice day to play radio.

Thanks to all the stations who found us and worked us.

If you would like a QSL card, just let us know.
See you in just under a year!
Bruce W9FZ and Janice KA9VVQ

w9fz (at) w9fz.com