W9FZ/m 2023 Minnesota QSO Party Travelogue

The Far Northwest Corner

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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   2022 MNQP

This travelogue will have fewer pictures than some years. Temperatures were MUCH milder this year. We were behind schedule much of the time and did not make time for outdoor pictures. Further, we thought we'd be in areas of green trees but weren't until the last county. By then it was pretty dark.

This year, we tried to self-spot at four different spotting networks: W0UC's Upper Midwest Spotting page, DX Summit, County Hunter's Spotting page, and QSOPARTYHUB.com. Of the four, I prefer the qsopartyhub.com site for ease of use. The only problem is that it is currently "http" and not "https" so my browser intervenes and gives me warnings. Next year, I intend to use the qsopartyhub spotting page exclusively and will link to that page in our plans postings.

We pre-located to Thief River Falls MN on Friday. We drove out starting in the morning. It was minus 6 degrees during much of our drive.

In Thief River Falls (TRF), we stayed at the AmericInn. We stopped by Black Cat Bar and Grill for dinner and it was pretty good.

We were up and out the door on time towards the north edge of Marshall county. The picture on the left is a few minutes before contest start time. The picture on the right is at the spot we used in Marshall when we just arrived and got ready to operate at the start of the contest.

In the pictures of above, this is Kittson county where we operated. The sun was up and the horizons big.

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".

This year, I chirped w9fz-15 via RF and w9fz-4 via iPhone (aprs.fi app) and the cellular network. In the graphic to the left, the blue line is "RF" and the red line is "iPhone". You can see that the RF network has gaps up in those far northern counties and that chirping via iPhone was a good solution. I advertised before the event that I would be chirping w9fz-4 on the MNQP website and on County Hunter pre-postings. I wonder if fixed stations use the APRS depiction to find out where we are?

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 234 QSOs, I see 118 QSL'd QSOs. 58 to W9FZ, 42 to W9FZ/m, and 18 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
        3.5        3       6
          7       64     128
         14      167     334   
Total            234     468    65    30,420

Q's per county:

MRS 36
KIT 40
ROS 28
LKW 52
KOO 40
BEL 38

We had more miles of driving this year. Since we don't operate on the fly, that meant fewer minutes of operating compared to some years. We have never hit 40 Meters this hard before. As a result, this is a new high-water mark for us on mults. We think conditions--particularly on 20m--were unusual. We think that skip to WI and IA were unusually short. Further, 20m skip to the coasts was not as strong as some years.

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 113 of our 2348 QSOs. So we apparently worked 121 other stations just once.

2023 W9FZ/M Honor Roll
    7 contacts:  NU0Q
    6 contacts:  K5GE, KI5MM, N0HJZ 
    5 contacts:  KK7AC, W0UC, WN4AFP
    4 contacts:  OM2VL, W4SIG, W5VS, W9DC
    3 contacts:  AC9BJ, NS2N, VE5KS
    2 contacts:  AA4TI, K0MJS, K0RJW, KB0WMQ, KC0TAF, KD0VBL, KD5J, KE0BAQ, KE0L, KE3VV, 

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 left Lake of the Woods county, I left my gloves on top of the car. I drove off not recognizing that fact. Koochiching county was only about 4 miles away. There, I realized that I was missing my "mittens". After working Koochiching, we retraced our path from Lake of the Woods and found the "mittens" just feet from our LKW operating location. Now I can have some pie since I didn't lose my "mittens".

In the picture on the right, you can see a Kenwood D-710 which does our RF chirping on APRS. The GPS on the left is the AVMAP GPS that talks to the D-710. We also run Janice's Garmin GPS to take breadcrumbs of our track.

For our last county, Beltrami, we were running behind schedule and only got about 35 minutes and made 38 Q's. We knew there were two fixed stations giving out Beltrami all day so we knew it wasn't particularly rare.

After the QSO Party was over, we drove about one hour to Bemidji where we lodged at the Hampton Inn for the next two nights. We had two days of snow-shoeing and two POTA activations in the Bemidji area and really enjoyed it.

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

W9FZ/m 2023 Minnesota QSO Party Travelogue