Expedition to the Maine Shore

November, 2009

On November 9 a few QRPers head for the Maine coast
to make history. The mission has two parts: 1) Make
the first transatlantic voice powered QSO, and 2)
make a transatlantic QSO using QRP on 160 meters.

Michael Rainey, AA1TJ, has already set the record for the
longest ever voice-powered QSO. He worked from Vermont
to Georgia... over 800 miles with 15 mw on a voice-powered
rig. He wanted to make a transatlantic contact and break
his own record. See http://mjrainey.googlepages.com/newenglandcodetalker

Seab Lyon, AA1MY, has been trying for the last 16 years to
work across the ocean on 160 meters with five watts or less.
During this expedition, he successfully worked Russia with
about 4 watts. To do it, he used a 270 foot kite-lifted vertical.

The group comprised four QRP enthusiasts: Michael Rainey, AA1TJ;
Seab Lyon, AA1MY; Rex Harper, W1REX; and Jim Cluett, W1PID.
They assembled early in the afternoon of November 9, 2009 at
Rex Harper's family cottage in Cape Elizabeth.

Right away the group began setting up a half-square for 20 meters
to support AA1TJ's voice powered goal.

Rex (left), Mike (center) and Seab (on roof) setup one support.

The antenna requires two supports. One 25 foot, guyed
pole at the corner of the property and a 16 foot ladder
with an extension at the corner of the house.

After setting up the supports, Rex and Seab attach the
vertical elements at one end.

On November 10 at 10:00 am local time, Michael begins
calling on 14.055 using his New England Code Talker, a
rig he designed and built himself.

Transmitting requires tremendous effort. Michael shouts
Di Dah, Di Dah, Di Dah Dah Dah Dah into the tin can.
He can generate about 15 mw of rf using this arrangement.
But fortune is not with him today. There are no replies from
Europe. Here is a video clip of part of the attempt.

During the day we work several dozen stations including
Nigeria with the half square on 20 meters. The antenna
is working well.

In the afternoon Seab starts his kite setup. He must lift 270 feet
of wire to make his transatlantic QSO on 160m. He has brought
a six foot delta kite and two parafoils.

He had hoped to use two of them to lift nearly 8 pounds of wire.
The delta let go over the ocean and disappeared during the first
test. One of the parafoils is defective and won't fly. The other kite isn't
big enough to lift the wire. Seab is disappointed and tries
in vain to locate another kite.

But the next morning Seab is up before sunrise and notices that
an onshore wind has picked up substantially. It's nearly
15 knots. He and Michael start working on the kite at 4:00 am.
We hear footsteps on the roof. By 4:30 they come into the house
with raucous laughter. The kite is up and the antenna is flying.
They work on the tuner. There are several strong signals on the
band. After tuning up, the SWR is nil. Seab is ecstatic.
At 5:30 he hears RZ0AF calling CQ and answers. The Russian
station returns the call and gives Seab a 559. Seab's 16 year quest
is over! Seab tells the Russian he is running 4 watts. And he returns,
"Great job!"

Seab works a half dozen U.S, stations with excellent reports. But
within  a half hour the kite luffs in the wind and goes down
into a neighbor's tree. The game is over but the goal is reached.