The Signal From Hell
The Signal From Hell
Hank Greeb, N8XX
September 28, 2007
A FYBO QRP contest way up north? Not ’til Hell freezes over! (PS: It did.)
This is an outbuilding typically used as a woodshed, but we found it open and used it as the 40 meter operating shack. We had to close a wide gap that was used as a window so that wind wouldn’t blow snow in and goof up the electronics. [Hank Greeb, N8XX, Photo]
Ed Kwik, AB8DF, and I warm up over at the 40 meter operating shack. [Cortland Richmond, KA5S, Photo]
Have you been so perturbed at your buddy that you wanted to tell him or her to “go to you know where”? Well, there’s a place in Michigan where that’s very common -- a “wide spot in the road” with the name of Hell, Michigan, about 20 miles from Ann Arbor. When the Arizona ScQRPions QRP Club announced the 2007 “Freeze Your Buns Off” contest for February 3, the logical place to do that seemed to be where “Hell was frozen over.”
The object of this contest is to take your QRP rig out into the field and make as many contacts as possible before you either give up or freeze a certain part of your anatomy. The scoring gives a multiplier of 1 if the operating temperature is greater than 65 degrees, 2 if you’re operating between 55 and 64, down to a multiplier of 6 if the temperature is less than 20. Another multiplier of 4 is if you’re operating outside, a multiplier of 2 if you’re operating independent of ac mains power. It’s relatively easy to get an overall multiplier of 48. Plus, a multiplier is given for each state, province or country you work. Wow!
So, the idea of a “Hellxpedition” was born. With Hell freezing over at that time of year, we figured the temperature multiplier of 6 was a snap! The next step was to figure out a logical call that might attract a few more contacts. Why not N8H -- so we applied for it and received it!
As someone said, “All the rest is history.” I advertised this idea on several reflectors, and very soon Ed, AB8DF, from Waterford (near Detroit), and Cortland, KA5S, from Ada (near Grand Rapids) volunteered to join the effort. We decided that we’d each bring a rig and determine choice of bands by lottery.
As predicted, Hell was really frozen. When I arrived on Friday, the 2nd, the temperature was in the low teens, and the wind was brisk. After a few tries two halyards were strung over two trees, at about 50 feet, and the third point for ends of two antennae were chosen, but, because of the wind, I figured the antenna might blow down overnight. WRONG IDEA.
The next morning, the temperature was 2 degrees, and wind blew one of the halyards into the tree, where it was hopelessly tangled on a branch about 30 feet high. After just a little bit of thought, it was determined that 30 feet would have to do, because the wind and snow was just too much to attempt a launch of another halyard. Then the 40 meter rig wouldn't put power to the tuner -- it turned out to be broken coax, which was found and fixed. Also, alternate power from a generator wouldn't start at such a cold temperature, so we gave up and plugged into the ac mains, losing an “independence of ac mains" multiplier. Overall, we didn't start operations until after 1700Z. Signals on 40 were okay, but 20 was weak until 1900Z. Fifteen was non-existent -- or the rig was having problems.
We commandeered two unheated outbuildings for two of the three stations, and Ed operated from his van. The 40 meter station was in a woodshed with an open window -- so we scrounged around and found a garbage bag from which we made a “temporary window.” This kept out most of the wind and snow, until the wedges holding it gave way and the entire frame landed on top of the operating table and toppled a propane lantern which was being used for light and a bit of heat. Fortunately the only damage was a couple broken mantles to the lantern, and a broken cable between the computer and the rig.
We tried Feld-Hell on 40 meters at 1900Z and 2100Z with no takers. (We had advertised the mode, since this seemed very appropriate for the venue!)
Dancing with the Devil
The temperature never got above 13 degrees during the operation. You might say it was a cold day in Hell. The weather was getting blustery and snowy around 2100Z, so we decided to close up at 2200Z while it was still light. We made 45 contacts in 28 different states and provinces, so you might say we had a “helluva good time” in Hell.
Thanks to the Arizona ScQRPions for running a great contest. Folks who worked us were delighted to work the “Devil” -- a nom de plume used by the 40 meter op, and seemed to appreciate the contact with the special event call N8H. We hope to see everyone again during FYBO 2008. Unless things change drastically, we'll be in Hell again, and will have a much better idea of what is needed for such an operation.
Hank Greeb, N8XX, was first licensed in 1951. After graduating from the University of Denver, Hank and his wife Jeanette moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became quite involved with organized Amateur Radio, serving as vice president and president of the Queen City Emergency Net. Hank joined the Buckeye Net, the Eighth Region Net and the Eastern Area Net, maintaining the EAN/PAN schedule in the Transcontinental Corps with W6EOT for many years. In the 1970s, he was elected Section Communications Manager for the Ohio Section for two terms. Hank is currently a Volunteer Consulting Engineer, Assistant Director for the Great Lakes Division, and Local Government Liaison for the Michigan Section, as well as a Charter Life Member of the ARRL. Technically, he is interested in mainly digital modes: CW, packet radio and more recently Feld Hell (Hellschreiber). Hank has built several Heathkit radios, including an HW-9 QRP rig, sparking a renewed interest in low power operation. His other hobbies include photography and computers. Hank and Jeannette live Rockford, Michigan.
Pinpoint customers who are looking for what you sell.
- This first appeared on the ARRL web site at
Thanks, Mark for the reprint.
72/73 de n8xx Hg
--- In WestMichiganHams@yahoogroups.com, Mark Thompson <wb9qzb@...>
> The Signal From Hell
> Hank Greeb, N8XX
> September 28, 2007