This 4th of July weekend I am visiting my family near Boston. I decided it would be fun to bring my ham rig and see if I could work some new DX stations, since I pretty much never hear Europe with my setup in San Francisco. My friend Rob, AK6L, loaned me his Pelican 1510 hard-sided case, which he has used to carry his rig to various places. I packed my K2, switching power supply, tuner, SignaLink USB interface, a 1:1 balun, a spool of 18 AWG wire, and a spool of nylon string. I figured I would set up a 20m dipole and hang it from a balcony that faces my parents' back yard. 

If you're wondering, the TSA people were definitely curious about the case, but not hostile about it. They asked me to open it for them, and then they swabbed the inside for explosive residue. This involved disrupting all my careful packing, which was annoying but unavoidable. After getting the all-clear I re-packed everything and boarded my flight. I was surprised to see another guy with the same case getting on. His had a Bass Pro Shops sticker on it. Maybe he was carrying an expensive reel. Or a fish.

I set up the dipole on the first evening I was here, not being sure that it was high enough off the ground to get good propagation. I hung the balun from the balcony and ran two wires to trees in the yard. I was able to drape the ceramic insulators over tree branches to hold the elements in place, making an inverted V with the ends about 8' off the ground. When I turned the K2 on and tuned it to 14070 khz I immediately heard a cacophony of PSK31 signals. During the course of the evening I worked Hungary, Ukraine, and European Russia, all firsts for me. I also heard but couldn't work Azerbaijan, Spain, Italy, and Germany. Not bad for such a simple setup! Still 5 watts too!

Family activities have prevented me from using it since then, and tonight may be the same unfortunately. I go back to San Francisco tomorrow night, but with luck I'll be able to get in a little more time tomorrow before we leave. Either way, I'm definitely glad I brought it. Before I left Rob said, "If you use it once and make some good contacts, it'll be worth it." Definitely true.

I'd like to bring the rig to Australia next time we go, but apparently Qantas limits you to 7 kilos of carryon, and the Pelican case alone weighs 6.17 kilos. I don't know how I would feel about checking it. Maybe I could get a double allowance if Catherine doesn't bring a carryon? Hmmmm.

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