Friday, November 20, 2009

QSO by candlelight

On Thursday evening my wife and I were settling down to watch a film on TV when the lights went out. Because of heavy rain Cockermouth was on flood alert and unknown to us as we had not been out the river Derwent had burst its banks and flooded the town centre. I suppose the water had caused a short somewhere and the power had been cut off.

While my wife lit candles I got out the QRP K2, which by good fortune I had only recently charged up its internal SLA battery - which like the K2 is ten years old this year. It was very pleasant to listen to HF bands free of the awful electrical noise I am normally afflicted with.

Only 40m and 80m were open (of the bands I can use) and with only QRP there was not much chance of making an SSB contact. Although I have a battery powered laptop, using digimodes wasn't practical by candlelight since I could hardly see the keyboard. So I had to use CW.

Finding someone to have a contact with proved harder than I expected. When I called someone either they didn't hear anyone at all or replied to somebody else. I called CQ periodically as well. Eventually Peter G0KOK from Dover heard and replied to my call on 80m. Just as I was replying to him my candle went out so I was literally sending in the dark.

Peter gave me a 529 report, with a 559 from me. Peter was running an IC-7600 and presumably 100W so I'm not sure how much he copied from me and whether he realized he was in QSO with someone from a place that was making the news headlines. I had trouble copying him at times, though the QRN was from emergency services sirens and RAF Sea King helicopters hovering overhead not the usual interference from various neighbours' electrical devices.

I signed with Peter just before 10pm, and at about 10 minutes past the lights came back on again. It has been years since we last had a power cut here. If it happened more frequently I'd probably be better prepared for it.
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