DL/AA1TJ/p/QRPp near Friedrichshafen (photo by DL3PB)
Our trek across Austria, our trip to Friedrichshafen, Germany and our visit with family in Northern Italy are all now the happiest of memories.
A total of seven 20m CW QSOs were made along the way using a single D-cell battery for the entire, month-long trip. The RF ouput power was 75mW at the outset but by the time we reached Italy it had fallen to just over 50mW. As if to compensate, the propagation improved considerably once we arrived in Italy.
I first operated from a hillside just west of Perg, Austria on the 10th of June. I was pleased when ON6QP answered my CQ and we exchanged 589/529 reports. Rene was located near Liege, Belgium.
On June 13 we climbed out of the Danube valley and entered the Kürnbergerwald, just west of Linz. There we came upon the ruins of a Roman watch tower located high above the river. The six meter square tower was thought to have been manned by a crew of six; whose duty it was to stand vigil for invaders and relay messages using both visual and acoustic means. An earlier tower was reinforced on this spot during the Marcomannic Wars which took place in these regions, circa A.D. 174 (the opening battle scene in the film, Gladiator, was supposedly set amid this conflict).
The very idea of operating my QRPp rig from the ruins of this ancient Roman signal tower sent shivers up my spine. Alas, I made no two-way contacts from this spot, however my signal was catured by two Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) stations located in Finland and Norway!
On June 15th the Donausteig walking path led us to the ruins of Schaunberg Castle, dating from A.D. 1160. We ate our lunch in the chapel, beneath the spot where the altar must have once stood. Afterwards I flung my antenna out from the top of the remains of the 32 meter high tower and settled down to try my luck again on 20m CW. Again, I made no QSOs but I did receive two RBN hits from the OH6BG receiver in Finland.
Nine and a half walking days out of Grein, Austria we rounded a corner to find the fairy-tale city of Passau set before us. It was a moment I shall never forget. It had been a 27km day of dodging thunderstorms; running across open fields for shelter and standing beneath farmhouse eaves munching brotchen with Milka chocolate. We had decided to splurge for two nights in a lovely hotel that in the past had hosted both royal families and the first man to walk on the moon. We appeared before the desk clerk tired and muddied from the knees down...but what an adventure it had been!
Three days later we met up with DL3PB and his wife in Friedrichshafen. Together we had a wonderful time on the shore of Lake Constance until the big hamfest was over some days later. Thank you Peter and Petra!
We took the ferry across to Romanshorn, Switzerland on a Sunday morning; arriving at the railroad station only moments before a vintage Swiss steam locomotive pulled into the station. What a treat! A hydrofoil took us across the length of Lago Maggiore to Arona, where our family met us for more than a week of visiting and sight-seeing.
I set up my radio twice in Italy with my 10m end-fed wire dropped from the second floor balcony. On 1 July I worked G3JPX/QRP (579/449), DL1ARH (569/439) and ON4TJ (589/559). On 4 July I worked DJ0GD/p/QRP. Peter was field-testing his FT817 @ 3w into a 3 meter whip antenna from Moers, near Cologne. He reported "all ok Mike no problem to copy." Peter was 559-569 on my end.
Afterwards I worked SM3YQX/4 (589/559) near Mora, Sweden and F8DGY (589/579!) near Paris.
Upon my return to Vermont my RF output power measured 52mW; down from my initial 75mW output due to the drop in battery voltage. Although I hadn't worked the Americas from Europe as I had hoped, I've no complaints whatsoever. My thanks to W1PID, AA1MY, DL3PB and everyone else who kindly listened for my signal.