Saturday, August 05, 2006

Return to Georges

I made it down to Georges Island NA-148) again today and used the opportunity to try a few new things. The first change was in how I got to the island--or more precisely, how I got to the ferry to go to the island. I parked at the Alewife station on the edge of Cambridge and took the T Red Line to Park Street, then the Green Line to Government Center, then the Blue Line to the Aquarium and the ferry docs. For those of you not intimately familiar with the Boston subway system, here's a little help.

T map

Well, as you might have guessed, that's a lot of fooling around on trains! It was an interesting experiment, though, having to haul the equipment through a complicated public transportation environment, up and down stairs, escalators, and narrow ticket gates. I had reduced my load to just the Pelican case with the K2 (25 pounds on wheels), a 7 Ah battery in a bag which rode on top of the Pelican case, my backpack on my back, my Big Buddipole system slung over my shoulder, and my pop-up enclosure carried by hand. Weight wasn't really a problem (as most of the heavy stuff rode on wheels) but the bulk was a bit troublesome. Still, I managed nicely.
Imagine now trying to get through some airport in a far away place with this kind of bulk. Even if you make your weight limit (as I had done easily today), the bulk needs to also be managed or you'll never be able to negotiate through a busy public place. The Pelican case goes a long way towards managing this: it is very solid and has a big pull handle that is strong enough for me to heft the whole thing up stairs if need be (as was needed repeatedly today). There are plenty of luggage models that have strong enough cases for this kind of duty but the pull handles would never hold up to the kind of abuse I gave this case today.
Once I finally reached the island, I looked for a new spot to operate from and found it. I went to the North side of the island with a very nice view of Little Brewster Island lighthouse, the LNG tanks (OK, maybe that's not a great landmark), and the Boston skyline. The big reason for trying this new location is it is well away from the monstrous Fort Warren giving me a nice clear shot to Europe. The new spot was up on a little hill, still very close to the water, and much cooler and breezier than the operating position used last week for the IOTA contest.
The setup was essentially the same as the other trips: pop up the shelter over a picnic table, set up the Buddipole, stretch out the solar panel, and hook everything up to the K2. I ran the Buddipole in a vertical dipole configuration today using the rotating arm kit. Conditions were not very good but I still managed to snag TI8 (Costa Rica), CU8 (Azores), PA (Netherlands), and a few states.
I also spent some time talking with Whitey W1AA who was activating yet another lighthouse (read about it here). These fellows have been activating lighthouses up and down the coast for a while and having a ball doing it. Today was the start of the National Lighthouse Weekend QSO Party and there were many stations on the air calling CQ lighthouse. Perhaps I should see if I could activate Little Brewster next year.
I only spent a couple of hours operating before I packed it up for the long train ride back. On my way off the island I ran into Alex Hall of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the fellow I had talked with just prior to the IOTA contest. I began talking to him about the possibility of tapping into their power when a woman approached him and said her companion had cut his foot on some rocks and was bleeding badly. I can see why he might want me to wait until later in the season to do this (when there are fewer people around). I'll follow up with a letter and see what happens.


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