The Best Made Plans …

Sometimes the stars don’t align in the correct manner and regardless of what your meticulously prepared plans, just doesn’t turn out as expected.

As a amateur radio ham I am (or at least want to) participate in the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service by operating portable in an official park.  There are several hundred of these locations.  The objective is to contact as many other hams as possible.  When you are operating in a park, then you are an activator.

The Chicago Portage is an affiliated area in this event, and it’s an easy drive from downtown.  I’ve been there dozens of times as it is an integral part of the I&M Canal and the history of Chicago.  Marquette and Joliet first traveled through this area in the late 1600’s.

So, I pack up my radio, antenna and other equipment and head out.  Setting up my Buddistick antenna was time consuming, even though I had a very good antenna analyzer to help.  I tried setting after setting, which on this antenna involves moving a clip on a coil of wire, up one turn, down another, etc. to get the perfect adjustment.

Finally, I’ve got it.

Antenna set and ready to go after a long period of adjustment.
Antenna set and ready to go after a long period of adjustment.
Needed: 13.6v and 100 amps.
Ready to jump start. I’m in the outhouse waiting.

Next I attach my radio to the antenna and hit the power on switch.  Nothing happens!  After a short while I realize that I left the headlights on in the car.  To power the radio I have to put the ignition in the ACC position, but that also leave accessories on. I remembered the AC and courtesy lights, but the headlamps!!!

OK, so I’m dead in the water.  No transmitting, no AC, no starting the car.  Thanks to AAA they were there in under 30 minutes.  We jumped and figured it best to just pack up and leave.  I’ll get this park activated or else, but next time I’m using an alternative battery source.