SV8/N2EC: Working the World (And Some Friends) with Battery Powered CW on the Island of Mykonos (Greece) (7/8/2023)
In July of 2023 I visited Greece for the first time with my family. We visited Athens, Delphi, Olympia, Mykonos, and Santorini over the course of two weeks and had an absolutely wonderful time. In addition to visiting the sights I brought along my uSDX 8 Band QRP Transceiver along with my Chelegance MC-750 vertical antenna to see if I could play a little radio while I was there. Since Greece is a participant in the CEPT treaty, my Extra Class privileges allow me to operate as SV8/N2EC as long as I have an official copy of my license as well as a copy of the FCC Public Notice in multiple languages describing the CEPT agreement. My initial plan was to try to activate a park on the island of Mykonos for Parks on the Air. Unfortunately, when I got on the island and talked to the locals, it appeared that the park that was listed on the POTA site was not going to be suitable to activate, so I had to change my plans.
Conveniently, the hotel I was staying at, the Mykonos Beach Hotel, had given us a room that had its own semi-private patio overlooking the Aegean Sea and the hotel's infinity pool. Perfect to use with my vertical and its tripod. Very nice operating conditions! I decided to set up the radio and antenna and see what I could hear. I could hear a lot. I had set up my station in the midst of the IARU HF Championship, so there was plenty of DX on the bands blazing along at the speed of light on CW. After tuning around I decided to contact one of the contesting stations, UC7A, who was coming in strong in Mykonos from Tikhoretsk, Russia, just a bit East of Ukraine. I was happy that I was able to make the trip on my 7.5 Watts.
After tuning around a bit and finding the bands pretty packed, I decided to take refuge in the 17m band and give calling CQ a try to see if I would be picked up by the RBN, and hopefully another station. I was able to see that I was, indeed, getting out with my modest station. I was getting spotted as far North as Estonia, to the Northwest in Great Britain, and to the West in Spain and all throughout Western Europe. After a few calls I heard back from Vlad, UB1AKA, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. We fought the QSB to have a nice ragchew, and Vlad seemed excited to work me in Mykonos with my QRP station. It was a very nice chat and Vlad was very patient as I struggled with the fading. So much fun. Looking at the clock I realized it was time for us to find a place to get dinner, so I broke down the station and we hiked into town to have a delicious meal.
After we returned from dinner, I decided to set the station back up again and see if I could make some more contacts. All throughout my trip I had been corresponding with my friends from the Long Island CW Club on our WhatsApp group, and I let them know I was about to get on the air to see if we could make the impossible possible and make a contact from Mykonos to where they were. I started calling CQ as SV8/N2EC on the 20m band and excitedly listened to the static on the band through my headphones as I watched the lights from the island shimmer on the water of the Aegean Sea.
After a few calls I heard a familiar call down in the noise. My buddy David, SM2YUW, was returning my call from inside the Arctic Circle in Kiruna, Sweden! He and I have become good friends chatting on the LICW DMR group and we had both been hoping that one day band conditions would be right for us to make a QSO without the aid of the internet. Today was the day! Copy was rough, but we were able to get it done. At the peaks we heard each other 559, and we were both giddy with excitement that we were able to have the QSO even though we were around 3,000 miles apart and I was running QRP. Amazing.
Word got around that we made it happen on WhatsApp, and soon I was able to hear another familiar call, this time from 5,000 miles away. Another LICW buddy, Mike, N2PPI, gave me a call from Long Island, New York. He was even deeper in the noise, but I was able to hear him and he was able to hear me down around a 529 RST. I had made it all the way back to the States using 7.5 Watts and a radio I bought on a lark for $139. QRP can definitely be magical. The success was exhilarating for all of us.
But wait, someone tail-ended Mike's QSO with me, this time at a solid 579 from the Netherlands was Jan, PA3CXB. What a night! Jan was excited to work me down in SV8 as well, and I was feeling incredibly lucky to have such a great run on the bands. It was getting late, so I decided to call QRT and break down the station, but it would be a while before I could go to sleep after such an exciting time on the air. I may not have been able to activate a park on the trip, but I can't imagine having more fun than I did contacting friends in the Arctic and the US, and making new contacts all over Europe.
After such a great time on the air, I hope to be able to bring a radio with me on future trips abroad. It really was a lot of fun.
Activation QSO Map: Green Pins = CW / Blue Lines = 20m, Purple Lines = 17m
Gear used in this activation
- uSDX 8 Band QRP HF SDR Transceiver
- Chelegance MC-750 Vertical Antenna
- RigExpert Stick Pro Antenna Analyzer
- CW Morse SP4 POTA/SOTA Mini Morse Code Magnetic Paddle (N0SA Designed)
- Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones
- Paper Log