Turkey Point Light Station
Elk Neck State Park, MD
N 39.497683 W -75.973549
15 August 2009 Activation by Ron de WB3AAL
(Pictures and movies are below the write up)
Hello, this is my story about my activation of the above lighthouse in Maryland. The drive from
Reading PA to Elk Neck State Park in MD takes about 1 3/4 hours. I had to be at the parking lot
by 11:00 UTC (7AM local) so I can transfer my equipment from my car to Joan vehicle. Joan is
one of the caretakers for the Turkey Point Light Station (TPLS). She did not want me to make
the 0.8 mile hike from the parking lot to the TPLS. The road does have some washed out
sections. So I loaded up the vehicle and barely closed the hatch. She was amazed that I got all
my equipment into the vehicle.
I wanted to be on the air between 12:00 and 13:00 UTC (8 and 9 AM local). My first agenda was
to find suitable trees to hang my 80 thru 10 meter Carolina Windom. I paced off the space between
two trees and I had the distance I needed to hang the antenna. I check my position on the compass
and found that the antenna will hang East to West direction which was parallel to the 100 foot cliff.
The antenna will hang between 100 to 150 feet from the cliff. I used a sling shot to place a 1 ounce
sinker on 5 lb test fishing line up into the tree. I found a good strong branch at the top. One shot and
my line was over the branch and on the ground. I tied parachute line onto the fishing line and pulled
it up and over the branch. Wow, one shot and one end is up in the tree. After I got the one end of the
antenna up in the air I went to the center insulator to do some work. At that point in time I heard some
screeching from the woods. I thought to myself that the noise sounded like an Eagle. When I turned
around and looked toward the bay there was an Bald Eagle flying over the water about 50 feet from
the edge of the cliff. Wow, this was a good sign. I went to hang the other end of the antenna and I
did have some problems getting that end up in the air. After about an hour of getting the antenna up
in the air and setting up the station I decided to place my screened-in canopy for some shelter from the
sun. This was a good and bad thing for me to do. The good that came out of using the canopy was it kept
the bugs and sun off of me during the day. The bad thing that happened was when the wind died down
the temperature under the canopy rose up to 101 degree F.
It was now 13:15 UTC and I was ready to start my operation. My rig was a Kenwood TS-50 with
the matching automatic antenna tuner. I had two 100 amp hour gel cell batteries that were fully charged.
One battery was for my small laptop running W3REG's LHTracking Program. The other battery was for
the radio. I tried to tune up on 40 meters but I had no power output. After two phone calls from fellow
ARLHS'ers asking me am I on the air, I finally found out my first problem. I had a bad connector on the
end of a coax. I took this section out at the barrel, now I had power output on CW but not on SSB. The
hand mic I had was working but something happen to it in transit to the site. Now I started to think what
I can do and I remembers that the mic on my 2 meter radio in the car was a Kenwood model. I asked Joan
if she could drive me back to my car and she did. I grabbed the mic and went back to TPLS. Plugged in the
mic and now I have power output on SSB. After solving my second problem I noticed that I had one more
hurdle to clear. My computer was not working! Did a little trouble shooting and I found the in-line fuse
was blown. I did not have any spare fuses but I did not want to do a paper log. I took a fuse from my 35
watt foldable solar panel, now I had my computer up and running. Now that my McGiver portion of the
trip is finished I started to call CQ around 13:45 UTC.
I made 123 contacts on 40 and 20 meters SSB within 4 1/2 hours. The bands were not in the best of shape
but the Carolina Windom at 35 feet in the center and 45 feet on the ends worked Great! I was receiving
reports of 59 +20 and 40 over. I was going to setup a vertical but the ground radials would have been in
the way of the visitors to the TPLS. If I go back to TPLS to operate in the future I will take the Carolina
Windom. I worked a total of 43 ARLHS Members and 18 Lighthouses. I did make one DX QSO with
EB1LA in Spain.
I would like to thank Jim de KA3UNQ for all the spots on the Beacon Bot and the DX Cluster through
out the day. I want to thank all those stations for working me and waiting their turn in the pile up. I had
to run the operation like it was a contest. I took two letters from a call, when I got the two letters out of
the pile up I said what I had in the blocks of five calls. I went through and call out for the station with
NQ in the call and they came back to me. I told that station his signal report and all my information for
a good contact. When I turned it over to the station they said QSL and thanks. Then I went onto the next
station with TK in the call. I gave him his report and listen for their information. I worked a lot of stations
this way and anyone that had questions or asked me to repeat, I took the time to do so. The way I figured
it, I mounted this effort to place the TPLS on the air with bad band propagation. I was going to try and
work everyone that was calling me. There were only a few stations I could not work. It seemed like
everyone was happy that they did make a QSO with USA-857.
Turkey Point Light Station Marker
Turkey Point Light Station (my station was under the aqua canopy)
New steps going to the top
Winding up to the top
Looking out into the Chesapeake Bay
Looking down on my shelter
Movie - Turkey Point Light Station
Movie - Looking out in the lantern room up top
What is this?
Looks like a Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly
If you worked me and would like a nice double sided color QSL card and some other things,
please send a number 10 SASE to my current QRZ or Callbook address.
73 and Keep The Flame
Ron de WB3AAL