2016 KC9UR Pontoon Portable “APE” Tall Tales

( Link to 2015 )

For 2016, Stan (W9SMR/9) and I (Bob – KC9UR) set up two stations on the front porch overlooking the rain-soaked pontoon boat at Stan’s cottage on Round Lake in northeast Indiana, and operated two evenings and two days (i.e. from Monday (8/14) evening through Wednesday (8/16) afternoon).  As in past years, we offered a custom QSL card plus a custom certificate to everyone who worked us on 3 or more bands.  This year there were 14 certificate winners (a.k.a. certified “APE Hunters”), down slightly from last year’s 18, but the persistence of this year’s hunters was absolutely amazing, with 5 hunters working us on 3 bands, 5 working us on 4 bands, 2 working us on 5 bands, 1 working us on 7 bands, and 1 working us on 8 bands!   


”APEs” Stan (W9SMR/9 – left) and Bob (KC9UR) operating from Stan’s front porch.

The weather definitely turned out to be an issue this year.  It was sunny and really hot during setup Sunday and Monday with the weather man predicting rain, so we decided to forgo operating from the pontoon boat and set up the rigs on Stan’s front porch (that turned out to be one of our better decisions).   The rain started Monday evening about the time we started operating, and continued pretty much unabated until mid-day Wednesday – a total of 6 inches!  Contact-wise, the total QSO count was down slightly from last year – 209 this year vs. 222 last year – working QSOs in 39 states and 9 countries.  With the declining solar activity, DX contacts were down, but the number of short-hop US states worked was up.  With the exception of 12 meters, we had QSOs on all bands between 80M – 6M (we called CQ and monitored 12M numerous times, but heard nothing).   Our lesson learned for the year was “don’t just listen – call CQ to drag other listeners into a QSO” – a number of times we called CQ on supposedly “dead” bands and stirred up some contacts.  Also, don’t hesitate to call CQ when the propagation prediction is lousy – some “All Time New Ones” (ATNOs) may be waiting for your call – it’s what makes ham radio so exciting and fascinating!


Map of 2016 KC9UR Pontoon Portable APE Contacts (map by K2DSL web application at www.levinecentral.com/adif2map/) Click map for details.


Kudos go to all 14 certificate winners.  Working us on three (3) bands were K5SP, K8TOM, N4KP, N5AYB and WA4MIT.  Working us on four (4) bands were K7OP, KE4JB, KJ4IZW, NU4C and W3HF.  Working us on five (5) bands were W2DEN and W3WMU.  Special recognition goes to AK4MK who worked us on seven (7) bands!  Finally, the APE Hunter “Top Banana” honor goes to Bill Garwood, N4GBK, for working us on 8 bands, including 6m in both 2015 and 2016!   Great job all!

Honorable mention goes to thirteen (13) who worked us on two (2) bands: AD4TA, AF7SQ, K3JAE, K4CCK, KA8UWA, KB0RM, KB3AAY, KD2EIM, KD5OSN, KI3F, KM4PJJ, N4WDN and N7WE/P.


Swim raft mounted inverted “L” end-fed antennas in a beautiful Round Lake sunrise (after set-up and prior to the rain).


For those interested in a bit of the technical details, here’s the info:

Rigs: Two Kenwood TS-590s

Software: Fldigi


  • Homebrew Off-Center-Fed dipole at 25 ft (80/40/30/20/17/15/12/10M).
  • A PAR SM-50 6M 2 element Moxon antenna at 12 ft. – mounted to the pier.
  • Two homebrew end-fed inverted “L” antennas (one for 40/20/10M and one for 30/17M) mounted on an 8’ x 8’ swim raft deployed about 100 ft. from shore.

PAR SM-50 6M Moxon antenna mounted on a painter’s pole

Stan and I would like to thank everyone who took time from their busy schedules to work us!  We thoroughly enjoyed the “APE” experience and would encourage anyone who is considering an “APE” for next year to go for it!