Amateur Radio from a van during the Florida QSO Party

There are a lot of different activities that make up amateur radio and contesting is just one of them. Once a year the Florida QSO Party contest takes place and it has stations inside the state of Florida trying to contact as many stations outside of Florida, while at the same time stations outside of Florida try and contact stations in as many different Florida counties

Stations can be fixed, mobile, or expeditions. This year I decided to use my van to operate as a mobile station from multiple Florida counties. On the first day of the contest I operated from Brevard and later Seminole county.

2 different Interstate Rest Areas in FL

I utilized another amateur radio technology which is APRS to track my travel. APRS uses radio transmissions to send your position to other stations. On this screen shot you can see where I began and ended my day in Daytona Beach, with my 1st stop being a rest area off I-95 near Mims Florida.

I-95 S Rest Area Brevard Co near Mims FL

I parked and made some contacts using amateur radio equipment in my van and an antenna mounted on it’s roof. I contacted stations in New Jersey, Quebec Canada, Rhode Island, Kansas, and Florida while there.

I then drove down to a highway that runs East and West and took it over to Orlando driving through Orange County. I should have found a place to stop and make some contacts but I continued on until I was able to turn North on I-4 and make my way to the second rest area stop of the day.

I-4 rest area in Seminole County FL

It was in the afternoon and the picnic area of the rest stop offered some distance away from the noisy traffic as well as ample shade and parking. This rest area was located in Seminole County Florida.

Amateur Radio operating from a van

I placed a sunshade in the front and rolled down the windows and opened up the rear doors to get a nice flow of air inside. Part of the time I operated sitting down in a chair in the back of the van. I contacted stations in Florida while I was there.

The folding table and chair as well as my radio gear is easy to setup and then remove when not being used. I can’t stand up in the back but there’s plenty of head room when sitting in my chair.

Inside the back of my van while radio contesting

I also made some contacts with stations in Argentina that were not for the Florida Contest Party using FT8 which is a digital mode. I wanted to stretch my legs so I got out of the chair and turned my notebook around so I could operate while standing just behind the van.

Sunday was the second and final day for the contest and I decided to make some contacts locally from Volusia County. I contacted stations in Kentucky, Florida, and France before the contest ended.

All things considered this was a pretty low effort attempt at operating as a mobile station during this contest and my results reflected that. I’m still pretty happy that I decided to do it and it helped my verify and learn some things that will come in handy in the future when I decide to do similar things in the future.