3Y0J: Did you know Bouvet Island is a POTA entity?

Did you know that Bouvet Island is a Parks On The Air (POTA) entity?

I didn’t know this until my buddy Eric (WD8RIF) pointed it out.

Bouvet Nature Reserve (LA-2524)

Here’s the entry for Bouvet Nature Reserve (LA-2524) on the POTA website.  It’s possible you might have even seen LA-2524 spotted recently on POTA.app.

I suppose the Bouvet Island DXpedition team (3Y0J) are all POTA activators whether they know it or not!

I also assume the 3Y0J team would need to create an account and submit their logs to the POTA system for LA-2524 hunters to get credit.

It would be pretty amazing to confirm LA-2524 because it’s doubtful anyone will activate Bouvet Island anytime soon after this current DXpedition team.


Bouvet Island (Source: 3Y0J Facebook Page)

Bouvet Island is one of the rarest DX entities on the planet: it’s number two on the DXCC Most Wanted list (at time of posting), second only to P5 (North Korea).

I don’t consider myself a DXer or contester, but many of my local ham radio friends are hard-core DXers.

I do have some DXing and Contesting exposure, though, because I typically attend and volunteer to help at the annual W4DXCC conference in Tennessee.

One of the things I’ve learned attending the W4DXCC conference is the incredible amount of energy and resources it takes to execute a DXpedition like 3Y0J. It takes many years of planning, lots of money, lots of permits, top-notch healthy operators, and, frankly, lots of good old fashioned luck.

Steve Hass posted this image on Facebook and noted, “3Y0J camp location on the hill.”

The 3Y0J team had difficulty (understatement) setting up on the island due to weather conditions. Here’s one of their latest updates detailing how they landed via their Facebook page:

3Y0J Bouvet Island 2023 Update [February 7, 2023]

Interview with 3Y0J Team Co-Leader Ken LA7GIA.

“Everything is OK in the camp. The guys are good. We have a few antennas up. Running some pileups and preparing for the storm which will arrive in a few hours and last until Thursday. The boat will pull away from the island a bit. The antennas and camp are being secured. The winds are expected to be 60 knots. 9 members will stay in the camp during the storm. They will try to run two bands this evening and tomorrow. They will take down one antenna. They will run 30m and 17m using the Spider Pole on 17 and the aluminum DX Engineering antenna on 30m.

The operation has proved to be extremely difficult. The most extreme expedition I’ve been to. Setting up the camp has been a lot of work.

We will focus on CW and phone but there will be FT8. We have just discussed this today. We are running low power, only 100w. We have no amplifiers. We have three antennas set up. We are considering setting up 20m as well. So we will have 30, 20, 17, 15.

The beach landings were accomplished by holding onto a line attached to a buoy and floating 15 meters to the beach in our survival suits. This is quite extreme. We float in all the equipment as well. Then carry the equipment 800 feet up to the camp. We have videos of this. We spent a few days to set up the antennas and tent then prepared for the storm that is coming.

Everybody is in good shape. It’s quite hard to stay here. A lot of wind, but today was a quiet, nice, and sunny day . This will change, and there will be a lot of rain. The day we arrived was a lot of wind and rain. Activating Bouvet is not like activating an island in the Caribbean. It is really windy, cold, and exhausting to bring equipment up here. It’s a different DXpedition than we thought we should do. It’s a challenge, but we hope we can stay on the island for some more days.

Regarding dupes, please only call us if you hear us. We have very good receive here on [Bouvet] Island. We do not have any facility to upload the log on the island. We are saving on fuel and connection for this. When we get back to the vessel, we will likely upload. We don’t know when the first upload will be. Going to Marama is very time consuming project because of the procedure involved. (Ken describes it.) The first upload may be in the weekend. Again, if you don’t hear us, don’t call us.

Nothing more to report. Hopefully people understand the complexity of this operation. Hopefully we will be able to stay another 7 to 10 days. We are working on plans for how to continue the operation despite the difficult weather conditions here at Bouvet.”

Steve N2AJ
Media Officer & NA East Coast Pilot
3Y0J Bouvet Island 2023 DXpedition

They’re hunkered down in their tent and doing all they can to be on the air during this bout of rough weather.

Let’s hope they can move more gear, operators, and antennas to the island in the coming days.

Logging 3Y0J

One of the 3Y0J crew on Bouvet Island. (Source: 3Y0J Facebook Page)

I’m going to give it my best effort to log 3Y0J.

It’s not going to be a cake walk.

For one thing, this may very well be the last time Bouvet is activated by people (boots on the ground) in our lifetimes.  I think you’ll find that DXpeditions like this–those that are very high risk–will soon be activated remotely. A remote, fully-self contained station will be set up on-site and most of the contacts will be made using remote ops in the boat or from across the world from the comfort of their own QTH.

As mentioned in the announcement above, the 3Y0J team hope to be on the air for a bit more than a week (7-10 days from February 7). DXpeditions like this are often cut short when weather forecasts indicate difficulty getting people back to the ship in one piece. If you feel you must log 3Y0J, I wouldn’t wait a few days for the pileups to subside.

Speaking of pileups, the 3Y0J pileups are some of the largest I’ve ever experienced. It will take skill to log 3Y0J if you don’t have a blowtorch station.

And then there are the QRMers

Gjermund LB5GI on watch duty onboard Marama (Via the 3Y0J Facebook Page)

This is the side of amateur radio none of us like to see or hear. Frankly, I don’t even like mentioning it, but I think it’s important for newcomers to understand what they’re experiencing as they try to work 3Y0J (in split mode always) and also understand that there are some deceptive stations out there.

This being such a highly-anticipated DXpedition with so many folks tuned to 3Y0J calling frequencies, it gives an extremely large audience for jammers and QRMers to cause a maximum amount of disruption.

I hesitate to call these folks “LIDs” because the origins of this term refer to inexperienced ops who may simply be making mistakes out of inexperience or ignorance. With any DXpedition, there are always newbies who don’t understand split operation and call on the TX frequency. That’s to be expected and, frankly, I’m forgiving about that. Once a good op makes the mistake, they’re unlikely to ever do it again.

Sadly, the intensity of intentional jammers–those deliberately causing harmful interference to 3Y0J’s operations–is just insane. This is happening on both SSB and CW frequencies. I’m sure they’ll try to interfere with FT8 as well.

On top of that, there are a number of “pirates” posing as 3Y0J and spotting themselves to the DX cluster. If you’ve worked a 3Y0J station and felt it wasn’t too difficult because the signal was strong and there wasn’t a lot of competition, then you’ve likely worked a pirate. Double check for a confirmation after the 3Y0J team does a log upload. Also, check for announced frequencies on the 3Y0J Facebook page.

It’s a bit of a circus and it’ll likely take all of your skill to work 3Y0J.  I think FT8 (in F/H mode) will turn out to be the path of least interference to logging Bouvet.

Video interview with 3Y0J Team Co-Leader Erwann (LB1QI) earlier today

Have you logged Bouvet?

Please comment when/if you confirm Bouvet! I’m very curious if they’ll submit their logs via POTA to give hunters credit for this rarest of parks!

ES80 padded cases on sale at Elecraft

Many thanks to Marshall (W4MKH) who writes:

Hi Thomas,

I thought you or your readers might like to know that Elecraft has a limited number of the ES80 cases on sale at half price. They have a slightly crooked logo but I doubt it will be noticeable when the case is stuffed full of gear.

I bought one for my IC-705 and USPS says it is out for delivery today (Wednesday). Just ordered it on Sunday.


Marshall (W4MKH)

Thank you for the tip, Marshall! You’ll have to share some pics with your gear loaded in the ES80!

Elecraft AX1 and AX2 packages with free shipping in February Specials

This month, I’ll be posting a number of field reports using the Elecraft AX1 on a wide variety of radios.

Serendipitously, Elecraft is offering up AX1 and AX2 package deals for February 2023. Many thanks to Mark (KM3P) for the tip!

The AX1 Package ($151.85 US) includes an:

  • AX1 Multi-Band Whip Antenna
  • AXB1 Whip BiPod
  • and AXT1 Tripod Adapter

Note that this does not include the 40M coil extension. That would need to be purchased separately.

The AX2 Package ($101.94 US) includes an:

  • AX2 Minature 20-Meter Whip Antenna
  • and AXB1 Whip BiPod for AX-Line Whips

Ironically–and a testament to my terrible timing–I purchased the equivalent of the AX2 package on Jan 30 (yes, two days before the Feb sale started) and I paid $130.51 shipped. I can confirm that $101.94 shipped is a great price!

I decided to purchase a second AX1 package yesterday, basically to have a dedicated AX1 system for my Elecraft KX2 field kit.

Click here to checkout the full February 2023 specials at Elecraft.com.

Note that Elecraft is not a sponsor of QRPer.com (though they really should be, shouldn’t they–? Please put in a good word for us!) and I have no affiliation with them other than buying, using, and evaluating their products.

Limited openings for a free intermediate CW class via CW Innovations

Many thanks to Andrew (K0AWG) who shares the following news about an upcoming intermediate CW class via CW Innovations.

Andrew writes:

The class will be 10 weeks starting March 13. There are a limited number of seats for this round, but we hope to have many more classes in the future too.

The class is currently free of charge. It will be held on Monday and Thursday from 7-8pm central time. We’re looking for ops currently operating from about 10-15 wpm and having a simple on-air presence. If you are making POTA and SOTA contacts that’s perfect!

This class is a great way to really nail the characters down so that you can start to build speed with head copy in mind. One perk for POTA and SOTA is this skill will really contribute to being able to go “off script” when activating. It will help ops follow along when things aren’t quite what you expect.

Here’s the full press release:

CW Innovations presents The Comprehensive ICR Course

Dated Jan 25, 2023

Imagine being able to advance your present CW proficiency without facing the prospect of getting stuck on a plateau. Imagine too that the characters you hear become easily familiar to copy and send, as familiar as the alphabet itself when you were first learning language.
There’s no need to imagine any of this: An independent, new Comprehensive Instant Character Recognition Course delivers this as a reality, delivering the best of CW training techniques while helping operators understand their own best way to learn, progress and further challenge themselves.

Announcing CW Innovations. This is an independently run course that is module-based. It is built on scaffolding in which each successive module provides a gentle ramp upward through the learning process. This methodical process is created to address the mental and emotional roadblocks that have typically halted learners’ progress via other teaching methods.

Introduced to students in October 2022, CW Innovations has been further refined by a highly skilled and experienced team of operator educators. While there is no “magic pill,” CW Innovations provides a breakthrough process that is unique. Students have gained proficiency beyond their expectations. These results are unprecedented.

The 10-week course is designed for those currently operating with 10-15wpm proficiency, at least a simple presence on the air, and eager to improve both.

See w4yes.com for details.

A few students have shared these thoughts with us:

“I almost gave up. Stuck on a plateau for a frustrating stretch of forever, I had very little proficiency and even less confidence or hope that I could be a decent operator. After receiving 10 weeks of coaching and support from this terrific team, I have all the tools I need in order to teach myself. I can help myself make progress, sharpen both my listening and copying skills and most of all, I can have fun. Being able to do head copy was an unexpected bonus. Plateau? What’s a plateau??”
Licensed Operator since 2014 – New York

“It’s no longer learning dits and dahs…. It’s allowing yourself to hear and comprehend the sound of the characters subconsciously that will allow you to move forward in your CW skills and goals. You’re learning how to learn CW all over again. I’ve made more CW progress in the past 2.5 months than in the previous 6 years.”
Licensed Operator since 2017 – Missouri

“Why should anyone take the Comprehensive ICR course? Because if you put in the time and effort, your CW skills WILL improve. This course enabled me to go from 10 to 15 wpm copy speed as well as begin head copying my QSOs. I also, now, have the tools I need to reach any of my CW goals including listening to books in morse code, something which I never dreamed would be possible for me. The icing on the cake? The friendships I formed with facilitators and team members alike as we shared our successes and difficulties and helped one another find solutions. This course is a game changer for the world of CW.”
Licensed Operator since 2022 – Georgia

Brian puts a new antenna to the test during Winter Field Day!

Many thanks to Brian (K3ES) who shares the following guest post:

A shelter for Winter Field Day operations in a field

Field Report:  Winter Field Day with a New Antenna

Winter Field Day (WFD) 2022 found me operating indoors, despite my best intentions to get out in the field.  I was recovering from a bad cold, and did not want to risk having complications arise from sitting out in the cold and damp.  So for WFD 2023, outdoor time with my radio was a must.  I wanted to operate a 1-Oscar station, and to do that I had to set up more than 500 feet from my home QTH.  So a site next to the pond in our back field, about 800 feet from the house, became my WFD shack.

I started planning and collecting kit for the operation in mid-January, with the long term forecast hinting at near-freezing temperatures with the potential for rain or snow.  Let me introduce you to my WFD station.


A shelter was needed to keep out rain and snow, and to provide a barrier against the winds whipping across the adjacent field.  A few poles lashed together, and steadied by stakes, provided the frame to support the shelter.  With a poly tarp secured to this frame, the resulting a-frame shelter, while not completely enclosed, did provide effective weather protection for both operator and equipment.  There was about 3 inches of snow on the ground when I set up the shelter, and I was able to pile some of it along the bottom edge of the tarp to keep the wind from getting under it.

A-frame shelter constructed of a poly tarp stretched over a frame of poles


I know that when setting up a station, the antenna is not generally the first thought, but I had recently finished building a homebrew 9:1 random wire antenna with a 144 ft radiating wire, and I wanted to test it out.  There are better ways to put a new antenna on the air, but the opportunity was a good one.  Besides, I had backup antennas that could be quickly substituted if the need arose.  In the event, things worked well, and the antenna proved agile and capable on all activated bands.  I particularly wanted to see if it would tune on the 160m band.  More on that later.

The feedpoint of the 9:1 random wire antenna is built into a wire winder to support transport, deployment, and recovery for field use.  The RF functional components include a female BNC connector, a 9:1 unun, and miniature banana jacks for connecting the radiator and counterpoise wires.  There is no wire on the winder, because a corner was broken off during WFD deployment, and a mechanical repair is needed. (Click to enlarge)
The 9:1 unun is mounted near the BNC connector, and is electrically connected to a one miniature banana jack for the radiator and another for the counterpoise.  The unun and wiring are covered with hot melt glue to provide mechanical integrity and protection from the weather.


The goal of trying the antenna on 160m left me with only one choice for a radio.  I would use the Lab599 TX-500 Discovery, because it is the only transceiver among my field rigs that is capable of operating on the 160m band.  Since a tuner is required, I paired it with an LDG Z-11Pro II, a wide-range autotuner.  I also included a Monitor Sensors Power and SWR Meter in the feed line to help assure that I was legitimately running less than 5 watts to qualify for the QRP power multiplier. Continue reading Brian puts a new antenna to the test during Winter Field Day!

A quick two park KX2/AX1 POTA run starting at South Mountains State Park!

You might have noticed that I’ve been taking the Elecraft AX1 antenna out quite a lot recently. At time of posting, I’ve almost used it for a month’s worth of activations.

In December, I thought it might be fun to only use the AX1 for one 2023 calendar month–say, the month of March–but since I evaluate and review radios and antennas, it’s just not realistic to make that kind of commitment.

That said, I did decide to simply start using the AX1 as my primary field antenna for roughly a 30-ish day period and, so far, that’s working out very nicely. I thought it might give some real-world context and usage for those who still believe I’ve just been lucky the days I use the AX1 in the field. No better way to test that theory than to just do it!

Mini rove!

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to do a proper park rove. I hope to do a five park rove within the next month or so, if I can clear out space in the schedule. I find roves so much fun and a nice change of pace.

On Saturday, January 21, 2023, on the way back to my QTH in the mountains of WNC, I had just enough time to activate two parks in short order. Having just been challenged by a short activation window at the Vance Birthplace (which, turned into a normal length activation due to a schedule change in my favor) I thought it might be fun to once again, show the whole KX2/AX1 set-up and pack-up process in my activation video.

South Mountains State Park (K-2753)

I chose South Mountains State Park as my first stop.

South Mountains has a number of public access points. I decided to drive to the main park entrance and set up at the equestrian picnic area. Choosing the main park entrance added about 15 minutes to my overall driving time; the Clear Creek access would have been quicker, but I’d been there only recently. Continue reading A quick two park KX2/AX1 POTA run starting at South Mountains State Park!

Alan’s window-mounted Elecraft AX1 POTA activation!

Many thanks to Alan (W2AEW) who shares the following guest post:

New AX1 POTA Activation

by Alan (W2AEW)

I have to admit, I have been bitten “hard” by the POTA bug!  (I blame Thomas!) It started for me in August 2022 while I was on vacation at the Jersey shore.  Since that time, I have completed 48 activations at 19 different parks.  All of these have been QRP, and almost exclusively on CW. This story is about one of my recent activations, which was unique for a couple of reasons.  Read on…

The Park

My job puts me on the road, covering a large portion of the northeastern United States.  When my schedule permits, I’ll hit the road earlier than needed in order to potentially stop for a quick activation along the way (usually giving up a lunch-on-the-road stop in favor of a bit of QRP CW operation at a park).

This particular park was not your typical state park.  It wasn’t a nature preserve, or a mountain lake, or a hiking or picnic paradise.  No, this park is decidedly urban, occupying 2 blocks in the city of Holyoke, MA.  This is K-2439, Holyoke Heritage State Park. According to the state park website, this park celebrates the rich industrial heritage of the city of Holyoke.  The park also includes a Children’s Museum, a Volleyball Hall of Fame and a restored antique Merry-Go-Round.

The park is situated along a canal that once powered some of the mills that were located on the property.

It certainly is not like any other state park that I’ve been to!

One of the reasons I chose to stop at this park is that it had only been activated 4 times in the past.  In retrospect, I suppose this could’ve been because of the city/industrial setting.  Was it going to be noisy? Maybe this was a bad idea.. Thankfully, it wasn’t… Another thing that appealed to me is that it had not been activated on CW before.  So, my activation would be a CW ATNO (All Time New One) for this park, which is kind of cool.

A New Antenna

Largely due to Thomas extolling the virtues of the Elecraft AX1 compact vertical antenna, I “had to” purchase one for myself.  This activation would be its maiden deployment. Continue reading Alan’s window-mounted Elecraft AX1 POTA activation!

Replacement battery for the Xiegu X5105?

Many thanks to Chuck (K8HU) who writes:

Hi Thomas,

The battery in my Xeigu 5105 seems to have bit the dust and have been looking for a replacement part.

Any sourcing suggestions?


Chuck Rippel, K8HU

Chuck had checked with the dealer, but their only suggestion was a battery (model BP-X5105) at Sinotel in the UK. Here’s the battery image from their catalog:

Unfortunately, they will not ship batteries internationally.

I did a little research of my own and the only other company I could find with a replacement X5105 pack is Limmared Radio & Data in Sweeden. The image above is the battery they have listed in their catalog.

Readers: if you’ve replaced your Xiegu X5105 battery pack, can you comment on this post with a link to the source?  Many thanks in advance!

POTA Field Report: The Elecraft AX1’s secret power? Speed of deployment.

I believe I mentioned in the past that when I first purchased my Elecraft AX1, I assumed it would be a bit if a toy or novelty item. I thought it was a fun concept–and that’s why I bought it–but I remember the first time I took it out to the field on an activation, I thought I’d be demonstrating that a compromised antenna delivers compromised performance.

In short? I was wrong.

The AX1 has instead become one of the most valuable tools in my antenna arsenal.

When you are the DX–activating a park or summit–the AX1 is more than capable as long as you live in an area with a reasonable amount of hunters/chasers within your normal propagation footprint.


The AX1’s secret power, as I mention in the title, is speed of deployment.

Although I can launch a line into a tree and deploy an end-fed half-wave pretty quickly–I’ve literally done this hundreds of times–I can deploy the AX1 even more quickly without breaking a sweat.

Case in Point: Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace (K-6856)

On Tuesday, January 17, 2023, I had a day full of errands and projects in town, but needed to pick up my daughters at a school function around 15:00 local. There were too many variables to accurately predict where I would be at what time, so I didn’t schedule an activation that morning.

As the day progressed, though, I realized I had a very short window and K-6856 was practically en route to the pickup point. After I finished my last errand in south Asheville, I made my way north and based on Google Maps, I had no more than a 25 minute window to fit in a full activation from deployment to pack up.

I stopped in a parking lot en route, pulled out my iPhone, and scheduled an activation at K-6856 on POTA.app.

Keep in mind that my activations are typically short, but 25 minutes for set-up, on-the-air time, and pack-up leaves very little margin for error.

The AX1 is perfect for this type of activation.

A little time math

It takes me two easy minutes to set up the AX1 and maybe one minute to pack it up.  If I wanted to, I could speed that up a bit (I take much longer on camera talking my way through the process). So that’s roughly three minutes to both deploy and pack-up the AX1.

My speaker wire antenna, on the other hand, is also very quick to deploy. With my arborist throw line, I can easily prepare that antenna in four minutes and pack it up in three minutes. Thus, I need to allow roughly 7 minutes to both deploy and pack-up the speaker wire antenna (we have to assume it might take 2 launches of the throw line to snag a branch).

Since it has a built-in ATU and battery the Elecraft KX2 takes maybe 20 seconds to set up. Seriously: pull it out of the pack, connect a key, turn it on. Continue reading POTA Field Report: The Elecraft AX1’s secret power? Speed of deployment.

Michael builds a Pacific Antenna Mini SWR Indicator for his Penntek TR-35 field kit

Many thanks to Michael (N7CCD) who writes:

Hi Thomas!

I just watched your last activation video (very fun by the way!) using the TR-35 and thought I’d share really quickly my solution to the lack of an SWR indicator.

It was a cheap (and fun) $5 for the kit, build project I did with my brother, N7BHP, while visiting him in Mexico. It was actually the first little precursor project to building the TR-35 while on that same trip.

We picked up three (one for me and two for my brother) Pacific Antenna Mini SWR Indicator kits, and some cheap cases off of Amazon that just fit the meter. Of course, we had to add the BNC connectors also.

The kit is a 50ohm dummy load, and the LED lights up if the SWR is above 2:1. I’ve actually used this to tune my AlexLoop with the TR-35. When the light goes out, you’ve hit 1:1. I’ve found the LED on this kit to be more sensitive than the AlexTune light on the antenna.

I modified my kit to eliminate the switch. The way they have you build it is to leave it inline with your antenna, and just flip the switch from ‘forward’ to ‘reverse’. To save space and fit into the little plastic case, we jumpered where the switch would be so it stays in the ‘engaged’ position. I then just put it in at the very beginning of my setup to ensure the SWR is good on my antenna, then take it out of the circuit completely when using the radio.

It’s small enough to just live with my TR-35 at all times.

Hope all is well!
Michael -N7CCD

I love this, Michael. I think I might have to build one as well. Looks like a fun, inexpensive build that’s actually quite practical! Thank you for sharing!

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