POTA Field Report: Activating Kerr Scott State Game Land with the Elecraft KX2, 5 watts, and a not-so-resonant wire

Some of my most enjoyable field activations are those involving the least amount of equipment and accessories. Maybe it’s my “less is more” mentality, but it is amazing when all I need to get on the air is one radio, a feedline, logging notebook, and a simple antenna.

That was my set-up earlier this week (February 8, 2021) when I activated Kerr Scott State Game Land–a site I hadn’t visited since last summer.

Kerr Scott State Game Land (K-6918)

I was the first person to activate Kerr Scott State Game Land back in June of 2020.

I vividly remember that activation because, as I noted in my field report on the SWLing Post, it was Kerr Scott that taught me an invaluable lesson:

“[I]f you don’t have a “spot” of your activation on the POTA site, it’s like you don’t exist.”

This was truly a tipping point that lead me down the path of doing CW activations in order to benefit from auto-spotting via the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN). Only a couple weeks after this activation, I made my first CW activation and the rest is history. While I still use SSB during activations, CW has become my favorite mode even though I’m still not that great of an operator.

I speak about this a bit more in my activation video below.

Gear:

Once I arrived on site, I deployed my EFT Trail-Friendly 40/20/10 meter end-fed resonant antenna.

The last few times I deployed this antenna in the field, it hasn’t been resonant on 40 meters and I suspect this is due to damage to the coil near the end of the radiator. I decided I’d give it one last test  by suspending it in an overhanging tree branch about 50 feet high so it would not touch other branches.

When I turned on the KX2, I set the internal ATU to “bypass” and tested SWR. Sadly, it was unacceptable, so I re-activated the ATU to get a good match.

My buddy and fellow POTA activator, Steve (KC5F), reminded me recently that the radiator on this antenna can be replaced with enough wire to make a simple end fed half wave. That’s probably what I’ll do because, frankly, this antenna has served me so well for five years and over 150 park activations I’m not ready to simply toss it. I will need to order some proper wire for the EFHW, though!

On The Air

Since I have no mobile phone/Internet service at this site, I decided to make this a CW only activation, hopefully taking full advantage of auto-spotting to the POTA spots page.

I started on 40 meters because I had pre-arranged with my buddies Mike (K8RAT) and Eric (WD8RIF) to listen for me on 7063 kHz. I did this in case auto-spotting wasn’t working, which does happen from time-to-time. It’s always important to have a back-up if possible especially for sites (like this one) that carry significant travel time.

I hopped on 40 meters, called CQ POTA and within 29 minutes, I logged 26 stations. That’s about as much activity as I could possibly expect during a Monday morning activation!

Next, I moved to 20 meters and started calling CQ. The first station I worked was CU3BL in the Azores, then WD5GRW in Texas, AB6QM in California, then IK4IDF in Italy, and finally KH2TJ in California.

I then moved to 30 meters and worked N5GW in Mississippi before going QRT with a total of 32 stations logged.

Not at all bad using 5-10 watts!

Here’s a QSOmap of this activation (click to enlarge):

Activation Video

I made a real-time, real-life, no edit, no advertisements video of this activation. Feel free to check it out if you like:

Click here to view on YouTube.

One of the things I rarely mention in my videos and field reports is how much I love the trips to/from an activation site. I’m a traveler at heart and while I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to and live in some pretty amazing countries and cities, I still have a deep appreciation for simply driving through the countryside and taking in the scenery. I appreciate the mundane as much as I do the majestic. It’s a beautiful drive.

Kerr Scott Game Land is located in the little farming community of Boomer, NC which, I understand, was named after its first postmaster, Ed “Boomer” Matheson.

Warrior Creek, next to my activation site at Kerr Scott

Before it was called Boomer, the community was known as Warrior Creek–the very creek running through Kerr Scott Game Land.

Even though I know there’s no connection, when I hear the name Boomer I can’t help but think of the incredibly cute and cheeky red squirrel that we WNC natives call “Boomers.”

7 thoughts on “POTA Field Report: Activating Kerr Scott State Game Land with the Elecraft KX2, 5 watts, and a not-so-resonant wire”

  1. Love it! I have close friends whom I visit on Boone several times throughout the year. The high country is def gorgeous! I must say that I’ve been enjoying your videos quite a bit. I have activated one part….a few years ago, SSB only (shamefully)…I am working on CW again….I really want to make it my primary mode some day. After all, I’ve already purchased a couple of CW only QRP rigs! 73, DE K4SFC (Ron)

  2. Hi, Ron,

    You’re right: it’s a beautiful part of the country!

    Have no shame at all in SSB operating! I love CW and SSB for different reasons. When I get some serious QRP DX on SSB, it’s a HUGE thrill. Always great to hear someone’s voice on the other end. And CW I like the simplicity and efficiency of the mode. I enjoy using both.

    And don’t let anyone tell you SSB isn’t effective at QRP power levels. All 92 of my POTA activations were SSB and made with 10 watts or less. 🙂

    Warning Ron: Once you head back into the field, you’ll become addicted to this stuff! 🙂

    Cheers from your friendly enabler,
    Thomas
    K4SWL

  3. “Enabler”…awesome. Prior to the pandemic, I had plans, still have, to visit the 59 Ntl Parks via motorcycle. Doing some radio is also part of that plan. I also do the YT thing as well, my Ham radio channel has been neglected, but if you get really, really bored, feel free to look them up.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7GrRqwlrNNNQR45vjXL9Ow

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-OJ2aGp03pPkKDVcY7LVhA

    Maybe I’ll start watching for you on the RBN, or the POTA sites and be a chaser.

    Be safe,
    Ron, K4SFC

  4. I’ll definitely check out your channel, Ron! Thanks for sharing the links!

    Cheers,
    Thomas
    K4SWL

  5. Tom, If the coil is having a defect, why don’t you try opening it and maybe rewind it with magnet wire. If you can find the same wire as it has now it can’t be that hard.
    Just a thought.

    Great activation indeed, I had hoped you also brought the IC705 and tuner to see whether you could tune the same length with the IC705 and tuner as you did with the KX2. Maybe you’ve done such a test and the article slipped my attention …. ..

    73
    Frank

  6. Hi, Frank,

    I do plan to attempt to open the coil and see if it’s repairable, but I have a strong feeling I’ll damage it in the process. The manufacturer uses a thick material to seal the coil and I’m not sure I can remove it without harming the wire. I also thought about winding my own coil for it. Then again, removing the coil is fine by me because I can cope with a long radiator wire. At least I have choices!

    I didn’t bring the IC-705 with me on that trip. I’ve only compared the mAH-705 Plus tuner with other tuners one other time. I might set up an experiment soon.

    Cheers,
    Thomas
    K4SWL

  7. Tom,

    Congratulations on an awsome activation!I enjoyed your impromtu explaination for using CW and the impact that the park had on your operating style! Very cool!
    Love the candid nature of these videos!
    I am working hard on relearning CW since being inactive for 8 years, unfortunately for me it is a use it or lose it skillset. I am interested in CW for several reasons. The first is that when band contions are working against you, it is more likely that you will make contacts with CW than SSB. The second reason is that it is just cool! Cool to have a method of communication, a language than not everyone can speak or understand!

    My issue is that I am nervous about getting on the air and giving it a go, for fear of getting into a ragchew that I am not ready to handle! It’s another reason I am interested in the POTA activity, because it is a much short exchange typically.
    Anyway, one of these days i will get over it and jump out there and see what happens, because I really enjoyed CW in the past and can see how it pairs very nicely with portable QRP style of operating in the field!

    As always, thank you for sharing you experinces and stories, I find them intersting, entertaining, meaningful and easy to identify with.

    73 de n1one (Bill)

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