POTA Field Report: “Wham Bam!” Blue Ridge Parkway activation

Last Tuesday (March 2, 2021), I needed to make a quick trip to south Asheville and pick up some gear I had ordered from REI.  Of course, I had a hankering to fit in a Parks On The Air activation. I contacted my buddies Eric (WD8RIF) and Mike (K8RAT) and mentioned I might make a visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway [it’s always a good idea to have others look for you in case your unable to spot yourself on the bands].

By the time I jumped in the car, though, I talked myself out of doing the activation.  Propagation was poor and I had a maximum of 30 minutes to fit in a valid activation.

After picking up my gear at REI, I realized, though, that a 30 minute limit made for an awfully fun challenge.

I had to pass by the parkway to go home, so why not? Right?

I did a quick check and, yes(!) I had the Elecraft KX2 and CHA MPAS Lite antenna in the car.

Before leaving REI, I scheduled my activation on the POTA website so that the site would know to auto-spot me if the Reverse Beacon Network picked me up.

Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378)

I arrived at the parkway in very short order. I decided to do the activation at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor’s Center and Headquarters. Normally, I avoid this location because it’s busy and the best spots to set up a radio are in the path of visitors walking around the perimeter of the grounds.

It was a cold, overcast Tuesday morning so, as I expected, I almost had the place to myself.


I deployed the CHA MPAS Lite vertical in very short order–perhaps 3 minutes. Since I had also packed my Pixel 3 camera/phone and tripod in the car, I even recorded a video of the full activation (see below).

In short? I snagged my 10 contacts in about 19 minutes on the air–all on 40 meters CW. Not too bad for a Tuesday morning with five watts and a vertical.

Here’s a QSOmap of the contacts I made:

I also had a first at this activation! I worked ND9M/MM. To my knowledge, I’ve never worked a maritime mobile station at a park activation–certainly not in CW! The map above omits this contact since the location was unknown.

When I submitted my log to Bill DeLoach (our regional contact for POTA logs) said I really need a “Wham Bam!” award for this quick activation. Ha ha!


Here’s a real-time, real-life video of the entire activation:

Thank you for reading this field report!

8 thoughts on “POTA Field Report: “Wham Bam!” Blue Ridge Parkway activation”

  1. Thomas,
    Thanks for these videos. I’m working on my cw after being off the air for twenty years. Kids will do that. Listening to you I’m learning cw ops.
    Tnx and.
    Van, NW0S

    1. It pleases me to no end to know you’re finding the videos useful, Van. Thank you. Thomas K4SWL

  2. Awesome job Tom!!! Great example of how quickly you can fit some Amatuer Radio fun into the middle of your day! I am goint to get one of those MPAS Lite Antennas for the reasons you state!

    I tried to work you on your SOTA/POTA outing a couple of days ago, but I was also QRP and could not quite get in there. I have been practicing my CW and was going to give it a go on CW as I the exchange is short and I think I could manage it. It wasn’t to be, but I will keep trying to get into your log at some point!

    Thank you again for all these great videos, they are inspiring in many ways!!

    73, de N1ONE (Bill)

    1. Hi, Bill,

      Wow–I wish I could have heard you in there. Honestly? My SOTA activations have some big gun signals out of Europe that drown out NA stations. I try my best to grab the weak signals–in fact, I did a SOTA activation yesterday and tried to get a couple very weak ones.

      Anyway, I’m certain we’ll make contact soon! Your CW will be up to snuff! No worries!

  3. Thanks Tom!

    I finally did it yesterday, I worked a POTA activation on CW! I have been an Amatuer Radio Op since 1993, but haven’t done CW in more than 10 years, as I was on hiatus from the hobby. I was so nervous that I kept fumbling the paddles, even though I have been practicing the exchange for a couple of months. LOL! It’s like everything goes haywire the minute you turn on the camera! Anyway I was so pumped when the contact was complete!

    Thanks for all your inspiration on these posts, I am going to push my self to hunt those CW POTA contacts and get better at this!

    73 de N1ONE

    1. WOO HOO!!! Well done, Bill!

      I hate to tell you this, but CW is mighty addictive in the field. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing this, OM! I look forward to a P2P CW with you someday!


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