The Blue Ridge Parkway and some POTA with the TX-500 and MFJ-1984LP EFHW

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a massive national park.

This stretch of scenic road spans 469 miles (755 km) from North Carolina into Virginia and crossing 29 counties along the way.

I could activate the BRP every day for the rest of my life and find a new activation spot every single day.

But at the end of the day, I return to reliable spots that I love in particular because of the solitude, the access to trails, and of course the trees.

There are trees along the parkway I know so well, I should name them. They’re always there when I’m ready to deploy a wire antenna.

On Wednesday, May 5, 2021, I visited one of my favorite BRP activations sites that I used during the year-long National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) program in 2016.

This particular site is simply a small hill on the side of the road and at the top, there some excellent trees. There’s also a short path leading to the for the Mountains To Sea trail.

This particular spot also overlooks a valley and has a wee bit of altitude. I’m not sure how meaningful that is for an HF op, but it always seems to help.

Blue Ridge Parkway, NC (K-3378)

Of course, since the lab599 Discovery TX-500 was still so new to me, it had to come out to play.

I decided to skip using an ATU, keep things simple, and pair the TX-500 with my MFJ-1984LP EFHW (above).

Gear:

 

I started on 40 meters where I very quickly snagged my good friend, Eric (WD8RIF) who most likely saw my callsign on the RBN and kindly took a break from work to hop on the air work me 5 watts both ways. I’m willing to bet Eric was even a bit envious and wished he could have been outdoors putting parks on the air that morning. It’s fair play, though, because he’s often out doing multi-park runs while I’m working from home.

We must live vicariously through each other, right? Right.

Where was I?

Oh yes, the contacts started rolling in on 40 meters.

I worked K4NAN, KD8IE, K8RAT, N4EX, NE4TN, N9UNX, KB4PY, KC5F, KN3A, and NS4J on 40 meters in the span of about eleven minutes. I really enjoy that kind of cadence.

Next, I moved to 20 meters knowing it might not be an ideal band. I called CQ for nearly 10 minutes, then logged N6GR in New Mexico.

This activation reminded me that POTA often feels like a little impromptu family reunion as so many of the ops I logged that day were POTA friends and also enthusiastic activators.

I decided that 12 logged was a great number, so I called QRT and packed up. I most enjoyable activation!

The TX-500, clipboard, and my logging pads all tuck away nicely in the GR1’s slip-in rucking plate pocket.

Video

Of course, I recorded one of my real-life, real-time activation videos. Hazel and some very irritating flora are also featured.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Here’s a QSO Map of the activation as well:

I remember during National Parks On The Air, a hunter who worked me daily asked, “Do you ever get tired of activating the Blue Ridge Parkway?”

I told him that the BRP is so large, so diverse, and so beautiful, there’s simply no way I could ever get tired of it.


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5 thoughts on “The Blue Ridge Parkway and some POTA with the TX-500 and MFJ-1984LP EFHW”

  1. You’re right, Ariel! 🙂 Those are beautiful little antennas. I love the woodwork. Cheers, Thomas

  2. Many thanks indeed for the video, Thomas. I think I will order a “Pocket Paddle”. Is your version using magnets?

  3. Thomas,
    You might want to pull out your discussion of park permission and make it a separate video, or do a separate write-up posting.

    Poison ivy is sneaky. It blends in well with other vegetation and often is difficult to see when just walking around.

    73,
    Henry – K4TMC

  4. Thomas,
    Thanks for another nice video. I have noticed that several times, like today, you mentioned that you were probably not getting a full 5 watts out because of your 1.7:1 SWR. My experience in the past has indicated that most solid state rigs do not begin to fold back their power until the SWR exceeds 3:1. I would be surprised if you were not getting 5 watts, but, of course, rigs are different. It would be interesting to know how your TX-500 operates.

    Bill
    W8BC

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