POTA Field report: Pardon my French…

Sometimes we do things that take us outside of our comfort zone.

That’s exactly what I did on September 8, 2021 at Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861).

My friend, Jérôme, asked I would consider doing a POTA activation video in French!

Jérôme lives in France and wants to do a POTA activation there eventually, but had a number of questions about what to do in the field (spotting, logging, etc.). He’s been watching my videos for a while but admits that while he can understand written English (with the aid of Google Translate), he doesn’t understand spoken English.

Although I regularly listen to news and YouTube videos in French, it’s been ages since I’ve spoken French for any extended period of time.

Jérôme has been bugging me about the French video for some time, actually, but I’d put it off because there were a number of radio terms I simply never learned when I lived in France (well before I was a ham radio operator).

When he very diplomatically asked me again via email on the morning of September 8, I thought, “Why keep waiting? Just do it!

So I did.

It took me well outside my comfort zone, but I’m grateful Jérôme made the suggestion. Merci bien, J!

The video (link to below) is mostly in French, but with an English introduction so that those on my YouTube channel (who don’t read the accompanying post) will have a heads up. The rest of the video is pretty much in French…or at least my version of radio French.

On the air

Being an educational state forest, the trees at Tuttle are superb (for antenna deployment!)

On this particular trip, I decided to pair my MFJ-1984LP, 40 meter end-fed half wave, with the Elecraft KX2. Being an EFHW–and since the feedline shield is a part of the antenna system–I used a long (+/- 50′)  RG-58 coaxial line to connect the radio to the antenna.


The feed point of the MFJ-1984LP EFHW on a picnic table.

The EFHW–whether commercially-purchased or homebrewed–is such a solid field antenna design.


I started on 40 meters knowing it would likely be the most productive band that day.

My buddy, Eric (WD8RIF), was my first contact. After logging him, I enjoyed a steady stream of contacts. Within 16 minutes, I had 11 stations logged.

Next, I moved up to the 20 meter band where I hoped to at least log one contact.

And one contact it was! Thanks for hunting me, K1LB!

I stopped at 12 total contacts mainly due to my time constraints. If I had more time, I’m convinced I could have racked up a good 30 or more contacts in an hour on the air.

I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed some success on the 30 meter band. Even though the EFHW isn’t resonant on 30 meters, my KX2’s internal ATU could have made it very workable.

All in all? A fun activation!


Here’s a QSO Map showing my 5 watt contacts at Tuttle (K-4861):


As I mentioned, this video is mostly in French. I inserted chapters to make it much easier to skip over my French intro and get straight to the activation.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Comfort zones

I’ve always believed that getting outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis is good for the soul.

When I moved to France in 1992, it was easily the biggest leap outside my comfort zone I’d ever done up to that point in my life. I was 20 years old at the time and had a reasonable understanding of conversational French, but had never used it in a French-speaking country. I made the trip completely on my own–just me and my suitcase. It was the first time I had ever taken a commercial flight, used a train, or navigated a subway/metro. I’d never seen a city as large as Paris before.

Living in France sparked my interest in travel like nothing before. I found that getting outside of my comfort zone opened up the door to adventures I would have otherwise never experienced.

The same goes for getting on the air.

Last year, I did my first CW activation and–trust me–I had butterflies in my stomach. I had to make myself do that CW activation.

That first activation went better than I could have imagined and I’ve never looked back since. CW quickly became my favorite mode.

Amateur radio provides a number of opportunities to venture outside of your comfort zone and I would strongly encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities when you can. They’ll expand your horizons and enrich your radio life.

Don’t worry about making mistakes or what others might think–just get out there and try!

Thank you!

As always, thank you for reading this field report and a special thanks to those of you who are supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement–my content is always free–I really appreciate the support.

Now get out there and play radio! 🙂

Cheers & 73,

Thomas (K4SWL)

7 thoughts on “POTA Field report: Pardon my French…”

  1. Thomas, the YouTube auto-translate feature transliterates your French back into very comprehensible English… I take that to mean your French must be impeccable!

    Guy (who speaks only English and Coffee :^)

    1. Ha ha ha! I never even thought to check how the auto-translate feature might work! 🙂
      Et moi, je parle café aussi!

  2. Outstanding, Thomas. I’m sure you have won a special place in the hearts of many native French-speakers–and especially those of us who studied the language decades ago! Gutsy, and very well-done, OM. Mes amities es bons DX, mon ami!

  3. Thomas, c’est superbe ! Je suis aussi francophone. J’ai également déménagé en France dans la vingtaine. J’ai déménagé à Strasbourg et me suis inscrit directement à l’Université de Strasbourg. J’y ai vécu trois ans ! Je parle encore français tous les jours maintenant même si je vis à Chicago depuis 2004. Bravo pour ta vidéo ! Vous êtes un véritable homme de la Renaissance. Ensuite, vous nous direz que vous mémorisez et interprétez également Shakespeare et que vous jouez du piano classique.

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