You might have noticed that normally I’m a good 2-4 weeks behind posting activation videos and field reports. This is due to the fact that I typically record an activation video one week, upload it sometime within the following two weeks, then write up the field report, add photos, and put it all together when the stars align.
Much of my workflow is dictated by the fact that it can (literally) take 2-3 days for a video to upload from my rural QTH. Therefore, I never upload from home, only when I have proper bandwidth.
However, I’m happy to announce that this field report and video are going to move to the front of the line!
This morning, November 11, 2021 (Veterans & Remembrance Day) I had a hankering to fit in a short activation while visiting my parents. I didn’t have a lot of time because I needed to take my father to an appointment later in the day.
I planned to visit Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861) thinking it would be the closest and likely least busy on this national holiday.
I drove to Tuttle and found that their gates were closed.
Doh! Of course they were!
Tuttle specifically caters to schools and educational communities, all of which were closed on Veterans Day.
Plan B: Johns River State Game Land (K-6915)
Fortunately, I knew Johns River would be a very accessible Plan B. It has access points a mere two or three miles from Tuttle.
I haven’t activate Johns River in ages even though it’s so convenient to Tuttle. The main reason is, I just don’t enjoy the access areas. Many of my favorite out-of-the-way spots are filled with litter and trash–much more than I can pick up in one session.
Earlier this year, my buddy Max (WG4Z) found a fairly new access/parking point with enough room for two or three vehicles at the end of a dead end residential road. I performed one activation there in the spring–it was much better than the spots I’d previously used.
I drove to the site this morning and found that I was the only vehicle there–no surprise as it’s outside of hunting season.
Almost as soon as I pulled into the parking area, a gentleman walked up to the car and looked at me very skeptically. He asked, “Planning on hunting something?” I answered, “Nothing but radio signals, sir!”
I explained that I was an amateur radio operator and that I was planning to do a park activation in Morse Code. He warmed up to me quickly.
Turns out, since the Wildlife Resource Commission made the small parking lot (only in the past couple of years) many in the neighborhood noticed cars that would park for short periods of time at night and neighbors even found evidence of drug use and all sorts of shady things. This, in a public wildlife parking area that’s practically in the back yard of a neighboring home.
The gentleman was fascinated by the fact I was going to use Morse Code and started telling me about an elderly friend of his who was a WWII radio operator in the Navy. Very fitting for Veterans Day.
We probably chatted 15 minutes or so. I mentioned that he might see a few amateur radio operators on the site primarily off-season.
I had planned to use my Discovery TX-500 during this activation, but unfortunately I left it at my parents house. I did, however, have my trusty Elecraft KX2, so Carolanne’s KX2 knee board would have come in really handy, but I didn’t pack it for this trip since I hadn’t planned to operate the KX2.
Instead, I pulled out my trusty clipboard and…yes…a rubber band to secure the KX2. 🙂
I had also considered putting my new MFJ-1899T portable antenna on the air, but without a picnic table as a support (and lacking the bits necessary to mount it on a tripod), I reached for my trusty $4 speaker wire antenna.
I was pressed for time so it wasn’t the best time to try a new antenna. I’ll use the MFJ antenna at the next activation!
- Elecraft KX2
- 28.5 foot speaker wire antenna using one BNC Binding Post Adapter (affiliate link)
- GoRuck GR1 USA
- Arborist throw line
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch (affiliate link)
- Jovitec 2.0 mm Mechanical Pencil (affiliate link)
- Muji A6 Notepad (affiliate link)
On The Air
In those 22 minutes, however, I worked a total of 25 stations on 40 meters. A very welcome pace when one has limited time!
Many thanks to those chasers who worked me this morning!
Here’s what my 5 watts into two 28.5′ speaker wires yielded on 40 meters:
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the full activation:
After I finished the activation and stopped the video, I was reminded again of another benefit of my speaker wire antenna: it packs up so darn quickly. About the only other wire antennas I have that pack up faster are my PackTenna 20M EFHW and PackTenna9:1 UNUN.
The speaker wire antenna is a valuable little antenna for both park and summit activations. Eventually, I’ll make a version with proper lightweight 26 AWG antenna wire from The Wireman simply because it’ll pack up so much smaller for SOTA activations. In fact, I might have enough Wireman wire left over from my QRPGuys Tri-Bander project earlier this year. [Note to self: check inventory once back home.]
In short: this $4 antenna has never disappointed me.
In the video, I thank everyone who has served and I simply wanted that message to be heard on Veterans Day and Remembrance Day.
Thank you, veterans.
Of course, 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 as my content will always be free–I really appreciate the support.