Having explored the whole mayhem style activation the previous day, I was seeking a more chilled-out field activation on Thursday, November 4, 2021.
It was pouring rain, but I had a respectable three hour window to fit in a park activation while visiting my parents in the foothills of the NC mountains.
I had such an enjoyable experience pairing my Elecraft KX2 and AX1 antenna under a shelter at Tuttle Educational State Forest during a previous rainy day activation, I decided to revisit the same site.
Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)
Knowing rangers might not expect visitors on a day like this (keeping in mind this type of park caters to educational groups and are otherwise relatively quiet) I made a courtesy call to the park headquarters. I asked the ranger for permission to use their main shelter for an activation.
As expected, he said, “It’s all yours!”
I’ve met all of the park rangers at Tuttle having spent many an activation there and they’ve all encouraged me to make myself at home. They’re incredibly accommodating.
The Tuttle shelter is actually quite large and can accommodate as many as two school groups at once.
Inside the shelter, there’s even a huge double-sided fireplace.
I’d be lying if I said it never crossed my mind to build a fire on this cold, rainy November day. I mean, they even have dry firewood conveniently stacked beside the shelter!
Of course, I wouldn’t waste their firewood on one guy doing an activation, but if I ever decide to organize a winter POTA meet-up here (and I am thinking about this–email me if interested), I would definitely ask permission!
Something you might not notice in my reports and videos: even though I visit the same sites a lot, I very rarely actually set up at the exact same spot if I have the option not to. In this case, I was in the same structure as I was in a recent activation, but this time I deployed my station on the other side of the shelter.
Less is more
One of the great things about QRP gear is that it’s so compact.
I was using the same backpack and gear I had deployed on the summit of Mount Mitchell the previous day.
In my pack, I had a QCX-Mini transceiver, PackTenna EFHW, Packtenna 9:1 UNUN, the Elecraft KX2 transceiver, and AX1 antenna. Basically, I had enough gear for two completely independent QRP HF stations including a few antenna choices!
This is the magic of QRP gear: it’s typically much more compact, lighter weight, and packable than 100W transceivers–even those QRO transceivers designed for field use.
It being a rainy, cold day it was the perfect excuse to brew some tea to warm my bones.
I chose a nice Twinings Darjeeling my friend Mike (K8RAT) had recently sent.
I put the kettle on (okay, so technically I started heating the water on my alcohol stove) and set up my radio gear.
- Elecraft KX2
- Elecraft AX1 packed in a Maxpedition Fatty Pouch
- Muji A6 Notepad and Koh-I-Noor 2.0 mm Mechanical Pencil (affiliate links)
- N0SA SOTA paddle
- GoRuck GR1 USA
- Portable field coffee/tea kit (by request, I’ll make a post about the various items in this kit soon)
On The Air
You really couldn’t ask for more! This AX1 antenna continues to impress.
I decided to simply stay on 40 meters for the entire activation rather than changing out counterpoises and moving up the band. After all, I wanted this to be a “chillaxed” activation. You know, proper relaxed radio therapy!
I continued working stations on 40 meters for another 20 minutes logging an additional 12 contacts.
Thank you to everyone who chased me!
Here’s what my 5 watts with the Elecraft AX1 yielded on 40 meters in 32 minutes:
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. If you’ve never seen my videos before, keep in mind that they’re not edited for time; you’re essentially joining me for the whole activation as it happens. I don’t monetize my YouTube channel, so at least there’re no ads, right!? 🙂
It’s funny how quickly a freshly brewed cuppa’ tea transforms a cold, rainy day into something surprisingly special and memorable.
It also instantaneously transports me right back to the UK.
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.
As I’ve mentioned lately, I’m plotting a few upgrades to my field video equipment that should improve both the video and audio quality. Your generosity helps make that a reality.