Xiegu X6100: New compact throwline, POTA pileups & overloading in Pisgah National Forest

On Thursday, January 6, 2022, I woke up with one goal in mind: take the Xiegu X6100 out on a proper hike-in activation!

While I’d had this radio on loan from Radioddity since December 23rd, I hadn’t had an opportunity to truly hike it into an activation site. Between the weather and my tight schedule, I haven’t had an opportunity to plot out a proper Summits On The Air (SOTA) Activation. SOTA activations that involve hiking usually take a much bigger bite out of my day and, lately, I’ve been to busy to plot one.

I do live near a vast trail network, however, and it so happens that much of the trails run through overlapping public lands: Pisgah National Forest and Pisgah State Game Land.

So I packed my Spec-Ops EDC tactical pack, grabbed Hazel’s harness, and headed out the door.

“Let’s go, Daddy!”

Hazel knows me too well.

When she sees my pack and my hiking boots, she  waits in front of the door so there’s no possibility she’ll be left behind.

Pisgah National Forest (K-4510) & Pisgah State Game Land (K-6937)

We arrived at the trail head a little after 8:00 AM (1300 UTC). I checked the temperature and it was spot-on 32F/0C. I think this is an ideal temp for hiking.

There were only two other cars parked at the trailhead; this is a popular trail network, so more often than not it’s parked full with overflow along the entrance road. I suspect it was a little too early and too chilly for many.

Hazel and I hiked for maybe 30 minutes, took a little spur trail, and discovered a nice shelf with some southern exposure.

As we approached the site I knew we would set up there because the sun was *just* about to peek over the distant ridge line.

I reckoned that by the time I set up the camera and deployed the antenna, we’d have a little sunshine to warm us up!

Hazel approves of the site despite the lack of squirrels and chipmunks.

New Marlow 2mm marine throw line

You might have noticed in recent field reports and videos that I’ve been testing a new, super-compact, 2mm throw line.

I promised I would make a video about the new throw line kit and bag. The kit is built around Marlow KF1050 Excel 2mm marine line and stored in a Tom Bihn Small Travel Tray.

Again, many thanks to Mike (W4MAF) for giving me the tip about this throw line.

Update: I just ordered two more reels of this Marlow marine line from Wespur. After doing a little online searching, I found a coupon code that shaves off a bit of the cost. I paid $10.35 per 50M roll.  

Watch the first portion of my video for an in-depth look at this new compact throw line kit.

Gear:

Overloading  🙁

The first thing I noticed after firing up the Xiegu X6100 was a local AM broadcaster punching through on the 40 meter band.

I had heard that the X6100 was prone to overloading, but I’ll admit I was surprised to hear a station 4-5 miles away. It wasn’t exactly “next door.” I quickly checked and found I could literally hear it across the entire 40 meter band.

Quel dommage!

I won’t go into details because you can hear it for yourself in the video and I also wrote about this overloading in detail in a previous post.

On The Air

In short, the activation was very successful.

Shortly after calling CQ a couple times, I was already logging hunters.

That morning, I enjoyed pileups both in both CW and SSB on 40 meters.

It was insane, actually. I can only think of one other time I was so busy in SSB and that was on a weekend where many more hunters would have been on the air. I would have never guessed I’d have such an active pileup on 40 meters early in the morning on a Thursday.

Obviously, the X6100 overloading didn’t cause any noticeable barrier to working these pileups. In addition, it seemed to handle the signal density relatively well which was surprising. (Perhaps Xiegu can sort out the overloading in a firmware update?)

I had planned to also work stations on 20 meters, but I simply ran out of time.

Again, I’ll let you hear it for yourself in the activation video below. It was pure fun!

QSO Map

Here’s what a Xiegu X6100 and EFHW pair can do in about an hour (green = CW, red = SSB):

Activation Video

Here’s a video of the entire activation including an intro where I talk about what makes for a good activation site, details about my new throw line kit, the antenna deployment, and the activation itself. As always, I don’t edit anything out of my videos; they’re unscripted/real-time, and there are no ads to get in the way. You’ve been warned!

Click here to watch on YouTube.

What an amazing activation!

I can’t speak for Hazel, but I thoroughly enjoyed this activation.

It was great doing a little SSB and I’ll admit…I felt a bit out of practice!

I’m happy we ventured to higher ground where I could get enough signal to ask my buddies Mike (K8RAT) and Eric (WD8RIF) for an SSB spot.

One of my favorite activation spots from this trailhead has no mobile phone access and  is so deep in the valley it even takes my Garmin In-Reach Mini a while to  get a good lock for texting.

Keep in mind: It’s crucial as an SSB op to have a backup plan in case you have no means to self-spot in the field. SSB ops can’t take advantage of the Reverse Beacon Network to auto-spot you. I’ve discovered that announcing your SSB activation via the POTA scheduling page has little to no effect. (Do it anyway, though!)

If you’re an avid SSB operator and you don’t have a satellite texting device, make friends with some of your most frequently logged hunters. Why? Because they typically can hear you from their location.

Plan ahead and give them your schedule with an approximate activation time and an approximate frequency. With any luck, they’ll be listening and will not only be your first contact, but will make sure you’re spotted!

Of course, return the favor by offering this service to other POTA friends.

While I primarily do CW activations these days, I do love SSB as well. It’s fun to hear hunters’ voices. In fact, although I’ve worked and communicated with Scott (KN3A) for over a year, I think that was the first time I’d ever heard his voice in SSB!

Thank you

Thanks so much for joining Hazel and me on this activation.

I’m hoping to shift my attention to SOTA activations soon to take advantage of those winter bonus points! The weather has thwarted one SOTA activation this year already.

Indeed, I penciled in a local SOTA activation for today (January 16, 2022), but we’ve got one foot of snow on the ground already with more in the forecast for today. I’ll be hunkered down at the QTH today chasing parks, summits, and tweaking my field kits. And drinking lots of coffee.

I’d like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been 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. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, and I’m most grateful!

I hope you get an opportunity to chase some activators or hit the field and put a park or summit on the air this week!

72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

20 thoughts on “Xiegu X6100: New compact throwline, POTA pileups & overloading in Pisgah National Forest”

  1. Thomas
    Been following you for some time now, especially since you got the X6100. Just received mine last Friday. About the overloading…are you sure the preamp is off and the front end attenuator is on? Also, a simple high-pass filter module between the antenna and the radio will probably eliminate it. I don’t know why Xiegu chose to leave the front-end open all the way down to the broadcast band, but it is what it is. Anyway, it’s been interesting following your outings,
    Joe
    W3JDR

    1. Hi, Joe,

      You know, I’m not 100% certain. Unfortunately, I’ver already sent off that radio to the next reviewer. I purchased one, though, and it should be here very soon. I might go back and try that again at the same spot!

      Cheers,
      Thomas

  2. This was so cool. I have been waiting for 10 days now for this post and video to drop. It is the first time that I have worked you and I even made the video which is first for me. agin so cool. I even see my call in your paper log. This is the first time I have heard myself on the air.

    I’ve been looking for it to show on the POTA site but still not there. I guess I’ll keep waiting.

    Thanks Thomas.

    de W4MKH

    1. Hi, Marshall,

      I just realized that I haven’t submitted those logs yet. I will this evening. When submitting a two-fer, there’s an extra step that requires altering the file in a text editor. That always puts the log on the back-burner!

      You’ll se it soon. Great to work you, OM!

      Cheers,
      Thomas
      K4SWL

  3. Thomas, thanks again for another entertaining video! I too own an X6100 and found the broadcast band interference to overload the receiver. In my suburban Chicago QTH there is a megawatt AM station “The SCORE” which is within 10 miles of me. Many of my small QRP kits which I built are adversely affect by this BCI so about 20yrs ago I built a small filter in an Altoid case (typical QRP homebrew genre!). When using this filter, I find the x6100 receiver to be pretty good, but certainly not as selective nor sensitive as my Elecraft rigs. I’ve sent you a couple videos and a picture of the filter, please feel free to share with your followers.

    Rich
    KQ9L

    1. Thank you SO MUCH! I’m posting this as it’s such a simple little project and obviously so effective!

      Cheers,
      Thomas

  4. Thanks again for doing these. Always good to work you. Also like hearing what I sound like. Question. I’m in the log but not on the map. Does the map data get sent to POTA on your log? Or is that something different?

    1. Hi, Ed,

      Great to work you! That QSO Map is not always 100% accurate. It’s often missing as many as 10% of the contacts. The logs I submit, though, will contain everything. (Which reminds me, I might need to submit these! Since it’s a two-fer, I have to doctor the second set of logs!)

      Cheers,
      Thomas

  5. Tnx for the info on your throw line system. I’ve set mine up like yours but will be wait for warmer wx to put wire antenna in a tree. For now, I’m having great time with my IC-705 in my car with a hamstick on the roof 😄. Tnx for your posts … I look forward to reading each of them!
    Nat, N4EL

    1. Now that’s a comfy way to POTA! 🙂

      It’ll be warm before we know it. I think you’ll like the throw line–I certainly do.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

  6. Thomas — good evening.

    Following your appeal for information on a suitable BCI filter for the Xeigu 6100, I’ve have today designed a really simple filter
    and just published it on my Web site.

    Its a 5-pole Butterworth filter that should have sufficient stop band, and cost less than £5 ($5) to build,

    The design uses standard coils that can be bought directly from eBay (and many other places) — so nothing to wind, and standard capacitor values — so no need to mess about with series/parallel combinations to get exact values.

    When the components I’ve ordered arrive, I’ll do a Youtube video on my channel for folks that want to be guided through the build and test of the filter on ‘Dr.T(G4ABX)’

    For those that just want to ‘have a go’ then all the information they need is on my web site now: g4abx.co.uk under the Tab ‘How To’

    73
    Bruce G4ABX (Dr.T)

  7. Hi, kinda new to this, but how do you attached the throw line to the wire? Any particular knot or do you use something else?

    Thanks
    Rob
    Ko4nzl

      1. You might want to consider adding a crimp-on ring connector to the end of the wire. It makes using Thomas’ slip knot very easy!

        73,
        Nat, N4EL

  8. Thomas is the CWMorseUS Pocket Paddle you use in this video a Double or Single Paddle Key. And why did you make your choice to that one?

    73 Paul w2eck

    1. Hi, Paul,

      This one is a single lever paddle. The reason why I even have it is a kind reader sent it to me! 🙂 I like it. I find that for my style of keying, I may even be slightly more accurate with a single lever. But I like both single and doubela dn probably use double more than any.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

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