I mentioned in a previous post that my personal “Activation Challenge” for 2022 was “to build a new antenna each month and deploy it at least once that month during a field activation.”
On Thursday, January 27, 2022 I took my first antenna–the military fixture doublet–to Lake Norman State Park for a Parks On The Air activation!
For more information about this doublet and how it was constructed, check out this post.
Lake Norman State Park (K-2740)
Unlike an end-fed wire antenna, doublets need a little more clear space to deploy both legs; the idea is to avoid as many low tree branches and other obstacles as possible.
Many (if not most) of the operators I know who regularly deploy field doublets actually use a telescoping mast for the center support to make the whole process easier. I didn’t take either of my fiberglass masts on this outing because, frankly, the winding fixture on this doublet acts as the center insulator, and is “heavy” compared to most of my field antennas.
It’s not actually *that* heavy, but heavy enough I wouldn’t want to stress the top of my fiberglass poles.
I should note here that Eric (WD8RIF), who originally provided inspiration for this build, only used the center fixture as a winder for this very reason. He crafted a center insulator out of a discarded 35mm plastic canister. Here’s Eric’s doublet:
At Lake Norman, I found a picnic table with ample space to deploy the doublet. Admittedly, there were a couple small branches I had to finagle the antenna around, but it wasn’t terribly difficult to set up.
I paired the doublet with my Elecraft KX2 mainly because it has an internal antenna tuner, thus I could simply connect BNC binding posts to the rig, then use the two pre-installed pins on the feedline to connect the antenna to the binding post adapter. Very easy.
This doublet requires an antenna tuner to find an impedance match. With a good ATU (like the one in the KX2) I’ve found that this doublet will find matches anywhere from 60 meters up to 6; ideal for field activations!
- Elecraft KX2
- Military Fixture Homemade Doublet
- Muji A6 Notepad and Koh-I-Noor .9 mm Mechanical Pencil (affiliate link)
- CW Morse “Pocket Paddle” (Single Lever Version)
- Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack EDC
- Mini Arborist throw line kit: Tom Bihn Small Travel Tray, Marlow KF1050 Excel 2mm Throwline, and Weaver 8 or 10oz weight
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch (affiliate link)
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera with Joby tripod (affiliate links)
- My fingerless gloves (affiliate link)
On the air
I also decided I’d stick to the higher bands in this activation as a few readers/subscribers have asked for me to do a little more 20 meter park work so my signal might reach the west coast more frequently.
Honestly, though, had I moved down to 30 meters, or 40 meters, I’m sure I could have logged a couple dozen more in short order.
Frankly, though, I felt a bit of time pressure as another goal at Lake Norman was to hike their Lakeshore Trail before sunset. The previous day, I ran out of time to fit in a good multi-mile hike; I didn’t want that to happen again.
Here’s what 5 watts into the doublet yielded on the 20 meter band:
Here’s my real-time, real-life, activation video at Lake Norman. As always, there are no ads in my YouTube videos:
The hike post-activation was beautiful. Here are a few photos:
I always get a small thrill out of taking a new antenna to the field. It’s that much more fun when it’s one I’ve built! You’ll definitely be seeing this doublet in future activations. I’m really looking forward to using it on the 60 meter band.
As always, 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 truly appreciate the support.
I hope you have some time this week to play a little radio. If you’re considering doing your first park activation, get a little in-shack experience by hunting a few parks in advance!
I’ve been so impressed with the number of operators who’ve contacted me to tell me they’re learning CW–keep up the good work! You’ve got this!