A quick roadside activation with the Elecraft KX2 and CHA MPAS Lite

There are days when I leave the QTH and have no idea if I have enough time to fit in a park or summit activation. Because of this, I always keep a radio field kit in the car.

On Monday, January 31, 2022 I had an appointment-packed day ahead of me, but I was hopeful I might be able to squeeze in a quick activation of some sort.

Specifically, I had a new-to-me super easy, drive-up SOTA site in mind: Peach Knob (W4C/CM-097). In fact, it’s a bit odd that I hadn’t activated this site before. It must be the most accessible summit (to me) in the area.

After a 2:00 appointment in downtown Asheville, I drove 15 minutes to the summit of Peach Knob where I discovered 1.) there was almost no space to park and 2.) what little space there was was taken up with crews working on a cluster of communications towers. In situations like this, the last thing I want to do is get in the way; that sort of activator persistence could lead to “no trespassing” signs in the future.

The site also reminded me that what I love about SOTA is the hike to the summit. Sites like this one are wedged between private property and city property–I just feel like I’m in the way, arousing neighborhood suspicions, and just doing the activation for the points. I’m not a points guy (though I’ll do a happy dance when I accumulate 1000 for ‘Mountain Goat’ status sometime within a decade at this rate).

Moving forward, I think I’ll skip drive up sites like this one; at least for HF activations.

At this point, I pretty much abandoned the idea of a field activation as I’d taken up the wee bit of free time in my schedule just checking out Peach Knob.

Next, I popped by Vlado’s (N3CZ) QTH to drop off some parts so he could finish the repair of my Elecraft KX1.  While chatting with him, I received a message from our grocery store noting that our 4:00 curbside pickup would be delayed. This opened up a one hour window where I could perform an activation! Woo hoo!

Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378)

The only site I could have fit into that window of time was the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I hopped on the BRP in Fairview, NC and quickly discovered that only one mile of the parkway was open; basically, the access to the Blue Ridge Parkway headquarters.

Instead of setting up at the headquarters proper, I decided to simply perform a quick activation on the roadside in a small pull-off area.

I had the perfect radio and antenna combination with me for this type of activation: the Elecraft KX2 and Chameleon CHA MPAS Lite.

Gear:

Setup was incredibly fast. The CHA MPAS Lite takes maybe two minutes to deploy.

While setting up, I received another text from the grocery store saying, “Your groceries will be ready for pickup at the previously scheduled time of 4:00.”

Great! Now my 1+ hour window activation time had been shortened to a max of 30 minutes with some of that time needed to set up my camera. A unexpected but not entirely unwelcome challenge.

On the air

I hopped on 30 meters, found a clear frequency (my old standby of 10,113 kHz), tuned up, then started calling CQ POTA. Since this activation wasn’t premeditated, I had not scheduled it via the POTA network (thus, no auto-spotting via the Reverse Beacon Network). Instead, I had to spot myself and it was here I realized just how little cell phone coverage I had. Fortunately, my self-spot did eventually register.

After calling CQ POTA for a couple of minutes, contacts started rolling in.

I decided to simply stick with 30 meters for the entirety of the activation. I only wanted about 10 contacts and felt like 30 meters might possibly provide that.

Fortunately for my schedule, it did!

I worked eleven stations in 13 minutes.

Lots of regular POTA family in this quick activation and even a P2P via N8EU!

QSO Map

Frankly, it still blows my mind what one can do with 5 watts in 13 minutes with a telescoping vertical:

Click to enlarge

Activation video

Honestly? I was in such a rush I almost decided to skip filming the activation…but hey! If I didn’t make an activation video, there might be some very upset insomniacs out there missing an opportunity to fall asleep to the sound of CW:

Click here to view on YouTube.

That was fun!

While these short roadside activations aren’t as impressive as, say, hiking 5 miles to an exotic summit, they give me an opportunity to practice rapid deployment and it’s even a bit exciting to have a little time pressure.  It’s funny because the young lady who prepares our groceries for pickup will remind me even if I’m one minute late. On this particular day, I pointed out to her that I arrived  two full minutes before the deadline! Touché!

Thank you

I should point out that short activations like this also remind me that it takes little, in the way of time, to fit in a park activation and I’m always better for having done it.

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.

Have a wonderful day, friends!

72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

5 thoughts on “A quick roadside activation with the Elecraft KX2 and CHA MPAS Lite”

  1. I know it’s not radio related but, I’m looking at potentially getting a Subaru Acsent. I’m a little concerned at the different problems people on forums mention and I was wondering what is your opinion of Subaru?
    IOWs would you get another one?

    Now on to the vid

  2. Glad to finally have a QSO with you Thomas .
    Also I get to listen to the other end for my fist too .
    72

    1. Brilliant, Kevin! Thanks so much for chasing me; great to get you in the logs! 🙂

      Cheers,
      Thomas

  3. Hi Thomas,

    I have a KX2 and would like to know more about how you have it mounted on your leg.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi, Mark, I’m using a kneeboard that was designed by Carolanne (N0RNM). She’s working on a way to make these available to purchase hopefully within the next month or two. I’ll definitely make an announcement when this happens.
      It’s a clever design and I use it all the time now with my KX2, MTR-3B, MTR-4B, and other compact portables. Cheers, Thomas

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