Since I made a dedicated ultra-compact field kit for the MTR-3B, it has also been even easier to toss it in my backpack and take it on little field adventures. The field kit is truly a grab-and-go and even includes a throw line and weight.
On Friday, January 28, 2022, after a total of six individual park activations during the previous two days (a POTA RaDAR run and my first 2020 Antenna Challenge activation) driving back to the QTH I thought, “surely I can skip doing an activation today.”
That quickly turned into, “Wait a minute…I’ve got enough time to fit in both an activation and a hike!”
So I made a quick detour off of I-40 to visit the Clear Creek access of South Mountains State Park.
South Mountains State Park (K-2753)
I pulled into an empty parking area; not really a surprise on an early Friday afternoon. In addition, I figured many were out grabbing bread and milk since winter weather was in the forecast.
I decided to do my activation first, then pack up and take the full kit on a hike.
I’ve divided up the gear section to list the full contents of my MTR-3B kit even though I used a different antenna on this activation than the one in the kit. The main additions to the kit this time were the Elecraft T1 and speaker wire antenna (the T1 is needed as the MTR-3B has no internal tuner).
MTR-3B Ultra-Compact Field Kit:
- Tom Bihn Handy Little Thing (HLT) Size 2. This little guy retails for $70, but keep in mind that it’s designed and made in the USA. It also carries a lifetime warranty from a company that offers best-in-class customer service. All components of this kit easily fit inside.
- A 5′ DC power cord. I also have a super short 9V alkaline battery connector (not pictured).
- Sennheiser earphones (purchased in Munich circa 1999) with an analog in-line volume control.
- A PackTenna Mini 20M EFHW antenna (in kit, but not used for this activation)
- Koh-I-Noor .9 mm Mechanical Pencil
- Muji A6 Notepad
- N0SA SOTA paddles
- The LNR Precision MTR-3B transceiver with a 3D-printed protective cover
- 20′ BNC to BNC RG-316 from PackTenna.
- 25 meters of Marlow KF1050 Excel 2mm Throwline, and an 8 oz Weaver throw weight.
- A Bioenno 3 aH (9V) LiFePo Battery (Model BLF-0903W).
- Elecraft T1 ATU
- 28.5 foot speaker wire antenna using one BNC Binding Post Adapter (affiliate link)
- Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack EDC
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera
Looking at the long gear list, you’d think you’d need a big pack for them, but it’s quite the opposite. All of this takes up little space and I’d certainly not need the tactical backpack for this activation, but I chose it knowing I’d hike later.
I do love this field kit!
Deploying the antenna was very easy. I actually include this in the activation video (see below).
On the air
Since I had the T1 ATU, I knew I could work all of the MTR-3B’s three bands: 40, 30, and 20 meters.
I started on 40 meters, called CQ POTA and worked eight stations in 7 minutes. A great start!
Next, I moved up to the 30 meter band where I worked an additional four stations in 3 minutes.
20 meters was definitely the winner that day!
Here’s my full log sheet for your reference (a cheat sheet if you copy code in my videos):
Here’s what 3 watts into a speaker wire antenna can yield in a total of 41 minutes on the air (click to enlarge):
Here’s my accompanying real-time, real-life activation video. As always, my videos have no edits during the activation. In other words, you get to see all of my mistakes in amazing HD video quality!
A quick post-actie hike
Even thought the car was close by and I could stash my SOTA pack prior to hiking, I wanted to hike with my full radio kit in the Spec-Ops Pack. One reason I like doing this besides the extra pack time is that it also contains my first aid kit and other emergency supplies.
I took the Clear Creek trail which is a 2.5 mile out-and-back trail. When I was very close to the end of the trail, I ran into another hiker–and older gentleman who lived only a couple miles from the park.
He started talking to me before I even approached him, as if he’d been waiting on me to arrive for some time. It was great, actually, because on the hike back, he took me off-trail to point out a number of old home sites.
I’ve always enjoyed finding little home sites in the forest and it amazes me how the stone chimneys (or “chimblies” as we’re raised calling them in the foothills) seem to stand the test of time.
In the spring, homesites are easy to find because daffodils pop up around the perimeter of former home sites.
He chatted with me all the way back to the car. He was good company and I was happy to soak in a little of his local knowledge.
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 week, friends!