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.”
In January, I built a doublet with a military fixture/winder.
For February, I decided to purchase and build a counterpoise-less end-fed half-wave kit from from Adam (K6ARK). This kit is available on Amazon.com for a mere $19.95 (affiliate link).
The build itself is pretty straight-forward and not terribly complicated. With that said, you do need a fine soldering iron tip and a little dexterity to manipulate these super tiny components. Adam includes instructions for building an EFHW with a counterpoise, without a counterpoise, or a random wire antenna. The coil can be configured as a a 49:1 Unun, 9:1 Unun, or 1:1 Balun.
If you choose the EFHW route you will need to solder one surface-mount capacitor on the board. If you’ve never worked with surface mount components before, take your time and use a good magnifying glass.
Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378 NC)
Since I configured the K6ARK kit as a counterpoise-less EFHW, I wasn’t entirely sure how stable the SWR would be in the field. For this reason, I was a wee bit nervous pairing it with my MTR-3B since that little radio lacks an SWR meter and really needs a good match.
I decided, instead, to pair the K6ARK antenna with my Elecraft KX1 which has a built-in ATU that can both monitor the SWR and find an impedance match if needed. Of course, I turned off the internal ATU for the activation, but if I needed it, I knew I could engage and use it.
KX1 Ultra-Compact Field Kit:
- Tom Bihn Handy Little Thing (HLT) Size 2
- Elecraft KX1
- A 3′ DC power cord.
- Sony earbuds (affiliate link)
- Koh-I-Noor .9 mm Mechanical Pencil
- Muji A6 Notepad
- 20′ BNC to BNC RG-316 from PackTenna (in kit, not used)
- 25 meters of Marlow KF1050 Excel 2mm Throwline, and an 8 oz Weaver throw weight
- A Bioenno 3 aH 12V LiFePo Battery (Model BLF-1203AB)
- K6ARK Antenna Kit (affiliate link)
- Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack EDC
- N0RNM’s homemade 3D-printed knee board
- REI Co-op Trail Stool
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera
Setup was very easy.
I launched the throw line in a tree, pulled the 40M EFHW over a branch, and connected the antenna’s BNC directly to my KX1.
This was truly a first for me: I’ve never used an end-fed antenna that had no counterpoise whatsoever. This is actually why I configured the antenna the way I did; purely to see how effectively it might work in the field. I understand that this is how Adam configures his for SOTA outings.
It is insanely compact.
I must assume that the antenna is less efficient without a counterpoise. I know, too, that when I touch the radio chassis it has a positive effect on SWR as a path to ground is found.
Of course, the only way to see just how effectively this antenna would work in the field was to give it a go! As I like to say: less theory, more practice!
On the air
The first station I worked was my good friend Eric (WD8RIF) on 40 meters. He was at a park in Ohio and I heard him on frequency after turning on the radio (we tend to use the same POTA frequencies) so I quickly worked him P2P! That QSO didn’t make it on the activation video because I hadn’t yet started recording.
I’d decided in advance I wanted to play on 20 meters, so I switched to 20, and started calling CQ POTA.
In 18 minutes, I worked an additional 13 stations.
Besides working a number of POTA friends, it was fantastic to finally put PEI in the books during an activation. I think I’ve logged most of the Canadian provinces along the US border and in the Maritimes, save PEI! Thanks, VY2DP!
Here are my logs:
Here’s what 3 watts into a counterpoise-less EFHW can do in about 20 minutes:
Here’s my real-time real-life video of the entire activation. As always, it’s ad-free and the QSOs are unedited:
Thanks for reading this field report! 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 really appreciate the support.
I must admit that I can see the antenna challenge becoming more and more interesting as the year progresses. I’m really looking forward to building and using a wide variety of antennas in 2022.
As I write this report on March 28, 2022, I’m not sure that my March antenna challenge will happen in this month. It might happen in April–thus two antennas in April. March turned out to be a crazy month for me and there was a period of over 3 weeks where I didn’t complete a single activation. Talk about POTA/SOTA withdrawal!
I was in isolation in early March after a run-in with Covid. Then my mom’s health took a temporary bad turn–fortunately, she’s on the mend. Radio had to take a sideline during all of this, but now I’m happy to report that I’m back in the saddle. In fact, I’ve had some pretty amazing activations recently.
I jokingly refer to my time in the field as “radio therapy.”
Perhaps it isn’t a joke, though. When I go outdoors and play radio, it feeds my soul in so many positive and meaningful ways. It’s a break from the ordinary and an opportunity to do something extraordinary. After each activation, I walk out with a spring in my step.
If you ask my buddy Jim (N4JAW)? He’ll tell you that playing radio in the field and home is an integral part of his cancer treatment. It keeps him energetic, positive, focused, and it actually fuels his fight with cancer that, I’ve no doubt, he will kick to the curb! Jim is a force to be reckoned with!
Thank you, friends, and here’s wishing you all a little radio therapy this week.