POTA RaDAR Run Final Activation: Testing the new MTR-3B field kit at Tuttle Educational State Forest

On January 26, 2022, I fit in multiple park activations in one day as a RaDAR (Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio) run. My hope was to activate four or five sites between 14:00 – 21:30 UTC.

Here are the field reports and videos of my first four activations:

The next park in my run (#5) was Tuttle Educational State Forest and it was the final park in this modest RaDAR run!

I packed up the gear at Johns River Game Land in a matter of three minutes, popped it all in the car, then drove 8 minutes to nearby Tuttle Educational State Forest which, at this point, almost feels like a home away from home.

Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)

As I pulled into the Tuttle parking lot, I found my buddy Max (W4GZ) activating the park from his truck. It was no surprise finding Max here since I had just worked him Park-To-Park (P2P) from Johns River next door.

Max delivered some precious cargo: some more of his mom’s homemade QRP pickles!

“Them’s QRP pickles!”

Max continued to activate Tuttle from his truck while I set up my station.

Maiden MTR-3B kit deployment!

In terms of radio kits on this RaDAR run, I decided to save the best for last: my MTR-3B Ultra-Compact Field Kit.

I wrote a post about this kit recently detailing all of the components.

Thing is, other than at the QTH, I’d never fully deployed the kit in the field to make sure all necessary components were indeed in the pack.

I knew Tuttle would make for a great site to do a field kit shake down.

If, for some reason, a component was missing from the field kit, I had plenty of gear in my car nearby to supplement it. It’s much better to do an initial test of a completely self-contained field kit when you have extra supplies on hand. I would never want to hike to a summit only to find I’m missing the key, for example!

Deployment

Throw line/weight and battery compartment of the ultra-compact field kit.

This field kit actually contains a full 25 meter arborist throw line based on the super thin Marlow 2mm marine line.  In my activation video, I show how I toss the throw line and weight.

The 25 meter line is short enough that I can remove the entire thing from the field kit. Post-activation, I can use the figure 8 method of winding up the throw line on my hand (the same method used with larger poly line as demoed here). It maybe takes one minute to wind up the entire length.

I’ve found that 25 meters is just long enough to deploy almost all of my wire field antennas.

Components of the Ultra-Compact Field Kit:

You can watch the full station deployment in the activation video below.

Before jumping on HF with the MTR-3B, Max and I made two Park-To-Park contacts on 2 meters and 70 cm. This is a fun thing to do when you’re at a park with another activator. Plus, if conditions are extremely poor  or your time very limited, those two contacts count toward the 10 needed for a valid activation.

On The Air

It being that I was using a 20 meter end-fed half-wave antenna, I was limited to one band. I knew this was a bit of a gamble for POTA where I find 40 meters tends to enjoy the most success here on the east coast of the US.

I knew if 20 meters was dead, I could always grab a 40 meter antenna from the car.

Fortunately, that was not needed!

I hopped on 20 meters, started calling CQ, and the contacts started rolling in.

Within 15 minutes, I worked 19 stations on 20 meters. Here’s the log sheet:

I’m grateful to the chasers out there who made this final activation of my RaDAR run day so much fun!

QSO Map

Here’s what the MTR-3B pushing 3 watts into a PackTenna 20M EFHW can do in about 15 minutes on the air:

Activation Video

Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation including an introduction and deploying the antenna. As with all of my videos, monetization has been turned off so there are no ads:

Click here to view on YouTube.

RaDAR Award

After submitting my logs, I applied for the Cheetah RaDAR Award:

RaDAR = Huge Fun!

I’ll admit it: this five park RaDAR run was incredibly fun and even a little easier than I anticipated.

I did some “back of the envelop” calculations and I believe I could have easily fit in two or possibly three more sites in the run had I:

  • not made activation videos (each of these easily adds 10-20 minutes to an activation),
  • not visited Hamilton’s studio (no regrets there!), and
  • not used a different antenna and four different radios.

If I only used the Elecraft KX2 and Chameleon CHA MPAS Lite pairing, set-up and pack-up at each activation site would have taken a max of four minutes.

I could have left the counterpoise, feed line,  and whip connected to the MPAS Lite and deployment might have taken 30 seconds (basically stick the antenna in the ground, unroll the counterpoise, and extend the whip).

I could have also left the KXPD2 paddles attached to the Elecraft KX2. I’m pretty sure I could do a RaDAR run with 3 or 5 watts and one initial charge of the KX2’s internal battery would have been sufficient.

But, frankly, I really enjoyed the extra challenge of using a different radio and antenna pairing at each site.

Of course, another strategy to really rack up multiple parks in one day is to do it all HF mobile. I know POTA rovers who have an impressive mobile HF setup in their vehicle and can hit multiple parks so quickly because there’s no setup whatsoever. I’m not a mobile operator because I like doing the field deployment bit, but many ops have enjoyed amazing success this way.

Thank you!

Thank you for reading this field report and for perhaps even following me along on this multiple park RaDAR run!

I’d love to know if you have done RaDAR runs and if you enjoy them; feel free to comment. It certainly does add an extra dimension to field activations.

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.

There’s a lot of conflict going on in the world right now and I think it’s a good time for amateur radio operators to be the ambassadors that we are, sharing our goodwill.

My heart goes out to the many friends and colleagues in Ukraine who have been displaced, become refugees, or in the war zone as Russia invades. One reader contacted me recently and said he couldn’t leave Kiev because he has elderly parents there who need his help. I can’t imagine what this must be like and, frankly, it’s hard to even understand. I hope some peaceful resolution happens quickly. Our hearts our with you.

Best & 73,

Thomas (K4SWL)

5 thoughts on “POTA RaDAR Run Final Activation: Testing the new MTR-3B field kit at Tuttle Educational State Forest”

  1. Thank you Thomas for all your reports during your day of having fun. I enjoyed reading them and becoming more anxious to get back out in the field.

    73
    Wb8yxf

  2. Have you tried out a heavier weight with that Marlow throwline? I already have a 15oz throw weight so I am wondering how it would work with the lighter line.

    I need to send you some pics of my pack setup. I used your blogs and videos as a guide then improvised.

  3. Good morning Thomas,
    Your activation reports are second to none!
    Looking forward to a year of RV’ing and portable operation here in Ontario.
    Thanks for the great reading/dreaming material. hihi
    72 de Brent VA3YG

  4. How do you apply for the RaDAR award? I did 4 activations in one day and didn’t automagically get the award.

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