Here are the field reports and videos of my first four activations:
- #1 Lake James State Park (K-2739) using the Xiegu X5105 and Speaker Wire antenna
- #2 Pisgah National Forest & Game Land (K-4510/K-6937) using the Elecraft KX2 and PackTenna linked 40M EFHW
- #3 Table Rock Fish Hatchery (K-8012) using the Yaesu FT-817 and PackTenna 9:1 UNUN Random Wire
- #4 Johns River Game Land (K-6916) using the Elecraft KX2 and CHA MPAS Lite
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!
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.
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!
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:
- 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.
- 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).
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!
Here’s what the MTR-3B pushing 3 watts into a PackTenna 20M EFHW can do in about 15 minutes on the air:
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:
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.
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,