CW saves Leo’s POTA activation during a low battery warning!

Many thanks to Leo (DL2COM) who writes:


Today was crazy: when I woke up I thought it would be a good idea to attempt a first activation of DA-0171 in central Berlin after dropping off the kids at day care. So I grabbed my KX2 bag and jumped on my bike.

Shortly later I arrived at the park and pulled up my 40-10m EFHW and started calling CQ on SSB 40m.

It took me about 30 mins to realize that the KX2 was regulating the power down to 5W since both the internal and the external 4Ah battery I took with me were nearly dead.

I had one QSO with a German station and felt I wasn’t really heard anywhere. Then my KX2 started showing “low batt”.

It’s funny because attempting an activation isn’t really what one would call a very important thing, but I do develop quite an ambition if I have decided to get it done. So my only chance was using CW even though I am all but ready for that.

Having read your article about auto-spotting and watched many of your videos including POTA QSO style I didn’t think long and started calling CQ POTA on 20m.

OMG what followed was just amazing!

Fortunately I didn’t run into a classic pileup which would have been super overwhelming for me, but instead about every 2 minutes someone would reply to my call and in a very patient fashion – including one P2P QSO with an operator from Italy.

So all in all I completed 13 QSOs on a “low batt” warning of my KX2.

CW literally saved by butt and I am a very happy person. Without your work for the ham radio community this would not have been possible. So many thanks again.

On a different note: Last weekend (kit building seminar with the club) I had my first DX QSO. It was K3LU who picked up my call from my KX2 and a random wire 9:1 Unun antenna (L-Shape on a mast) with 28 and 17ft legs. I had to sit down and open a beer not able to do anything for about an hour but smile. Such a motivating event and I am happy he was such a great operator instantly QRSing with me and repeating his call. I am in touch with him and looking forward to receive his QSL card which will probably go in a frame.

I also finished the TR-35 and must say I am super impressed. It runs very quietly and the reduced concept is something I really appreciate. When will you take it into the field?

All the best & 73s de Leo (DL2COM)

Oh wow, Leo! I love this–thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience.

First of all, thank you for the kind comments–I’m honored to have even played a minor role in your CW activation. In truth, this is all chalked up to your determination and bravery! I’m guessing what you discovered is what I discovered during my first CW activation: not only is it not as bad as I had imagined, but it was actually fun and got the adrenaline pumping! 🙂 

I’m now happy to know that when I hit the Low Battery warning on my KX2, I still have some time left! In truth, the KX2 is so efficient, I’ve made six individual CW 5 watt activations on one charge of the internal battery without even hitting the low battery warning. 

Again, this story just makes my day. CW is such a fabulous, efficient, and magical mode! Good on you for diving in, OM!

I also think it’s brilliant that you worked Ulis (K3LU). You couldn’t have worked a better op for your first CW contact–he’s the real deal and a wonderful fellow. Not only that, but he has some amazing QSL cards!

And the TR-35? I couldn’t agree with you more. I did an activation with the TR-35 last Friday so a video and field report is forthcoming!

Thank you again, Leo! I hope others share their experience hitting CW for the first time (hint, hint!). 

5 thoughts on “CW saves Leo’s POTA activation during a low battery warning!”

  1. Great story Leo.Thanks Thomas for posting it.

    A tip I got from Michael KB9VBR, when I charge a batter I put a small piece of blue (could use any color) painter’s tape on the battery’s connector to indicate that it is fully charged. I use Anderson power poles so it is easy to tape over the ends of them. Any battery that I pick up without blue tape is presumed to be partially discharged.


    1. That is a great idea Marshall – especially as I tend to do activations rather spontaneously due to my erratic schedule at the moment. I will try to establish a similar routine for my setups. Thanks & 73s!

  2. Hi Thomas,

    Honestly I thought I was months away from doing a CW focused activation so this came very unexpected. When I saw “low batt” and I had one QSO I thought there is absolutely no chance to get a successful activation in esp. from a metro area and only 5W into SSB. What pushed me was that after a quick generic CQ call I saw that I was heard on the US East Coast with 20dB on the RBN and I thought what the heck this cannot be true. I called a few more times and propagation was really fluctuating based on what I saw on the RBN. Then all of a sudden the HAMRS app told me “You’ve been spotted on POTA using CW” and it felt like I was pushed on stage to give a spontaneous speech about a random topic. I had forgotten that spotting also occurs with generic CQ calls, even without the “POTA” in it – if the activation is scheduled. Since things were already in motion then I went along with it and started calling CQ POTA and a bunch of more auto spots kept coming in. The KX2 performed at its best!

    The whole event motivates me to put in more work re listening so I can better serve those who enjoy a short and casual exchange QSO even during an activation – if there is time.

    I believe for beginners the strategy might not be so bad to schedule the activation around SSB, get a few QSOs going and then switch to CW for a little bit using the auto spotting function (or even manually spotting if phone reception is available and mentioning QRS in the comment). For me this worked well as I didn’t have a pileup situation. But then again this can be different any day.
    Super happy also to get CU3BL (Azores) in the log that day.

    – 73s de Leo (DL2COM)

    1. I like that: the POTA spots page “pushed you on the stage!” 🙂 I think your story is just brilliant and shows that your CW doesn’t need to be “contest grade” to play POTA or SOTA. I also like the idea of doing an SSB activation then simply slipping in a bit of CW. I also added QRS to the comments during my first CW activation. All of the ops slowed down for me, though, hearing that I was probably plugging away at 13 WPM or so.


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