As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m starting to sort out the gear I’ll take on a long road trip this summer. I still haven’t quite decided which radio will accompany my Elecraft KX2, but the lab599 Discovery TX-500 is on my very short list.
I pulled the TX-500 yesterday to do a firmware update and found my logbook for an activation I made on February 16, 2022. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember writing the field report for that activation.
I checked my YouTube channel and, sure enough, buried at the bottom of my video list was the activation video marked as “unlisted.”
That bit of time between mid-February and mid-March was crazy for me. I was in isolation for a week (thanks Covid) and had a very hectic family schedule. I accumulated a small backlog of videos then and this one was lost simply lost in the shuffle.
Here’s the report and video from that activation:
Clear Creek Trail
It was Wednesday, February 16, 2022, and I was driving to my parents’ house to help them with a few projects. I had enough time to make a little detour to the Clear Creek Access of South Mountains State Park (K02753) and had two things in mind: a good hike and trailside activation.
The weather? Man oh man was it was fickle.
On the interstate, I got caught in a proper downpour and traffic slowed to a crawl.
I thought about throwing in the towel then, but I made a promise to myself that I would continue driving to the park if it wasn’t raining when I approached the park exit on the interstate.
You know what? The rain stopped maybe 3 miles before the exit. So I continued my drive.
On site, it was overcast and misty. I had packed the TX-500 knowing the weather was iffy and I’d have no covered shelter.
I started my hike and was overall pretty lucky; it only rained on me once as I recall and lasted only about 5 minutes.
When I reached the end of Clear Creek, I deployed my field kit. Knowing it could rain again at any moment, I was happy I had the weather resistant TX-500 and my Rite In The Rain log book.
- lab599 Discovery TX-500
- Packtenna Mini EFHW antenna & PackTenna 20′ RG-316 BNC/BNC
- Koh-I-Noor .9 mm Mechanical Pencil (affiliate link)
- CW Morse “Pocket Paddle”
- Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack EDC
- Bioenno 3 aH LiFePo Battery (Model BLF-1203AB)
- Mini Arborist throw line kit: Tom Bihn Small Travel Tray, Marlow KF1050 Excel 2mm Throwline, and Weaver 8 or 10oz weight
- Tom Bihn Large Travel Tray
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch (affiliate link)
- Rite In The Rain Notepad (affiliate link)
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera (affiliate link)
- Sony ICD-FX312 Digital Recorder ($20 thrift store find)
Setup was speedy.
I did run into one problem: last time I had used the PackTenna EFHW, I dropped it in some thick mud. I thought I’d cleaned out the BNC connector, but evidently not enough. I could only barely get the antenna to connect to the feed line. I tried cleaning it a bit more, but it looked like a job for better tools back at the QTH, so I made do with the dubious connection point being careful not to force the connection too much and pack the dirt in tighter.
I love BNC connectors because they’re so easy to use in the field. The flip side is that they’re not as easy to clean as, say, a PL-259. I’ve since packed a toothpick in my SOTA pack to help when I need to do a little field connector cleaning.
On the Air
Using a 20 meter EFHW, I planned to complete my activation on one single band. If needed, I could have also used a harmonic (15/10M) or employ the Elecraft T1 in my pack to load 17M and possibly 30M. Turns out, that wasn’t necessary.
I started calling CQ POTA and within 11 minutes, I had accomplished a valid activation with 10 stations logged. Doesn’t get any better than that!
I continued operating 10 additional minutes and logged 9 more stations.
All in all, it was a load of fun and the 20M band was very kind to me.
Here’s what 5 watts into the PackTenna EFHW yielded during this activation. The 20 meter band pretty much afforded me a tour of the entire continental US and a short visit to Canada:
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the the whole activation. As always, these videos have no ads and I don’t edit out any contacts–you experience the activation as I did:
As I finish off this field report, I’ve actually loaded the TX-500 in my car for a short weekend camping trip with friends in Pisgah National Forest. If you’re reading this report on the day it was posted, you’ll no doubt see spots for me at K-4510 later today through Sunday.
I’m looking forward to spending a weekend with the TX-500 and connecting with my POTA family on the air!
Of course, I’d also 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 which allows me to open up my work life to write more field reports and film more activation videos.
Those of you learning CW? Keep up the good work. CW takes patience, persistence, time, and practice, but I promise you can learn it. Trust me: if I can, anyone can!
Cheers & 72,
During my hike back to the car, the weather system moved through and the skies cleared up beautifully. I snapped a few photos of the lake at the Clear Creek access: