Pairing the Elecraft KX2 and TufteIn Random Wire at Gauley River National Recreation Area

During my West Virginia POTA expedition with Eric (WD8RIF), Miles (KD8KNC), and Theo (The “Great Warg”) dog, the last park we hit on Friday, May 20, 2022 was Gauley River National Recreation Area (the first park  was New River Gorge  and the second was Hawk’s Nest State Park).

Back in the days of National Parks On The Air (2016), I activated this site (the Gauley River, actually) but it was snowing, the winds were howling, and being on a tight schedule, I didn’t hang around to explore the site.

Gauley River National Recreation Area (K-0695)

Gauley River with the prominent Summersville Dam in the background.

On Friday, May 20, 2022, the weather was nearly ideal.

Eric, Miles, and I decided to venture down to the river for our activation.

We knew that it would compromise our signals to some degree setting up at the base of the Summersville Dam instead near the top, but how can you pass up scenery like this–?

The banks of the river were very rocky and there wasn’t a lot of space for Eric and I to separate our stations, so we knew our signals might interfere with each other.

Eric and Miles setting up.

Eric set up his trusty 31′ Jackite pole which supports a 28.5 vertical wire–the entire setup is attached to his folding chair. FYI: Eric tells me he’ll do a little write-up here on QRPer.com detailing his antenna setup in the near future.

You can barely see it in the photo above, but I deployed my TufteIn Random Wire antenna which I have configured with a 31′ radiator and one 17′ counterpoise.

Gear:

Setup was quick and easy!

On The Air

Eric and I tried to space our antennas as far apart as was practical but frankly there simply wasn’t a lot of usable space there on the banks of the Gauley.

I hopped on 30 meters since Eric was on 40 meters. To minimize receiver desensitization, we tried to stay on non harmonically related bands. As you’ll hear in the activation video below, our stations still interfered with each other, but we both coped.

I started calling CQ POTA and within ten minutes worked 8 stations.

Not a bad start!

I worked a couple more stations on 20 meters, Eric on 40 meters (P2P of course!) and five more stations on 40 meters for a total of 16 stations logged in about 28 minutes on the air.

 

I was very pleased with the TufteIn random wire antenna’s performance.

QSO Map

Here’s what my five watts into the TufteIn random wire antenna at the base of the Summersville Dam looked like on a QSO Map:

Activation video

Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation next to WD8RIF.  As with all of my videos, there are no ads and I don’t edit out any parts of the activation:

Click here to view on YouTube.

What a fun and memorable activation! As I re-watched parts of the activation video, I noticed how enthusiastic I was about such an amazing location. Experiencing the outdoors and radio in this way is so incredibly fulfilling.

WD8RIF’s report

Make sure to check out Eric’s field report which includes details about his KX3 set-up that you’ll see in the video above.

Thank you!

Thank you for joining me on this memorable POTA activation.

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.

If you’re using my activation videos as a means to practice CW, I hope they’re serving you well. Many have asked me to include more SSB in my activations and I will do this from time to time.

Truth is, I love SSB as well, but I’ll be the first to admit that when I started doing CW activations, I found them much easier than SSB. With RBN auto-spots, I worry less about getting spotted when in an area without mobile phone access. The CW portion of the bands have so much more room since the mode is so narrow thus finding a free frequency without adjacent signal interference is so easy. In the summer, QRN is much more manageable with a narrow CW filter in play. Also, in spots like this where the river is quite loud, CW is not only a bit easier to hear, but the transmitted signal doesn’t include any background noise.

If you’re primarily an SSB operator, I’d encourage you to give CW a go. It’s not for everyone and that’s perfectly fine. You may, however, find it is for you!

Cheers & 72/73,

Thomas (K4SWL)

Bonus photos

Woo hoo! You made it to the end of the field report! As a small reward here are a few extra photos of the Gauley River and Summerville Dam project:

Eric risking life and limb to get that special shot.

5 thoughts on “Pairing the Elecraft KX2 and TufteIn Random Wire at Gauley River National Recreation Area”

  1. Thomas, a question, did you put the random feedpoint high or near ground ? I’m asking since, if my brain is serving me correctly, the max radiation point is around 1/4 wave from the antenna far end, now, placing the feedpoint high means that at longer wavelengths (lower frequencies), raising the feedpoint will reduce ground losses, which given the low power involved won’t be a bad thing

    1. Hi, Andrew,

      in this case, I had it very close to the ground. I would be very much willing to raise it though and experiment next time I’m on the lower bands and have the vertical height!

      Cheers,
      Thomas

      1. Thom, mind me, I’m not one of those “talibans” saying that a low feed point or no counterpoise won’t work, just that, given the low power (we’re dealing with QRP), trying to maximize radiated power won’t be a bad idea… oh and then… do you still remember the idea of trying a “hacktenna” 😀 ?

  2. Thomas, Question, I recently purchased a Xiegu G90 for portable use. I know the G90 does not have any internal settings for DNR which I find makes listening on noisy bands much more enjoyable and helps these 80 year old ears distinguish what’s being said…My question: Is there anyway to add DNR to this radio? Hopefully there will be firmware updates that might help, but has anybody added a clear speech speaker or module to the audio chain? Not too interested in having to transport more equipment to the field.
    Thanks es VY73′
    Steve W8CRH

    1. Hi, Steve,

      I’m not sure if there’s a DSP modification for the G90, but I can tell you that adding an BHI DSP in-line will help tremendously.

      I really like the BHI Compact In-Line unit: https://www.bhi-ltd.com/products/noise-cancellation-products/dsp-noise-cancelling-in-line-modules/7-compact-in-line.html

      DX Engineering sells these (among other retailers). In my opinion, it’s some of the best DSP money can buy and is simple to operate.
      It would have a major improvement on the G90 audio.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

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