This year, instead of attending the 2022 Hamvention, my buddy Eric (WD8RIF) and I hatched another plan.
Eric and I–along with his son Miles (KD8KNC) and sometimes Mike (K8RAT)–attend Hamvention every year it’s held. We’d planned to do the same this year especially with it being the first in-person Hamvention since 2019.
As Hamvention approached though, we both had a lot going on in our lives and decided to save a little money, a lot of travel time, and meet in West Virginia for several days of POTA activations and just hanging out. I explain a bit more about the decision in this previous post.
We camped three nights and performed activations together for four days. It was an absolute blast!
Setting up camp
On the afternoon of Thursday, May 19, 2022, we (Eric, Miles, Theo the dog, and I) met at Babcock State Park and set up our tents at the adjoining campsites we’d reserved.
Babcock would serve as our home base for the entire WV POTA expedition.
As a bonus, Babcock State Park (K-1798) is also a POTA entity, so we activated it in the late shift after dinner each evening.
As soon as the tents were deployed that afternoon, we all jumped into Mile’s Subaru with our radio gear and hit our first park!
Beury Mountain Wildlife Management Area (K-7036)
The drive to the site was very brief but as with many WMAs and Game Lands, the entry road isn’t paved and there are rough patches you might need to avoid. Of course, Mile’s Subaru was way over-engineered for this task!
We didn’t drive very deep into the site once we knew we were within the boundary of the WMA. From the access road there were a couple of pull-outs and small parking areas; we picked the nicest one.
That said, the parking are was pretty compact especially since much of it was muddy and soft.
Eric set up near Miles’ car since he used a drive-on mast support for his 31′ telescoping fiberglass pole. I deployed my station at the entry of the parking area.
- Elecraft KX2 and KXPD2 Paddles
- Moleskine Cahier Journal (affiliate link)
- K6ARK Antenna Kit (affiliate link)
- Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack EDC
- Mini Arborist throw line kit: Tom Bihn Small Travel Tray, Marlow KF1050 Excel 2mm Throwline, and Weaver 8 or 10oz weight
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch (affiliate link)
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil (affiliate link)
- N0RNM homemade knee board (thanks, Carolanne!)
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera (affiliate link)
I decided to deploy my K6ARK counterpoise-less end-fed half wave antenna since it’d been a while since I’d used it in the field. I chose to operate the Elecraft KX2 because I wanted the option of moving off resonant bands (40 and 20M) to ease any conflict with Eric’s activation.
Bandpass filters would have been nice
The parking area at Beury Mountain was very compact, so our stations–or, more importantly, our antennas–were pretty darn close to each other.
We didn’t bring bandpass filters on this trip, so expected a little RX desensitizing even though our Elecraft rigs have robust front ends and we were both operating 5 watts or less.
On the air
The Elecraft KX2 ATU quickly found a match.
I started calling CQ POTA and put three stations in the logs in short order despite some rather heavy interference from Eric. Our antennas were simply too close and while I wasn’t on a harmonically-related frequency, my antenna was resonant on 40 and 20 where Eric was operating. I assume that could have been an additional factor, but perhaps someone can correct me if I’m wrong here.
This was the only time during our WV trip that I had significant interference from Eric’s station because all of the other sites we activated had more room to spread out and I started using random wire antennas instead of end-fed half-waves.
Next, I moved to 40 meters where I ended up spending the rest of the activation.
I worked 24 stations in about 25 minutes on 40 meters giving me a grand total of 27 stations logged.
One of those 40 meter contacts was a Park-To-Park with Eric which was, without a doubt, the closest P2P contact I’ve ever made on HF to date! Although he was running the lowest amount of power possible, his signal, of course, was a strong as a signal could possibly be. Our Elecrafts could handle that, though!
Thanks so much to those of you who hunted me that day! The activation was a blast!
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, none of the actual activation (on-air time) was cut or edited. You’re essentially along with me for the full ride:
WD8RIF’s Field Report
If you’d like to get Eric’s perspective on this activation, check out the field report on his site.
In fact, do yourself a favor and bookmark Eric’s excellent site. He has a very deep archive–possibly one of the longest-running QRP websites in existence.
A nice Plan B!
Although Eric, Miles, and I would have enjoyed browsing the deals and meeting friends at Hamvention, we so thoroughly enjoyed this rather laid-back POTA expedition together. I called it our Hamvention “Plan B.”
During the three weeks following this trip, I had numerous family activities, another weekend camping trip in the mountains of North Carolina, Canadian license exam study, and the start of our summer travels in Canada (where I am at time of posting). For me, the WV camping trip was a nice stress-free and relaxed way to kick off our summer activities.
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.
I hope you get a chance to play radio this week. If you’re in the process of learning CW, remember to keep the faith!
Trust me: with a little patience and persistence, you’ll be understanding those dits and dashes in no time!
Cheers & 72/73,