You see, by and large, I activate large national and state parks in rural areas of the US. I’m used to having lots of space and loads of activation site options. Even on a busy day, if I choose, I can pretty much disappear in some far-flung corner of a park. No one would ever know I’m there.
Urban parks are still rather novel to me.
On July 4, 2022, I plotted a little multiple park POTA run that included four urban parks all clustered in the Sainte-Foy region of Québec City.
The first park I activated that day was Parc de la Plage-Jacques-Cartier (VE-0970)–click here to check out my full field report and activation video. The second park was Parc Cartier-Roberval (VE-0964)–click here to check out that field report and activation video.
The third park I scheduled for the day was Boisé de Marly Provincial Park. I could find very little information about this park online and even Google Maps satellite view didn’t give me an idea of what to expect once I arrived.
I could tell, though, that it was an urban park nestled between neighborhoods, roads, and commercial buildings. I could also tell that it had trees, so I planned to use the same transceiver-antenna pairing I used at the previous park: the Elecraft KX2 and Tufteln 9:1 random wire antenna.
Boisé de Marly was basically across the road from Parc Cartier-Roberval, but I needed to find a pedestrian access point and a parking spot, so I drove around the southern perimeter of the park until I found a side road with an access point and what appeared to be free parking on the road.
In truth, I wasn’t entirely sure if I needed a permit to park on the street, but I felt it was likely okay based on lack of signage. In any case, the street was quiet and I parked with a couple of other cars. I hoped that if I was mistaken, the person planning to write me a parking ticket would see my North Carolina plates and the RAC sticker and decide to give me a break. 🙂
Besides, at this point I was on a tight schedule if I wished to hit all four scheduled parks that afternoon, so I didn’t plan to hang around long enough for a ticket anyway.
Boisé de Marly (VE-0956)
At the neighborhood street entrance, I found the sign above that gave me a quick overview of the park. From what I could tell, this park primarily consisted of a trail network meant for walking and running.
I didn’t see any signs of picnic tables or even benches, at least at this end of the park.
I walked into the park maybe 100 meters or so and looked for a spot to operate.
The path was very nice, but not wide enough that I felt comfortable setting up on it. There were just too many walkers and runners; it would have been difficult even deploying the antenna without feeling like I was blocking the path.
Instead, I found a nice clearing in the woods and set up my station perhaps 10 meters off of the path. I knew everyone would still see me and hear the sound of Morse Code emanating from the woods, but I was 100% fine with that. I found that folks in these urban Canadian parks are pretty curious and quick to ask about what the heck it is I’m doing with a radio in the woods. It’s nice to play radio ambassador from time to time!
I deployed my folding camping chair (which I had learned to love at this point) and used my arborist throw line to deploy the Tufteln random wire antenna with 31′ radiator and 19′ counterpoise.
- Elecraft KX2 and KXPD2 Paddles
- tufteln EFRW QRP Antenna Long Wire
- Moleskine Cahier Journal (affiliate link)
- Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack
- 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 3D-printed knee board
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera (affiliate link)
- Folding camp chair from ALDI
On The Air
Band conditions were slowly deteriorating that day. QSB (a.k.a. fading) was becoming pronounced at the same time the bands were getting noisy. I suspected this activation would be more difficult than the previous two and I was right about that.
I hopped on 20 meters–which had served me well at the previous parks–and started calling CQ.
I worked WD8RIF, K9DRP, and W5GDW all in the space of five minutes. Then 20 meters went silent.
Herein lies the great thing about having a capable ATU and random wire antenna: on days when band conditions are shifting, it’s easy to hop from one band to another.
I’ve found that frequency agility is key when band conditions are unstable.
If I only had a 20 meter end-fed half-wave antenna and no ATU, for example, I would have been stuck on 20 meters since 40 and 15 meters were dead. I would have still completed the activation, but it would have taken longer.
I moved to the 30 meter band and started calling CQ again–it turned out to be much more productive than 20 meters. I worked K0BWR, AE2TT, K3ES, K9IS, and VE3LDT all in the space of eight minutes. Then silence again…
Keep in mind: even when conditions are good, there are going to be periods of silence on the bands and it’s perfectly fine to stay put and have your memory keyer send your CQ in beacon mode. That day, though, I was pressed for time to fit in one more park activation and I only needed 2 more contacts, so I moved back up to the 20 meter band, hit the ATU button, and started calling CQ POTA!
It wasn’t long before K8RAT, WF4I, and K0BWR rescued me!
I logged a total of 11 stations with my five watts and was as pleased as punch.
If you’re primarily a hunter, I have an inside tip for you: we activators LOVE it when you work us on multiple bands and in multiple modes! Especially when band conditions are rough.
I was very appreciative that Steve (K0BWR)–who is an avid activator–worked me P2P on both the 30 and 20 meter bands during this activation. Keep in mind that in POTA (not SOTA) each time you log the same station on a different band or in a different mode, it counts as a unique contact.
Sometimes those hunters that work you multiple times? They save the day.
Many of the hunters I regularity work in the POTA family do this and I’m most grateful.
Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map (click to enlarge):
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, there are no ads and I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time:
I packed up very quickly at Boisé de Marly and headed back to the car. I could tell by looking at the park map that I could have walked to the next park and I was very tempted to do so, but again I was uncertain about the parking situation and didn’t want to press my luck.
Time to move on! I’ll post my fourth and final activation of the day later this week!
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them.
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.
In fact, your support is what has made this extended family road trip to Canada possible. I apply any funds above and beyond the costs of running the website, producing the videos, and purchasing review equipment, to our family travel fund. This not only gives me an opportunity to play radio well outside my home area, but my family also gets to benefit from the work I put into producing activation videos and content on QRPer.com.
Thank you so very much!
Cheers & 72,
Thomas (VY2SW / K4SWL)