When we spend the summer in the province of Québec, we always set aside at least one day to hang out in Old Québec. This portion of the city of Québec is simply stunning: it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and the birthplace of French North America.
No other place in North America reminds me more of the years we lived in Europe than Old Québec.
We’ve been to Old Québec a countless number of times over the past two decades; we enjoy checking out the architecture, the window boxes full of flowers, and the numerous museums.
Old Québec is, of course, quite touristy–especially if you visit on a weekend. It can be incredibly busy and also challenging to find parking especially if, like us, you have a cargo box on top of your car (many parking decks have strict height restrictions).
On Tuesday, July 26, 2022, we decided to make a trip into Old Québec to visit some of our favorite book shops, small businesses, enjoy a lunch together, and soak in some of the amazing weather.
My wife encouraged me to find a nice POTA site and–wow–is one spoiled for choice! There are no fewer than 10 POTA parks in/around Old Québec. Check out the POTA map–each yellow dot is a park:
I know Québec City well enough to know that some of these parks wouldn’t be terribly easy to activate since they’re historic buildings and sites–I think it could be done, but you might need to seek permission in advance. I think it would be incredibly fun to set up a multi-park rove on foot; in fact, I’ve put that on my bucket list for a future trip!
The park I was eager to activate is the largest in central Québec City: The Plains of Abraham. It’s a beautiful and open urban park that overlooks the the St-Lawrence river. It’s Québec City’s version of Central Park.
Plaines d’Abraham (VE-1019)
I was very fortunate: after we dodged a little road construction, I found parallel parking on Ave Winfred-Laurier next to the Parc Jeanne d’Arc.
There was only one free parking space and it was ideally-located. After parking (and doing a little happy dance), I grabbed my backpack and we walked into the park.
The Plaines d’Abraham is an expansive park.
I couldn’t recall if there were picnic tables in the park so I was very pleased to see a number of them scattered about. There were also a number of park benches.
This, again–and very much to my surprise–was an ATNO (All-Time New One) park. I would have felt pretty conspicuous putting an antenna in a tree there and didn’t know if the park staff would think that would be a big no-no.
I was pressed for time, so decided to rely on my trusty super low-profile, super stealthy Elecraft AX1 antenna.
My wife and daughters went on a long walk together as I set up my Elecraft KX2 and AX1 at a picnic table under a tree.
- Elecraft KX2 and
KXPD2 Paddlescorrection: N0SA SOTA Paddles
- Elecraft AX1 packed in a Maxpedition Fatty Pouch
- Moleskine Cahier Journal (affiliate link)
- Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch (affiliate link)
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil (affiliate link)
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera with Joby tripod (affiliate links)
As with the last time I used my AX1 antenna in Québec City, it was quite gusty.
Handling wind is not the AX1’s strong suit, so I used the same trick I used at Parc de la Plage-Jacques-Cartier and extended the whip antenna through the handle on my Tom Bihn backpack. Not the best solution, but it works. I do need to sort out a better approach for future gusty AX1 activations.
On The Air
Propagation was poor and a quick scan revealed just how empty and quiet the 20 meter band was, so I opted to do this activation with 10 watts to hopefully speed things up. I needed to keep this activation as short as possible because we had lunch plans in town and were looking forward to our walk through Old Québec.
Note that–outside of testing radios–this was the first time since the beginning of 2021 that I used more than 5 watts to validate a park activation.
My goal was to complete this activation in 30 minutes.
I hopped on the air and started calling CQ POTA on 20 meters.
In sixteen minutes, I logged 7 stations: KA3ICJ, KG8YT, K3ES, N2ESE, WB4ZBI, W4TRA, and WD8RIF.
I was very pleased with these results considering band conditions and–once again–I was simply amazed by the magic of the AX1 (which, no doubt, was aided by the fact this park was at an ATNO!).
I knew 40 meters was completely washed out due to flaring, so next I moved up to the 17 meter band which, with the AX1, only required flipping the 20/17M switch on the side of the antenna, then using the KX2 internal ATU to sort out the rest of the match. Unlike moving to 40 meters, there’s no need to change the counterpoise for 17 meters.
I started calling CQ and within ten minutes I logged K8NWD, F4ILH, and DL4AX.
Had I not been pressed for time, I would have stayed on 17 meters a good 10-15 minutes longer. I believe I could have snagged a little more EU DX with some time and patience, but I didn’t want to intrude on family time.
Having logged the 10 contacts needed, I packed up my gear at the same time my wife and daughters returned from their stroll.
Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map. Not too bad for such a wee aerial:
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’ll admit that I really enjoyed this activation.
It was so much fun for me to hang out in one of my favorite cities in the world and play radio with such a low-profile setup. There were a lot of people enjoying the park that day and I doubt any of them would have guessed that I was sitting there at a table sending and receiving Morse Code and making contacts across the globe.
I say that, but anyone who passed by my picnic table would have no doubt heard a little code emanating from the KX2 speaker and I liked the thought of that, too!
We had a brilliant time in town that Tuesday.
We offered to take our daughters to lunch at any one of the amazing restaurants in town. Turns out, they wanted some simple street food, so Poutine is was! (Then later in the afternoon some proper homemade ice cream!)
Not a good day to be on a diet.
We eventually circled back around to the Plains of Abraham and our parking spot by taking the Cap-Blanc stairs which date back to the 19th century.
Truly a memorable day in a remarkable city!
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)