Last month, my buddy Steve (VA3FLF/KM4FLF) was in North Carolina visiting family and we hoped to meet up in person at some point. Thing was, both of our schedules were pretty busy with various family activities and projects.
On Wednesday, September 21, 2022, we found an opening in the evening that coincided with a trip to do a little caregiving for my parents. We agreed to meet up at Lake Jame State Park (K-2739) which was on my way and also convenient to Steve.
Steve is also a fan of Parks On The Air, so why not fit in an activation? No better way to spend time with POTA family than at a POTA park, right? Right!
I arrived at the park around 18:30 local (22:30UTC) and set up MM0OPX’s 40 meter end-fed half-wave.
I only had one radio with me at the time: my prototype Penntek TR-45L.
At that point, the TR-45L had not yet been released and was in the very final stages of Beta testing. I was waiting on one more firmware update to bring the radio up to what would eventually be version 1.
Since I was still waiting on the final update that sorted out the CW message memory recording function (and boy did it–the final version is benchmark) I didn’t use message memories during this outing.
I offered Steve a hand at the TR-45L, but he claimed he wasn’t a heavy CW operator–he was interested in helping me with logging, though. How could I refuse that?
Turns out: I suspect Steve’s CW skills are good enough to do a CW activation. I could tell that he was doing a fine job copying calls at 18-19 WPM or so.
All video and no photos
I forgot to take even one photo during this activation. In fact, I had no intention of even filming it since the TR-45L was still in Beta.
At the last minute, I decided to pull out the camera and record it thinking John (WA3RNC) with Penntek might want to view it.
Since I was recording a video, I set it up as I would with any of my normal videos just in case I published it publicly at some point.
After the activation and before he even watched the video, John gave me permission to publish it, so I’m very happy I pulled the camera out that evening.
The few photos in this report are stills from the video, hence the low-light grainy appearance.
- Penntek TR-45L with optional Z-Match tuner and internal battery
- Moleskine Cahier Journal (affiliate link)
- MM0OPX QRP EFHW (Contact Colin for Availability)
- N0SA portable paddles
- 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
- Tom Bihn Large Travel Tray
- 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)
On The Air
Keep in mind that I planned to make this a short activation. I wanted to hang with Steve a bit and I also still had a one hour drive ahead of me.
I started calling CQ POTA on 40 meters and…holy cow!
Within eight minutes, I logged the 10 contacts necessary for a valid POTA activation. Since I try not to push speeds beyond 19-20 WPM, that’s about as fast as I can log 10 contacts while using standard POTA exchange formats (not reverting to something more akin to contesting exchanges).
I continued working stations (ironically) hoping that the pileup would eventually die down. I hate ending an activation with stations actively calling me, but sometimes I have to simply because my schedule demands it.
All in, I logged 41 stations in 40 minutes. I’m certain I could have added an additional 40 stations if I had the time.
A note for Joe (AI5DD): immediately following the activation, I realized I copied your call incorrectly and fixed it in my logs!
The majority of my activations take place in the mornings and afternoons on weekdays when would-be hunters are at work. Weekends and evenings seem to have 2-3 times more hunters, so it’s a nice change of pace to activate during these time frames.
Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map. The map was so dense with contacts in the eastern North America that I turned off the callsign labels.:
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.
It was great to finally meet Steve in person and I’m most grateful for the logging help! I didn’t anticipate such a busy activation (nor all of the mosquitoes!) but it was amazing fun.
Next time I meet up with Steve, I hope to log for him during a POTA activation!
Also, as this video pretty clearly demonstrated, I do love the TR-45L.
As of time of posting (23 October 2022) I believe the first pilot production run has shipped and more are in the works. Click here to check the Penntek website for the latest status. John is pretty much a one man show and I understand demand is pretty high–it could take him time to reply to email inquiries.
I hope you enjoyed the short(ish) 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.
As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.
Thank you so very much!
Cheers & 72,