QRP DX: Pairing the MM0OPX EFHW & Icom IC-705 during an impromptu activation

Turns out, if you go to Canada for nearly two months, when you return home you’re going to have about two months worth of catch up.

It’s all explained in one of Einstein’s theories. If memory serves, Einstein stated:

“One cannot simply ignore stuff for two months and expect no repercussions. Time lost must be accounted for due to the principles of the conservation of energy. Plus…what in creation were you thinking?”

When we returned from Canada in early August I had some pretty big plans about the parks and (especially) summits I would hit here in North Carolina. But after returning, I quickly realized I had so much work to do around the house and a number of DIY jobs I’d postponed at our investment property. They all immediately took priority.

Indeed, in the one month span after returning from Canada, I only performed three park and no summit activations. There was a three week period of time without activations of any sort. I simply didn’t have the time to fit anymore in my schedule. This all gave me a serious case of activation withdrawal.

If you’ve been following my field reports, you’ve no doubt noticed that I never do multi-hour activations at one site unless I happen to be camping at a POTA park.

I’m asked about this fairly regularly (why I don’t do longer activations to achieve Kilo awards, etc.) but the truth is I make POTA/SOTA fit in my busy family schedule. This often equates to short (30-60 minute) activation windows.

Then quite often, I’m on the road or doing errands in town and realize I have a short opening for an activation, so I squeeze it into the day. This is why I always have a fully self-contained field radio kit in my car. At a moment’s notice, I can set up a station, and play radio.

In a way, I find this style of quick activation fun, too. “Can I seriously validate a park during this short window of time–?”

These activations remind me of that scene in A Christmas Story where the father gets a small thrill out of timing himself as he changes a flat tire on the side of the road. I totally get that.

Except with me it’s deploying antennas instead of managing lug nuts.

Hamfest time!

Friday, September 2, 2022 was a big day for me. On the way back from visiting my folks that morning, I spent a couple of hours at the Shelby Hamfest.

The Shelby Hamfest typically has the largest outdoor tailgate market in all of North Carolina and likely one of the larger ones in the southeast US. I had no items on my wish list, I just wanted to see what was there.

This was the first hamfest I’d attended in a little over a year. It was a lot of fun and I got to meet a number of friends and readers/subscribers.

If you’d like to see the treasure I found at the Shelby Hamfest, by the way, check out the large photo gallery I posted over on the SWLing Post.

Back to the topic of impromptu activations…

South Mountains State Park (K-2753)

Driving home after the Shelby Hamfest that early afternoon, I realized I was passing dangerously close to the Clear Creek access of South Mountains State Park.

I had a couple of errands to run back home before the post office closed at 17:00 that day, but in my head I believe I had just enough time for a quick activation. The total amount of detour driving would only be about 15 minutes; I’d just need to keep the activation (including most set up and pack up) under 45 minutes or so.

At the last minute, I took a right turn and headed to the park!

Fortunately, the one lonely picnic table at the Clear Creek access was unoccupied.

I grabbed my IC-705 kit and a new antenna!

The MM0OPX QRP End-Fed Half-Wave (EFHW)

A few weeks prior, Colin (MM0OPX) reached out to me and asked if I would consider testing a new high-quality, highly-efficient QRP EFHW he’d designed.

Of course, there’s nothing new about an EFHW–it’s one of the most popular field antenna designs on the planet–but Colin’s goal was to make one with the lowest insertion loss possible in a compact, lightweight (50g), and durable format.

I say he succeeded.

In fact, this activation was actually the second one where I used Colin’s QRP EFHW. The previous day, I paired it with a then very Beta version of the Penntek TR-45L at Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861).

In short, the antenna made for a wildly successful QRP activation. Here’s the QSO Map (you’ll need to click and enlarge to see the number of contacts):

QSO Map from the previous day with the MM0OPX QRP EFHW

The Penntek TR-45L was still quite new at the time and even though  I got John’s (WA3RNC) blessing, I didn’t post the activation video and mini overview on YouTube. Keep in mind the TR-45L was still in Beta so not all features had been finalized.

I did, however, post the entire TR-45L activation video on Patreon.

Quick side note: Why this video only on Patreon?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve now invested in a Pro account with Vimeo that allows me to post completely ad-free videos  that my Patreon supporters can enjoy and even download. I recently discovered that YouTube unfortunately inserts ads even though I have monetization turned off. I pay for Vimeo’s bandwidth and server space, so I also can control the ad experience completely (basically eliminating any possibility of ads!).

My Patreon supporters are the ones making it possible for me to pay the annual $420 fee to Vimeo and I am incredibly grateful, so I pass along the benefit to them.

Pairing Vimeo and Patreon also gives me a space where I can post videos that I might not want to be as public and searchable as, say, on YouTube. That’s why I posted the first TR-45L video there and I plan to post even more “extra” videos on Patreon as one way I can give supporters a small perk.

My activation videos will always be free on YouTube, but I can no longer control whether or not ads appear in them. This might not matter to most subscribers anyway. Vimeo gives me another option I can fully control! (Thank you, supporters!)

Back to the activation–!

Deploying the MM0OPX QRP EFHW was super easy. I used a tree branch about 35 feet high and pulled the 61ish foot radiator over it to form an inverted vee shape.

I then connected a 17′ length of RG-316 BNC to BNC patchcord to it and my IC-705. In truth, I wish I would have had one of my 25 foot feedlines for a bit of extra shield counterpoise, but the 17′ one performed rather well indeed!

With this 40M EFHW antenna, of course, there’s no need for a tuner on 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters.


On the Air

I wanted this activation to be as short and sweet as possible, of course.

I had no time to hang about and rack up extra contacts since I had a 75 minute drive back home and two errands to run before hitting the post office before they closed for the day. I was on borrowed time and, frankly, that was part of the fun!

I decided 20 meters would be a good place to start, so I hopped on 14,062.5 kHz and started calling CQ POTA.

In twelve short minutes, I logged the ten station needed to validate the activation. Two of those contacts were DX in Spain and France!

I had a bit more time to spare, so I continued to answer calls on 20 meters for another nine minutes and logged 7 more contacts. Woot!

This was amazing fun!

Of course, the fun had to end due to my tight schedule, so I hopped off the air and packed up my gear in short order. Many thanks to all of those who hunted me that day and made this possible.


Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map. I’m not sure if I could have more fun with 5 watts in 23 minutes–just check out the DX stations:

Activation Video

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:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Again, Patreon supporters can watch and even download this video 100% ad-free. 

I’ll admit that I’m really enjoying Colin’s QRP EFHW. Not only is it effective and efficient, but it’s also insanely durable. I can throw this in any pack and know that it can withstand the environment inside.

I gather that making antennas is not Colin’s day job; in fact, far from it. He simply enjoys building and experimenting with antennas then sharing a handful with others. He limits the amount of antennas he makes in a year, so his goal isn’t mass production, just a bit of a fun side job. If you’re interested in one of his products, you might simply reach out to him via his email on QRZ.com.

I can tell you now that you’re going to see this little antenna in many future field reports.

Very well done, Colin!

Thank you!

Thank you for joining me on this activation!

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.

Thank you so very much!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (VY2SW / K4SWL)

8 thoughts on “QRP DX: Pairing the MM0OPX EFHW & Icom IC-705 during an impromptu activation”

  1. I like the idea of supporting content creators directly with “memberships” but using Patreon is just a non-starter for me. I wish there were an alternative.

    1. Hi, Matt,
      So there is no real need to support me in order to get content. My stuff is always free. Patreon just opens up completely ad-free and downloadable videos that I can control instead of YouTube. Patreon also makes it easy for me (a busy fellow) to manage supporters and share content. It is a platform, but I think the best out there for what I’m doing.

      I actually think Patreon is a great platform and use it myself to support other content creators I enjoy.

      I am looking into ways that I can open Vimeo to Coffee Fund and other supporters too. I just need to investigate how to manage the permissions and see if that’s even possible.
      Since my videos are long, they use a lot of bandwidth per video–Vimeo allows a healthy amount of bandwidth each month, but if I opened it to all of my readers and subscribers, I would exceed the monthly limit for sure based on my calculation of average YouTube video views.

      I’m not terribly interested in YouTube’s membership system yet because I’m not sure it would open the door to ad-free content for any potential members.


      1. No worries Thomas. I do like the idea of decoupling the payment platform and the membership platform, but there are obviously economic issues involved with that, especially with bandwidth heavy content.

        I support several content creators with YouTube memberships, but I don’t appreciate the outsized cut that YT takes, and there are still pre-roll ads.

        Either way, I always enjoy your videos, even if they do inspire me to buy more “stuff” than I might otherwise 😉 for example, those new CNC milled aluminum paddles from CW Morse are really nice! I haven’t tried them in the field yet, but am looking forward to taking then on an activation.


  2. Hi Thomas… Well, I’ve always said it takes me 3 weeks of extra preparation to leave work for a vacation, and another 3 or 4 weeks to get back into sync upon my return.
    I must say, for some reason, your videos on Vimeo seem so much clearer than on YouTube. My imagination? At any rate, I do appreciate being able to support several creators via Patreon, you included. Easier to keep track of all my contributions too. I am thoroughly immersed in your videos and look forward to many more. 72

  3. Congratulations on the DX, and on doing a successful activation in such a short time !
    I need to get over thinking that I need 2 or 3 hours free to do an activation. I have let several visits to nearby parks go by without even trying to get some radio time because I had only a short window available. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Well, I watched your video… and I have a question…

    Which radio do you prefer, the IC-705 or the KX2?

    I know they’re both great radios, each with their respective features…. But you chose to take the KX2 to Canada for two months… why?

    Curiously prognosticatingkley yours, W7UDT

  5. I’m glad I finally have you in the log after many failed attempts. I now have the two best SOTA and POTA activators in my log, WG0AT and K4SWL.

    Sorry about QRQ.



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