QRP POTA Activation During the CQ World Wide Contest
by Joshua (KO4AWH)
I had an opportunity to activate Fort Yargo State Park (K-2177) during the CQ WW DX contest.
Fort Yargo is my local park, about 30 minutes away. The park features a great playground for the kids to play on and many tall trees which are perfect for deploying a wire antenna. There really is not much more I could ask for in a POTA location. Even the noise floor is very low, about S0, so I typically turn on the pre-amp which brings it up to S2-S3 on my Discovery TX-500.
This was very much a last minute plan. I knew the contest was going on which may present some difficulty activating QRP. I knew I would not be calling CQ on 20m where I normally activate and hunting stations could be difficult but likely doable.
There was a bit of rain at the house in the morning, then a promise of drizzle the rest of the day. Not too sure what I would find at the park, but hopefully the rain would hold off and I could get the activation in using the TX-500 without too much worry about it getting wet. I threw in a picnic blanket with a water barrier that promised a bit of protection from the rain if needed it.
I have a go-box setup with my TX-500 and IC-705, as well as several antennas, an ATU, and all cabling and power needed to run FT8 either on my Raspberry PI4 with the TX-500, or on my iPad through the IC-705.
I was taking my wife’s vehicle as she had the car seats needed for the 3 kiddos that were coming along. So, I had to be sure I had everything I needed. There are quite a few additional radio items I keep in the back of my car that I would not have available. But everything should be in the go-box, right?
After a bit of mist and some rain on the drive over, I planned to setup the TX-500 knowing it would get a bit wet. I tossed the throw line in the tree and pulled up my Tufteln EFHW QRP cut for 20m. In retrospect I probably should have pulled up the EFRW for a bit more band agility.
I tuned around for a few minutes.
Yup, there was not a single free place across 20 meters where I could start calling CQ in the clear. In fact, the stations I listened to for more than a few seconds had someone else start calling right on top of them. 20 meters was indeed crazy.
I could try to hunt some DX with my QRP signal, it would be a fight no doubt, and a nice challenge. After another DX station I tuned to had someone in the States start calling right over top of them, decided not to hunt.
So, let’s work digital.
Instead of hooking up the Raspberry PI to run FT8, I decided to pack the TX-500 back up and get the IC-705 out. I could always cover it up if it started to rain, right? I can run FT8 on my iPad with no cables; such a simple setup. The only thing the IC-705 needs hooked up to run 5W digital, is the antenna! Once I had the IC-705 tuned to 20m I captured a great visual of the CQ WW. Wow.
Without a heavy rain, I felt like turning the blanket up and over the radio was adequate. I started calling CQ POTA and continued to work a total of 19 stations in 38 minutes. Not bad work considering how many times I walked over to the monkey bars to help the 3 or 5 year old across.
I didn’t have a pile up to work but the stations were coming back consistently. Besides…everyone was working the contest right? With more than enough QSOs for the activation I packed everything up. I even had some help this time!
Truth be told, I didn’t work a single station for the contest. I did, however, get to play radio, and as always, I enjoyed it!
Joshua (KO4AWH) has been licensed since 2020 and designs field radio supplies at tufteln.net. He likes to enjoy his park and summit activations with his wife and young children.