Driving home on Thursday, December 8, 2022, I popped by Food Matters in Morganton, NC and grabbed one of their amazing curried chicken salad wraps.
I sat in the car and listened to a podcast as I ate a late-ish lunch. I looked at my watch and sorted out what time I needed to be back at my home in the mountains. After a little mental math, I realized I had about 90 minutes to fit in a little radio fun.
Where to go on a rainy day?
Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)
En route, I made a mental inventory of what radios and antennas I had packed in the car. I knew I had my KX2 and although its internal battery had already powered me through three or four activations already, I knew there’d be enough charge for one or two more.
Also, since it was raining, I thought it would be the perfect day to set up under Tuttle’s excellent picnic shelter.
As for an antenna, I remembered putting the AX1 in my antenna box, so why not pair the two and operate in the dry?
Funny, but after I started recording the activation video (below), I convinced myself that I needed to make some coffee. I pulled out my field coffee kit and set it up for a quick brew.
The park had completely shut off all water fountains and closed the rest room area, so there was no place to get fresh water. Fortunately, I had *just* enough water left in my water bottle after lunch. Almost the perfect amount for a cup of coffee but no more.
That’s okay, though. The Starbucks packs are better than no coffee at all.
Field Coffee Kit
If you’re curious about the contents of my field coffee kit, here’s the list:
- Snow Peak Titanium 450 Single Wall Mug which nests in a…
- GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Cup/Pot
- Solo Stove Alcohol Burner
- HEET Gas-Line Antifreeze And Water Remover (this is the actual alcohol fuel for the stove)
- TOAKS Titanium Windscreen (a necessity if there’s even a breeze)
- Tom Bihn Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch Super Mini which contains:
- GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip Pour Over Filter
While boiling the water for the coffee, I set up my station. The great thing about setting up the AX1 is you can do everything save deploying the counterpoise (properly, at least) while seated. It’s so quick and easy.
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- Elecraft KX2
- Elecraft AX1 packed in a Maxpedition Fatty Pouch
- CW Morse SP4 N0SA SOTA Paddles
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch
- Moleskine Cahier Journal
- Tom Bihn Large Travel Tray (not used, but mentioned)
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera
On The Air
Something I point out in the video is that while the picnic shelter keep me and the station dry, there is a negative: the roof is metal. It’s not ideal to have a metal roof directly above your already compromised (size-wise) antenna. Still, I’ve managed to complete activations in the past under this roof, so I knew it could be done.
I decided to start the activation on 20 meters and started calling CQ POTA in CW.
I logged my first ten contacts in 10 minutes. You really can’t ask for better than that when operating at 19WPM. Woot!
I continued working stations and added five more to the logs in 5 minutes.
Looking at my watch, I knew I was starting to run low on time. I had a few errands to run back home home in the mountains before shops closed at 5:00 pm.
I decided to QSY to the 17 meter band to at least make one or two contacts. The AX1 can only be matched to 40, 20, and 17 meters. I chose to move up to 17 meters because it was easier to set up. Using the AX1 on 40 meters requires adding a 40 meter coil and deploying the longer counterpoise.
I knew 17 meters would have much less activity than 20 meters, and I was right. Still, I managed to work one station and was very pleased! (Thanks N5PJ!)
Here’s what this five-watts-into-a-five-foot-antenna-under-a-metal-roof activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:
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.
Thank You & Happy Holidays!
As I write this field report, a brutal winter storm is pushing its way across the US and Canada. At the QTH right now it’s 1F (-17C) and falling quickly. The winds gusts are incredibly strong here at our altitude. We still have power (for now) but our lights are flickering as I write this.
That’s okay, though, because we’re prepared for a multi-day power outage if it happens. We’re lucky because we have no major travel plans this Holiday season. We can stay put and re-arrange our family gatherings without much difficulty.
I really feel for those of you who have travel plans and must confront this storm–it’s a mess out there.
Please be careful and don’t take any unnecessary risks. This is a dangerous storm and should be taken seriously.
Thank you not only for joining me on this activation but also for being a part of this amazing radio family & community!
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.
Here’s wishing you and yours the best of this amazing Holiday Season!
Cheers & 72,