I’d like to start this field report with a side story. I’ll keep this reader anonymous since I haven’t asked for permission to post his story (although I’m certain he wouldn’t mind!):
A QRP Christmas Gift
On Christmas morning, his wife presented him with a tiny wrapped box and inside there was a small note:
“Get yourself a great field radio. You have Carte Blanche!”
What an amazing gift…right–?! She literally said Carte Blanche!
Evidently, she is familiar with my YouTube channel (poor thing) because he often watches my activation videos on their living room TV. [Between us, I’m a bit surprised she still loves him after subjecting her to my videos.]
She told him, “Run your choice by Thomas before ordering.”
The funny bit? He approached me with this very question in November as he plotted a 2023 radio purchase. He couldn’t decide between the Icom IC-705 and the Elecraft KX2.
He wrote yesterday to tell me that he placed an order for a new Elecraft KX2 with all the trimmings; Elecraft’s KX2 “Shack-In-A-Box” package plus a set of KXPD2 paddles.
The KX2 is back-ordered due to parts availability, so he won’t receive his unit for several months, most likely.
Based on his operating style, I think he chose wisely. The IC-705 is a benchmark field radio, but he was looking for something that he could pair with a random wire antenna (the ‘705 lacks an internal ATU) and that would be easy to use on SOTA activations. He’s new to CW as well and loved the fact that the KXPD2 paddles attach to the front of the KX2.
Why do I mention this story? Because it’s not only fresh on my mind, but it’s the same radio and antenna I used during an activation on Thursday, December 1, 2022.
Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)
As I mention at the start of my activation video (see below), with the Elecraft KX2 and a random wire, I could easily activate all of the summits, parks, and islands I desire. It’s such an effective, flexible, and portable combo.
Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever validated a POTA activation with 1/2 of a watt, so it might make for a fun challenge!
The cool thing about the KX2 (and its bigger brother, the KX3) is that the operator has granular control over output power. Once below one watt, you can actually change output power in increments 0.1 watts.
Could this even work on a day when the bands were a little shaky? Only one way to find out: give it a go!
I also remembered to bring my Elecraft hand mic and my new CW Morse SP4 N0SA paddles.
I deployed my PackTenna random wire in short order and hopped on the air!
Note: All Amazon, CW Morse, and eBay links are affiliate links that support the QRPer.com at no cost to you.
- Elecraft KX2
- Packtenna 9:1 UNUN Random Wire Antenna
- CW Morse SP4 N0SA SOTA Paddles
- CW Morse CNC Machined Aluminum Paddle
- Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack EDC
- Elecraft KXBT2 Li-Ion Battery Pack
- Mini Arborist throw line kit: Tom Bihn Small Travel Tray, Marlow KF1050 Excel 2mm Throwline, and Weaver 8 or 10oz weight
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch
- Moleskine Cahier Journal
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera with Joby tripod
On The Air
Contacts started flowing in with modest signal reports, of course. I worked my first ten contacts in 12 minutes validating this Tuttle activation with 500 mW! Mission accomplished!
I worked one more CW contact, then moved to the SSB portion of the 20 meter band pumped the power up to a blistering 10 watts!
After self-spotting, I started calling CQ POTA and managed to log an additional 17 contacts in 16 minutes. What fun!
Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map.
A few notes: All GREEN lines represent 500mW CW contacts and RED lines represent 10 watts SSB. Also, if memory serves, I believe W6CZ may have been operating remotely. Click map to enlarge.
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.
Frankly, it was much easier than I would have expected. Then again, when you’re a POTA or SOTA activator, you are the DX! That always adds quite a few dB to our flea-powered signals!
After this activation, I made up my mind to try going even a little lower in power. Stay tuned for that!
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation videos 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.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me and here’s wishing you a very Happy New Year filled with field radio fun!
Cheers & 72,