Friday, January 6, 2023, was a beautiful day and my route took me within 10 minutes of South Mountains State Park (K-2753).
Of course, I had to activate it!
In truth, I had only a short window to do the activation, but I knew it would be seriously fun.
I’d packed my Penntek TR-45L and Chelegance MC-750 for the trip and was looking forward to pairing the two.
My TR-45L actually has the built-in Z-Match manual antenna tuner, but I wanted to, once again, configure the MC-750 as a resonant antenna (much like I did in my previous activation).
I also had my new VK3IL pressure paddle along for the ride and wanted to see how nicely it might work with the TR-45L.
If I’m being honest, it was a bit strange not to use a wire antenna at this particular park because South Mountains has some very large old-growth trees that are ideal for hanging antennas.
That said, I also had my choice of spots to deploy the MC-750 vertical.
I quickly assembled the antenna and placed it about 40 feet from the picnic table. I fed it with a 45′ length of RG-174.
I set the stainless whip to the 14 MHz silkscreened mark and connected the antenna to my radio.
On the back of the TR-45L, I set the antenna switch to coax and the ATU switch to bypass. I didn’t want an ATU in-line since my antenna was going to be resonant.
Note: All Amazon, CW Morse, and eBay links are affiliate links that support the QRPer.com at no cost to you.
- Penntek TR-45L with optional Z-Match tuner and internal battery
- Chelegance MC-750 (DX Engineering US, WIMO EU, Moonraker UK)
- VK3IL Pressure Paddle V2
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch
- Moleskine Cahier Journal
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil
- Zebra Mechanical Pencil, Del Guard, 0.7mm
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera with Joby tripod (affiliate links)
On The Air
That day (and a few after) we were having X-Class flaring that pretty much wiped out the lower bands like 40 and 30 meters.
Twenty meters, on the other hand, was pretty energized but a bit unstable. The higher bands were also producing some surprising results. I was very curious how propagation might play out.
I decided to start on 20 meters and, if it was dead, I’d move up to 17 meters.
I quickly checked my SWR and it was excellent: roughly 1.3:1.
I only had about 15 minutes to play radio before moving on. That’s not a lot of time.
I hopped on the air, started calling CQ POTA and the contacts started flowing in.
I was on the air a total of eleven minutes and in that time I worked 12 stations.
As you can see in my logs above (click the image to enlarge) the 20 meter band was very long that day. There was a path wide open into Texas and Oklahoma–half of my contacts were in that part of the US.
I was also grabbing the western half of the US (Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington).
I mention in the activation video how curious I was to see the activation on a QSO Map. Here’s what it looked like:
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.
VK3IL Pressure Paddles
Although this activation was very brief, it was a pleasure using the VK3IL pressure paddles with the TR-45L. While I prefer the feel of mechanical paddles, I must admit that I key accurately with these pressure paddles. I think I’m going to build a few more!
Between it and the amazing N6ARA Tiny Paddles, I can keep an affordable spare set of precision spare paddles in each of my radio kits.
If anything, I hope this field report and video demonstrate that you don’t need to carve out a large portion of your day to activate a park. If you have a spare 45 minutes or more, you should have plenty of time to fit in a quick activation. Of course, the key is knowing your field kit very well and being able to deploy it and pack it up in short order.
I hope you enjoy my field reports and my activation videos as much as I enjoy 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.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me!
Cheers & 72,