A quick two park KX2/AX1 POTA run starting at South Mountains State Park!

You might have noticed that I’ve been taking the Elecraft AX1 antenna out quite a lot recently. At time of posting, I’ve almost used it for a month’s worth of activations.

In December, I thought it might be fun to only use the AX1 for one 2023 calendar month–say, the month of March–but since I evaluate and review radios and antennas, it’s just not realistic to make that kind of commitment.

That said, I did decide to simply start using the AX1 as my primary field antenna for roughly a 30-ish day period and, so far, that’s working out very nicely. I thought it might give some real-world context and usage for those who still believe I’ve just been lucky the days I use the AX1 in the field. No better way to test that theory than to just do it!

Mini rove!

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to do a proper park rove. I hope to do a five park rove within the next month or so, if I can clear out space in the schedule. I find roves so much fun and a nice change of pace.

On Saturday, January 21, 2023, on the way back to my QTH in the mountains of WNC, I had just enough time to activate two parks in short order. Having just been challenged by a short activation window at the Vance Birthplace (which, turned into a normal length activation due to a schedule change in my favor) I thought it might be fun to once again, show the whole KX2/AX1 set-up and pack-up process in my activation video.

South Mountains State Park (K-2753)

I chose South Mountains State Park as my first stop.

South Mountains has a number of public access points. I decided to drive to the main park entrance and set up at the equestrian picnic area. Choosing the main park entrance added about 15 minutes to my overall driving time; the Clear Creek access would have been quicker, but I’d been there only recently.

That day, I was driving my 3/4 ton truck because I had two chain saws and some other tools tied down in the bed.

In fact, I shot a bit of video while driving down the road, then started the camera again as I hopped out of the truck at South Mountains.

I made up my mind that I would do a 20 meter activation at South Mountains and a 17 meter activation at the second park.


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On The Air

I should note that about 5 minutes into my trip to South Mountains, I pulled off the road and scheduled my activation using my iPhone. Cell phone coverage on-site is truly in the fringe of the reception area. By scheduling the activation, I would open the door to auto-spotting on the POTA website via the Reverse Beacon Network.

After setting up my gear, I started calling CQ POTA and quickly worked one station (thanks, AB4WT!) then I heard nothing.

I looked at my watch, then it dawned on me that I entered the incorrect start time when I scheduled my activation on the POTA.app website. Doh!  I miscalculated UTC time in my haste, so the POTA site wasn’t expecting me on the air for another hour!

I needed to spot myself, but my internet connection was feeble. Texting was working, however, so I sent a text to Eric (WD8RIF) and Mike (K8RAT) asking for a spot. I continued trying to spot myself, but I believe Mike was the one who registered a spot for me. Thanks, Mike!

Then the calls started pouring in.

Within nine minutes, I worked nine more stations which gave me a full ten logged for a valid park activation.

I logged an additional eleven stations in twelve minutes for a total of 21 stations logged.

Twenty meters treated me very well!

Since I had yet another park to squeeze in that day, I called QRT and packed up in short order.


Here’s what this 5 watt activation looks like when plotted out on a QSO Map.

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. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.

Note that Patreon supporters can watch and even download this video 100% ad-free through Vimeo on my Patreon page:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thank you!

Thank you for joining me on this quick POTA activation!

I’ll post the second activation later this week.

It’s funny: I look at quick activations like this and remember in the early days of POTA–when there were only a fraction of the hunters we have today–how difficult it would have been to work ten contacts in ten minutes. These days, pileups are almost becoming the norm! It’s pretty darn amazing!

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.

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! Here’s wishing you a wonderful week filled with some radio fun!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

5 thoughts on “A quick two park KX2/AX1 POTA run starting at South Mountains State Park!”

  1. That’s a really neat little antenna, but I have a question. It’s only 5 watts, but I wonder how safe it is to be that close to the antenna. Anybody have an opinion?

  2. That was our first Park to Park contact – I was at K-1611, which actually gave you a 2-fer since this also is in the confines of K-6544.

  3. I’ve noticed a huge difference in the year since I started doing POTA. When I started last April, pileups on SSB were not a given, and pileups on CW were non-existent. Nowadays I take it as dogma that I will have to patiently wait to make an SSB contact, and most CQ POTA DE … calls result in a cacophony of Morse . I’ve had to adjust my hunting times to early mornings and the late shift, and try to avoid weekends whenever possible. It’s great to see POTA catching on like wildfire but I’m not liking the shift towards a contest like mentality of many of the operators… I’m curious about what others have experienced in the last year. Anybody else seen the same things I have? Maybe I’m just a grumpy OM, hihi!

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