Alan’s window-mounted Elecraft AX1 POTA activation!

Many thanks to Alan (W2AEW) who shares the following guest post:

New AX1 POTA Activation

by Alan (W2AEW)

I have to admit, I have been bitten “hard” by the POTA bug!  (I blame Thomas!) It started for me in August 2022 while I was on vacation at the Jersey shore.  Since that time, I have completed 48 activations at 19 different parks.  All of these have been QRP, and almost exclusively on CW. This story is about one of my recent activations, which was unique for a couple of reasons.  Read on…

The Park

My job puts me on the road, covering a large portion of the northeastern United States.  When my schedule permits, I’ll hit the road earlier than needed in order to potentially stop for a quick activation along the way (usually giving up a lunch-on-the-road stop in favor of a bit of QRP CW operation at a park).

This particular park was not your typical state park.  It wasn’t a nature preserve, or a mountain lake, or a hiking or picnic paradise.  No, this park is decidedly urban, occupying 2 blocks in the city of Holyoke, MA.  This is K-2439, Holyoke Heritage State Park. According to the state park website, this park celebrates the rich industrial heritage of the city of Holyoke.  The park also includes a Children’s Museum, a Volleyball Hall of Fame and a restored antique Merry-Go-Round.

The park is situated along a canal that once powered some of the mills that were located on the property.

It certainly is not like any other state park that I’ve been to!

One of the reasons I chose to stop at this park is that it had only been activated 4 times in the past.  In retrospect, I suppose this could’ve been because of the city/industrial setting.  Was it going to be noisy? Maybe this was a bad idea.. Thankfully, it wasn’t… Another thing that appealed to me is that it had not been activated on CW before.  So, my activation would be a CW ATNO (All Time New One) for this park, which is kind of cool.

A New Antenna

Largely due to Thomas extolling the virtues of the Elecraft AX1 compact vertical antenna, I “had to” purchase one for myself.  This activation would be its maiden deployment.

Since this park doesn’t have your typical picnic area and the weather was near the freezing mark, I knew that I was going to run the activation from the warmth of the car.  So, the question was, how to setup the AX1 antenna?

I remembered that many years ago, I had made a window-mount bracket with BNC connectors to use my VHF HT in the car with the antenna mounted outside.  So, I dug through the closet and found it.  Looks like it should work well with the AX1.

The only thing that it need was a way to attach a counterpoise wire.  I was able to cut a pair of notches with my sheet metal nibblers to accommodate a female spade-type quick disconnect terminal.  I dug through the junk box and found one that would accommodate the mini-banana plug that is used for the Elecraft KX2 ground connection, inserted into the “wire end” of the terminal.  I believe the terminal was designed for 14 AWG wire.

Mounting the AX1 on this bracket worked extremely well!

The light blue ground / counterpoise wire connected easily, and was just laid down on the ground (parking lot) next to the car.  I used a 25 foot length of RG-174 cable to connect to the antenna. The bulk of the coax was stretched out on the ground around the car, so the shield provided an additional counterpoise.  And, the metal bracket provided some capacitive coupling to the body of the vehicle, further enhancing the ground plane.

My operating position was the passenger seat in my car.  The KX2 and BaMaKey TP-III paddles didn’t take up much space, leaving plenty of room for my pad and phone for logging.

The working surface is a “steering wheel desk”, but works equally well as lap work surface.

I only had about an hour for “lunch”, so that was my operating window.  I was easily able setup the station, make my contacts, and get back on the road inside of the hour.  After about 45 minutes of operating, I was able to put 20 QSOs in the log.  Most of them were in the US, east of the Mississippi River.  I had 1 DX station out of Poland – wow!  Amazing performance (magic?) for an antenna that is only about 4 feet tall, and being fed with just 5W of power.  Great fun, and a nice way to relax and regroup before heading to my meeting.  Here is a map of the contacts:

The Parks On The Air program continues to be a great source of fun, and takes me to a wide variety of interesting parks – ranging from traditional hiking/picnic/family parks, to antique Lighthouses, to wildlife preserves, sporting lakes and rivers, and even a tiny urban state park in an industrial city!

72 de W2AEW

Readers: Check out Alan’s amazing YouTube channel that is simply chock-full of radio goodness!

Also, check out this short video of Alan’s first POTA activation. His dog makes a guest appearance:

23 thoughts on “Alan’s window-mounted Elecraft AX1 POTA activation!”

    1. Alan,

      Thanks for sharing the window mount idea. I’ve been using a small tripod on the roof but it can blow over on a windy day. Your solution prevents that. Nice coverage map!

  1. That’s a cool antenna mount! Did you have access to a metal shear and brake?

    That little steering wheel table is just inspired. The radio I usually use in the truck- an IC-706mkIIg- just takes up space on the operating table. It doesn’t need to be there. I have the dial locked and the volume doesn’t need to change. This table would reduce the surface clutter to CW paddles and a small logbook.

    Thanks for a great post, Alan!

  2. Great post! I think MFJ used to make a commercial version of a bracket like that. I have one around here somewhere. It’s made out of plastic, so it’ll need some mods to accommodate the counterpoise wire. I might have to play around with it and keep it in the truck as a backup antenna.

  3. I wonder if a mag mount on the roof would also work? At at rate the window mount is very clever. I’ll have to try and come up with one.

    73, Reid K8JLW

    1. Reid-

      Yes- a mag-mount works fine on the roof. I recommend the Hustler version. DX Engineering carries them (just a satisfied customer. Its claim to fame is the 90-lb pull on the magnet.

      They recommend you keep your fingers clear when installing it. Removing it isn’t difficult- leave the mast in place and use it to ‘lever’ the magnet free. (My application is stationary-mobile, so I haven’t tried it underway. )

      As with other mag-mounts, the coax shield is apparently ‘floating’. My setup benefited from grounding the coax shield to the vehicle frame at the rig end. 73- Dave, K1SWL

  4. Alan,

    Great report! And I too love your window mount. It’s a simple, robust, and readily deployed solution. I like to operate inside my Jeep. The steering wheel desk is something I’ve considered. It’s handy, and seems would work well. Especially with small QRP rigs, like the QCX Mini’s.

    Again, thanks for the report, and your ideas.

  5. I think the AX1 is cool – and this as a great report on that.

    From a car, I think there might be better options on several measures (convenience, price, performance.) I operate stationary mobile a lot. I just have comet lip mount on my hatchback, and quick-disconnect bases on some hamsticks. It’s really affordable, super-quick to deploy, and the car is the counterpoise. For better performance and multi-band use, I have an expandable 17′ whip with the same quick-disconnect (pretty decent swr on 20, and all bands with a tuner.)

    1. I may very well grab one of these! Only trick will be making a place for the counterpoise to attach.

  6. After failing to grab a used AX1 from a fellow QRPer, I placed my AX1 order today and took advantage of that “big Elecraft February sale” 🙂 Tom mentioned in one of his recent posts. Anyway, I have used a variety of antennas for POTA activations and wanted to give the AX1 a go. That window mount is a cool idea. I have a window mount for a U/V antenna that I think I can adapt for the AX1. 72 and have a blast with your POTA activations! de KE2YK

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