Pairing the Elecraft K2 with the AX1 at Tuttle for some QRP P2P DX!

If you recall from my last field report, I’ve been pairing the Elecraft AX1 antenna with a number of radios. For me, it’s been a fun exercise because I always enjoy seeing what sort of results the AX1 might produce. So far, it has never disappointed.

On Thursday, February 2, 2023, I packed two radios in my car with the idea of fitting in two consecutive park activations.

At my first activation of the day–Lake James State Park–I paired the AX1 with my Mission RGO One transceiver. The activation was a blast! Not only did I stay busy working stations, but I also managed a little QRP DX thanks to a hunter from Italy.

K2 and AX1 Under Shelter

Little Guatemala Café

After grabbing a curried chicken salad wrap at Food Matters and a coffee at Little Guatemala roasters in Morganton, I hit my second and final park of the day: Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861). It was rainy, so the park was empty which allowed me to take over the very large picnic shelter at Tuttle.

Even though this particular shelter is in a bit of a dip in the land and has a large metal roof, I’ve had successful activations there in the past employing the AX1 antenna.

My hope was that history would repeat itself!

Setting Up

Attaching the AX1 antenna to the back of the Elecraft K2 was not complicated because the K2 has a BNC connector with nothing protruding to get in the way of the Bipod.

It also has a nice grounding point next to the antenna to attach the 13′ counterpoise (I planned to operate on 20M and 17M).

Since the BNC jack is higher off the table than it would be on, say, the KX2 or KX3, the Bipod legs were much closer together. In terms of stability, if it were a gusty day, I’d need to secure the AX1 a bit better.

This was not an issue on this particular day, though, and the AX1 was quite stable.

Note that in order for the AX1 to be in a proper vertical position (perpendicular to the picnic table surface), I could not deploy the bail on the K2.

Note here that my activation video below shows the entire setup process.


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On The Air

I hopped on the air and within 11 minutes snagged the 10 contacts necessary to validate the activation.

I continued working on 20 meters due to the little rolling pileup that kept me busy. All told, I worked 34 stations on 20 meters including three Park-To-Parks: K1NGZ, KD5ICE, and M0TTQ.

Yes, under the metal roof of a picnic shelter, pushing 5 watts of power into a 4 foot whip antenna, I logged a P2P with Stuart (M0TTQ) in the UK. That was amazing. Better yet, he was at G-0022 in Portsmouth–not terribly far from where I used to live in Surrey (Shere). Thanks for that Stuart…it made my day!


For fun, I QSYed to the 17 meter band and called CQ for 5 minutes working 4 stations with 10 watts.


Here’s what this QRP activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map (click to enlarge).

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.

K2 Fun

This activation reminded me just how much I love taking the Elecraft K2 to the field.

My K2/10 is pretty much fully loaded in terms of receiver and filtering options. It also has the latest firmware.

One addition I’m considering? Adding a built-in rechargeable battery. I’m not interested in the one Elecraft sold for the K2, rather I’m curious if I could fit a LiFePo4 battery in the enclosure. If you’ve done this, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

No doubt, this won’t be the last time I pair the K2 and AX1!

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this brilliant little activation!

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! Have an amazing day!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

10 thoughts on “Pairing the Elecraft K2 with the AX1 at Tuttle for some QRP P2P DX!”

  1. Wow!! Perfect timing for me!! Have just upgraded my old K2 (2001 vintage) to include an ATU. Should have done this years ago!! Plus I have ordered the AX1 based on your phenomenal success with that little antenna. K2 has been a wonderful rig over the years, will now be using it for activations along with TR35 and TX500. Thank you for your investment of time and money to produce your great videos!!
    72, KG4MTN

  2. Maxpedition is running a Spring BOGO sale, so you can get 2 FATTY pouches for the price of 1 right now! I have mine coming!

  3. Another great post thanks for sharing.

    Would like to see and hoping for some AX1 activations in the near future with one of your little KX1 beauties.

    Interested how well it would tune up with that tuner on other bands.

  4. Kinda weird how my QSO with you sounded. It had an almost dissonant sound to it. I wonder why?
    My elecraft KX2 came in the mail today so I’m gonna have a lot of fun tomorrow!

    1. That could have simply been some sort of propagation flutter.

      Jonathan, you’re going to fall in love with the KX2. It’s an amazing radio!

  5. All great information on AX1 and 2. This has become one of my favorite antennas for quick SOTA/POTA activations. Here in OR often the summits May be bare,or with Douglas firs that are too dense to effectively get a wire attached. One thing I do is I picked up a very portable light stand that collapses to about 18” yet expands to 6 feet. It has a 3/8x 24 bolt which is perfect for the AX1/2 tripod mount.Easily strapped to the backpack. It’s less bulky than a camera tripod (pro and fully elevated its perfect to attach 2-3 13’ radials at a 45 degree angle. Even better if I can get it near the edge of a slope facing the direction I want to work. Short run of RG 174 or 316 and I think it really helps to get the AX1 in the clear. The 3 angled radials help it tune,even on 30 and 40M although my primary bands are 20 and 15 (AX2 set for 15M). I just use alligator clips on the end of the radials to attach to grass or nearby branches. Dan N7CQR.

  6. Forgot to mention that for attaching the radials to the tripod mount,I use a pigtail with 3 power pole connectors,and same on the radials. That way I don’t have to fight to get 3 wires under the little thumbscrew on the tripod mount. Max K2MAX came up with this one.

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