Postcard Field Report: Pairing the Mission RGO One with the Elecraft AX1 at Lake James for some QRP DX

Welcome to my first Postcard Field Report!

If you’ve been following and my YouTube channel for long, you’ll notice that I typically post two field reports with videos per week when my free time allows. Each report takes about four hours to produce along with a video. I’ve currently got a small backlog of videos I need to post, so in order to squeeze them into my schedule, I’m going to use a slightly more abbreviated field report format: a “postcard” format!

My Postcard Field Reports will still be information-packed, just slightly more concise and distilled than my average field report. I’ll primarily post these for sites I visit frequently.

Speaking of which….

Lake James State Park (K-2739)

Thursday, February 2, 2023, was a rainy, dreary day so the perfect time to play a little POTA, right?  I made time in my morning to visit Lake James State Park (K-2739).

When I arrived at the Catawba River Access, the parking lot was empty. Not too surprising considering it was a Thursday morning on a chilly, rainy day.

Of course, I had the picnic shelter all to myself, so why not use it to stay dry?

RGO One + AX1

Lately, I’ve been on a little Elecraft AX1 roll because I committed to primarily use the AX1 for roughly one month’s worth of field activations in 2023.

During that time, I also made it my mini mission to pair the AX1 with radios other than the Elecraft KX2 and KX3.

During this activation, it was the Mission RGO One’s turn!

Not familiar with the Mission RGO One? That’s not surprising, actually. The Mission RGO One is a small production run radio produced by Boris (LZ2JR) in Bulgaria.

The RGO One sports a superhet design with a 9MHz intermediate frequency. Boris deigned the RGO to be a simple radio with benchmark receiver characteristics. I think he succeeded. Although I speak about the RGO One in my activation video, I’d encourage you to read my full review on the SWLing Post.

By the way, RGO should be pronounced “Argo” but I often pronounce it by the letters “RGO.” So there you go!

Setting up

Since my RGO One has a built-in ATU, I could attach the AX1 directly to the back of the radio, but I wanted to deploy the bail which would have made the AX1 stand at an odd angle.

Instead, I simply used a mini camera tripod I purchased in Annecy, France in 2000! (At the time, I would have never guessed I’d eventually use this as an HF antenna mount!)


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On The Air

I performed this entire activation on the 20 meter band. In 32 minutes, I logged 31 stations including three Park-To-Parks (thanks W1BLU, KD8IE, and WA3GM).

I also worked as far west as Oregon and as far east as Italy.

It was incredibly fun!


Here’s what this 5-watts-into-a-4-foot-whip-under-a-picnic-shelter-roof activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map. Gotta love QRP!

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

I won’t lie: this activation was insanely fun!

Not only do I love watching the little AX1 show off (proving once again just how poor a dummy load it really is–!) but the RGO One is such a joy to use in the field. It’s going to get a lot more outdoor time this year.

Thank you for taking time out of your day and joining me on this activation! I really appreciate it.

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!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

12 thoughts on “Postcard Field Report: Pairing the Mission RGO One with the Elecraft AX1 at Lake James for some QRP DX”

    1. Actually, this paddle was given to me by a (very) generous reader. She wasn’t using it, so she wanted me to have it. I’m so grateful.

  1. I haven’t watched your video yet, but did you find for the AX1’s tripod adapter, did you have to do anything to get the counterpoise wire to attach securely? For me I had to add a couple of washers to get it to hold the wire.

    1. My counterpoise attaches to the tripod mount quite firmly, so I haven’t needed washers. In fact, it fits that spade end of the counterpoise very securely. I would use washers, perhaps, with a bare wire end, though.

  2. I have the AX1 and 40m coil. On 17 & 20m have not had much luck with it. Have not tried the 40m coil.

    I have been told to not let the counterpoise lay on the ground, use another structure to hold it off the ground. I wonder how you are using yours.

    I would not expect much performance from an antenna with large coil at the bottom of a 5 ft whip, but looks as if some are have some good operations using the AX1.

    The AX1 is well made as most EleCraft products are. I would like to use the AX1.

    73, ron, n9ee

  3. That RGO is such a sweet looking rig. Now I gota order one ;-(

    Anyone in the market for a NIB FX-4C ?? 😉

    Thanks again for a nice field/trail report.

    73, Todd KH2TJ

  4. Thomas,

    I really like the format of your report, it’s informative, but easy to read on a busy day. I really like the look of the ‘argo’, and have followed it since the initial publicity. I don’t have enough time to play with my main radios, so buying another would be in poor taste. The AX1 keeps catching my eye, and could come in useful for future travels.

    Well done.


  5. Nice Rig!
    Reminds me a lot of the PC-500 from back in the 2000-2003 era.
    Same concept: All features available on the front panel in a very intelligent way.
    The Patcomm PC-500 was a Dual Band Transceiver SSB & CW, 1 to 15 Watts, Built-in
    keyer & keyboard interface,
    Digital Variable Filter, VOGAD &
    RF Clipping, Switchable AGC&
    Preamp. RIT & SPLIT. Noise
    Blanker and VCX optional. PSK-
    31 ready.
    Any two bands between 160 & 6 Meters by just swapping band modules.

    Of course, we are talking about the technology of back in those days.
    Those Patcomm were too advanced at the time.
    Too bad the company, which was 100% American labor and top quality, couldn’t compete with the cheaper Japanese radios that flooded the market.

    They even made the more advanced Patcomm PC-16000E that had all bands included, more power (40W IIRC), Collins filters and even included RTTY and CW decoder. Not available anywhere else at the time.

    Thanks for sharing your report on the Mission RGO One!
    This is a very nice Rig!


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