My Postcard Field Reports are information-packed, just slightly more concise and distilled than my average field report so that I can publish them on a busy day.
One of the least expensive radios I’ve ever purchased is my TEN-TEC R42020 two-band CW only radio. I believe I paid $120 for it (shipped!) a couple years ago and it sat on my shelf unnoticed for months until I took it on a POTA activation last year.
Here’s the admission: I really love this little radio!
It is not a feature-rich radio, and the sidetone sounds like a 1080s handheld arcade game, but it works a charm! The receiver and audio are fantastic and it sports two of my most useful POTA/SOTA bands: 40 and 20 meters.
What’s not to love?
I had an early morning doctor’s appointment on Thursday, February 23, 2023. As a little reward for doing my annual physical I decided to add a POTA activation to my morning. This was a last minute decision, so only a couple minutes before leaving the house that morning, I grabbed my TEN-TEC R4020, the Chelegance MC-750, and my Spec Ops Backpack (filled with all other field accessories), and I hit the road!
I chose the MC-750 that day because I needed an antenna that could be configured to be resonant on 40 meters since the R4020 has no internal ATU. That and I couldn’t remember if I’ve configured the MC-750 for 40 meters in the past. I know I’ve deployed the MC-750 with the 40M coil, but I think I may have used an ATU to match it.
I arrived at the Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378 NC) mid-morning and set up in very short order.
When I first turned on the R4020 and sent “QRL?” I noticed that the keyer was producing extra dits. Thinking a little RF may have been coming back to the radio, I tried replacing out my CNC machined CW Morse paddle with my VK3IL pressure paddles. My thinking (not backed by any sort of radio science) was that the aluminum CNC paddles may pick up a bit more body capacitance than my mostly dielectric pressure paddles.
The switch out made no difference at all.
What did make a difference was the Tufteln common mode choke I had stashed in the top outer pocket of my radio backpack! A common mode choke is an important field radio accessory every activator should have.
- TEN-TEC R4020
- Spec-Ops Brand Op Order Pouch
- Chelegance MC-750 (DX Engineering US, WIMO EU, Moonraker UK)
- Tufteln Common Mode Choke
- VK3IL Pressure Paddle V2
- Key cable: Cable Matters 2-Pack Gold-Plated Retractable Aux Cable – 2.5 Feet
- CW Morse CNC Machined Aluminum Paddle
- Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack EDC
- Bioenno 3 aH LiFePo Battery (Model BLF-1203AB)
- Ham Radio Workbench DC Distribution Panel Model HRWB101
- Sony SRS-XB12 portable wireless speaker (no longer produced–eBay search)
- 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
On The Air
In 33 minutes, I worked 28 stations with 5 watts.
Here are images from my log book (click to enlarge):
Here’s what this 5 watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map.
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.
I’m so pleased I tacked on this short activation that Thursday morning!
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 an amazing weekend!
Cheers & 72,