Field Report: BROG Gadget Bag Tour, New Anker Speaker, & Pairing the KX3 w/the MC-750 for Serious QRP POTA Fun!

On Tuesday, March 28, 2023, I packed my Elecraft KX3 and took it to the Zebulon Vance Historic Birthplace (K-6856) for a nice, relaxing, early afternoon POTA activation!

It had been a few months since I’d taken the KX3 to the field and it really does deserve some outdoor time because…well…I still think it’s one of the best HF field radios on the market.

I’m spoiled, though, because I also own a KX2 and it does 80% of what the KX3 does, is much smaller, and sports a very long-lasting internal battery. Because of this, my KX2 gets way more field time and the KX3–hooked up to a KXPA100–is my main radio in the shack.

When I make an activation video in the field, I like using a speaker rather than recording from the line out of the radio. Besides the extra post-processing, sometimes the line-out audio from left and right channels are out of phase from each other and end up cancelling each other out in YouTube videos if listening in mono. I recently learned how to fix this, but I find the whole process just adds *that* much more time to post-processing and I’m always pressed for time.

The Elecraft KX3 has a built-in speaker, but it’s pretty anemic. I almost always pair the KX3 with an external speaker to amplify the otherwise excellent KX3 audio for my activation videos.

On this particular day, I had a new speaker to try as well: an Anker Soundcore Mini. I purchased this speaker on the same day I posted Mike’s speaker search and review of the Soundcore Mini. Although I have a Sony SRS-XB12 portable speaker and love it, they’re no longer produced and the battery life isn’t quite as good as the Soundcore Mini (Anker states up to 15 hours per full charge).

This activation would give me an opportunity to really test the Anker Soundcore Mini in the field. In the end, it did a brilliant job.

I should note that I also brought my Blue Ridge Overland Gadget Bag (see above) to the field that day, so I include a little tour and overview of this pack in my activation video.

I did recently post a review of the BROG Gadget Bag here on QRPer as well.

Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace (K-6856)

As I mention in my activation videos, Vance is a small park and, unless you plan to operate from your car, there’s really only one good site to set up: in the picnic shelter. Thing is, if a school, club, or civic group is scheduled to meet that day, the picnic shelter will almost certainly be reserved for them.

Each time I activate Vance, I ask the park staff in advance if the picnic shelter is reserved and if it’s okay if I perform the activation. Fortunately, the shelter is reserved only about 20% of the time. On days when it’s reserved, I simply activate elsewhere.

On the 28th, I had the site to myself and the staff encouraged me to activate as long as I wanted to.

I decided to deploy my Chelegance MC-750 vertical antenna and operate it in the higher HF bands (10, 12, 15, 17, and 20M).

I find that verticals are pretty darn stealthy even when conspicuously placed. I don’t think you’d see this antenna unless looking for it!

To see just how easily it is to make the MC-750 resonant on these bands, I put my KX3’s internal ATU in bypass mode. During each band change, I walked out to the antenna, shortened the whip per the silk-screened markings, then checked the SWR.

SWR was spot on each time! I think this is why I love the MC-750 so much: it’s a breeze to tune on the fly and a bit more forgiving than antennas with variable/sliding tapped coils at the base.


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On The Air

I started calling CQ on 10 meters and there were no takers, so I QSY’ed to the 12M band and adjusted the MC-750.

Once again, there were no POTA hunters to be heard on 12M, however I did hear the Sable Island DXpedition pileup! Next, QSY’ed to the 15M band.

The 15 meter band was alive! I logged ten stations in ten minutes, thus validating this POTA activation. When the calls stopped coming in, I then moved to the 17 meter band and adjusted the MC-750 accordingly.

I then logged a total of eleven stations in eleven minutes on 17 meters!

Finally, I QSY’ed down to the 20 meter band which was the healthiest of those higher bands. I logged a total of 25 stations in 26 minutes. What fun!

Sadly, I had to then call QRT because I had only allowed myself a few minutes to pack up, hop in the car, then pick up my daughters from school! I would have enjoyed working stations for another hour or more if I had the time. This was one of the longest periods of time I’ve had recently to do an activation, so I was incredibly grateful.


Here’s what this 5 watt activation into a portable vertical looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map. Note the Park-To-Park with Stuart (M0TTQ) across the pond!

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.

Nice combo!

I do truly love the KX3. I think it has one of the most ergonomic and comfortable interfaces of about any other field radio on the market. Pretty much any common feature or adjustment can be done within one or two button presses. Elecraft gives the control surface more real estate and direct controls than pretty much any other radio manufacturer. This is why it’s such a joy to use. Plus, its receiver is second to none.

And the Anker speaker does pair so nicely with the KX3! Thank you for the tip, Mike!

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this activation at Zebulon Vance!

In a few weeks, my daughters will end their classes that are held near Vance, so my weekly activations will likely come to a halt. I’ll still try to pop by once every moth or two, though, as I’ve grown very fond of this site.

I hope you enjoyed the field report and my rather lengthy 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.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me!

Here’s wishing you an amazing week ahead!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

29 thoughts on “Field Report: BROG Gadget Bag Tour, New Anker Speaker, & Pairing the KX3 w/the MC-750 for Serious QRP POTA Fun!”

  1. Nice addition of a contact across the pond to add some excitement

    I find the MC-750 antenna to be a great addition to my antenna system inventory hihi

    Grab a bag, grab a radio, grab a battery, grab an antenna and go operate. (Oops where is my key)

    John VE3IPS
    Instagram @ve3ips_portable_operator

  2. Thomas,

    My experience with external speakers for qrp rigs has also been stunning. They have made the built-in DSP features of my radios shine much brighter! I use a couple of the OountZ triangle-shaped Bluetooth speakers…they hav an Aux cable input. Long battery life.



  3. Like my anker speaker and ax1 antenna. Did my first activation on 20m using ax1. Did well. Dave, KQ4CW. 73

  4. Great article, I use the MC 750 with all my rigs now days — I purchase the tripod to go along with it……


  5. Thomas, how would you compare the MC 750 with the MPAS Lite? The MC 750 is less expensive, but excluding cost do you notice any difference in performance between the two?

    1. Yes, I’d like to know your thoughts here too. I have the MPAS lite, but thinking about also getting the MC 750. Any good reason to have both or just the 750?

    2. I need to make a video about this. Performance-wise, I think they’re very comparable. The differences are more in the deployment (both are pretty simple) and operation.

      1. How does the 750 compare with an MFJ-1979 or one of the other 17’ whips for easy deployment and performance?

        I know the MFJ doesn’t have the band markings but hams have been marking them up with a black permanent marker for years . And it will do 20m through 6 meters easily.

      2. How does the 750 compare with an MFJ-1979 or one of the other 17’ whips for easy deployment and performance?

        I know the MFJ doesn’t have the band markings but hams have been marking them up with a black permanent marker for years . And it will do 20m through 6 meters easily. Plus it is a lot less expensive. Even when you add a carry bag and a homemade spike mount.

        I would love to have a 750 but I am curious about the alternatives

    1. I will do that someday!

      I have done 30M and 17M only activations in the past and they were quite successful. 12M is the toughest band for contacts. Propagation needs to be in one’s favor and some radios (on the hunter’s end) lack 12M. I’ve been thinking about doing a 60M only activation as well some late afternoon.

  6. Definitely had a tough time deciding between the mc750 and mpas lite. Ultimately went with the latter. Hard to beat the price on the mc750 however.

  7. Thomas,

    Your photos show a small laptop/tablet running ACLog. What brand/model? I’m getting tired of using a tablet with a finicky touch pad!

    Thanks, Nat, N4EL

    1. That’s a used Microsoft Surface Go I picked up in 2019. It’s been a very reliable field tablet/pc.

  8. Thomas,
    Curious what length feed-line you take for your POTA activations. Thanks.
    Mark WB8BCU

    1. Great question, Mark. It varies, frankly.
      I use anywhere from about 10 – 45 feet. Most of the time, it’s 10-15 feet of RG-316. I find that’s typically enough to give my EFHW antennas some counterpoise on the shield and thus a solid match. 20 feet is great, too, but a little bulky for my smallest field kits. My really long lengths are tpically only used when I need to place the antenna a distance from the station, say, for example if I’m in a covered shelter.

  9. You used the word “pair” when talking about the external speaker. That’s a Power Word, as it is used to refer to a Bluetooth connection.

    Further, I don’t see a cable connecting the speaker to the radio in your pictures.

    Were you using Bluetooth? If so, what sort of transmitter connected to the KX3?

    1. No, I wasn’t using Bluetooth. I had a 3.5mm shielded audio patch cord connecting the radio to the speaker.
      Bluetooth–save the very latest version–has a bit too much inherent latency for CW operation. It’s something like 100-200ms which will really throw off the sidetone to the point it’s difficult to key accurately.

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