A YL + KX2 = QRP POTA Fun!


by Teri (KO4WFP)

Last year, I read about Thomas K4SWL’s trip to Canada and plan to activate while there and thought to myself, “Wow! Wouldn’t it be cool to do that one day?” Well, it so happens that my family decided our 2023 summer trip will be to Nova Scotia and immediately I began thinking of how I could work POTA activations into the trip.

Due to time limitations, we are opting to fly which means my Yaesu FT-891 will not work. As much as I have come to enjoy using this radio, it is too bulky and heavy for airplane travel. So I started looking into QRP setups.

I chose the Elecraft KX2 and AX1. Whenever I mentioned to someone I had ordered the KX2, the immediate response was “You’ll love it!” I wasn’t sure it would arrive before the trip, though, given Elecraft’s order fulfillment estimation of 12 to 16 weeks. (Yikes!) Thankfully, the rig and antenna arrived early May giving me six weeks to familiarize myself with the rig and antenna before my summer trip.

So this past Wednesday May 17th, the KX2 and I headed to Wormsloe State Historic Site (K-3725) for my first POTA QRP activation. Quirky note: I’ve actually named the KX2 “Craig”. I figure it and I will be spending lots of time with each other so we might as well be on a first-name basis!

Wormsloe K-3725 was my first exposure to ham radio. I met my local club Coastal Area Radio Society (CARS) there for their weekly “No Work Wednesday” POTA activations back in early 2022. It was at Wormsloe I had my first experience ever on the air with a POTA activation using other ham’s equipment including Jack NW4TF’s Yaesu 891. (77 contacts on SSB) And it was at Wormsloe I had my first cw POTA activation on August 31st. So, the park holds special significance for me.

For Wormsloe activations, our local club usually sets up at Butter Bean Beach which is within the park boundaries. Butter Bean Beach has a bait shop, the Rodney J. Hall boat ramp, a picnic shelter, and, later in the day, a food truck. The site is located along the Intracoastal Waterway and you’ll often see kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and boats in the Skidaway River.

I couldn’t have asked for better weather! A steady 9 mph breeze (great for keeping the sand gnats at bay) greeted me. I arrived around 7:45 AM to have sufficient time to set up before my 8:30 AM activation. Though I ordered the AX1 for my Nova Scotia trip, I opted to use a 20/40 meter Pacific Antenna trap dipole I built a few weeks ago.

I began on 40 meters and, in 30 minutes, had 11 contacts, some of whom are regulars.

A little after 9 AM, I switched to 20 meters. At first I thought something must be wrong with the new antenna as 20 meters was so quiet! I stay on 40 meters when using my home-brew 20/30/40 linked dipole because I’m too lazy to lower the mast to change bands. But with the new trap dipole, switching was a breeze and I forgot how quiet 20 meters can be. The SWR for the antenna was a little high on that band so I engaged the ATU lowering the SWR to 1:1.

In a little under an hour, I had 26 contacts on 20 meters. By this time, several CARS members had come out to enjoy the gorgeous weather and location.

I am pleased with 37 CW contacts for my first QRP POTA activation.

Source: https://qsomap.org

This was a good first step with QRP. However, before the Nova Scotia trip, I need to become comfortable using the AX1. I chose the AX1 for the trip because I want the smallest and simplest antenna setup possible. So I am already plotting my next activation when I’ll put it and “Craig” to use.

Stay tuned…

Equipment Used

11 thoughts on “A YL + KX2 = QRP POTA Fun!”

  1. Terri,
    Craig looks like a great rig for you. I know the trip to Nova Scotia will be exciting!

    I encourage you to use the AX1 plenty before you leave to get a feel for its capabilities. I would also encourage you to take along a small end fed random wire ( easy and quick POTA antenna) and let the ATU do its magic. Nova Scotia is a long way up there.

    72 de Gil K4JST
    disclaimer I had the pleasure of meeting Terri at Skidaway Island SP in April. She handles cw pileups better than I do!

    1. Gil:

      Thanks for your comment and recommendations re: the AX1 and an EFRW antenna. I plan my first POTA activation with the AX1 this morning. And after some reading on QRPer and emails with Joshua of Tufteln, I placed an order for his EFRW QRP Long Wire antenna in the 41′ length as well as some RG-316 in 3 lengths. My QRP arsenal is gradually growing and I look forward to using these new tools in the future.

      Hope to see you on the air, either here or in Nova Scotia later this summer!

      Teri KO4WFP

  2. That’s something I’ve never considered: POTA with a food truck! That’s quite a change from my nibbles of a dry granola bar between contacts. Now I have food truck envy 😉

    1. Karl:

      Yes, it is a nice perk of that park. However, I always schedule my activations early in the morning and the food truck usually is not there until 11 AM at the earliest. Maybe I will schedule a later activation at some point!

      Teri KO4WFP

    2. Karl:

      Yes! It is a nice perk; however, I am never there to take advantage of it because my activations are early in the morning and the trucks don’t show up until 11 AM at the earliest. Maybe I’ll remedy that one day!

      Teri KO4WFP

  3. I’d love to activate on a Wednesday with you guys but I am not retired yet but still working my day job at Ft. Stewart.

  4. Hi Teri,

    I think you will really enjoy how Craig handles POTA outings! My KX2 arrived in April 2022, and fast became my favorite field rig due to a combination of its amazing tuner, and the fact that it lives in my smallest field pack. ?

    You might want to consider pairing Craig with a 9:1 end-fed random wire. EFRWs let me tune all bands with my KX2 without difficulty.

    Best 73 de Brian – K3ES

  5. I love my AX1. A couple of ideas for best results-if you can bring a lightweight tripod and use the Elecraft tripod mount, and get it 5-6 feet off the ground you’ll have good results. Also I use 3 13’ radials sloping at about 45 degrees to the ground. I use alligator clips at the ends to attach to a bush or even grass. This tunes very well to 20,17 and even 15. In a pinch I’ve been able to get a decent match on 30 and 40 M with the extra 40M coil. If you can add a 33’ radial for 40 even if on the ground that will help the efficiency. Another trick if you are having some difficulty is to clip some extra wire to the end of the whip and toss it in a tree if handy. Another tip is at the tripod mount make a pigtail to attach the extra radials instead of trying to fit multiple wires under the thumb screw on the mount. I use blue Anderson power poles (so I won’t confuse them with actual DC connections!) I’ve worked a lot of DX with this setup at 5W from the west coast.

    1. Dan:

      Thanks for the recommendations which I’ll keep in mind. This – sharing information and helping other hams – is one of the best aspects of our hobby!

      Teri KO4WFP

  6. HelloTeri,
    I was wondering, just exactly how long you waited for “Craig” to show up??
    I ordered and paid for a KX-3 October of 2022.
    I am STILL waiting patiently as of June 1st 2023.

  7. This is such a wonderful report, Teri.
    I think you’re going to grow very fond of Craig the KX2!
    I also agree that you might want to take another antenna option with you to Nova Scotia just in case you encounter really rough propagation. Perhaps a simply random wire or 20 meter EFHW? you could put it in a tree with a bit of throw line, fishing line or similar attached to a water bottle. I’ve done this many times in a pinch.
    That said, I suspect the AX1 will carry you through regardless. 🙂

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