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.
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.