I finally snagged one.
In the world of lightweight, super-compact QRP radio kits, there is one key that is, essentially, a legend: the venerable Palm Pico.
The Palm Pico has a stellar reputation because it’s super lightweight, can retract into its housing to protect it in transport, and can be directly attached to various radios with a specific mounting assembly or via Velcro or magnets.
The Palm Pico has been out of production for some time now and, they’re so highly desired, they often fetch the original purchase price or even higher on the used market. Truth is, so few Pico owners are willing to sell that very few of these keys ever enter the used market.
I was very lucky, indeed, when a long-time Patreon supporter reached out and offered to sell me her Palm Pico and Palm Mini paddles along with a KX2 mounting assembly. She had noticed how my eyes lit up when Josh (KI6NAZ) showed me his Palm Pico paddle on an HRCC Livestream in February.
The price she offered was amazingly low. She told me that she favored some of the other keys in her collection and wanted to give me the opportunity to own them. They were like-new with all original boxes and accessories.
How could I resist? I’m so grateful.
I really look forward to using the Palm Pico and Palm Mini this year. I’m especially eager to hook up the Palm Pico directly to the KX2 with its custom mounting bracket.
I decided to take my Palm Pico on a maiden POTA activation at the Vance Birthplace on April 18, 2023.
Postcard Field Report
I’ve got a load of videos in the pipeline and to keep from falling behind publishing them, you’re going to see more of my slightly shorter “Postcard Field Reports” for the next couple of weeks during my travels.
These postcard reports contain all of the core information, just less wordy. (In theory!)
Zebulon Vance Historic Birthplace (K-6856)
I arrived at the Vance Birthplace and checked in quickly with the park staff. There were no picnic shelter reservations that day but there was a family with children eating a picnic lunch when I arrived.
I asked if they would mind it if I set up my gear at the other end of the shelter and, of course, they didn’t mind. In fact, they were already in the process of packing up.
I decided to deploy my MM0OPX EFHW in a tree next to the shelter while I waited for them to clear out. Even though I prepared my antenna in a spot far away from the shelter and mentioned to the family that I’d have a wire stretched out on the ground near the edge of the woods, one of their kids immediately bolted straight through my antenna wire and got it tangled around his legs. He was probably 5 years old and I helped him get himself untangled. No big deal.
40 Meter EFHW Love
I should mention here that I chose to take the TX-500 and a 40 meter end-fed half-wave because one of my readers reached out the previous day asking about the best wire antennas to pair directly with the TX-500. He was on a budget and didn’t want to invest in an external ATU yet (plus, the Elecraft T1 has a very long lead time).
I mentioned to him how much I love a simple 40 meter end-fed half-wave because it’s not just resonant on 40 meters!
If you trim the radiator to resonance (and wind the toroid) properly, a 40M EFHW will be resonant on 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters.
If you later add a good ATU to the mix, you’ll find you can typically match it from 80 meters and up.
I deployed this antenna with the idea that I would start on 10 meters and move my way down the band without employing an ATU. Note that I used my MM0OPX EFHW, but you can also build an EFHW for a few dollars!
Once the family drove off, I finished connecting the antenna, setting up the Discovery TX-500, and connecting the Palm Pico Paddles!
Time to hit the air!
- lab599 Discovery TX-500
- MM0OPX QRP EFHW (Contact Colin for Availability)
- Palm Pico Paddles
- Red Oxx Micro Manager
- Blue Ridge Overland Gear Gadget Bag
- Bioenno 3 aH LiFePo Battery (Model BLF-1203AB)
- Arborist throw line
- Tom Bihn Large Travel Tray
- Staedtler Micro Mars 0.7mm Mechanical Pencil
- Muji A6 Notepad
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera with Joby tripod
On The Air
As always, I was running five watts. Gotta love QRP DX!
Next, I QSY’d to the 20 meter band which was in pretty good shape!
I logged a total of 22 stations in forty minutes; 18 of those were on the twenty meter band. One massive highlight was working my dear friend Vince (VE6LK) P2P as he was running the VE6RAC special event station from VE-6094 in Alberta!
Here’s what this five watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map (click to enlarge).
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.
If you also have this little key, I’d love to hear your comments!
I hope you enjoyed the postcard field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them. In truth, this turned out to be a pretty long “postcard” report, but there you go…!
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!
Have an amazing weekend!
Cheers & 72,