Postcard Field Report: Pairing the Elecraft KX2 and Packtenna 9:1 Random Wire at Holmes Educational State Forest

Well, I’m off to Hamvention in two days and trying to prepare for the trip. There’s so much to do!

If you are attending Hamvention this year, I’d love to meet you. Stop by the Ham Radio Workbench/Halibut Electronics table (#3011) and introduce yourself.

Since my travels this week are imposing on my field report time, I’m going to share another, shorter, Postcard Field Report. I hope you enjoy it:

Holmes Educational State Forest (K-4856)

On Friday, April 21, 2023, I had a short window of time to fit in an activation while my daughter was attending her high school robotics class.

Her robotics class lasts nearly two hours, but it’s 30 minutes away from all parks and summits, so traveling to/from a site takes about one hour.

I didn’t care because I had a particular park in mind: Holmes Educational State Forest (K-4856).

It had been one year almost to the day since I last activated Holmes.

I arrived on site around 13:30 local, and there were only a few other people floating about.

I walked up the main loop path in search of a good picnic table that was out of the way and with ample trees about.

In a pinch, any of the picnic table sites would have sufficed, but since I practically had the whole park to myself, I could afford to be picky!

The sign above reminds me that Educational State Forests in North Carolina have hours that vary by season and truly cater to school groups, thus are primarily open during the school day. Always check those hours before embarking on a journey to this type of park.

One great thing about our Educational State Forests is that they almost always have a nice covered picnic shelter for school groups. If they’re not occupied, they’re perfect for POTA activators who’d like to escape heavy rains. You can see the one at Holmes off in the distance in this photo:

I ended up choosing the same picnic table I used last time–it had more room around it to set up an antenna without crossing the path.

I didn’t have a lot of time to set up and operate, so I chose to use one of my speedier deployment combos: the Elecraft KX2 and PackTenna 9:1 Random Wire.

Note that my activation video below actually starts shortly after I parked my car at Holmes, so it includes the walk to the site and full set up.


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On The Air

I hopped on the air hoping I might find a little 10 meter action, but sadly the band was dead.

I then QSY’d to one of the more reliable POTA bands these days: 20 meters.

I started calling CQ POTA and was fortunately rewarded with a steady string of hunters!

In ten minutes, I logged eleven stations! Score!

Normally, I’d continue working stations a bit longer, but I needed to return to the school to pick up my daughter, so I called QRT with only 11 logged.

It was a short, but very rewarding activation!


Here’s what this five watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map. Note that Eric (KL5BO) was traveling in Wisconsin when I logged him; this is why one of the lines goes off the page towards Alaska:

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.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this POTA activation!

I hope you enjoyed the postcard 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!

Have an amazing weekend! If you’re heading to Hamvention this week, travel safely. If you’re not going to Hamvention, I hope to work you during one of the POTA activations I plan to do over that five day span of time!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

6 thoughts on “Postcard Field Report: Pairing the Elecraft KX2 and Packtenna 9:1 Random Wire at Holmes Educational State Forest”

  1. Hey Tom,
    Carl[W4RCW) and myself will be at Dayton. Our spaces are 9717,9718, 9719. Trying to downsize but not having much luck. I’ll see you at your booth.

    Ron WB4OQL

    1. I look forward to seeing you there, Ron! Heard from Phil today and I think he was planning to call you, too.
      Good luck and I hope you sell everything! 🙂

  2. Thomas, great report! The KX2 & the PackTenna Random were made for each other. It’s an amazing and reliable combination. The internal ATU tunes it up nicely, and efficiently. Bonus too, that it all fits nicely into the padded case.

    I don’t own a Begali… I just use the Elecraft paddles. They’ll suffice with my developing code skills.

    What is your favorite (if I only had one) field key or paddle?

    de W7UDT

  3. A while back, I picked up a 3-pack of the same Rite-in-the-rain notepads, in blaze orange. I love ’em, particularly because I’m a lefty and it’s easier to not deal with the spiral binding in the way.

  4. Put me in the “show antenna deployment” camp. It is very helpful to see how you approach each activation site. In addition, because your videos are real-time, the viewer gets an accurate idea of the time involved to deploy. Good job!

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