Beating the POTA propagation blues at Stonelick State Park!

As mentioned in my previous POTA field report, I had the great pleasure of playing POTA on May 21, 2023 with a number of friends. We all played hooky on the final day of Hamvention. The first two activations of the day were with Vince (VE6LK/AI7LK), Charlie (NJ7V), Eric (WD8RIF), and Miles (KD8KNC).

Charlie and Vince had to leave us after the second activation of the day because both of them had travels in store that afternoon.

Eric, Miles, and I grabbed lunch at a nearby town, then made our way to our final park of the day.

Stonelick State Park (K-1993)

We pulled into Stonelick State Park a little after 3:00 PM and found the best open area to set up our stations. This park was a new one for me and, I believe, for Eric as well. (FYI: Miles didn’t hop on the air that day, but helped his dad set up his POTA station.)

Eric’s station

Eric set up his station on a bench overlooking Stonelick Lake. He supported his 28.5 foot vertical wire antenna on a 31′ Jackite fiberglass telescoping pole which he strapped to the bench. His transceiver of choice was the Elecraft KX3.

Note that Eric writes detailed field reports for all of his activations and field activities on his website.

For more details on this activation from Eric’s perspective, click here!

Working with poor propagation

Instead of using a vertical, I opted to deploy my recently cannibalized 40 meter end-fed half-wave. I felt a full 40M EFHW, properly deployed, would increase my chances of logging stations on a day where contacts were few and far between.

This EFHW is an antenna I hastily built before Hamvention.

I’d planned to build this antenna from scratch, but as I was searching for a toroid in my junk drawer, I discovered the matching unit from my old Par End-Fedz 40M EFT Trail-Friendly antenna.

I used that EFT antenna extensively during the National Parks On the Air program and, sometime in 2020, I broke it in the field. I was able to recover all of the antenna parts, but was not able to fix the trap that shortened this 40M EFHW.

The matching unit was still very much usable, so it saved me time making a 64:1 and fitting it in an enclosure

As you’ll see in the activation video below, I had ideal trees to deploy my antenna and was fortunate enough to grab the perfect branch with my arborist throw line on the first go.

Since Eric planned to operate on the higher bands, I bypassed the ATU in my KX2, then tuned to the 40 meter band.


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On The Air

Keep in mind that propagation was at near radio-blackout levels that day. All of us struggled to get our ten contacts at the previous two activations.

I started calling CQ POTA on the 40 meter band and prepared for long periods between contacts.

Much to my surprise, I logged my first ten contact in ten minutes!

I continued working stations on 40 meters, logging a total of 31 hunters in 36 minutes! Woot!

Eric, unfortunately, was having a much more difficult time on the higher bands. I called QRT so he could move to the 40 meter band, if necessary.

Again, check out Eric’s experience in his field report found here.


Here’s what this five watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:

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.

EFHW impresses!

I was incredibly pleased with my end-fed half-wave’s performance. No doubt, 40 meters was simply in much better shape than the higher bands.

It’s always fun, though, to get good results from an antenna you assembled and trimmed yourself.

There are some simply amazing EFHW antennas out there on the market, but I feel all field operators should build one from scratch at some point. Even though I cheated on this one and used a matching unit from a broken antenna, winding the toroid, soldering on an antenna connection, and building it into a small enclose is super simple. I’ve built three of them over the years and a couple of kits as well.

Also, if you have a favorite 3D-printed EFHW enclosure, please comment with a link. I’ve been thinking about building a few end feds for friends and to give away to new POTA/SOTA ops.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this activation!

I hope you enjoyed the 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 a brilliant weekend!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

8 thoughts on “Beating the POTA propagation blues at Stonelick State Park!”

  1. Where did you get the orange antenna wire? Mine are black and hard to see during SOTA activations.

    1. This was some wire that a friend gave me over a decade ago. Unfortunately, I don’t know the source. It is pretty high viz though!

      1. I use BNTECHGO silicone jacketed wire from Amazon that comes in some pretty high vis colors. The only drawback is that the silicone makes the wire pretty heavy, so slopers sag a lot. Verticals work okay, though. To be fair, the stuff I have is 18ga, so lighter gauges may work better. They do, however, make fantastic counterpoise/radial wires.

        1. I use the same wire, but in 26 gauge. You’re right, the silicone jacket feels heavier than some other kinds, but I like the way it slides over tree limbs, and the stranding makes it extremely flexible – it’s like miniature welding cable!

          1. By it’s nature, though you can still tangle it, if you’re careful, it’s much easier to get untangled. The only time I’ve ever gotten a knot in it is when I really pulled on it harder than I should. I normally use the 26ga stealth wire from DX Engineering, but I’ll have to give the lighter weight stuff a try.

  2. “As you’ll see in the activation video below, I had ideal trees to deploy my antenna and was fortunate enough to grab the perfect branch with my arborist throw line on the first go.”

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Thomas is far too modest about this skill. You can see his skill on the video shot earlier in the day at another park

    Dare I say this is a skill we all could stand to learn as activators.

    40m is a decent band when conditions are rough above 10MHz. Nice job Amigo, keep up the good work.

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