Many thanks to Conrad (N2YCH) who shares the first of a three-part field report series outlining his 2023 Hamvention rove with Peter (K1PCN). Look for Part 2 next week!
By Conrad Trautmann, N2YCH
Peter, K1PCN and I are both avid Parks On The Air activators here in Connecticut and neither of us has ever been to the Dayton Hamvention in Xenia, Ohio. At the urging of others who have attended in the past, we made the decision to attend this year and while we were making the trek out, we wanted to activate parks along the way to add to our activated US states award. We originally planned to activate six states and ended up with one bonus state for a total of seven. This is how things looked before and after the trip.
I would like to begin by saying that attending the Hamvention was a great experience. If you have not been to it, I would like to encourage you to attend if you can.
You may have heard about the flea market, the vendor booths, the forum sessions or the food trucks, which are all good, but the best part for me was being in the presence of other hams with similar interests. I struck up conversations and shared stories with many other hams. Everyone was very nice and willing to share their experiences, which is a great way to pick up some good tips.
I am extremely glad I went. If you are on the fence about going, I would recommend you plan to go next year. Oh, and I got to meet this guy in person….
Now on to the rove…
I planned the trip to get as many states as possible. Both Peter and I had already activated CT, NY and NJ, so we did not need to stop in those states as we passed through. I had scoped out some parks near the Delaware and Maryland border, so I looked at those first.
My main criteria on park selection was to pick parks that would be easy-off/easy-on to the main highways we would be traveling to save time on driving. Here is the route map we followed.
We strategized on how we would activate the parks when we got to each one. Peter is an SSB activator, and I am a digital activator. We would not be colliding on the mode of operation. We did need to be on different frequencies though.
In the mornings, Peter took 40 meters and I used 20 meters. Later in the day when the bands opened up, Peter moved up to 20 meters and I bumped up to 17 or 15 meters. Using this strategy, we had no problems getting our minimum ten QSO’s to activate while operating at the same time. Peter also reminded me to bring a handheld and we did park to park QSO’s on 2 meters and 70cm.
As for equipment, I used my Elecraft KX3 transceiver, but I did bring an IC-705 as a backup.
On the first stop in Delaware, I used an Elecraft AX1 antenna but for the rest of the trip I used a Buddipole tripod equipped with a Versa-T with a 17’ MFJ whip tuned to the frequency I was operating on with 50’ cable and an above the ground counterpoise.
I was thrilled to be able to meet Budd, W3FF at the Buddipole booth at the Hamvention and share my results of the rove with him.
Peter used the Xiegu G90 into along with a 31 foot fiberglass telescoping mast and a homemade linked EFHW antenna or a vertical with counterpoise radials on the ground depending on the band. Here is a picture of his rig using a Pro-comm audio headset and a foot pedal.
We started with K-1731, Bellevue State Park, just North of Wilmington in Delaware. At Bellevue, I used my Elecraft KX3 and the AX1 antenna on 20 meters.
I continue to be amazed at the performance of the AX1 antenna. Here is a map of my contacts using this setup.
In Maryland, we activated K-1588, Patapsco Valley State Park.
When I was looking at the pota.app page for this park, I noticed that the very first activator of the park back in 2017 was Jason, W3AAX, POTA Administrator and President/Owner.
Peter and I were able to stop by the POTA booth at the Hamvention and chat with the man himself about it.
The park was not busy for a Wednesday morning, and I was able to pick a great spot with picnic tables to set up.
I set the Buddipole up just outside the shelter.
I started off on 15 meters while Peter was on 20 meters and I had a tough time, only making just a few contacts. I think it may have been a little too early in the day to use that frequency. When Peter got the ten he needed, he went QRT, and I dropped down to 20 meters to get the ones I needed to activate.
Here is my contact map from Patapsco.
Our third and final park for the day on Wednesday was K-5585, Coopers Rock State Forest in West Virginia.
Again, the park was not busy, so I had a shelter all to myself. The Buddipole vertical was working out good for me, it is quick and easy to set up. If it is a little breezy, I set up the counterpoise so it anchors the mast like a guy wire to prevent the wind from blowing it over.
Once the antenna was set up, I just opened the Elecraft case which has the Bioenno battery in it and plug in the computer using the audio USB card and the CIV cable. The coax plugs into the other side of the KX3 and I am on the air.
Each time I opened WSJT-X on the computer, I used JTSync to listen for the time coming in from received stations and adjusted the computer clock, which does drift on the Ideapad I use. I would recommend that for all digital activators.
I managed to get a few EU contacts from here operating on 20 meters. Peter operated on 40 meters since it was later in the day. Here is my contact map.
We stayed overnight in Morgantown, West Virginia and had dinner at a restaurant near West Virginia university. It was a long, but successful day. In part two of the rove, we get an early start and head North to activate three more parks, one each in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, so watch for the next post.