This seven hour road trip calls for a QRP POTA break at Yatesville Lake State Park!

On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, I had one main goal in mind: drive from my buddy Eric’s QTH in Athens, Ohio, back to my QTH in Swannanoa, NC.

This was the final leg of my one week Hamvention journey and I was ready to get back home and rest up before yet another road and camping trip only a few days later.

Before leaving WD8RIF’s QTH that morning, I consulted him about possible POTA sites I could easily activate on my journey.

On the return trip, I chose to drive through Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, then North Carolina.

Eric knows regional parks very well because he’s activated nearly all of them. He suggested Yatesville Lake State Park as it was an easy detour off of Highway 23 in Louisa, Kentucky.

Before leaving Eric’s house, I scheduled the activation and put the address in my car’s GPS/Sat Nav.

Yatesville Lake State Park (K-1272)

I arrived at the Yatesville Lake around 10:45 AM EDT and drove to the campground entrance where I met the campground host. I introduced myself and told her I was looking for a picnic spot to do a POTA activation (explaining to her, of course, what POTA is).

She couldn’t have been more helpful. She pointed out a roadside picnic spot beside us at the campground entrance, she also noted some covered picnic shelters nearby (that seemed to be in use), and even told me I could drive into the campground, find an empty camping spot and just set up there! A very generous offer, but I opted for the roadside picnic table next to me at the campground entrance since I was already parked in the right spot.

There wasn’t much to this particular site; just a picnic table and corn hole game next to the road in full sun. I had my sun gear on (wide brimmed hat and long sleeve lightweight hiking shirt) so the lack of shade wasn’t an issue.

There were plenty of trees on the perimeter of the site, but none would be an easy snag for my throw line because there were no branches overhanging the perimeter. Still, I knew if I launched the throw weight as close as I could to the tree line, I should be able to snag a small branch without having to search in the woods for the end of the line.

As long as I could suspend my mostly homemade 40 meter end-fed half-wave, I’d be a happy activator.

Fortunately, I was able to snag a nearly ideal branch on the first launch.

Setting up the rest of the station couldn’t have been easier. Since the KX2 has a built-in battery, I only needed to attach the antenna, attach my key, and prepare the logs…then, off to the races!


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On The Air

I hopped on the air knowing just how poor propagation had been over the past few days. This, in fact, is why I chose to deploy an efficient 40 meter EFHW instead of a shorter random wire antenna. The 40M EFHW would give me a decent chance to snag stations on both 20 and 40 meters which, I figured, were my best bets that morning. Note that the 40M EFHW is also resonant on 15 and 10 meters, and with my KX2’s built-in ATU, I could also easily have matched this antenna anywhere from 80 to 10 meters.

I decided to begin the activation on 20 meters and, turns out, it was a great choice.

I started calling CQ POTA and the hunters found me. Although the band was anything but stable, I logged my first ten contacts in eleven minutes. Superb!

I continued working stations until I had logged a total of 23 in 22 minutes–all on the 20 meter band.


I wanted to QSY to the 40 meter band and see how band conditions were there, but frankly, I needed to hit the road again. I’d allowed myself a one hour window to perform this entire activation (including setup and takedown) and my time was up!

I was incredibly pleased with the results.


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.

Getting your POTA fix on the road!

I’ll admit that when I have a full day of driving in store, my tendency is to push forward in an effort to reach my destination as quickly as possible.

While I love the idea, I didn’t have time to do a POTA rove like our friend Conrad recently documented on this particular day. My goal was to be back at the QTH in time to unpack and have dinner with my amazing family.

I made time for one POTA activation in a one hour window and I’m so happy I took that option!

It was brilliant getting out of the car, stretching my legs, and fitting in some proper field radio therapy at a park I’d never visited before.

I’m so grateful to the POTA program for providing the perfect excuse to explore new parks and make on-air connections with the POTA community even on these longer road trips.

Thanks, POTA!

And thank you!

Thank you for joining me on this short QRP activation!

I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them. It is truly a labor of love.

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 week ahead and I hope you get a little time to play radio!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

5 thoughts on “This seven hour road trip calls for a QRP POTA break at Yatesville Lake State Park!”

  1. Thomas, not willing to criticize your choices, but you wrote

    “I hopped on the air knowing just how poor propagation had been over the past few days. This, in fact, is why I chose to deploy an efficient 40 meter EFHW instead of a shorter random wire antenna.”

    now, an EFHW for the 40m band has a length of about 20 meters… if we add 1.64m to it we get to 21.64 meters that is 71ft which is one of the “good lengths” for a random wire which, in this case won’t be shorter and won’t be much longer while, at the same time, allowing frequency agility and, if desired, also allowing to get down to th 60 and 80 meters bands, not bad I think, just a matter of adding a bit of wire and using a 9:1 instead of the 49:1 used for the EFHW


    1. Ha ha!

      Actually, so for that time of day, I thought 40 and 20 meters would be optimal and the 40M EFHW is a great choice for those bands.

      I actually love longer random wires and one is on my bench at the moment–just need to get the parts to wind a 9:1.

      So, actually? I can get my KX2 ATU to tune a 40M EFHW on 60 and 80 meters. I know it’s not super efficient there, but it can work.

      You would be a great person to answer this question: How much more efficient would a 71′ random wire (with a 9:1) be on 80 meters than a 40M EFHW using both the 49:1 and an ATU to finish the impedance match? I know the random wire would be about 8ish feet longer, but would it be orders of magnitude more efficient or just a bit?

      Inquiring minds, OM! 🙂

      1. Hi Thomas !

        To tell the truth, I never tried such a comparison in “real world” so what follows are my thought; but before I expose them, let me clear a point, when I suggested lenghtening the EFHW to turn it into an EFRW the point was to gain frequency agility, then for sure a 65ft EFHW will be more efficient than a (say) 35ft random that wasn’t the point 😀

        As for comparing a 65ft EFHW against a 71ft EFRW on the 40 meters band, all being equal (installation and so on), the EFHW will ideally have (a little) the edge since it won’t require an ATU (and the related losses) and since its radiation pattern will be more predictable

        But then the above is true under ideal conditions, if we move the whole thing in real world and go for a POTA activation, both antennas will work over different terrain types and will be installed in whatever possible config, under such conditions, I doubt the difference between an EFHW and an EFRW will be noticeable (given there will be any, by the way) but in this case the EFRW will have the advantage of covering almost all bands so allowing to jump on the most promising band if another one looks closed

        that’s it, just off the top of my head 😀

  2. just a note, an enfed half wave antenna stands to a “random” wire antenna as a dipole stands to a doublet, both are similar but have different purposes (aside from being antennas, that is :D)

    1. RR. 🙂
      I think that’s why I like having both available. Plus, why not? Ha ha! Thanks, Andrew.

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