KO4WFP: A Return to Butter Bean Beach

Many thanks to Teri (KO4WFP) for the following guest post:

A Return to Butter Bean Beach

by Teri (KO4WFP)

Given the trip to Nova Scotia and then getting a cold upon my return to Savannah, Georgia, it had been awhile since catching up with the guys in my local club – Coastal Area Radio Club (CARS). They have a No Work Wednesday club that meets weekly, activating either Butter Bean Beach at the Wormsloe State Historic Site (K-3725) or Fort Pulaski National Monument (K-0930). This Wednesday, July 19th, they opted for Butter Bean Beach, hoping for a maritime breeze given the hot and humid weather.

I always arrive early at Butter Bean Beach on Wednesdays to get my CW activation out of the way as my local guys use SSB. I rolled into the parking lot around 7:30 AM and saw stuff already piled up on one of the picnic tables in the pavilion. Uh-oh.

I, then, saw people I recognized – Garret Jones and Lisa Goodman. Garret volunteers with Wilderness Southeast and Lisa is the organization’s Executive Director. Wilderness Southeast offers eco trips and group programs to connect people with the environment. On one of my past activations, they were at Butter Bean Beach with a group of ninth graders for their Fish Gotta Swim program. Also assisting Lisa and Garret today was Sierra Abbasi. They warned me that around 9 AM a group of kids would arrive for their kayaking camp. Good thing I had my noise-cancelling headphones!

Last time I activated this site, I used the EFRW antenna in a tree but I thought to try something different today. Frankly, I figured my SOTAbeams travel mast looked a bit lonely, especially since I had lugged it all over Nova Scotia but not deploying it once while there.

It didn’t take long to get the mast deployed and the antenna where I wanted it. Now how to deal with the feed-end? The night before, I recalled a recent conversation with a friend who suggested using gallon water jugs to hold the ends of an inverted V. I figured that might work just fine for attaching the feed-end and keeping it taut. It did!

As for the counterpoise, even though I received a comment on a previous trip report that the counterpoise does not need to be elevated, I thought “let’s just gild the lily and elevate it anyway.” So I put out my water bottle and attached the end of the counterpoise to that. Besides, I wanted to be prepared for kids possibly walking around my antennas. A black, thin wire lying on the ground would not be easily noticed. But one slightly elevated with neon pink flagging tape might.

It wasn’t long before I was on the air. When at Butter Bean Beach, I almost always start first on 40 meters due to the early hour. (Note: I did not check the band conditions before heading out that morning but good thing I didn’t because 40 meters obviously didn’t read that report either.)

The noise level was a S1-S4 but in 20 minutes I had eight contacts, including one of my code buddies, Charles W4CLW. Near the end of those 20 minutes, though, it sounded like the band was shifting because I’d hear people only to lose them after sending my information.

So I moved to 20 meters and managed to snag seven more contacts. Then it got quiet. As 17 meters had proven to be my friend in Nova Scotia, I gave it a try. I got two contacts on that band but both times I received a 339 for my signal report. That was not encouraging. By this point, I had a successful activation. But those of you who activate know POTA QSOs are like Lays Potato chips – you can never get enough!

I headed back to 20 meters. The noise was horrible and I heard no one during the five minutes I called CQ. OK – I gave 40 meters one last go and snagged two more contacts, including a friend Lane WK4WC in NC. At this point, I actually checked the band conditions report which listed 17 and 15 meters as “good”. I gave 15 meters a try but after calling CQ for awhile and not hearing any response, I called QRT.

Source: https://qsomap.org

Meanwhile, my local radio club showed up. It was great to visit with them including a new ham Tony KQ4JFF who received his Tech license 3 weeks ago. The guys wanted to walk Tony through a POTA activation. Not wanting to miss the fun, I hung around. Boy, am I glad I did!

Usually when my guys activate, they might hit eight or so states on SSB with 100 watts. However, 20 meters today was crazy – Billy KG4SZS, who was running the activation, kept adding states to his total. And there was no discernible pattern to the propagation – it moved randomly from the west coast to the northeast to the midwest and so on. Every time he made contact with a new state, we’d cheer! In the end, he worked 29 states plus Canada!

At this point, it was time to call it day. Despite sitting in the shade of the pavilion, the 92 degree heat had baked us enough. We packed up and headed out a little before noon. On the way to the main road, I noticed the day’s food truck – the Naked Dog. I didn’t order anything but did snap a picture.

This is the fun of POTA – you never know who may show up and what may happen. You might struggle to get a valid activation, as the CARS guys had the past several weeks, or you might hit the jackpot with 29 states plus Canada like Billy did today. And no matter the outcome, you can enjoy a great hot dog afterwards!

10 thoughts on “KO4WFP: A Return to Butter Bean Beach”

  1. What kind of mast did you use and how tall is the mast? It looked like a “cloud tickler” since it was way up there!

    1. Tommy –

      I apologize for the late reply. My family and I drove all day Sunday from Savannah, GA to Dallas, TX to visit in-laws so I was unable to respond to your question. Sixteen hours in the car makes for a long day but it will be good to see family and I hope to activate my first Texas park while here.

      It is a SOTAbeams travel mast as Pat and Billy note below. I do have a mount for the hitch of my car for it but at Butter Bean Beach, we usually just pound a stake into the ground as there are no restrictions for that and put the mast over the it. I’ve been very happy with this mast and it has held up even in some breezy conditions which we can get at this QTH. The very top section is a bit flimsy so I often remove it when using the Pacific Antenna Billy references. That is a great dipole and I used it often before I purchased the EFRW QRP Tufteln antenna is usually use now. With the EFRW antenna, I do not need to remove the top section of the mast but I will still put a little painter’s tape wrapped around the pole right above where I attach the antenna to the mast just to ensure it cannot come loose in windy conditions.

      Thanks for your question!

      72, Teri KO4WFP

  2. Excellent. Fundy National Park in New Brunswick, Canada has plenty of trees for antennas and is on my list for a POTA. 73

  3. Teri,
    Thanks again for the help on Wednesday. This is another excellent article complete with pictures.

    To answer the mast question we (No Work Club) typically use a non-guyed ~30’ fiberglass push-up. Also, for non-QRP SSB we are fans of the 20-40 Pacific Antenna dipole. It’s an easy kit to solder/assemble and with the great salt water ground plane we have at Butter Bean Beach (K-3725 Wormsloe Plantation) it works very well if propagation is accommodating.

  4. Hi Teri:
    I read this post today and I am once again enthused by your grit and enjoyment all rolled into one outing! I enjoyed my first activation recently and will be back for more.

    73 Dave K3FT ?

    1. Dave –

      Thank you! I am thrilled to hear about your first activation. That is a big step so kudos to you for making it. Yes, please keep up your POTA activities. It is a wonderful part of our hobby. I hope you continue to work at and make progress with CW!

      72, Teri KO4WFP

  5. Teri, as for contacts and antenna layout, please have a look at this image


    not willing to teach you anything and btw discard the gain value since my NEC model was pretty raw, but look at the takeoff angle and the radiation pattern for the various configurations, that alone may explain something, I believe


  6. Hi Teri,

    I’ve been reading about your POTA activations and love your enthusiasm. It’s contagious! I recently bought a KX3, but have yet to take it out for POTA/SOTA activations. I’ll be retired soon and hope to activate some nearby parks.

    I saw you spotted on 40CW but no copy here in NorCal. I heard other stations calling you. I had to go to work, so couldn’t follow you to the other bands.

    I look forward to having a QSO with you someday.


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