Part 3: N2YCH and K1PCN’s Dayton Hamvention Trip QRP POTA Rove

Many thanks to Conrad (N2YCH) who shares the first of a three-part field report series outlining his 2023 Hamvention rove with Peter (K1PCN). Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 3: Dayton Hamvention Trip QRP POTA Rove

By Conrad Trautmann, N2YCH

The Bonus State

Welcome to part three of a three-part POTA rove story where Peter, K1PCN and I decided to activate six state parks for our Parks on the Air Activated States Award on the drive to the Dayton Hamvention.

In installments one and two we activated Delaware, Maryland, West Virgina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. I thought we had exhausted all our state activating possibilities for this trip, until…Peter said, “you know, Kentucky is not that far away. And, by the way, there is a park down there that has never been activated digitally…

Really? I’m in.

We decided that on day two of the Hamvention, we would leave in the afternoon and make our way to Kentucky, which was just over an hour away. While we were standing on the line to get into the Hamvention on Saturday morning, one of the people near us mentioned that the Voice of America Museum was open until 9pm that night and he was considering going.

I stopped at the VOA booth in the Hamvention and picked up a brochure and on our way to Kentucky, Peter suggested that maybe on the way back, we stop in.


Our best bet for a Kentucky POTA activation, which was recommended by a fellow digital activator at the South West Ohio DX association dinner we attended the night before, was Big Bone Lick State Historic Site (K-3779).  According to the Internet, it was named Big Bone Lick because of the “mammoth artifacts that were found and because of the salt springs that animals drank.” I found that it was impossible to tell anyone the name of the park without a smirk or chuckle in return.

When we arrived in Kentucky, we drove around Big Bone Lick park looking for a place to activate. Apparently, there are buffalo at the park…however, we did not activate near the buffalo. We found an unused picnic area and split up.

Literally about five minutes after I set up and got on the air, a group of moms with five-year-olds celebrating one of their birthday’s showed up. One of the mom’s apologized and explained that I had found her secret place in the park…but by then, I had almost completed my activation and was ready to break down.

I don’t mind it when people come up and ask about what I am doing, I’m always happy to explain ham radio to anyone who’s curious. Activating a park surrounded by a group of five-year-olds was a new experience that I hope to never repeat. Here is a photo of my setup at Big Bone Lick.

Given that it was later in the day by the time we arrived, Peter chose 40 meters, and I took 20 meters. 22 QSO’s later, here’s my coverage using the Buddipole with the 17’ MFJ whip and the Elecraft KX3 at 10 watts.


On our way back, Peter called the VOA museum to confirm they would be open late that night and then that became our next destination since we had to pass right by on our way back to Dayton.

If you have a chance to visit, I would highly recommend it. It was here that audio was routed to the various transmitters beaming signals to different parts of the world. From the VOA Museum web site…

There were three complete transmitters on the east side and three “slave” radio frequency power amplifiers on the west side, making the plant capable of operating on six frequencies with three separate programs simultaneously. All transmitters used water-cooled power tubes with fan-coil heat exchangers.

A complete antenna switching matrix allowed any of the six RF power amplifiers to be connected to any of the 22 output ports.  There were 19 rhombic antennas from 45 degrees to 100 degrees to cover Europe and Africa and five antennas aimed 168 degrees for Latin America.  There were two additional antenna switches in the field to make use of all 24 antennas.  All of the rhombic antennas were of the re-entrant type.

The transmitters were 200kw Collins transmitters, one of which is still on site that is de-energized, and open so that you can walk inside to take a look.

Here is a photo I took of the transmitter and audio control room. We learned that programming was produced in other locations, so there were no studios at this site, but audio could be routed to the various transmitters and antennas in this control room.

Below is a photo of WC8VOA, the VOA Museum’s ham radio station. We noticed that they were using Icom transmitters tied to Elecraft power amplifiers.

Out behind the museum, you can see the antenna array they have tied to these stations.

I asked if I could run their digital station and was given permission. It was already dialed into the 40-meter antenna, so I texted my friend Matt, N4MRD in Florida and told him to get to his radio and go up on 40. A few minutes later, N4MRD contacted WC8VOA. The station operators wrote up a QSL card on the spot and I mailed it to Matt when I got home. Here is a photo of the QSL card.

Other things to see at the museum include displays of antique radios and ham radio equipment, a Crosley display and the nostalgic design of the building takes you back in time.

VOA Photos

Caesar Creek State Park

Through social media, Peter had learned that K-1940, Caesar Creek State Park was the gathering place for the POTA community during the Hamvention. So, after our VOA Museum stop, we headed to Caesars Creek. We were hoping to activate on 2 meter or 70 cm simplex with other POTA activators. While we did contact a few others on 2 meters, it was not enough contacts to activate the park. I decided to pull my KX3 out and set the Elecraft AX1 antenna up on the Jeep to see if I could get enough QSO’s to activate the park. Since it was nighttime, I used the AX1 40-meter antenna adapter for the first time. I was amazed at the performance.

Here is a photo of Peter and my Jeep at Caesar Creek getting those final QSO’s.

I got eight QSO’s on 40 meters, four 2-meter QSO’s and one 70 cm QSO. Here is my QSO map for the activation.

Once we finished up at Caesar Creek, we made our way back to the hotel in Dayton.

Thanks to Peter, we managed to squeeze in one more state Saturday afternoon. We hit the road first thing Sunday morning to make our way home. Activating these seven states has bumped my total of activated states to 18. If you have not seen my other fly away state activation posts using my airline friendly HF radio kit, search my call sign here on for my field reports.

After this successful state rove, I am already planning my next one…I am considering Tulsa to North Dakota to add another nine states. Matt, N3NWV said during his presentation at the POTA forum at the Hamvention, that North Dakota is one of the more difficult states for hunters to get…so why not do a POTAxpedition there?

This was a fun, 1800-mile, ham radio themed road trip. It was a great first Hamvention experience, it was fun visiting all these parks and making all of the contacts we made and finally, visiting the VOA museum.

2 thoughts on “Part 3: N2YCH and K1PCN’s Dayton Hamvention Trip QRP POTA Rove”

  1. Brilliant report, Conrad!
    I’m a big fan of the VOA museum. They do an amazing job curating both vintage radios and broadcasting history in general. Plus, it’s amazing to see all of this in the Bethany VOA transmitting facility.
    Thank you again for sharing your Hamvention rove with us. You two did an amazing job picking up more states on your trip to Dayton/Xenia!

  2. I’ve really enjoyed your three-parter Paul.
    You and Pete obviously had way too much fun with this.
    Thanks for also including those photos from the VOA museum. When I finally go to Dayton this is now on the bucket list.

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