A Speedy QRP POTA Activation of the President James K. Polk State Historic Site

On the morning of Tuesday, July 25, 2023, I packed an overnight bag, grabbed my Elecraft KX2 and Chelegance MC-750 then drove to Charlotte, NC.

I go to Charlotte very rarely these days, but somehow in July of this year, I managed two separate visits. Before that, I think I was last there four years ago to catch a flight to Denver.

My main excuse for visiting Charlotte on the 25th was to give a presentation at the Mecklenburg Amateur Radio Society’s monthly meeting.

Since I was in Charlotte for most of the afternoon, I also used it as an opportunity to do a bit of car shopping and test driving. Very soon, I’ll have two new drivers in the family, so we plan to add another vehicle to the mix sometime within the next few months.

While driving to Charlotte I contacted the President James K. Polk State Historic Site. I had never visited this site before so wasn’t sure what to expect. I did a bit of research Monday evening and discovered that their hours were from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM; typical hours for NC State Historic sites.

I knew my schedule would be tight. The park is located on the south west side of Charlotte (in Pineville) and my 3:00 test drive was in the north east part of Charlotte. If you’ve ever driven in Charlotte, you’ll know that driving times are unpredictable once 4:00 hits. I figured I might not arrive until 4:30 or later.

En route to Charlotte, I called the park to ask for permission to do an activation. Anytime I plan to activate a smaller park like a historic site, I always seek permission first from the park staff in advance. Often, they have restrictions about where you can set up and the types of antennas you can use (some historic and archaeological sites, for example, don’t allow any stakes in the ground or lines in trees).

The park staff gave me a thumbs up to do the activation. I didn’t expect them to deny me because this particular park has been activated over 150 times. No doubt, it’s so popular because it’s the closest park to the Charlotte metro area.

I then asked the staff if they closed all of the park grounds at 5:00 or only the visitor’s center. My hope was that, like the Vance Historic Site, they left the park gates open after hours. Unfortunately, the staff member confirmed that they do indeed close the entire site at 5:00, but he added, “you can certainly do your activation up to closing time, though.” He knew I would be pressed for time to fit in this activation.

Fortunately, I made good time to Charlotte and actually was able to bump up my appointments. I finished my last test drive a little after 3:00 and made a beeline for the park.

I arrived on site around 4:00 PM.

President James K. Polk State Historic Site (K-6848)

Before hitting the picnic area, I walked into the visitor’s center to ask where they prefer that I set up. Plus, I wanted to check out some of the displays in the museum!

I chatted with the park staff for a good 15 minutes or so. They were incredibly kind and very familiar with POTA (of course). They were especially familiar with my buddy Max (WG4Z) who lives nearby and activates the site frequently. He’s evidently been a great POTA ambassador!

Having spent so much time in the visitor’s center, I was only left with 45 minutes to complete my activation from setup to pack-up.


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On The Air

It was late enough in the afternoon, I decided to place my bet on the 40 meter band. As long as flaring wasn’t wiping it out, my reasoning was that 40 meters might actually be more reliable than 20 meters.

When I deployed the MC-750 vertical, of course, I added the 7 MHz coil and extended the whip to the resonance point.

I started calling CQ POTA and within 22 minutes worked the first ten stations thus validating the activation.

I continued working 40 meters and added four more contacts in four minutes, then the contacts tapered off.

I didn’t have a lot of time left but the KX2/MC-750 combo is so quick to pack-up, I decided to spend just a few more minutes on the air. The last thing I wanted to do was have multiple stations call me, though, because I knew I’d have to call QRT so soon.

I decided, instead, to roll the dice on the 17 meter band. My thinking was if I worked any stations, I might only work one or two.

Instead of removing the 7 MHz coil and adjusting the MC-750 to resonance, I simply used the KX2 ATU to get a 1:1 match.

I called CQ POTA for a few minutes, but there were no takers. I later found out that the 40 and 30 meter bands were the healthiest that afternoon–20 and above were in rough shape.

I walked away with 14 hunters logged and a big smile on my face that I not only was able to fit in a POTA activation at a new-to-me park, but even had a few minutes to spare. Many thanks to those hunters that made this possible!


Here’s what this 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.

Giving back

After packing up my gear and checking the grounds for trash or anything I might have left behind, I made my way back to the visitor’s center.

I thanked the park staff again and purchased a few postcards an left a donation.

I would recommend that if you frequent a small historic site like this, it does not hurt to leave a donation and/or purchase even a small item in their gift store. It reminds the staff and the park system that amateur radio ops are not only using the site for POTA, but contributing!

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this short 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 an amazing week!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

One thought on “A Speedy QRP POTA Activation of the President James K. Polk State Historic Site”

  1. I have to stop watching your videos and reading the discussions. I spend too much money.
    The LowePro CS60 is listed at both Adorama and B&H for $36.00, free shipping. Still on the LowePro website. A hardsided case.
    Thanks for the videos.

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