POTA activation with Alan (W2AEW) and WCARS Hamfest Photos

On the weekend of July 29, 2023 we had a very special guest visit the Asheville area: Alan (W2AEW).

You likely know Alan because he has an amazing YouTube channel where he takes deep dives into a wide variety of ham radio, test equipment, and other technical topics. Alan is also an avid POTA (Parks On The Air) activator and a regular contributor here on QRPer.com.

Alan reached out in early July and mentioned that he would be in town to see his nephew’s band (Safety Coffin) who would be performing to celebrate the release of their new album.

Fortunately, that weekend was the one free weekend in my schedule during July because I had cleared it in anticipation of the 2023 WCARS Hamfest. Vlado (N3CZ) and I had planned to reserve a few tables to sell some gear, but both of us were so busy leading up to the hamfest, we skipped the idea of being vendors and decided instead to simply enjoy the hamfest without all of the prep.

Early Saturday morning, I picked up Alan and we made our way to the hamfest.

The WCARS hamfest is always a good one. There’s a large indoor area and loads of outdoor spaces as well.

It seemed to me that there were even more vendors this year than I had seen in the past. I don’t think there was one free spot indoors.

My buddy Philip (N4HF) is a regular at the WCARS hamfest.

Alan and I browsed all of the vendors and both of us ended up buying a few adapters and other small items.

I wasn’t too tempted to make a major purchase, but there were some real goodies, like an Elecraft KX2 and Elecraft KX3 package. Gil (KS4YX) tried to convince me I needed his KX2 as a spare, but I resisted the temptation! (Good try, Gil!)

After all, I needed to show Alan that I had some measure of restraint. Right? [Don’t worry: the following weekend I picked up not one, but two small QRP radios from a friend–more on that in a future post.]

We also spent some time with my buddy Dave (K4SV) who gave us a proper deep-dive into his Tesla Model Y (thanks again, Dave!). My wife and I are planning to buy a used EV and the Model Y is high on the list.

It was brilliant seeing so many friends at the hamfest, but Alan and I didn’t hang around too long. Alan needed to be back with his family around 12:30 and both of us hoped to squeeze in a POTA activation. I was especially keen to get Alan on the air because he had yet to add North Carolina to the list of states he’d activated. We needed to take care of that quickly!

POTA on the Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378)

The easiest spot to activate, without a doubt, was the Blue Ridge Parkway Folk Art Center in East Asheville. We parked, set up an end-fed half-wave, and Alan was on the air within a couple of minutes.

He used his trusty Elecraft KX2 and Bamakey TP-III paddles. For logging, he ran the HAMRS app on his iPad.

Side note: the previous evening, I was at Alan’s place and he showed me his beautifully organized field radio kits. Alan travels quite a lot and fits in POTA activations on the go. No doubt, one of the keys to his success are his field kits: he’s always prepared for impromptu activations.

Alan started calling CQ POTA and rapidly logged more than enough hunters to validate his park activation, so he called QRT and I grabbed my Discovery TX-500 to  take over his frequency.

Since Alan had warmed-up the frequency, it was easy pickins’ for me to log 13 hunters all on 20 meters. The band was healthier than morning than it had been in quite some time.

We packed up our gear and I dropped Alan off at his house not a minute earlier than 12:30! We were chuffed to have both fit in a hamfest crawl and POTA activation all in one morning.

It was so brilliant finally meeting Alan in person–he’s such an amazing fellow; a true ham radio Elmer and ambassador. Again, check out Alan’s YouTube channel as it is simply chock-full of amazing tutorials.

Thank you, Alan, for carving some time out of your vacation weekend to hang with me and play radio!

2023 WCARS Hamfest Photos

I took quite a few photos at the WCARS hamfest. I tried my best this year to not only take pics of vintage gear! Ha ha!

Click on each photo to enlarge:

11 thoughts on “POTA activation with Alan (W2AEW) and WCARS Hamfest Photos”

  1. Thomas – it was a truly memorable weekend. It was already going to be awesome to celebrate my nephew’s new album, but hanging out and activating with you was the icing on the cake!

    1. Next time, my friend! 🙂
      (But yeah! We could have P2P’d and I was even packing a dummy load VE6LK sent me!)

  2. Great read! Always enjoy sharing the stories here with the kids, you two are inspiring a whole new generation of operators!

  3. I often set up my QRP station when I am a vendor in the tail gatoring section of a HamFest. Sometimes just use couple HamSticks back to back as short dipole.

    73, ron, n9ee

  4. I was there at the WCARS fest. Good crowd this year. Always try to go each year. Years past it was always raining. This time, pretty nice. Got lucky and picked up a Kenwood R-1000. Wanted one since the 80’s. Kept seeing the ads in shortwave magazines. 73, Tim N4TCM ex KD4RNC.

  5. WCARS hamfest was always my favorite event back when I was a teen. I used to volunteer with Zach (KM4BLG). Too bad at the time I didn’t have enough cash on hand to really buy anything major. Had I known that Alan was attending I might have scheduled a visit to Asheville to join in the festivities!
    73, Jonathan KM4CFT

  6. I’ve enjoyed many QSOs with Alan over the years. Like many others, I admire Alan as a person and for his dedication to our hobby.


    1. Hi Don – great to see you here! Yes, I can always recognize your voice on the air. Hope you’re doing well!

  7. I saw you and Vlad at the hamfest. I have never actually met you but follow your blog. I didn’t want to bother you and maybe prevent someone from finding the deal of the day. A Ten Tec Century 21 followed me home. It was a great hamfest. Hope to hit Shelby this year. Good luck searching for deals. I enjoy your posts. 73
    John N4HNO

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