My wife was the one that suggested I pick out a hike that would open the door to a short POTA activation (isn’t she the best–?).
Carl Sandburg National Historic Site (K-0804)
Earlier that week, I made a note to activate the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site in the village of Flat Rock, North Carolina. I passed this idea by my wife and she agreed that it’d make for a perfect outing.
The park has a wonderful trail network and I hadn’t visited it since 2016, during the National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) ARRL event.
Technically, I could go back into my NPOTA logs and upload my Sandburg activations to the POTA site because previous activations do count, but I’m not actually motivated by my park count so much as I am just having fun working new-to-me sites under the new POTA program.
That said, my somewhat flexible, non-committal goal of having at least 100 unique parks activated for POTA before the end of 2023 was also on my mind; a small motivator to expand my POTA footprint.
Admittedly, there really aren’t many parks that are within two hours of my QTH that I haven’t already activated for POTA. The ones left, like Sandburg, are just outside the corridors I normally travel.
The Sandburg site is a beautiful one, and I think Hazel may have even remembered this spot from so many years ago. My wife and I got a kick out of how giddy she was to hit the trails, smell the smells, and meet all of the other hikers.
Time to hit the trails and find an activation spot!
Knee Board Portable!
Back in 2016, I got permission from a Sandburg park ranger to place a wire in a tree in order to perform my NPOTA activation. She only asked that I perform my activation on the trail network (not at the house and goat farm).
Wow…I just checked and I had forgotten that I made a short field report of that activation over on (my other blog) the SWLing Post—check it out here. Back then, my KX2 was still very new and shiny!
And here we are seven years later and I’m still activating the Carl Sandburg site from my lap. This time, however, I don’t have my radio on a clip board, I’m using a folding knee board:
Instead of just placing my logs and radio on the knee board, like I did back in 2016, I wanted to place my entire antenna system on it, too.
You see, although I’m sure the staff at the Sandburg home wouldn’t mind me putting a wire in their trees along the hiking trail, I couldn’t find a staff member to ask, so I used this as an excuse to try something I’ve always wanted to do: mount my AX1 on the knee board as well!
We found a park bench a mile up the trail and decided to set up there.
Set up wasn’t difficult because Joshua designed in bungee cord lashing points along the perimeter of the knee board. I simply secured the KX2 on the board with the bungees, then tightened the AX1 bipod so it wouldn’t move.
My buddy, Mike (KE8PTX), has made a 3D-printed AX1 support that replaces the bipod, but I didn’t have that installed on the KX2.
Time to hop on the air!
- Elecraft KX2 with Windcamp X2 Side Rails and Cover
- KXPD2 Paddles
- Elecraft KXBT2 Li-Ion Battery Pack
- Elecraft ES60 Pack (Note that mine is a discontinued LowePro CS60 pack, the ES60 is identical and Elecraft branded)
- Tufteln N0RNM Folding Knee Board
- Elecraft AX1 packed in a Maxpedition Fatty Pouch
- GoRuck GR1 USA
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil
- Rite In The Rain Top Spiral Notebook
- Camera: original OSMO Action Camera (the OSMO 3 is the current version) with Sensyne Phone Tripod
On The Air
I hit the KX2 ATU button, got a great match on 20 meters, then started calling CQ POTA.
Within eleven minutes, I’d already logged the ten contacts necessary to validate this POTA activation!
I added two more stations for a total of twelve contacts in 13 minutes on 20 meters.
I kept my promise to my wife and made this a short activation–we still had more hiking and a lunch to enjoy together. Still, she gave me a quick nod when I suggested fishing around the 17 meter band for a couple of minutes.
Unfortunately, 17 meters didn’t produce a contact in short order, so I called QRT.
Here’s what this five watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map (note that KE5AN was in Arkansas and KF0GE was in Missouri when I logged them):
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.
Here’s what I love about operating the KX2/AX1 combo on a knee board: it’s incredibly low-impact and low-profile.
The only part of my radio field kit touching the park itself was my 11′ counterpoise wire draped on the ground behind the park bench.
And the funny part? That wee radio and antenna combination completes my activation just as quickly as a wire antenna in a tree (even more quickly because, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s so dang speedy to set up–!) .
Of course, the package is so small it fits in pretty much any backpack or field bag. No problem there.
I brought along my folding chair and 2L of water–those were the only things weight down my pack.
Hazel knows the pack-up procedure and was eager to hit the trail again with her mom and dad. We knew she was getting excited when she started doing her signature belly crawls!
Time to hike!
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!
Cheers & 72,