Elecraft KH1: A Quickie Pedestrian Mobile POTA Activation!

Thursday, November 9, 2023 was a typical “dad taxi” day for me.

By the time I got around to doing a POTA activation that afternoon (which was always on the docket) it was within 30 minutes of when I needed to pick up my daughters.

Fortunately, the Blue Ridge Parkway Folk Art Center was en route to town.

I had planned that day to pair up my Elecraft KH1 with a random wire antenna, but looking at the time, I realized that was being a little ambitious–the few minutes to deploy and pack up the antenna would cut into the activation.

Instead (since I had just received my KH1 logging tray/cover) I decided to put it to the test with a real pedestrian mobile activation using the KH1, its  whip antenna, the logging sheets I printed/cut, and the teeny space pen included with the logging tray. In theory, this all looked doable, but in practice I didn’t know if I would actually be able to log on a tray attached to the side of my radio!

I had planned to use my Zoom H1n recorder for the KH1 audio since I would be making an activation video (see below), but frankly, I simply didn’t have time to set it up. I had to make do with the KH1 wee speaker.

Speaking of the speaker…

After playing with the speaker for a few weeks now, I’ve found that it sounds much better when I run the KH1 with a wide CW filter.

I’d always assumed being a low-fidelity 1″ speaker that narrow audio would be best, but I was wrong about that. In the field, I tinker with the filter and attenuation settings for the best audio balance.

Still, it’s not perfect (the speaker is really a “bonus” feature) but it’s much improved over my initial POTA activation.

Of course, I would have been using earphones had I not been recording the activation on camera. Via earphones, the KH1 audio is excellent!


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On The Air

I hopped on the air, started calling CQ POTA, and the stations started rolling in.

Within nine minutes, I logged my first ten contacts, thus validating the activation.

I continued operating until I logged a total of 15 contacts in 14 minutes.

I called QRT as soon as I could because a quick glance of my watch confirmed I was outta’ time!


Here’s what this five watt 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.


This was, without a doubt, on of my quickest activations to date if you look at setup, activation, and pack up time. The KH1 is even faster than my KX2/AX1 combo!

The ability to toss a counterpoise on the ground, extend an antenna, and press the ATU button makes for an incredibly quick deployment.

I also found that using the built-in logging tray and sheets is quite doable. Of course, I can’t simultaneously log on my HAMRS app (perhaps some people could, but not me!). That’s okay, though. I don’t think many of my purely pedestrian mobile activations will also be super long activations with 50+ contacts, so transcribing my logs in the POTA or SOTA system after the fact will be easy enough!

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this “quickie” POTA 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 a wonderful week and (if you’re here in the States) a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

16 thoughts on “Elecraft KH1: A Quickie Pedestrian Mobile POTA Activation!”

  1. Great report Thomas.

    I’m curious if the logging tray would support a cell phone attached to it for logging on Hammrs?

    My plan is to get a KH1 as a reward for learning CW. Or maybe sooner if they ever add SSB to the KH1.


    1. Thanks, Marshall!

      The logging tray might be modified to hold a cell phone. I would be very surprised if someone doesn’t design a tray to do this. I’m not sure, though, if having a phone right up against the radio, antenna, and earphone cord would introduce QRM–possibly even if the phone is in airplane mode. Just the screen emits some noise you might pick up on the whip. Also, that would add a bit more wight to the KH1 possibly pushing it over a pound.

      But hey! Like I said. I’m positive someone will introduce a 3rd party 3D-printed tray for holding a phone! 🙂

      I think the KH1 would be an excellent goal for CW.
      Unfortunately, I don’t see any way the KH1 could ever include SSB. There’s just no room for that in this particular radio. In fact, there’s no room for any other hardware inside–upgrades will all be via firmware (but there are some cool ones in the works!).

      Great to hear from you, OM!


  2. Heck yes! This is EXACTLY what the KH1 is built for – squeezing field radio into little windows of free time that pop-up throughout your day. My job is about 60% remote, so most days I am running the dad taxi as well. Having opportunities like the one you had that day is exactly why I couldn’t order my KH1 fast enough!

    Happy Thanksgiving Thomas and 72

    1. I’m not a lefty Jeff, but I’ve seen this question many times. The KH1 was actually designed to be ambidextrous. There are mounting points on both sides of the radio and the logging tray can be connected to either side.

    2. Nope! 🙂
      The KH1 is designed to work for left or handed people equally as well. The logging tray can be moved to either side. In fact, I think I prefer it on the left even though I’m right-handed!


  3. I noticed you saying that you forgot to change the whip switch from “BNC” position when initially attempting an antenna autotune, as opposed to saying from the “Off” position.

    I do not yet have a KH1. But after reading the operation manual, I too thought of the whip switch “Off” position as being the “BNC” position. Accordingly, I believe a future change to labeling the whip switch should be “BNC” instead of “Off”. To me, it’s clear that switching to “BNC” position, places the whip “Off” line. But switching the whip to “Off” or leaving in one of the two “On” positions is vague regarding BNC engagement.

    Granted, this is nitpicky; but I know at least one Youtuber who didn’t read the manual and initially became confused by this. So, perhaps this is something you can feedback to the folks at Elecraft.

  4. Greetings, all.

    The BNC jack is always connected to the ATU, even when the whip switch is in the 20 m or 17/15 m position. The BNC jack’s center lead is not an RF burn hazard, so this is not a problem, and it simplifies internal wiring.

    On the other hand, the whip mounting post *is* an RF burn hazard. This is why we provided an “OFF” position for it.

    Wayne, N6KR

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