Elecraft KH1 + Speaker Wire = Pileup Madness on Bakers Mountain!

Since the beginning of November, I’ve been pushing my Elecraft KH1 activations to the front of the line so that readers and subscribers who are considering this wee handheld radio might get a chance to see and hear it in action.

So far, I’ve used the KH1 for what it was designed to do: pedestrian mobile/handheld using the built-in whip antenna. I’ve activated a park, a summit, and even did a little parking lot POTA hunting.

I’ve decided that November is KH1 month–this is the only radio I’ll use this month.

I will start blending in some of my field reports from October (there were some really fun ones in there) that feature my other field radios and a variety of antennas starting next week. I’ll still be pushing some of my KH1 field reports to the front during that time as well. Also, I’ll likely post more bonus videos over on Patreon.

Where to activate?

On Monday, November 6, 2023, I had several hours in the afternoon to take the KH1 on another mini radio adventure. I wasn’t sure where I’d perform an activation, though.

This time, I didn’t want to do a pedestrian mobile activation. I wanted to see how the KH1 might play on my kneeboard and how it might pair with my 28.5′ speaker wire antenna. I was curious if its internal ATU would find acceptable matches on all bands.

I packed the KH1, throw line bag, Tufteln Kneeboard, Helinox chair, 2L water bag, camera gear, and speaker wire antenna in my GoRuck pack (FYI: all links and full inventory are below).

This was more gear than I’d need, but all of these items were in my radio box in the trunk/boot of my car.

I had only one errand to run that afternoon: I needed to drop off some of my wife’s illustrated Christmas cards at my friend Hamilton William’s Gallery in downtown Morganton.

After catching up with Hamilton, I had to make a decision about where to go for an activation. I knew this: it was an incredibly beautiful day, so whatever I did, it needed to include a hike!

I considered a few parks but the most convenient spot for a proper hike was Bakers Mountain. It also required the least amount of driving since it was essentially on the way back to Hickory.

Bakers Mountain (W4C/WP-007)

It being an early Monday afternoon, there weren’t many other hikers at Bakers Mountain. In fact, I never ran into any other hikers on the main loop trail.

Bakers Mountain park is (sadly) not a POTA entity. It’s a county park, so does not currently qualify. There was talk once of Bakers Mountain being turned into a state park, but it falls just shy of the amount of acreage needed to qualify.

Bakers Mountain is a one point SOTA summit, but the hike (if you do the full loop trail) is actually pretty strenuous if you take it at a nice clip. I’d consider it a moderate hike overall.

I’ve already activated Bakers Mountain this year, so this activation’s point will not add to my goal of reaching Mountain Goat (1,000 points). That’s okay, though. Unless my family life changes in a way that frees up a lot more time, Mountain Goat is a good 5-6 years in the future at my pace! I’m perfectly fine with that.

I reached the summit and found a spot to set up in the shade.


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On The Air

After I found a clear spot on 20 meters, I spotted myself to the SOTA network via the SOTA Goat app, then started calling CQ SOTA.

What ensued was an insane pileup. I did not expect this.

I logged 29 stations in 32 minutes on 20 meters. Next, I QSY’d to the 40 meter band.

After my spot on 40 meters hit, I started working more stations at a rapid pace–14 stations in 10 minutes.

Finally, I moved up to the 17 meter band assuming it would be relatively quiet.  Turns out, it was quite productive! I added another 12 stations in 12 minutes.

All in all, I logged a total of 55 stations.

It was incredibly fun!


Here’s what this five watt activation into a speaker wire looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map (click map to enlarge):

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.

Loving the KH1 ATU!

Even though the KH1 ATU doesn’t have the matching range of my KX2 or KX3 ATU, it is most impressive. I’m pretty sure it’ll match any antenna I throw at it.

It’s so nice having a radio as tiny as the KH1 with a built-in ATU!

There’s no other HF transceiver on the market that’s this lightweight and compact and includes a capable internal auto ATU.

If you can’t tell, I love my KH1!

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this SOTA 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 brilliant weekend! Play a little radio!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

11 thoughts on “Elecraft KH1 + Speaker Wire = Pileup Madness on Bakers Mountain!”

  1. You’re having way too much fun with the KH1, Thomas. Loving the videos, however.
    Our Wx has progressed into our normal, rainy November, so I’m enjoying watching your activations in relatively decent Fall conditions.

    73, Vic KB7GL
    Kirkland, WA

  2. Honored to be on the first page of your SOTA log for this one. Just got my payment link email for my KH1! Should ship in 3-5 days!! I’m beyond stoked. These posts/videos are phenomenal Thomas, keep it up!

  3. Hey Thomas… I’ve been following your YT channel for awhile. Don’t worry about the length… I can always skip forward. I sometimes let you play while I’m doing something else as the sound of your voice and code coming from the computer is pleasing to the ear.

    That Helinox chair is the bomb! I first saw it in one of N1CLC’s videos and asked him about it. They were only about $100 at that time and I bought one. It is used for more than radio activations. I’ll order a footprint for it today.

    I’m waiting for my KH1 to be finished and shipped. I hope that will be by the end of the month (I was in fairly early). It will be fun and a good radio to keep in the rig.

    I have one of those wire antennas. Two wires, about 28ft long and I sometimes throw the radiator over the top of the sagebrush and the other on the ground. I call it my “Sagebrush Antenna.” 🙂 It works well with any of my Elecraft rigs.

    Thanks for the show!

  4. It was a pleasure working you. It’s a rare occurrence when we can hear each other. The KH-1 is a cool radio. I have a KX2 inbound and I think that is what will work best for me. I always enjoy your videos. 72

  5. The KH-1 is an awesomely portable unit as shown in preceding videos. What this video shows it that the KH-1 works almost as well as a KX2 in a situation where either one could have been used. Because the KX2 sets such a high standard, it is amazing that the KH-1 does so well in a situation where the KX2 really shines.

  6. Thanks for a great activation report and video. One question-how did you choose 28.5 feet for your speaker wire length? Probably no big deal but I use 26 feet of the stealth wire from wireman. Thanks!
    BTW George Z KJ6VU says hi from OR-we need to get you out here

    1. Thomas had a whole video about the 28.5 speaker wire antenna a while back. I forgot the reason he gave for the length, but 28.5′ was long enough to be matched and used on 40m, as well as higher bands.

      1. Thanks. I watched that video. I was just curious about the length. It’s pretty close to what others including Elecraft (25-26 feet) have recommended. Perhaps the extra few feet allow better loading on 40 as you mentioned. Antennas such as this usually are a non resonant length for the bands. Hopefully we’ll get a reply from Thomas when he’s not so busy.

        1. Yes I agree. Every additional foot reduces ground loss significantly on 40 but also makes the antenna a bit less portable, so always a compromise. Different choosers make different choices 🙂

  7. Tom,
    FYI. I seldom recommend MFJ products, but…
    I tried an Anker speaker with both my KX2 and X6100 but found it amplified bass sounds and background noise disproportionately. I found it fatiguing very quickly. I also wasn’t pleased with the external Xiego speaker that came with the X6100.
    MFJ-281 to the rescue ! The 281 advertises 600-???? hz bandwidth. It did an incredible job on CW. Everyone on the last activation wanted to give it a try.

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