I’m pleased to report that I was able to fit in that activation!
I’m pushing this report and video to the front of the line because so many readers are eager to see how the KH1 performs during a field activation. Instead of focusing on the park, in this field report we’ll be taking a closer look at the KH1 and my initial impressions after performing a pedestrian mobile POTA activation with it.
Packing the KH1
After a quick trip back to the QTH for lunch, I packed the Elecraft KH1 field kit in my EDC pack (a travel laptop bag).
Herein lies my first impression of the KH1: even though I knew I had packed the entire kit, I felt like I must have been leaving something behind.
Sounds funny, but even though I pride myself on making fully self-contained field radio kits, I felt like there must have be something else I needed. The KH1 field kit just seemed too small, too lightweight, and too compact to have included everything I needed for an activation.
Intellectually, I knew that it included everything needed, but I still did a mental inventory:
- Radio? Check.
- Antenna? Check.
- ATU? Check.
- Paddles? Check.
- Battery? Check.
- Counterpoise? Check.
- Log book and pencil? Check.
Hard to believe, but it was all there.
Trust me: the first time you take your KH1 to the field, I bet you’ll feel the same way I did.
Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378)
It was cold and blustery afternoon the afternoon of November 1, 2023. At my QTH, I checked the temperature and it was about 34F. I knew it would be a bit warmer in town which is a good 1,000 feet lower in elevation, but I still grabbed my gloves on the way out the door. Glad I did!
As I mention in the activation video below, I wasn’t exactly on my “A Game.” I had received a couple of vaccines the previous day and my body was a bit achy as if I was starting to get the flu. But, of course, I wasn’t. Still… I didn’t feel 100%.
I arrived on site and set up couldn’t have been easier:
- Open the KH1 pack
- Remove the KH1
- Attach the counterpoise and string out on ground
- Remove whip from clips and attach to top of KH1
- Extend whip
- Turn on radio
- Find a clear frequency
- Hit the ATU button for a 1:1 match!
We’re talking a 30 second process even for someone who moves slowly.
Important notes about my KH1
- I am waiting on a firmware update to add:
- CW Message Memories
- CW Decoding
- Internal Logging
- I purchased the full “Edgewood” package but I don’t yet have my logging tray/cover yet. Elecraft plans to ship this within the next few days.
- My KH1 is a very early serial number because I’m in the volunteer testing group.
The KH1 Speaker
I consider the Elecraft KH1 speaker to be a “bonus” feature. The speaker is small (1.1 x 0.65”) and limited in fidelity.
I had planned to connect my Zoom digital recorder to the KH1 and record audio directly from the headphone port during this activation.
Unfortunately, I was not able to hear my sidetone via the Zoom H1n audio output (via earphone). Turns out, I had an incorrect setting on my recorder’s audio level, but I was pressed for time in the field and decided to record the activation using the KH1’s internal speaker.
Not an ideal situation, to be honest. The speaker works, but its audio output is limited by design. The KH1 has very low current consumption numbers (50-70 mA in receive, 0.5-1.0 A transmit) –as with all other similar field radios, audio amplification comes second to battery life!
Frankly, I’m super pleased that Elecraft put this small speaker in the KH1. This is one thing I’ve always wished my KX1 had.
And as you’ll see in this “trial by fire” the KH1 speaker might not have been ideal, but it certainly worked!
- Elecraft KH1 Edgewood Package which includes:
- KH1 Hand-Held, 5-Band Transceiver
- KHATU1 Antenna Tuner and Built-In Whip
- KHPD1 Keyer Paddle
- KHLOG1 Logbook Tray w/mini-ballpoint pen
- KXBT2 rechargeable Li-Ion battery
- KHIBC1 Internal Battery Charger
- ES20 Custom zippered carrying case.
- E980262 Power Cable
- KXUSB USB Cable
- Counterpoise wire & 2 storage clips
- E740377 KH1 Owner’s Manual
- Elecraft KH1 Edgewood Package which includes:
On the air
Having never operated pedestrian mobile during a POTA activation, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
Also, I was worried that the speaker audio might not be loud enough to be picked up by my camera mics. Turns out, that was not an issue.
I started calling CQ POTA on 20 meters and (BOOM!) a pileup ensued!
It was a bit crazy, I’ll admit.
I worked my first ten contacts within ten minutes. Already, my POTA activation was validated.
I continued working station after station. The pileup felt almost DXpedition grade–certainly a worse-case scenario for the KH1’s wee speaker.
Still, I worked 44 stations in a total of 43 minutes on the air.
Sadly, I had to call QRT because I was running very late.
Here’s what this five watt pedestrian mobile activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:
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.
- Operating pedestrian mobile was HUGE fun. It’ll be even more fun when I receive the KH1 logging tray/cover. Bending over to log on the picnic table was sub-optimal (just look at my handwriting in the logs! Ha ha!).
- The KH1 speaker worked even in a challenging signal environment. That said, it’s not optimal. Again, if I hadn’t been recording a video, I would have worn earphones.
- The KH1 paddles keyed accurately and worked flawlessly. The action is much softer than my other paddles, but this seems to work well pedestrian mobile.
- There was no fatigue at all holding the KH1 in my left hand for the duration of the activation. Honestly, you kind of forget you’re holding it. I imagine there are some smart phones that weigh more!
- I might need to find a chest mount for my camera when doing these pedestrian mobile activations. I’d welcome any input or advice here–action camera mounts are not a product category I know well.
- Next, I want to use the KH1 on a tabletop and connected to an end-fed antenna. Look for that field report soon!
AE5X from the other side of the QSO
Update: Many thanks to my buddy John (AE5X) who posted this video of our exchange during this 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!
Cheers & 72,