In fact, I recently received a comment from a reader who jokingly said that I should work for the tourism board of western North Carolina because the weather always seems so pleasant in my POTA/SOTA videos.
It’s true: most of the time I hit the field to play radio, the weather is very pleasant.
That said, you see more of these “fair weather” activations because I tend not to make videos of ones in poor conditions mainly because I don’t like managing the camera in high winds, heavy rains, or even super cold conditions–especially when I want to get in and out of the field quickly. The camera tends slows everything down.
On Friday, December 1, 2023, though, I decided to do a park activation in the rain and make a video! Here’s my field report:
Pisgah National Forest (K-4510)
That Friday morning, I dropped my daughters off at classes, then made my way to the Mills River library to put the finishing touches on a field report and publish it. It was rainy and I wasn’t complaining; it had been a very dry fall in WNC up to that point.
After I published my field report and attempted to catch up on the email backlog a bit, I hopped in the car and headed to the Sycamore Flats picnic area in Pisgah National Forest (K-4510) and Pisgah Game Lands (K-6937).
That day, knowing it would be soggy, I packed my Discovery TX-500 which is pretty much rain-proof. By this, I mean that it’s designed to cope with rain, but it’s not designed to be completely submerged in water.
Truth be told, I had no intention of making an activation video. Once I arrived on site, though, I thought, “Why the heck not?” After all, other than being rainy and chilly, conditions were pretty pleasant. That and my OSMO action camera is completely waterproof.
I grabbed the camera and started filming the activation while closing up the car.
When playing POTA in the rain, I tend to select picnic tables or sites that are under the canopy of trees if at all possible. Trees not only provide antenna supports, but they also help divert a bit of the rain.
I found an ideal site under the canopy of a few hemlocks.
I deployed my PackTenna end-fed half-wave (EFHW) oriented (nearly) vertically and with the feed point close to the tree trunk so that it would be better protected from the rain. I wasn’t worried about the antenna getting wet, but I also didn’t want the toroid and windings to get completely soaked either. It’s never a bad idea to use what bit of natural protection the trees can offer.
As you can see in the photo above, I had my TX-500 completely exposed, but the battery, in-line fuse, and (to some extent) the speaker mic were all protected in the TX-500’s Telesin Case.
As always, I used my Rite In The Rain notepad which is a champ at handling wet conditions.
Normally, if it’s raining, I try to use a key that has contacts protected under a cover. Since I had my TP-III packed with the TX-500, I used it. The TP-III has a clear plexiglass (?) plate over most of the inner workings of the key. The contacts are covered as well, but only barely. I did find that at times a little water did cause problems because the contacts are so close to the edge of the clear cover.
To help keep water out, I simply operated the TP-III with the finger pieces pointing down. In the end, it performed quite well, but I think a key like the CW Morse Pocket Paddle would have even been a better choice since the contacts are completely covered.
- lab599 Discovery TX-500
- TELESIN Carrying Case (for the TX-500)
- Packtenna Mini EFHW antenna
- ABR Industries 25’ RG-316 cable assembly with three in-line ferrites (Use Coupon Code ABR10QRPER for 10% Discount!)
- Key cable: Cable Matters 2-Pack Gold-Plated Retractable Aux Cable – 2.5 Feet
- BaMaKeY TP-III Ultra-Compact Twin Paddle
- GoRuck GR1 USA
- Bioenno 3 Ah LiFePo Battery (Model BLF-1203AB)
- Weaver arborist throw line/weight and storage bag
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil
- Rite In The Rain Top Spiral Notebook
- Camera: original OSMO Action Camera (the OSMO 4 is the current version) with Sensyne Phone Tripod
On The Air
I hopped on 20 meters, started calling CQ POTA, and within a minute started logging stations.
In fact, I worked my first ten stations in ten minutes. A little pileup ensued.
Herein lies the reason you shouldn’t let a little wet weather stop you from hitting the field: you might miss out on some exciting activation action! In the end, I worked 44 stations in 42 minutes.
Here’s what this five watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map. As I mentioned in the video, 20 meters was hopping, but had a slightly shorter path than normal. It’s brilliant to see the footprint on the 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.
Keying in the rain!
I mention this in the video, but after packing up and taking my gear back to the car (if I’ve been operating in the rain) I always lay out the gear in the trunk/boot to allow it to dry out. The last thing one wants is to pack up wet gear in a water-resistant backpack, zip it up, then forget to unpack it back at the QTH!
Back at the QTH, I set everything out on the floor and allowed it to completely dry out.
Again, other than thunderstorms (never play radio in them–!) I rarely allow weather to stop me from doing a POTA activation when I set my mind to it.
With POTA, I can almost always set up a rainfly (I’ll show you how I do this in a future video) or even find a covered picnic shelter. Worse case? I’ve been known to set up in the passenger seat of my car.
SOTA (Summits On The Air) is a bit of a different story; I tend to find acceptable weather windows to play radio on a summit especially if the activation involves a long solo hike. Things can go south quickly on a summit if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
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 an amazing weekend!
Cheers & 72,