POTA During a Beautiful Fall Afternoon at Tallulah Gorge State Park!

Sunday, October 15, 2023, was the final day of the W4 SOTA campout. That morning, Joshua (N5FY) and I packed up our tents/gear then played a little radio at our campsite (at Lake Rabun). We weren’t in a hurry because the morning was so enjoyable. In fact, I think we checked out not a minute before the dealine of 12:00 noon!

We both decided we wanted to squeeze in one more radio excursion before driving back to our QTHs.

Tallulah Gorge State Park (K-2202)

It wasn’t realistic to fit in another SOTA hike due to our schedules, but Tallulah Gorge SP was an easy detour for both of us.

We pulled into the park and queued up to to enter. The park was absolutely teeming with visitors that day. I would have expected nothing less on such a gorgeous Fall afternoon!

Joshua and I found a quiet picnic area–with a few picnic tables spaced apart from each other–near the lake shore. It turned out to be a perfect spot to play radio. We spaced our sites far enough apart so as not to easily interfere with each other while on different bands.

Joshua set up his KX1, a wire antenna, and used VK3IL pressure paddles.

Joshua deployed his KX1 next to the lake and I deployed my KX2 a bit further up the hill.

I paired my KX2 with my “no transformer” random wire antenna. Of course, I used a Tufteln antenna because, I mean, N5FY was standing right there! ?

This antenna consists of two 28.5′ 26AWG wires connected directly to a male BNC. Simplicity itself on the antenna side. It’s the KX2 internal ATU that does all of the matching (since there’s no transformer). I find that the KX2 can match this antenna from 40-10 meters with ease.

I think the magic of these simple random wire antennas is that they’re directly connected to the radio. There’s a bit of efficiency in having no line losses, etc. even if the ATU does soak up a bit of energy.

Time to hop on the air!


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On The Air

I started calling CQ POTA on 17 meters and was pleasantly surprised to find it was full of life. I worked my first ten contacts in twelve minutes. I was chuffed to work my good friend Vince (VE6LK) in Alberta with such a modest setup in the gorge.

I made a couple more contact on 17 meters then moved to 30 meters. Why those two bands? Because I wanted to be on bands that were non-harmonically related to the bands (40 and 20M) Joshua was using some 20 meters from my operating location.

Thirty meters was hopping too. I quickly racked up an additional eleven contacts in short order!

What fun!

After logging a total of 23 contacts (thanks for the P2P, KJ5W!) I packed up my gear. Joshua and I wanted to quickly check out some of the views at Tallulah Gorge, then head back to our families.


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.

Thank you!

Thank you for joining me on this short 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! I hope you have a wonderful week ahead full of radio goodness!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

12 thoughts on “POTA During a Beautiful Fall Afternoon at Tallulah Gorge State Park!”

  1. Trying to figure out the optimum length for a throw rope. What is the average height of your EFHW deployments? I know it will probably be a guess but I’m thinking 25 – 30 feet should work in most cases and will allow for a shorter throw rope.

    I have 50m of 2mm Marlow throw rope on order and an 8 oz Weaver throw weight. I’m thinking that would make two throw ropes that would handle most of my needs.

    Your thoughts?

    1. I think 25 to 30 feet is too short. Remember that the line has to go up and then down again! After trying out a few throw lines and weights my current choice is a 180 foot spool of 1.75 mm Dyneema and an eight ounce weight. I was going to cut the spool in half but ended up making a 120 foot piece and a 60 foot piece. Glad I did! I have had throws where the entire 120 feet has payed out, especially if the toss involves a horizontal component as well as vertical. (That tiny Dyneema line really flies!) On the other hand. I often get along quite well with the 60 foot piece if I’m going for a not too high branch. I did that just yesterday, putting up my 20 meter EFHW wire. The weight didn’t get anywhere close to the ground after the toss, but once I attached my wire to the end I was able to feed it up and let the weight drop. Retrieving the line was as simple as pulling the antenna wire back down and letting the line follow. Here’s a pro tip: remove all weights AND knots AND tangles from the line before pulling it back through the tree. Otherwise you risk getting it caught and having to leave it there, which can be costly in addition to being bad stewardship.

      1. Thanks William.

        I meant to say 25-30 meters instead of feet. But its hard fro an old dog like me to change systems.

        I think I’m going to combine your suggestions and Thomas’s and cut the line for 35M (115′). Hopefully that will be manageable and fit well in a small arborist bag.

        1. Marshall — Looks as if you are getting zeroed in on this. Yeah, I thought you were being a bit “unambitious” with 25 to 30 FEET. Meters sounds more like it! I agree with Thomas that 115 to 120 feet is a sweet spot for having enough line without having to deal with more than you need. With the lighter lines I think eight to ten ounces is a good weight, too. I was using a 12 and I could not toss it as high as I wanted. Thanks to a tip I picked up from YouTube, when I throw my eight ounce weight I sometimes tie the 12 ounce to the “near” end of the line. That definitely stops the line from running if the throw weight is still airborne when the line gets fully payed out.
          I’ve been really happy with my 1.75 mm Dyneema line. I coil it in a figure eight pattern on my thumb and little finger and 120 feet makes a bundle 6.5 inches long and one inch in diameter, very compact. I can coil about 50 feet per minute that way. The line and weight fit in a small stuff sack. Now, this might be controversial with some, but I’ve dispensed with the arborist bag. I just take my figure eight coil and pay it out on the ground in a loose pile, attach the weight, and throw. If I miss I just untie the weight and pull the line back into the same pile. I haven’t had a tangle yet. If the ground is too messy (leaves, twigs, etc.) you could put down a small 3 x 3 piece of tarp, which is very light and compact to carry. (That’s 3 FEET — HI HI.)
          Lots of pro arborists have videos on YouTube suggesting a variety of approaches, and Thomas’s guidance is excellent and well tested.

          1. William, if you had seen my throws the 25 – 30 feet would seem more realistic. LOL.

            I too would like a link to that line you are using.

            Thanks for the tip about tying a weight to the other end of the line.

            Do you tie to your throw weight or use a loop to attach it? My throws seem to want to go to the left of where I’m aiming unless I’m using the granny throw from between my legs. But in my defense, I don’t have lots of experience so I’m sure I will get better with practice.

            Now that fall has dropped the tree leaves I can see what I’m doing better. I also have over 3 acres of woods to practice in when the weather cooperates.

          2. Both the line and weight are Notch brand.



            As far as tying the weight, I have used a loop in the end of the line tied with a bowline, large enough to slip through the ring on the weight then slip around the body of the weight so you end up with a girth hitch. There are a couple of other knots I’ve tried with success, but I couldn’t name or describe them now! Whatever you use, completely untie it before pulling the line back through the tree.
            Throwing left — me too! One pro I saw said it results from twisting your wrist when you release, but I think I’m just swinging my arm to the left unintentionally. My solution has been to rotate my body 45 degrees to the right so that my arm kind of swings across my front.

    2. Hi, Marshall,

      So I wrote an article about this some time ago. You might find some of the info useful: https://qrper.com/2022/08/arborist-throw-lines-ideal-lengths-and-weights-for-field-radio/

      Basically, 25 Meters (82′) is about the shortest I would ever go. You need some length for taller branches and to deploy antennas as a vertical.

      I find 25 Meters works a good 80% of the time. If you made it 35 meters, it’d probably take care of 97% of deployments. 50 meters will always leave you with a lot of extra line. 🙂


      1. Thanks Thomas.

        I thought you had written something but I was having a hard time finding it. I was thinking of splitting the 50M role in half (82′) to save space and make it more manageable. But now I’m thinking 35M (115′) makes more sense. I hadn’t consideed a vertical deployment and how much that would require.

        1. Cutting a 50M roll in two is what I normally do whenI buy the Marlow 2mm line.
          Honestly, though? You might consider getting the Weaver line, throw weight, and throw bag combo I listed in the recent Christmas gifts post. That would be a full kit right there that would cover any/every situation. Great quality, too! I just used it yesterday.

          1. I have the Forester version of the Arborist kit you listed in your Christmas post. I’ve used it here at the QTH but the rope seems to stiff and bulky for a small kit I’m working towards. I actually have it in a small box which works well here at home. The 15 oz. weight is also heavy for the field and limits my distance.

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