Chris activates Les Iles Nature Reserve with his Plessey PRC-320!

Many thanks to Christian (IX1CKN) who shares the following field report:

Activation of I-0395

by Chris (IX1CKN)

Hey folks, I just wanted to share my activation at the Les Iles Nature Reserve (I-0395) on Christmas Eve (December 24, 2023)!

It’s been a while since I last visited (in July). The weather was perfect, around 20 degrees Celsius, and I was in the mood for a real outdoor activation.

I decided to go with the manpack Plessey PRC-320, a trusty companion delivering a solid 25 watts. I wanted to be one with nature, so no benches or bird-watching huts this time.

Got off to an exciting start on 20 meters with two stations from the UK recognizing my gear. One even complimented the excellent modulation with a whopping 9+10 signal strength, giving me hope for the rest of the activation. Then came a Spanish station, the always attentive IX1VKK Rinaldo (following me from home), a colleague from the Netherlands, another Brit, and then… silence. I kept calling for another 5 minutes, but no luck.

Could it be the morning flare that affected propagation? Who knows, but I noticed on the POTA cluster that another Italian colleague was activating on 28 MHz and being spotted by several American Hams. I decided to give it a try, found a clear frequency locally, and started calling. And guess what? Responses from across the Atlantic started pouring in – Massachusetts, Georgia, and even a park-to-park with Jim KC1QDZ from Brenton Point State Park in Rhode Island.

Short video:

Maybe not my first contact with a U.S. park on 10 meters, but definitely a memorable one.

Signal reports weren’t super strong, hovering around 5/3-5/4, but hey, as long as the noise floor isn’t sky-high, that signal is enough to complete the QSO. Moved to a different frequency as the band was buzzing with North American stations – Kentucky, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Maryland.

An hour in, and I’ve logged 12 contacts. Pretty incredible considering that what “saved” my activation were stations on the other side of the ocean. Europe on 20 meters was a bit challenging, but hey, that’s ham radio for you. You’d think POTA, with its simple and not-so-full-power setups, is a local affair, and then, on Christmas Eve, you realize DX is very much on the table.

I turn around, a duck dives in, and the last rays of sunlight caress the wetlands. Perfect way to end it.

12 thoughts on “Chris activates Les Iles Nature Reserve with his Plessey PRC-320!”

  1. Excellent experience, I am glad that you shared it with us. A beautiful place to be on Chistmas eve. The high bands have been great lately, providing portable operators exciting DX. Thanks

    1. Thanks Dick, I’ve brought the PRC-320 on a couple nice spots (you should see more soon here). Not easy for your back, but really fine for your soul. Ciao!

  2. Congratulations Chris and thank you for this interesting and engaging field report.

    Operating the military surplus radio set looks like fun!

    Happy New Year.

    1. Great report!

      “I wanted to be one with nature, so no benches or bird-watching huts this time.”

      No foxhole either, I gather.

      1. Steve,

        no foxhole neither, you’re right. I did sit on the ground, aside the radio. Non so comfy (I’m tall and pretty weighty), but the overall feeling was a thrill.

        Ciao, 73!

    2. Matt,

      the nice part of military radios is that they were projected in a way a not so radio skilled operator could use them properly (by learning a sequence of procedures to go on the air, or knowing a couple check commands). It is fun and they perform (at least, that’s what the 320 do) more than you would guess reading the specifics on paper!

      Happy new year and 73!

  3. First of all, Christian, the last thing I need right now is any more encouragement to find a PRC-320! I’ve always had an affinity for that radio!

    Secondly: WOW! That scenery!
    I used to travel to Italy frequently and I wish POTA existed then. Any excuse to enjoy the great Italian outdoors!

    Looking forward to more of your reports!


    1. Thomas,

      So, what are you waiting for?! I want you in my log as a “park 2 park” using both 320!

      I-0395 is fine, but I can tell you Aosta Valley (with its alpine nature) has impressive sceneries. I don’t think I exceed in telling you I’ve seen places here looking like Wyoming, or great West.

      I’ll let you have pictures, as more activations will follow.


  4. Very Cool! Glad you were able to make the contacts to the States. Im sure it was equally exciting for those stations as well!

    1. Jim,

      I’ll just tell you one thing: I’ve sent a couple days ago a direct QSL to KC1QDZ, as I want to keep a concrete memory of this “park to park” (and wanted to give him one, as well).

      And yes, I’m that kind of operator who in 2024 remains fond of paper cards, and has no bureau, so every sending is direct!

      Chris – IX1CKN

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.