On Thursday, November 30, 2023 I had a chunk of afternoon open to fit in some Parks On The Air time. My travels took me near one of my favorite local parks: the Zebulon Vance Birthplace Historic Site (K-6856).
As I packed my car that morning, I brought along some of my Mountain Topper transceivers as well. The plan was to first shoot a video comping the new Elecraft KH1 to these venerable SOTA machines, then do a POTA activation with the KH1 and a new-to-me kit antenna.
The Mountain Topper comparison took a bit longer than I had anticipated (surprise, surprise) so my POTA time was actually somewhat limited. If interested, my KH1/Mountain Topper comparison was posted several weeks ago–click here to check it out.
Tufteln No-Transformer EFRW
You might recall that I shared a campsite–during the W4 SOTA campout last year–with good friend Joshua (N5FY) of Tufteln fame and fortune. Being the antenna guy he is, Joshua brought along a full antenna building station and set it up on our picnic table. That first afternoon at camp, he gave me a kit to build this random wire antenna. Thanks again, OM!
These “No-Transformer” random wire antennas are designed to be paired with a good ATU–either external or internal. This type of antenna couldn’t be more simple.
Since there’s no transformer (no 9:1, etc.) the ATU does all of the heavy lifting to make a match. While this might not seem like an efficient way of doing things, one benefit of this design is that there’s no feed line: the radiator and counterpoise connect directly to the radio if your radio has a built-in ATU. I’ve found that there’s some inherent efficiency in this approach.
The antenna is identical to the speaker wire antenna I built in the field and have used so extensively over the past few years. Joshua’s design is just much lower-profile and more compact.
When I built this particular antenna, I decided to go for a much longer length than any other random wire I’ve made to date. The idea was to have an antenna that might possibly match 80M. Joshua might correct me, but I believe we cut something between 70-80 feet for the radiator.
At Vance, I deployed this antenna into some short evergreens that surround the picnic shelter. It wasn’t an ideal deployment, per se, but adequate for a quickie activation!
I’ve learned that the length I chose for this radiator isn’t ideal for most of my ATUs to hit some bands. I will end up trimming this antenna a bit until I find the right length. I’m tempted to shorten it for matching on 60 meters, then build another 9:1 random wire to hit 80 and possibly 160 meters.
Setting up the KH1 took no time at all. I did discover during this activation that I needed to better secure the KH1 to the table. Wind gusts were tugging on the random wire a bit (as the trees swayed) and it would move the KH1 around on the table. The KH1 weighs less than a pound, so it’s super lightweight! This will be easy to fix next time.
- 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
- Pelican Micro M40
- Anker Soundcore Mini Speaker
- Spec-Ops Brand Op Order Pouch
- Tufteln Portable EFRW No Transformer QRP Antenna
- ABR Industries 25’ RG-316 cable assembly with three in-line ferrites (Use Coupon Code ABR10QRPER for 10% Discount!)
- CW Morse SP4 N0SA SOTA Paddles
- Red Oxx C-Ruck
- 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 tuned the EFRW antenna on 30M and got a perfect impedance match.
I started calling CQ POTA and hunters replied!
In fact, I worked ten stations in exactly ten minutes. Two of them were Park-To-Parks–thanks KD8IE and KC3WPW!
I worked two more stations for a total of only twelve logged. I would like to have spent more time on the air, but I had two appointments on my schedule that afternoon.
Here’s what this five watt 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.
Had I realized how low I was running on time at the beginning of this activation, I might have made the antenna deployment and my commentary a bit briefer to have more air time. That said, I don’t do POTA for the numbers, I do it because it’s amazing fun and such a positive part of my day. This little activation was no exception! Pure radio fun.
I hope you enjoyed this 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, friends!
Cheers & 72,