On Thursday, February 1, 2024, I managed my first POTA activation in weeks.
As I mentioned here on QRPer, January was a crazy month. Not only did I lack the time to activate parks, but I also wasn’t in the right frame of mind to make activation videos.
However, on February 1, things were looking up, and a nice little POTA activation was just what the doctor ordered!
I grabbed my KX2/AX1 pack as I headed out the door.
On the way into Asheville, I stopped by the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378)–my go-to site for convenient activations. I had a one-hour window of time to fit in an activation.
BRP & MST Two-Fer
You might recall that in my last field report (from January 5, 2024), Hazel and I hiked the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (K-8313) and found a trailside spot that was also within the Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378) property boundary. The activation counted as a two-fer!
You don’t have to hike the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST), however, in order to activate it and the parkway at the same time.
In the activation video, below, I show where one of the picnic tables at the Folk Art Center is close enough to where the MST passes that it counts. Makes for an easy drive-up, two-fer activation.
New Tufteln Cover!
A few weeks ago, my friend Joshua (N5FY) sent me a new protective cover for my Elecraft KX2. He’s now made these covers a part of his product line at Tufteln.com.
Like my Tufteln KX1 cover, the KX2 cover locks onto the front of the radio with rare earth magnets. It only requires that you replace the stock screws around the KX2 display with the ones Joshua provides. His replacement screws have a slightly higher profile, which allows the cover to attach magnetically.
What I love about Joshua’s covers is that they do a brilliant job of protecting all of the controls of the KX2 without taking up as much space as, say, the stock clear cover that came with my side panels.
Also, it fits the KX2 perfectly whether you have side panels or not!
Of course, the glory of the KX2/AX1 combo is that it takes almost no time to set up in the field.
Within a minute or two, my gear was deployed, and I was on the air seeking a clear frequency.
I opted to use my Begali Traveler (over my KXPD2) key since it was also packed in my GoRuck GR1.
- Elecraft KX2 with Windcamp X2 Side Rails and Cover
- Tufteln KX2 Protective Cover
- Elecraft KXBT2 Li-Ion Battery Pack
- LowePro CS60 Hard Side Case
- Elecraft AX1
- Key cable: Cable Matters 2-Pack Gold-Plated Retractable Aux Cable – 2.5 Feet
- Begali Traveler
- GoRuck GR1 USA
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil
- Rite In The Rain Top Spiral Notebook
- Camera: DJI OSMO 4 action camera with Sensyne Phone Tripod
On The Air
On this occasion, I decided to work the lower bands of the Elecraft AX1 antenna.
I started calling CQ POTA on 40 meters and, fortunately, the band was alive.
I worked my first twelve contacts in eleven minutes!
For fun, I then moved up to the 30-meter band, which isn’t “officially” one of the AX1’s three supported bands (40, 20, and 17M).
With the 40M coil in place, though, I was able to coerce the KX2 ATU to find a good match. The match was very narrow bandwidth, though, so any body capacitance would make the SWR jump to 2:1-3:1 (still acceptable SWRs for the KX2).
In order to avoid those SWR jumps, I had to key the Traveler so that I was only touching the dielectric finger pieces. The only complication was the picnic table I was using wasn’t real wood–it was a composite material that is actually quite slick–so the key wanted to move each time I touched it. I had to key very lightly! Fortunately, the Begali Traveler is a precision paddle, so it works beautifully with a light touch.
Had I thought about this in advance, by the way, I would have brought one of my anti-slip pads along. That would have instantly solved the Traveler traveling on this composite picnic table!
I ended up working an additional 14 stations on the 30 meter band for a total of 27 contacts logged all within a 31 minute window of time on the air.
These AX1 activations remind me of just how effective a compromised antenna like this can be when you’re a park or summit activator. Some of my most productive POTA activations have been using the AX1. People keep telling me the AX1 is a dummy load, but I disagree. It’s kind of a crappy dummy load with all of this RF leaking out on the airwaves!
That and I’m a bit jaded since the very best DX I’ve ever worked in the field was done using my AX1 and 5 watts.
Here’s what this five-watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:
Keep in mind, these maps aren’t always accurate because they’re based on QTH data from licensees.
For example, I happen to know that AE5X was POTAing among the Manatees of FL when I worked him P2P!
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.
This little activation was just what the doctor ordered.
It was so great hopping back on the air and making contact with so many of my radio pals.
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 week!
Cheers & 72,