QRP & Coffee: Late-Shift POTA using the new Chelegance MC-750 80 Meter Coil!

I mentioned in a previous post that Jesse at Chelegance had sent me some antenna goodies to evaluate. One of them was the MC-599 portable dipole antenna which you might have read about in my previous field report.

Another item he sent, which I was equally excited about, was an 80-meter coil for my beloved MC-750 vertical antenna.

In the spirit of full transparency: he sent this at no cost to me, and, as a reminder, Chelegance is also an affiliate of QRPer.com.

I’ve been eager to take the 80-meter coil on a POTA activation because 1.) if it proved effective, it would be great to have such a low-impact, low-profile antenna for 80 meters, but 2.) it’s been very difficult to fit in an evening POTA activation with my family life.

It would have been difficult to gauge how effective an 80M antenna performs in the late morning or early afternoon when I typically activate local parks/summits.

On Wednesday, February 6, 2024, a two-hour window of opportunity opened. One of my daughters had a dress rehearsal that night, and I knew of a nice, quiet, secluded POTA spot only 25 minutes away.

Pisgah National Forest (K-4510) and Game Land (K-6937)

My original plan was to arrive at the Looking Glass Falls’ picnic area, deploy the antenna, fire up the stove, make some coffee, eat on-site, then begin my activation after the start of the UTC day.

So why wait for the new UTC day?

Mainly because once you hit the new UTC day, it counts as a new activation. That really works in your favor as an activator if your goal is to complete a valid activation (with ten contacts) and you’ve enough time to do that before the UTC rollover. If you time it all correctly, you could activate double the parks with a minimum of 20 contacts (split 10/10). In my case, that would mean a total of four parks activated in one evening (since this was a two-fer).

I decided fitting in an activation prior to the UTC rollover simply wasn’t worth the rush.

Once I arrived on-site, however, I was already changing my mind.

I started my activation video, deployed the MC-750, and looked at my watch. I had roughly 15 minutes before the UTC rollover.

It would be tight, but I decided to give it a go and try logging ten contacts before 18:59:59 local (or 23:59:59 UTC).

If I couldn’t log ten before the UTC day, who cares!? It would be a fun challenge for sure, but I wasn’t going to cry if I couldn’t gather enough contacts for a valid activation.

There was another factor, too: operating 80 meters with a 17′ loaded vertical isn’t exactly “efficient.” My theory, though? It doesn’t need to be efficient. It’s crazy portable, convenient, and as a POTA activator, I only need enough performance to get the job done.

Time to hit the air!

Radio Gear:

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Coffee Gear:

Photo from the Fall of ’23.

On The Air

I’d scheduled my activation on the POTA website, so was relying on it to spot me via the Reverse Beacon Network.

I started calling CQ POTA and the contacts started rolling in… very… slowly.

Well, it felt slow because I had a goal of ten contacts in fifteen minutes.

In the end, I did not get my ten… I got nine! This one was going to show up as an “attempt” instead of an “activation” but I was fine with that. I was able to hand out nine two-fer contacts to some devoted POTA hunters, and that made me happy.

I chuckled at that and kept moving forward.

I was logging stations at a relaxed pace, so decided I had enough bandwidth (in my brain) to both continue operating and make some coffee (Dynamite Roasting Decaf Espresso—the best decaf you’ll find on our humble planet).

Of course, as I started brewing my coffee, the contacts started rolling in, making my multitasking effort a bit more challenging!

I found out later (via a reader) that I actually hadn’t been spotted on the POTA website most of the time up to this point. Someone manually spotted me. I hadn’t noticed this because I was a good ten-minute drive from mobile phone service.

Getting the spot, along with 80M conditions improving, certainly increased the number of hunters calling!

I managed to make my coffee without catching the table on fire or pouring boiling water on myself and continued logging.

All in all, I logged 38 contacts in a total of 72 minutes.


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.

Incredibly fun

I probably said this a dozen times in my video, but I so thoroughly enjoyed this activation.

I think the 80M coil is going to get a lot of use when I’m out and about in the evening hours playing POTA. I see myself packing it and the MC-750 for some low-band SOTA work as well.

I also get such a kick out of late-evening activations. There’s something about playing radio, brewing coffee, and looking up to see every star in the sky.

By the time I got in the car, I discovered that the temp had dropped to 30F/-1C, which is why it felt a bit chilly. Still: I was comfortable the whole time, and the activation was most memorable in a very good way!

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this late-shift 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! Have a wonderful week!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

One thought on “QRP & Coffee: Late-Shift POTA using the new Chelegance MC-750 80 Meter Coil!”

  1. This is one time that I am assuming that the radials need to be lengthened for best efficiency or did that not matter much for a POTA Activation? I have not tried my aluminum screen or Faraday blanket for 30, 40, or 80M yet so I am assuming this would be less than ideal also. I believe this antenna would outperform my Grabil TR-7350TC, but I will only know if I try them both to make a real-world comparison. Once we get some important medical bills paid I know what antenna I am adding to my wish list!

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