“Three Watts and a Wire: Seizing a Last-Minute POTA Opportunity with the Elecraft KX1!

I woke up a little too early on the morning of Saturday, February 3, 2024.

The previous evening, we recorded a Ham Radio Workbench podcast episode with my dear friend Ara (N6ARA) as a guest. It was a load of fun, and we ran over time (no surprise there). Since we started recording at 18:00 Pacific Time, it means that it was 21:00 here in the Eastern time zone. By the time the episode ended, it was well after midnight my time.

For some reason, my body clock only allowed me to sleep for five hours, but I planned to sneak in a nap at some point during the day. Our plans were modest that Saturday (only to visit my father-in-law in the hospital), and I had no intention to fit in a POTA activation.

Around noon, my daughters asked if I’d drive them to watch one of their friends in a Shakespeare performance at 2:00 PM. We quickly sorted out plans, and I grabbed my GoRuck GR1 pack, which (due to a crazy January) had hardly been touched since my activation with Hazel nearly a month prior.

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

As you’ll hear me mention in a number of my field reports, the venue where my daughters rehearse Shakespeare and perform is a short drive to Pisgah National Forest/Game Lands. In the past couple of months, I’ve enjoyed numerous activations in Pisgah.

The weather was perfect for playing radio outdoors. It was chilly, yes, but not so cold that I needed to wear gloves.

I was looking forward to putting the Elecraft KX1 on the air again. As I state near the end of my video below, it’s one of my all-time favorite QRP rigs.

My trusty GoRuck GR1

I decided to pair the KX1 with my KM4CFT end-fed half-wave that I built for 30 meters, with a linked 40-meter extension.

On this particular afternoon, I wanted to focus on 30 meters, so as I deployed the antenna, I unhooked the 40M link.


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On The Air

I started calling CQ POTA, and it didn’t take long for the RBN to spot me, and Evan (K2EJT) was the first to call (thanks, OM!).

Within ten minutes I worked my first ten contacts! Woo hoo!

Thirty meters was working so well, I stuck with it.

I worked a total of 35 contacts in 36 minutes — all on 30 meters and with my KX1’s whopping three full watts of output power.

What fun!


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.

QRP Energizes!

Admittedly, I didn’t think I’d be on my “A Game” that afternoon. I was pretty groggy after only a few hours of sleep.

By the end of the activation, however, I was full of energy. After I packed up, I picked up my daughters, and we drove to the hospital where we then met up with my wife who’d been spending the afternoon with her father (who, by the way, is doing much better now).

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this 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!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

9 thoughts on ““Three Watts and a Wire: Seizing a Last-Minute POTA Opportunity with the Elecraft KX1!”

  1. What I have always liked about the KX1 is how compact it is. Mine is in a small foam-lined Pelican case with the KXPD1 paddle, a set of earbuds and a Pomona BNC to banana jack adaptor. That plus a couple pieces of wire and I have a self-contained station that fits in a small over-the-shoulder satchel, perfect for a grab-n-go portable outing.


    Michael VE3WMB

  2. So glad your Father-in-Law is doing better. It’s great you have such beautiful forests and mountains nearby to activate. Plus, Shakespeare in the mountains ! One of my big regrets is selling the KX1 a few years ago…..did not appreciate it then…..oh well. According to Elecraft, the KH1 should arrive this week…and help me start a new era in portable radio.

    1. Thank you, Bob. Yes, I think my FIL is close to being discharged from rehabilitation now, too. All looking much better.
      Yes, the KX1 is a gem of a radio. I sold my first one to put funds into a KX2. I almost instantly regretted it. 🙂

  3. This is amazing! There seems to be so little activity on 30 meters most days. I guess I should put a disconnect in my 40 meter EFHW wire so I can shorten it and move up to that band and give it a try.

    1. 30 meters is an amazing band, at least where I live. It blends the best of 20M and 40M, in my opinion. 🙂 I would definitely consider a linked 30/40 EFHW.

  4. Inspired by this post, today I went out to work on my 40 meter EFHW antenna and add 30 meter capability. First I put up my 40 foot telescoping mast and erected the antenna in a modified inverted Vee configuration. I have the antenna tuned for best match in the middle of the 40 meter band with a length of 63 feet and 2 inches, and find that to get the best match on 20, 15, and 10 meters I need to patch in about 18 more inches of length, easily done with quick disconnects. I observed that this length gives a result of 454.5 for “X” in the formula L = X/f. Using that formula I determined that I needed to remove 18 feet and 3.5 inches to get a good match on 30 meters. I did so, installing more quick disconnects so that I can reinsert that section and quickly get back to the full length for 40 meters. A quick test revealed that it “works a treat” and is flat across the entire 30 meter band.
    Hoping to get out soon to give the band a try from a nearby park!

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