POTA by Lantern Light: One Activation in Two Days with Two Antennas!

On Friday, February 9, 2024, I had an opportunity to do an extended Late-Shift POTA activation in Pisgah National Forest. I couldn’t pass that up!

Once again, one of my daughters had a casting call and a Shakespeare performance that opened up an activation window from about 17:00 – 20:00 local (22:00 UTC – 01:00 UTC).

If you’ve followed my POTA activities for a while, you’ll note that multi-hour activation windows are very much a rarity. More often than not, I’m squeezing activations into 30-60 minute windows of time as I go about my work and family duties.

Pisgah National Forest and Game Lands

The closest POTA site, once again, was Pisgah National Forest (K-4510) and Pisgah Game Lands (K-6937). There are so many sites to choose from within Pisgah; it’s always a difficult decision in terms of picking a location.

In this case, I decided to stay a little closer to mobile phone service just in case my family needed to reach me during that time. I chose the Sycamore Flats picnic area and was happy to see that the picnic shelter was available.

I thought it might be fun to set up two antennas since I had so much time. For the first part of the activation, on 20 meters, I would deploy the Chameleon MPAS Lite vertical.

For the second part (the following UTC day), I would deploy my MM0OPX 40-meter end-fed half-wave as I knew 40 meters would be much more active after sunset.

EFHW Deployment

Since sunset was approaching, I deployed my MM0OPX EFHW first because it’s much easier to deploy a wire antenna in a tree when it’s still light outside.

Side note: I mention in the activation video that a good headlamp (like my Fenix) makes working in the dark quite easy. I’ve deployed wire antennas after sunset with headlamps before–it’s quite doable–but I still prefer using a throw line when there’s still sunlight. It’s just easier (for me, at least) to judge distance.

I deployed the EFHW in a tree and in the brush between two pathways. While it would have been easier to deploy it on a path, I always try to deploy my wire antennas in a way that hikers and other park guests wouldn’t easily walk into them–especially at dusk when even high-visibility line colors are difficult to see.

Chameleon Carbon Fiber Tripod

The second antenna deployment was my Chameleon MPAS Lite vertical, and this activation gave me an excuse to test the new Chameleon carbon fiber portable tripod.

In January, Chameleon sent me a box with a few of their smaller accessories/promotional items. I plan to give away everything, save the tripod, in an upcoming QRPer giveaway.

I’ve been eager to test the tripod because it’s lighter and easier to transport (in my SOTA pack) than the stainless spike that comes with the MPAS Lite antenna system. This tripod will also come in handy when operating at parks that don’t allow stakes in the ground.

The tripod looks a lot like the popular GRA-ULT01, which I bought last year and have never used, but unlike the GRA-ULT01, there’s no SO-239 connection, just a threaded mounting point for the Chameleon Micro Hybrid transformer and whip.

Deployment was super easy, of course. Chameleon included a threaded adapter that connects the tripod to the Hybrid Micro (or Mini) transformer.

The tripod legs expand to provide the antenna with a decent base, but I feel that the center of gravity on a stainless whip that expands 17′ is still narrow enough that this would topple in gusty winds. In those conditions, I’d consider placing something heavy on the tripod to hold it secure.

New Paddles!

Next, I set up my Elecraft KX2 and retrieved a set of 3D-printed paddles that my buddy Jonathan (KM4CFT) gave me. To my knowledge, these aren’t paddles he’s selling, they’re just ones he decided to build for himself. (Correct me if I’m wrong, Jonathan!)

They work like a charm, and the action reminds me very much of my beloved CW Morse Pocket Paddles!

Thanks, OM!


Note: All Amazon, CW Morse, ABR, Chelegance, eBay, and Radioddity links are affiliate links that support QRPer.com at no cost to you.

Camping Stove Gear

On The Air

I began my activation on 20 meters with the MPAS Lite. I had a comfortable hour to collect my ten contacts before the end of the UTC day.

As I began calling CQ POTA, fortunately, there was no shortage of hunters!

I logged a total of 25 contacts in 23 minutes!

I signed off (QRT) with nearly 30 minutes to spare before the UTC day change. I turned off the radio (and the camera) and fired up my camp stove to boil some soup (Chicken Soup with Gnocchi–tasty).

Turns out, the gas canister on my stove fizzled out before the soup warmed up at all. I sat there looking at cold soup and thought, “well…this isn’t going to be fun!”

Then I remembered that, of course, I had also packed my alcohol-burning backpacking stove and coffee kit. The stove had enough alcohol to finish boiling the soup! Woo hoo!

Next, I hopped back on the air, this time using my MM0OPX 40-meter EFHW.

I began calling CQ POTA at 00:17 UTC (while still eating my steaming hot soup), and the hunters did not disappoint.

It was pileup city! I ended up working a total of 35 contacts in 38 minutes. What fun!

Here are my logs:


Here’s what this five-watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map. Note that the green lines are my 20M contacts on Feb 9, and the blue lines are my 40M contacts on Feb 10. Of course, not all of the pins are correct because these are based on the hunter’s QTH:

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.

Late-Shift Fun!

I enjoyed using two different antenna options for the late-shift POTA activation. Combining that with some camp stove soup made for a very memorable activation indeed.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me during 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)

21 thoughts on “POTA by Lantern Light: One Activation in Two Days with Two Antennas!”

    1. I do have a thing, I realize, for these night time activations. They give me some of the same vibes I get when camping. I love it.

    1. That is always a concern especially at public picnic areas like this where there aren’t many others preparing food at the time. I did have my bear spray, though.

    1. Coming from you, that’s a big compliment! I always appreciate your excellent photography, John.

    1. The legs on this one are very similar, but the Chameleon one doesn’t have a swivel top. I’m not sure I’ll want that ball join top on the antenna tripod because it would be a real weak point. Cool looking tripod, though!

      1. No you can choose with or without have a look and clik on the 1st window….. I have it and it is exactly the same….

  1. Thanks for the great field report, Thomas. I’m planning on jumping ‘On Air’ out on the back patio when it gets warmer.

    72. de W7UDT

  2. I only use Manfrotto tripods

    However for cross over use cases the Manfrotto studio series has wider legs and is preferred

    I found camera tripods repurposed for ham is lazy engineering and just dumb.

    Buddipole nailed it with proper tripods for their antennas but putting an antenna on a camera tripod is risky for anything beyond a Toy Box antenna. They field tested their stuff before release.

    Get the Buddipole stuff and be happy

    The Super Antenna and Ranger80 tripods are fine for their antenna but both could use a wider stance.

    I have a couple of older Manfrotto tripods that have clips to drop the base closer to the ground and lowering the center of gravity that are useful for taller antennas like a 16 foot whip…..but I still think sand bags are needed.

    Regardless, choose the best tool for your job knowing what works at one location may be different at another.

    With SOTA, the antenna choice is again different than POTA in a Tundra TRD

    My Delkin Fat Boy CF tripod is ideal for my mirror less camera but not for an SLR. I tried it for POTA on a air trip and it was too light weight unless it had sand bags. I was at a beach so I could make a sand bag and just pack an empty sand bag the next time.

    For Italy, I chose 2 4 ft MFJ whip antennas to try to stay within a tight 16 lb carry on limit thanks to SwissAir and it was a mistake as poor band conditions didn’t help QRP signals but I did get 5 contacts but not enough for a POTA activation.

    Now I am going to use the JNC MC-750 as my travel antenna. No tripod will be required when using the ground spike

    Thomas, grazie per mangiare Gnocchi – the food of WRTC contesters in Bologna
    John VE3IPS ????

    1. Oh I love Gnocchi. Knowing that it’s the WRTC food of choice, maybe if I eat enough, I’ll get good contest chops!


  3. I was honored to be your last contact Thomas. Thanks for pulling me out of the noise!


  4. I own several of the Chameleon antennas and find them of good quality and, of course, expensive. I always make it a point to search Amazon, etc for their accessories such as the tripod you highlighted. I generally find them as EXACT items you can purchase at half the price or more (just without the Chameleon label). The tripod is listed on Amazon for $49.95 as the Artcise Compact Lightweight..it is the exact duplicate. I also find antenna extensions and packs there also, once again a significant discount.

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