Overcoming Band Conditions: A Challenging (But Rewarding) POTA Activation at Scioto Trail State Park!

On the morning of Wednesday, May 15, 2024, I woke up, grabbed breakfast, and headed to Strouds Run State Park in Athens, Ohio. (You can read about that activation in my previous field report.)

Once I returned to Eric’s (WD8RIF) QTH, Eric, his son Miles (KD8KNC), and I packed up the car for the drive to Dayton—roughly 2.5 hours from Athens. En route, we decided on an activation of Scioto Trail State Park (US-1990) which also happens to be a two-fer with Scioto Trail State Forest (US-5448).

I’d hoped band conditions would remain as favorable as they were in the morning, but the sun had other plans! (Indeed, this would become a recurring theme throughout the following week.)

Scioto Trail State Park (US-1990) and Forest (US-5448)

We arrived at Scioto Trail around 2:00 PM, under scattered clouds and after passing through some rain. We hoped the weather would hold!

I’d never been to Scioto before and was pleased to see a small island on the lake accessible by a footbridge.  It had a gazebo, perfect for a POTA station.


A highlight of this trip was giving Eric a chance to operate my Index Labs QRP Plus. Eric had owned one for 13 years as his first field radio. In fact, as I’ve mentioned before, when I first met Eric in 1997, it was while he was operating a QRP Plus during FYBO!

Since the QRP Plus is better suited for tabletop use, I recommended Eric set up in the gazebo.

I provided my Chelegance MC-750 for him to operate on 20M.

POTA in the Shade

I set up under a tree at the edge of the island—as far from Eric as possible to minimize interference. In reality, the island is small, so I was only about 15 meters away—not ideal!

The tree offered some shade and potential rain protection. I deployed my Helinox Chair, my “no-transformer, no feedline” Tufteln random wire antenna, the Elecraft KX2, and my Tufteln/N0RNM kneeboard.

When I turned on the radio, I could hear Eric’s signal bleeding through on 30 meters (a band I chose to avoid harmonic interference with 20M).

The KX2 is sensitive, so this wasn’t unexpected. Eric never experienced interference from my station, likely due to the QRP Plus’s less sensitive receiver.


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On the air

This turned out to be an activation where I’d really put my KX2 ATU to work!

I started the activation on 30 meters and worked one station (thanks, N4NTO!).

I then moved to 17 meters only to find it was completely dead.

Next, I moved down to 40M and eventually worked my second station: KK4UZK. Eric used a dummy load on the Index Labs radio and worked me P2P as well.

Next, I moved up to 15 meters, knowing full well that if 17M was dead, 15M was likely “deader.” Eric saved the band by working me P2P there.

Up to this point, I had been avoiding 20 meters since Eric was planted there working stations. 20 meters was, without a doubt, the healthiest of the bands during the activation window.

Eric told me I could hop on 20 meters.

I worked nine more stations: WD8RIF (of course!), KJ5W, N4CD, N5DUX, KA1DMA, WW6W, W0YEM, N5IM, and KE0YDN (who was activating US-7209).

Not the easiest of activations, but it was incredibly fun and memorable!


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.

Post-Activation Comradery

After packing up, we headed to our hotel in Dayton to offload some of our gear and supplies.

MIG-29UB FULCRUM B on display at Wright-Patterson AFB.

Eric and Miles (who have base passes for Wright Patterson AFB) continued our annual tradition of dinner and drinks at Wings Grille at Wright-Patterson Club.

Afterwards, we drove to the Holiday Inn in Fairborne so we could pick up our FDIM passes and I could make sure my presentation for the next day was loaded and working properly on the FDIM AV system.

Yet another photo of Lola the Basset Hound who was staying at the Holiday Inn.

The following day was Four Days in May and it was an absolute blast!

Restful sleep was hard to come by in the following nights. Our late returns to the hotel and early departures to drive to Hamvention made sure of that!

Photo at Hamvention with my dear friend Phil (W9IXX)

It was all worth it, though. I’m so grateful to have met so many readers and subscribers at Hamvention and FDIM!

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 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 makes 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)

5 thoughts on “Overcoming Band Conditions: A Challenging (But Rewarding) POTA Activation at Scioto Trail State Park!”

    1. No, it does not. The KX3 is too big to fit inside. It’s possible, however, that there are similar cases in that LowePro product line that might work. I’ve never checked. Perhaps someone else can chime in?

      1. Thank you for the prompt reply. Much appreciated. I’m in the UK so I’ll look on Amazon.

  1. Hi, Thomas. Very enjoyable activation video, as usual.
    For your better writing, the word is spelled “camaraderie” not comradery.
    Best and 73,
    Marc (N1QGM)

    1. Thank you, Marc,

      I appreciate you pointing that out! I originally wrote it as “camaraderie,” but it seems a typo led me to the alternate spelling “comradery,” which is also a valid option.

      While both are correct, I think I’ll stick with the more common “camaraderie.” It looks a bit more familiar–especially since I also speak French–and it’s always good to double-check those tricky spellings! Thanks!

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