Category Archives: Accessories

N2HTT’s Tilt Cradle for the Penntek TR-45L

Many thanks to Mike (N2HTT) who recently reached out:

Hi Tom,

I recently treated myself to a Penntek TR-45L, and I think it’s the perfect field CW rig, except for one thing: the viewing angle sitting on a table is too vertical.

I made myself a tilt cradle that holds the rig at a 15 degree angle. It is form fitted to the rig, allows good clearance to all the controls front and rear, and raises it up off the table just a smidge.

Mike thanks/blames me for his purchase of the TR-45L and asked if I wanted one of his 3D-printed tilt cradles for my TR-45L. I just received it today at no cost to me–thanks, Mike!–and I really like the angle for using the TR-45L in my shack (and in the field, for sure). 

Mike is selling these for $25 in his Etsy shop. Click here to check them out!

Here are some photos:

Thanks again, Mike, for sending one to me–I really appreciate it. Now I just need to convince you to purchase even more radios! 🙂

The TR-45L is a gem–you’ll love it!

Planning a POTA Babe Trip – Part 2

(Note: I cut my Florida POTA trip short as I needed to take care of some personal business. I apologize for the change of plans and the inability to communicate that to y’all. I appreciate everyone’s support of the trip and the QSOs of those who hunted me. Articles will be forthcoming for those activations in the near future.)

Those of you who have followed my journey on QRPer know that I wrote an article about my kit for the trip I took last summer to Nova Scotia. Since then, what ham radio equipment I take with me has changed, partially because I am not flying to a different country far from home and partially because of my experiences with what I generally do and don’t need. I thought I’d share what my kit currently looks like for the spring-break Florida trip.

Here is a photo of what ham radio-related gear I am taking on my Florida POTA trip. We’ll first look at what I have in each section of the Elecraft bag I take with me and then a few items that do not fit in this bag but are still along for the ride.

When I purchased my KX2, I also purchased the Elecraft bag. Though the bag is bulky in its profile, it was a worthy purchase due to the amount of stuff it can store in one place in a well-organized manner.

The bag has three compartments.

In the first compartment is my main man, Craig, my KX2. He is the rig I use for all my QRP adventures out and about. I do have a protective cover I purchased for him but haven’t installed yet. I have a fear of messing with electronics and, though installing the shield isn’t rocket science, the project seems overwhelming enough that I haven’t tackled it yet.

Also in this first compartment are my throw bag containing an arbor line and throw weight, some S-carabiners, my homemade radials for the AX1, the tripod mount for the AX1, and a pencil and earbuds. I find I copy CW much better when I have a headset of some sort.

In this compartment, I used to have a back-up key. However, in its place is a new single-lever paddle from CW Morse [QRPer affiliate link]. I am using this key because it is wired to be a cootie or a paddle via an internal switch. I discovered my KX2 doesn’t balk at using this key like a cootie unlike when I use the CW Morse SP4. I desire to use QRP for more than POTA, specifically for SKCC and calling CQ for ragchews. SKCC requires a mechanical key and, as the cootie is my favorite key, this new key should fill the need  I discovered the last time I visited Skidaway Island.

In the second compartment, I have the AX1 and the Tufteln EFRW antenna. Those of you who have read my articles know I generally deploy the Tufteln EFRW antenna. On this April Florida trip, I plan to use the AX1 and the Chelegance MC-750 more often in preparation for my summer POTA trip. I anticipate I’ll be limited by terrain and park rules from deploying an antenna in a tree so more experience with verticals will be helpful.

In the third and final compartment are some odds and ends: neon pink flagging tape, an allen wrench for adjusting my CW morse keys, some twine, a short length of wire with an alligator clip on the end, two shock bungee cords, the cord for my CW Morse single-lever key, and a splitter for the headphone jack. I’ve used all these items (except the cord for the new key) at one time or another so I don’t want to leave the house without them.

Here are items I am also taking that don’t fit in the Elecraft bag.

The Tufteln kneeboard, POTA flag, and a notebook. I really like using pencil and paper for my POTA logs. I hold my key in the left hand and send with the right. For some reason, juggling that with paper is more manageable to me than logging in my phone or a laptop. The one thing I miss out on by doing that, though, is not knowing people’s names except those I’ve encountered many times. (And even then I forget names in the busyness of an activation so if I do, please forgive me.) I like to thank people by name at the end of the QSO rather than just their call sign if I know their name. I learned to do this in SKCC exchanges and I think it is a respectful and genteel practice. The one advantage I see to using a logging program is that I could do that with every QSO.

In a Tom Bihn bag, I have my RG-316 coax in three lengths (10’, 20’, and 50’), a short bungee cord, a stereo connector, and a newer version of the SP4 (aka The Minion).

Also coming along for the ride is the Chelegance MC-750. [QRPer affiliate link]

The last pieces of equipment I am bringing are for the first park I will visit – Lafayette Wildlife Management Area. In areas that allow hunting, Daisy and I wear blaze orange, even in the off season. Though as hams we try to be law abiding, we need to remember there are others out there who are not. When it comes to areas in which hunting is allowed, it is wise to wear blaze orange year-round because hunting violations due happen.

There you have it – the POTA Babe’s current QRP kit. I have one last question to address in this series – how I plan my trips. To find out, stay tuned…

N6ARA Introduces: THE GIANT PADDLE–!

I’ll just leave this product announcement from N6ARA right here:

Planning a POTA Babe Trip – Part 1

by Teri (KO4WFP)

Many of you QRPer readers know I am headed to Florida the first week of April for POTA. This will be my first POTA trip on my own. Of course, I’ll have my trusty POTA pup Daisy with me as there is no way she’d want to miss such an adventure. My previous trip to Florida with my brother in December 2023 gave me a better idea of what I need and how to streamline my routines for such a trip.

I am a divorced, single mom so I will not be staying at a hotel or Airbnb but tent camping because that is less expensive. I found staying in state parks during my last trip a pleasant experience. Most people camping at a park are friendly but mind their own business. Traveling as a single woman could be a fearful endeavor but being with a dog and in a campground full of people makes that endeavor doable.

I thought I’d share what I am taking in case there are other aspiring POTA Babes (or POTA Dudes for that matter) who are up for the same kind of adventure. So, let’s dive into my equipment.

An overview of what I am taking

[Note: All Amazon links are affiliate and support QRPer.com.]

Shelter

I have a Sierra Designs two-person tent I purchased nearly 30 years ago. That tent was used for a summer cross-country road trip my brother Joseph and I took. Though Joseph and I used a four-person Ozark tent of my parents’ for our December Florida trip, I like the features of the Sierra Designs tent better – the grommets for holding the tent poles, three instead of two tent poles which makes for a more stable design, and tent poles that don’t pull apart easily as you move them through the sleeves on top of the tent. My Sierra Designs tent does not have a dedicated slot for inserting an extension cord into the tent but I’ll make do running it in through the corner of the door.

Tent without rainfly

Sleep is of paramount importance so I use a LuxuryMap Thermarest and it is well worth it. How do I know? This sleeping pad has been my bed for the past six months so I have lots of experience with it. Being in the townhouse now, I could certainly purchase a bed but I’ve become so used to sleeping on the floor, I actually prefer doing so now. My other sleep items are a Northface sleeping bag and a Sea-to-Summit inflatable pillow. Daisy has a sleeping pad and bag of her own from Ruffwear.

The last items rounding out my shelter set up are a brush/dust pan, a mat to minimize sand/dirt getting into the tent, and a head lamp.

Sustenance

A confession – I dislike spending time in the kitchen so I keep my meals as simple as possible. To save money, I make my own meals. I learned last December it is easier to pre-package the meals before the trip than to take larger food containers from which to make the meals during the trip.

Breakfast is simple – oatmeal, cranberries, nuts, and protein powder with hot tea to drink out of a large thermos for the morning. Dinner is also simple – noodles, canned chicken, a canned vegetable, and shredded cheese with hot tea to drink once again. For lunch, I snack on fruit or protein bars.

I purchased a new stove – the SOTO Windmaster – for the December trip after reading reviews of backpacking/camping stoves on Gearlab’s website.  It was easy to use and quick to bring water to a boil in which I cooked our food. I do not like using gas appliances; however, lightning the stove provided simple and I never felt like I was going to fry off my eyebrows from the flame.

I also have a spork, can opener, dish soap, towel, fuel canister, and lighter to ignite the fuel for the stove.

I debated about bringing a cooler. If one is going to use canned food and does not anticipate using the entire can, obviously the food has to be safely stored overnight.  I visited Gearlab again for cooler reviews. The RITC Ultralight 52 quart cooler is a Best Buy and received a 70 rating, only 8 points down from their top rated cooler – the Yeti Roadie 60. But what a price difference – $450 for the Yeti and $210 for the RITC. I realized I didn’t need a 52 quart cooler and looked for something smaller. There is a 32 quart size which is only $140. Sold! In tests, the RITC 52 quart cooler kept items cool for 6 days, long enough to last on my trip.

Power

We live in a world of gadgets and those need to be powered. I purchased a Jackery 300 Plus portable power station for my last trip even though I had access to the RV power outlets. This little unit is sweet! It charges items quickly, is quiet, and has a solar panel option for recharging if you do not have access to an outlet.

For my upcoming summer trip, most of the places at which I’ll stay will not have power available so the Jackery will come in handy. I will purchase a car charger to assist in recharging the unit while driving on that trip.

extension cord in campsite power connection in Florida Dec 2023

Niceties

While lounging around camp, it is nice to be able to sit. I possess a Helinox chair I use during activations when the weather is warm outside. But I don’t want to use that in the tent due to the flooring and low ceiling height. I found on the December Florida trip not having something to support your back while operating or reading or typing up a report, to be taxing. Therefore on this trip, I will use the Thermarest chair made to use with my Thermarest sleeping pad.

from Thermarest website

If you are going to spend time outside, you will share the space with insects. Several of the trails I want to walk with Daisy warned about mosquitoes and ticks. To protect me, I will spray my clothing and tent entrance in advance with Sawyer Premium Insect repellent. I’ve used this stuff before and it works well. I also have Ben’s 30% DEET Tick and Insect Repellent wipes, top rated by Consumer Reports. As for Daisy, she is already on an oral flea and tick preventative. However, neither of those cover mosquitoes which of course can carry diseases and are irritating. Before the trip, I’ll apply an Advantix II treatment for her protection.

Other additional items will be clothing, toiletries, a quick-drying towel, a leash, a lead & tarp on which Daisy can lie down, my laptop for writing up reports and checking email, AirPods, my journal, and a few books to read. I tend to travel on the light side.

Well, now you have it – what the POTA Babe uses on her trips. I’d love to hear from y’all what you think would be a great addition to my set-up or a piece of equipment you prefer.  For part 2, I’ll share what is currently in my POTA QRP kit. Stay tuned…

Testing the Tufteln AX1 Support: Late-Shift POTA with Vlado in Pisgah National Forest

On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, one of my daughters had a dress rehearsal for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The venue where the cast meets is a good 45 minutes from my QTH, and if I didn’t have POTA fever, I’d have to find something to do to burn four hours of time.

Since I do have POTA fever, I see these windows of waiting around as an opportunity!

An opportunity to spread the POTA fever, even.

On that particular Tuesday night, my dear friend Vlado (N3CZ) didn’t have any plans, so I invited him to join me on a short, late-shift activation. The idea was that he’d perform an activation, then we’d go grab dinner at a restaurant in Mills River.

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

Quick note about park numbers: As of the time of publishing this article, we’re still using the “K” prefix for US parks. Tomorrow (March 20, 2024), all US park prefixes will change to “US.” Pisgah National Forest, for example, will be US-4510 starting tomorrow. Today, it’s still (barely!) K-4510, so that’s what we’ll use.

We drove to the Sycamore Flats Picnic Area where I performed a number of late-shift activations in February. What I love about the site is that it’s rarely busy (especially at dusk and into the evening), there are numerous spots to set up, and it’s pretty convenient to the Shakespeare venue.

Tufteln AX1 Antenna Stand

I’d mentioned to Vlado in advance that I was going to test “a new antenna support system.” I think he might have assumed I was packing a large tripod with a 1/4 vertical or something similar, so it was fun to pull out the AX1 and  Tufteln AX1 Antenna Stand!

Vlado, like me, loves compact radio gear, and I knew he’d never used the Elecraft AX1 before, so I was looking forward to showing him just how capable of an antenna it is for POTA, even on 40 meters.

That day, it had been pretty gusty, and in the evening hours, while a little calmer, it was still a tad windy. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to pair the AX1 with Joshua’s AX1 stand because it’s much more stable than the AX1 bipod in windy conditions.

Source: Tufteln.com

The stand consists of two parts: a base and an antenna sleeve. The sleeve screws into the base, and the AX1 simply slides into the sleeve. The height is perfect for the KX2’s BNC (indeed, it works with a number of radios). The stand will also accommodate the AXE 40M coil.

Source: Tufteln.com

When attached to the KX2, it makes for a very stable base. You can even use it as a stand-alone antenna support for the AX1.

Joshua has had this stand in his Tufteln product line for over a year, but I don’t think I’ve actually used it during an activation that I’ve also filmed.

New Mics!

Speaking of filming, this activation with Vlado gave me an opportunity to test my new DJI wireless mics. The system comes with two mics so both Vlado and I used them.

I filmed the activation, but in truth, was doing this more or less to test the mic audio. I believe I mentioned early on that this video might not ever be published.

In the end, I decided to publish it–the audio was quite good, and the wireless mics cut down on the wind noise dramatically.

Gear:

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N3CZ: On The Air

My goal was to get Vlado on the air and give him a taste of POTA using the AX1 and 40M coil. I hadn’t planned to activate–since we were grabbing dinner afterward–but I did end up activating after the UTC day changed.

Without realizing it, I actually put a lot of pressure on Vlado.

He started his activation at 18:42 local (23:42 UTC). That meant, in order to log a valid POTA activation on February 13, he needed to log at least ten contacts in 18 minutes (using the AX1!).

Keep in mind that Vlado is a contester and DXer (also, very much a QRPer!). He’s used to operating CW at insane speeds when needed. In fact, he’s always one of the top people (if not the top) in the CW speed test at the W4DXCC contesting and DX conference.

I suggested he operate around 20 words per minute.

He started calling CQ POTA, and the first few contacts came in pretty slowly. I was getting nervous that I might have unintentionally made Vlado’s first POTA activation one that wouldn’t be valid.

Then the pace started picking up. (Whew!)

He ended up logging a total of 10 contacts in 12 minutes! Woo hoo!

Here’s his QSO Map, showing what the AX1 pushing 5 watts for twelve minutes can do:

Next, we decided that I would, indeed, perform a quick activation.

I spotted myself on the POTA site and started to call CQ, then it hit me: it was 23:58 UTC. If I worked one contact in that two minutes, it would be considered an activation on February 13 of only one contact.

Instead, we waited for a little over a minute for the UTC day to change!

I ended up working a total of 24 contacts in 21 minutes. Woo hoo!

Here’s my QSO Map:

And here are our logs:

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.

What fun!

I always enjoy hitting the field with Vlado.

Since this quick little activation, he’s been out there hitting POTA sites regularly.

He hasn’t seen the doctor yet, but I’m positive he caught POTA fever. It’s incredibly contagious.

Also, the Tufteln AX1 stand worked perfectly in the wind. I’m going to keep this tucked away in my pack alongside my second AX1 to pair with a wide variety of radios.

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)

Pedestrian Mobile POTA Hunting: Pairing the KH1 and N6ARA’s Tiny Paddle Plug

On Sunday, March 3, 2024, I had a couple of errands to run in downtown Asheville and also had to pick up my daughter.

I ended up having about 40 minutes to kill and, since I had my Elecraft KH1 field kit packed in my EDC bag, I thought it might be fun to fit in a little radio time.

Since I was downtown, the only viable POTA site to hit would be the Thomas Wolfe Memorial–you might recall my activation there last year–but technically, the park was closed. It is an urban park in the middle of Asheville, and there are no gates to keep people from walking across the grounds, but still, I’d feel better activating with permission from the staff first. (I’m pretty sure they’ll grant that permission, by the way.)

Instead of activating, I decided to do a little POTA hunting.

I parked at the spot where I planned to meet my daughter and grabbed my KH1 field kit.

Upon opening it up, I remembered that I had put N6ARA’s new KH1 TinyPaddle Plug Adapter in the M40 case!

My good friend, Ara (N6ARA), designed a small 3D-printed adapter that allows his TinyPaddle Plug to fit the KH1 securely. He sent me (free of charge) this new key/adapter to evaluate.

The adapter is a super simple design that works with the TinyPaddle Plug (not the TinyPaddle Jack).

I hadn’t used this new adapter in the field yet–I only very briefly tested it at the QTH a couple of days prior.

I mentioned last year, shortly after the KH1 was introduced, that I expected a number of 3rd party paddles to start appearing on the market. Since the interface with the KH1 is a standard 3.5mm plug, it does open the door to 3D-printed designs and experimentation. Admittedly, it’s a small space to fit in a paddle, but it’s doable.

I believe N6ARA was actually the first non-Elecraft paddle I used on my KH1 because his TinyPaddle Plug will fit it natively. That said, the new KH1 adapter makes it a proper secure fit–the way it should be!

Side Note: The OEM Elecraft KH1 paddles (the KHPD1s) are now in Revision 2, and all KH1 owners (who received the original paddles) will get version 2 paddles eventually via Elecraft for free.

The original KH1 paddles have a green circuit board.

I haven’t received my Rev 2 paddles yet, but I know I will before long. It’s my understanding that the Rev 2 paddles have a much better feel, and keying is more accurate.

Still…it’s brilliant that Elecraft used a standard jack so that we hams can design our own paddles if we like.

The TinyPaddle Plug

Ara’s TinyPaddle design is super simple, and while he originally designed the TinyPaddle to be a back-up option, I know a number of hams who use the TinyPaddle as their main field key.

If you’d like to hear more about the TinyPaddle and Ara (N6ARA), I’d encourage you to listen to this recent episode of the Ham Radio Workbench podcast when he was our guest. He’s such a brilliant fellow.

Park Lot Pedestrian Mobile

Again, I can’t stress how cool it is to have a radio that allows you the flexibility to hit the air pretty much anywhere, anytime.

The KH1 is so quick to deploy, low-impact, and low-profile.

It’s as conspicuous as holding a transistor radio with a telescoping whip. So far (it’s still early days, let’s be honest here) no one has seen me with the KH1 and asked me if I’m a spy. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked this over the years of POTA activating!

POTA Hunting vs. Activating

Even though both activities–hunting and activating–are a part of the same program, they are very different animals. Continue reading Pedestrian Mobile POTA Hunting: Pairing the KH1 and N6ARA’s Tiny Paddle Plug

A Case for Making the Morserino Your Ultimate Traveling Morse Companion!

Many thanks to Paul Patsis (W7CPP), who shares the following guest post:


A Case for the Morserino-32

by Paul Patsis (W7CPP)

Morse Code is more popular than ever now. More and more Hams are discovering the joy of CW and the advantages it brings to communications from Parks, Summits, and remote locations as well as in our own back yards and QTH. It’s astonishing to witness how we can reach far corners of the world on only 5 watts with small and lightweight radios and antennas.

CW is a productive and rewarding mode of operation and like all worthwhile endeavors we get out of it what we put into it. It takes commitment and dedication to become a proficient Morse Code Operator and fortunately for all of us we have more tools available to us than ever before.

One of those tools is a powerful and small training and learning tool called the Morserino. It is a very capable little device that incorporates many features designed to help a Ham achieve proficiency at Morse Code.

When it comes to learning Morse Code, there is no substitute for time and repetition. Akin to leaning a new language the more you can immerse yourself the better you will become. Practice tools on the Internet, the Morserino, Organizations like the Long Island CW Club and “Code Talking” every day are great ways to get up to speed and increase proficiency.

Practice, practice, practice is the key.

I have found the Morserino to be a very valuable tool and wanted to find a way to take it along safely on my travels. Borrowing a page from my fellow hams who are activating parks and summits, I sought a way to protect the Morserino  whether traveling by land, sea or air. Whether in a backpack, suitcase, or other travel bags how could I keep the little Morserino protected and yet be ready for use?

To answer that question I started do some research on how people kit out their gear for field radio operations. I’ve seen good use made of the ubiquitous Pelican Micro M40 Case for lots of Ham Radio Gear and most recently for the Elecraft KH1.  I wondered if the mighty little Pelican case would work for the Morserino? I gave it a try and discovered that  with no modifications it is a great option for bringing your Morserino along on all your travels.

The setup that worked for me required very little to make it a nice and safe fit.

The first thing I did was to remove the very small spacers in the bottom of the Morserino Case that comes with the radio.

Those spacers are generally included to give a bit more space under the unit to accommodate the battery that is put underneath to power the Morserino.

I found that by using Velcro to hold the small battery in place those spacers are not needed, and the result is that it lowers the profile of the Morserino by about ¼”. This is just enough clearance to allow the top of the Pelican Case to close and not be obstructed by the dummy load on top of the antenna.

Alternatively, one can leave the spacers on the bottom of the Morserino and leave off the dummy load. My feeling is that it is better to leave the dummy load on just to be safe and with this setup the spacers are not needed.

Although the Morserino comes with Capacitive Paddles I prefer to use my own paddle which in this case is the Bamakey TP-III.  There is a 3D Printed Case for the TP-III and when the key is housed inside the case the entire package nests nicely inside the Pelican Case alongside the Morserino. I store the Capacitive Keys in the space alongside the battery on the underside of the Morserino as a backup Key.

There is also room for the Key Cable which nests nicely alongside the Morserino towards the back of the case.

I generally bring along a set of small, wired headphones and they sit comfortably atop the Morserio in a small plastic bag. I placed a small micro fiber eyeglass cleaning cloth under the headphones just as an added layer of protection for the Morserino Screen. The headphones are a great option when using the Morserino in a noisy environment or in public places like an airport waiting room or on a ferry.

The bottom line is that everything you need to practice CW with the Morserino is in the Pelican Case and ready to go wherever your travels take you. Most recently I have used it while waiting at an airport to catch a plane and on a ferry headed from a small Island to the Mainland. I also found a little bonus use for the case.

After taking the Morserino out of the case, I found it sits quite nicely on the lid at the perfect angle to view the screen with just the right amount of clearance for my headphones and key cable.

The Morserino is a capable little tool to keep you “immersed” in the learning process, sharpen your skills or dust off the cobwebs if you’ve been away from CW for a while.

The Morserino and Pelican Micro M40 Case…don’t leave home without it!

Gear:

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

KM4CFT’s Iambic Paddle Kit for the Elecraft KH1

Many thanks to Jonathan (KM4CFT) who notified me that his new KH1 iambic paddle kit is now available to order.

I know Jonathan has been working on this little key for a while and I’m pleased to see it come to fruition.

Click here to check it out on eBay via Dan (W7RF).

Note that this is an eBay partner link that also supports QRPer.com at no cost to you!

Elecraft KH1 Tabletop Mode: The new KHRA1 Right-Angle Adapter makes for a super-portable POTA machine!

It’s funny how sometimes one small accessory can have a huge impact on a field radio kit.

When I first learned about the Elecraft KH1 (basically, the day I was invited to join the volunteer testing group), I felt like Elecraft had designed my ideal QRP radio. The KH1 is super compact, weighs 13 oz completely loaded, covers my favorite bands, and has features I would expect in much pricier radios. It reminded me of my beloved KX1, but even more portable with more features.

The KH1 caters to handheld or pedestrian mobile operating–at least, that was the overarching design objective. It accomplishes this amazingly well. It’s so easy to operate handheld, and there’s nothing else quite like it on the market. I suspect that when others copy the design (I’m sure they’re already doing so–!) it won’t be as versatile, functional, and lightweight.

At the end of the day, though, I feel like I’m only using the KH1 pedestrian mobile about 30% of the time I have it on the air. Of that 30%, I’d say that only 10% of the time I’m pedestrian mobile while activating, and 20% of the time I’m doing little impromptu radio sessions in parking lots, ballparks, while visiting family, and even on my own mountain property.

While handheld operating is simply a game-changer, I knew I wouldn’t do this 100% of the time with the KH1. It’s for this reason that my very first bit of proper KH1 feedback to Elecraft, well before I had my hands on a prototype, was that a right-angle adapter for the whip antenna would truly round out the KH1’s field prowess.

This would basically give my KH1 the same functionality of my beloved KX2 and AX1 antenna combo, but in an even more portable package.

Turned out, Elecraft already had a right-angle adapter on the design board!

Fast-forward to present day…

Last week, Elecraft sent me a prototype of the right-angle adapter to test and evaluate. They’ve given it the model number KHRA1.

Full disclosure: Elecraft also gave me permission to post a video and article about this new accessory even though (at time of publishing) it’s not even showing up on their website. I will, however, link to it here as soon as Elecraft makes it available. This is an item I would otherwise have tested in private–thanks, Elecraft!

The KHRA1: Small accessory, big impact!

Illustration Source: Elecraft KHRA1 Instruction Manual

The KHRA1 is a simple adapter. Other than metal attachment hardware, most of it is lightweight and 3D-printed from a durable material (I assume the same material they use in the KH1).

Attaching it to the KH1 is very easy.

First, you unthread the large metal thumb nut from the KHRA1. You will need to hold together the remaining KHRA1 components (legs and attachment bracket) so that they don’t come apart before you attach them to the KH1. This is actually pretty easy to do, but users should know to follow the KHRA1 instruction sheet. If these parts fall apart in the field, it might require a bit of searching the ground for the pieces.

You simply thread the large thumb nut onto the KH1’s whip antenna antenna port, then thread the rest of the KHRA1 bracket/legs onto the large thumb nut.

Check out Elecraft’s illustration:

I then position the KHRA1 legs as shown above, then tighten the KHRA1 adapter so that everything is secure.

It’s super simple to do, and you can see this process in my activation video below.

Speaking of an activation…

On Saturday, March 2, 2024, (yes, only two days ago) I had my first small window of opportunity to squeeze in a POTA activation and test the KHRA1.

That day, my daughters and I had a number of errands to run, then a three-hour round-trip drive to pick up my wife. We were on a very tight schedule, but I had a 30-ish minute window of opportunity to fit in some POTA radio therapy.

I set my sights on the easiest-for-me-to-hit POTA site on the Blue Ridge Parkway: the Folk Art Center.

Amazingly, I discovered that morning, that the KHRA1 fits in my Pelican M40 Micro case along with my KH1, whip, counterpoise, key, spare N6ARA key, and earphones.

With the KHRA1, this means my M40 field kit can do both pedestrian mobile and tabletop operating. Woo hoo!

The weather that morning was simply glorious. A very wet front swept through the previous day leaving behind clear skies and warm temps. Frankly, it was a bit odd activating without wearing a jacket or hoodie.

Gear:

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On The Air

Setting up was quick and easy, even though this was my first time using the KHRA1 in the field.

I hopped on the air and started calling CQ. Once spotted (for some reason the RBN auto-spotting feature wasn’t working again), the contacts started flowing in.

I worked a total of 18 contacts in 16 minutes. It hardly gets better than that for a CW activation!

I had to call QRT after my 18th contact. Even though I had a 30-minute window to POTA, nearly 14 minutes of that was taken up with my intro and summary for the activation video.

I called QRT with a small pileup still in place. I really hate doing that, but I had a schedule to keep!

QSO Map

Here’s what this five-watt activation with a 4′ telescoping whip antenna 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.

A super-portable, low-impact POTA machine!

The KH1 works amazingly well as a tabletop radio when combined with the KHRA1 adapter.

At the end of the day, the KHRA1 is a very simple piece of hardware, but it effectively transforms the KH1 from a handheld radio to a tabletop.

Of course, I’ve used the KH1 numerous times with wire antennas in a tabletop configuration (I’m a massive fan of wire antennas) but the ability to use the 4′ whip antenna and internal KH1 loading coils means that I can operate anywhere I have a surface.

As I mentioned in a previous post, in some cases, low-impact, and low-profile are key to positive park relations.

Herein lies the thing I love about my KX2/AX1 pairing as well. It’s just with the KHRA1, the KH1 makes for an even smaller, lighter-weight field kit.

Any negatives? The only one I’ve come up with is that the KH1 is so lightweight that I realize I need to carry a small piece of shelf liner (something like this) to provide the KH1 with a bit more grip on a slick park table, especially those composite ones.

Again, I will update this post when Elecraft announces KHRA1 pricing and availability.

Thank you

I still can’t believe the entire kit fits in this small case. Even when I put the KHRA1 thumb screw on backwards!

Thank you for joining me on this quick little tabletop 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 an amazing week ahead and play some radio!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)