Field Report :POTA Activation K-0228, Stuart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Great Meadows Unit
by Conrad (N2YCH)
January 21, 2023
Parks On the Air’s Support Your Parks weekend event for winter 2023 is the third full weekend in January and I found myself without my Jeep. I sold my ten-year-old Jeep Wrangler and my new Jeep wasn’t due to be delivered until the following week, leaving me without my “POTA activation vehicle”. I ended up borrowing my XYL’s MINI Countryman to activate K-0228, but let’s face it, a MINI is not a Jeep. It didn’t have all of my “stuff” in it. I needed to get creative about what to bring along with me that would fit easily in the MINI, yet work well enough to activate the park.
I started with my backpack kit which contains an Elecraft KX3, battery, Signalink and computer (for FT8 and logging).
It includes everything I need to transmit and it’s easy to toss in the car. I just needed to decide on what antenna to use. Since it’s winter here in Connecticut and pretty cold outside, this would be an “in-the-car” activation and without the Jeep, my antenna options were limited. I could have brought my Sotabeams Tac-Mini which could fly my PackTenna EFHW up about 20’. However, anchoring the mast would be a challenge in the cold weather. In the end, I decided to bring my Buddipole tripod and nested mast, which are compact and fit in a small bag which fit right in the passenger seat. Continue reading MINI Portable: Conrad’s POTA field report from Stuart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge→
Update (one hour after publishing this post): It appears they’ve already sold out again. Sorry! I’m sure more will be produced in the near future.
Last night, during a recording of the Ham Radio Workbench podcast, George (KJ6VU) noted that he had just replenished stock of the Packtenna 20/40 End-Fed Half-Wave.
This particular antenna has a tuned 20 meter radiator and an additional 33′ of antenna wire finished off with strain loops and gold banana connectors. To operate on 40 meters, simply plug in the additional wire and connect the strain relief loops to the supplied S-Hook clip.
These antennas are made in batches and sell out very quickly (indeed, during the show recording George sold nearly half his stock). This morning, there are still a few left.
I mention this since I know a number of readers have been waiting for this particular linked EFHW to be in stock again.
Because I receive so many tips from readers here on QRPer, I wanted way to share them in a concise newsletter format. To that end, welcome to QRPer Notes, a collection of links/videos to interesting stories and tips making waves in the world of radio!
Just before Thanksgiving, I received an email from Cara Chen at Retevis. She wrote,
I am responsible for the radio review cooperation. We have a SDR radio HS2 for review cooperation. Are you willing to test and write a blog about it?
When I asked her what that meant, she said that she would send me an Ailunce HS2 SDR Radio, if I would review it here on my blog. When I told her that I would be brutally honest in my review, she seemed OK with that and sent me the radio.
What follows is an honest review. It’s not a QST-style review. I don’t have the test equipment that they do, nor did I have the time to put the radio through all its paces. Even so, I did operate the radio on HF and VHF, phone and CW, enough to make the review worth reading, I think.
If you don’t want to read the rest of this review, I can sum it up as follows: The Ailunce HS2 is a fun, little radio, with lots of potential. It’s not perfect, though. The buttons are too small, the display is too small, and the manual needs work. More about all those below.
What’s in the box?
As you can see below, the radio came with a handheld microphone, a DC power cord, and a USB cable.
It’s really small. It’s 45 mm H x 120 mm W x 190 mm D (1.77 in H x 4.72 in W x 7.5 in D)
The carrying case is kind of nifty. If you’re going to operate portable, it’s nice to have.
The extruded metal case include a nice heat sink.
There are a lot of connectors on the rear panel, including the power connector, an SO-239 for HF and VHF antennas, an SMA for a GPS antenna, two USB connectors, an Ethernet connector, and four 3 mm phone jacks.
Product Review: Chelegance MC-750 Portable Ground Plane Antenna, Part 1
by Charles Ahlgren, KW6G
I recently purchased a Chelegance MC-750 portable ground plane antenna from DX Engineering. Essentially, the antenna system provides a ¼ wave portable vertical antenna with 4 counterpoise wires that operates on 20 through 10 meters. The antenna will also operate on 40 meters with the provided loading coil. The manual states the antenna will support 6 meter operation, but no instructions are provided on how to do so. 30 meter operation is not supported. It appears from our initial testing that no ATU is required.
Here are some of my thoughts on the antenna.
The MC-750 comes with the following components:
GROUND ROD / ANT BASE
50 CM ANT ARM
5.2 M WHIP
7 MHZ COIL
4 COUNTERPOISE WIRES (radials)
COUNTERPOISE WIRE COLLECTOR BOARD
As provided, it is designed to operate on the 40, 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10 meter bands without any modifications. Six meters is also supported per the manufacturers manual, but no guidance on how to do that is offered in that document. However, finding the proper length of radiator for 6 meters should be straightforward using a tape measure to set the proper whip length.
[Update: Chelegance notes that to operate 6 meters, simply extend the last segment only of the whip (see photo) and for 30 meters extend the last four segments of the whip and 15cm on the 5th segment (see photo).]
I checked the ground rod / antenna base with a magnet and confirmed it is made from stainless steel as both components are not magnetic; a characteristic of stainless. Both the ground rod/ antenna base and the 50 cm antenna arm (which was also non-magnetic) had a hefty feel (together, they weigh about 2 pounds), therefore I think it safe to assume that these components are made of stainless steel. Since most ops will undoubtedly use the antenna arm as an aid to inserting / extracting the ground rod into / from the ground, it seems a prudent decision by the manufacturer to have this piece fabricated from a strong, stiff material such as steel. The machine work used to fabricate these parts appears to be quite good – the fit and feel were excellent, with no sharp or ragged edges to cause problems in the field.
I measured the whip while set at the various position marks for 20 through 10 meters. The band markings on the whip were accurate – giving a 1/4 wavelength radiator when combined with the 50 CM ant arm length…On 40 meters, the whip and rod measured about 1/8 wavelength. The required the loading coil needs to be inserted between the whip and the rod (at approximately 1/10 the total 40 meter whip height above the base). If you want to operate this antenna on 30 meters, it appears that you need to provide an extra 1.4 meter of additional rod as a quarter wavelength ground plane at 10.1 MHz requires a 7.1 meter radiator. Six meter operation would require a whip of around 4.7 feet. With the whip fully collapsed, the length of the rod and antenna arm measures 40-1/4”. Therefore, if 6 meter operation is contemplated, extending the whip about 16 inches from fully collapsed should suffice. However, I don’t think that an antenna configuration such as that would be a very good performer unless it were elevated from ground level; or maybe it would be good for a SOTA activation? Continue reading Guest Post: Reviewing the Chelegance MC-750 (Part 1)→
Driving home on Thursday, December 8, 2022, I popped by Food Matters in Morganton, NC and grabbed one of their amazing curried chicken salad wraps.
I sat in the car and listened to a podcast as I ate a late-ish lunch. I looked at my watch and sorted out what time I needed to be back at my home in the mountains. After a little mental math, I realized I had about 90 minutes to fit in a little radio fun.
Where to go on a rainy day?
Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)
Since it was a Thursday and I knew Tuttle would be open, it was really a no-brainer. Tuttle is only an 8 minute drive from the parking lot at Food Matters, so I made my way to Playmore Beach Road!
En route, I made a mental inventory of what radios and antennas I had packed in the car. I knew I had my KX2 and although its internal battery had already powered me through three or four activations already, I knew there’d be enough charge for one or two more.
Also, since it was raining, I thought it would be the perfect day to set up under Tuttle’s excellent picnic shelter.
As for an antenna, I remembered putting the AX1 in my antenna box, so why not pair the two and operate in the dry?
Funny, but after I started recording the activation video (below), I convinced myself that I needed to make some coffee. I pulled out my field coffee kit and set it up for a quick brew.
The park had completely shut off all water fountains and closed the rest room area, so there was no place to get fresh water. Fortunately, I had *just* enough water left in my water bottle after lunch. Almost the perfect amount for a cup of coffee but no more.
This wasn’t a planned cuppa’ so I used one of my last Starbucks Via coffee packs. Had I planned this in advance, I would have ground some beans at home and made a pour-over coffee.
That’s okay, though. The Starbucks packs are better than no coffee at all.
Field Coffee Kit
If you’re curious about the contents of my field coffee kit, here’s the list:
I purchased an MC-750 from DXE last week…It arrived Monday….Great antenna; very nice workmanship….I have not yet deployed it, but that will be in the near future….
After reading your emails/posts and viewing the videos, I got to thinking…The real oversight in this antenna design is the fact that the manufacturer has provided no protection for the tip of the ground spike….I can see where it would not be long until it worked its way through one of the ends of the carrying pouch…
So with this in mind, I went off to the hardware store where I found a 3/8″ ID X 1 inch long nylon spacer which fit over the end of the spike perfectly — problem solved for all of 58 cents…
Here are a couple photos:
73’s de Charles, KW6G
What a great, affordable solution! Thank you for sharing this, Charles!
On the morning of November 4th, I woke up with one thought on my mind: “I need to activate Mount Mitchell before it’s too late!”
It’s not like Mount Mitchell was going to disappear, but I knew I was already on borrowed time since the long section of the Blue Ridge Parkway I use to drive to Mount Mitchell from Asheville typically closes in the early part of November for weeks at a time. The park itself will close to guests too–in fact, last year, it closed its gates as I drove out of the park! There are often other roads open to Mitchell in the winter, but they’re very much out of the way for me and frankly, weather can shift and the park close at the drop of a hat.
As the crow flies, Mount Mitchell is actually very close to my QTH. If I wanted, I could hike there directly from my home. I’ve yet to do this, however, because with the 3,000′ elevation change and the anything-but-direct trails that skirt the Asheville watershed, I’d need a full day or more to hike it one way. I will for sure do this sometime, but only when I can pack appropriately and reserve a campsite.
As soon as I surfaced that morning, I check the weather map. I noticed that the temp at Mount Mitchell was actually slightly higher than at my QTH. I looked out the kitchen window and could see fog in the valley. This meant one thing: inversion!
When we have inversion, the cold air is pushed down into the valley and warmer air can be found at higher elevations. The flip opposite of what you’d typically expect.
I ate a quick bite, grabbed come coffee, and hit the road.
As I drove past Warren Wilson College’s farm, it was absolutely gorgeous. I had to stop and take a photo or two [click images to enlarge].
The drive up to Mount Mitchell on the BRP was ideal: clear skies and quite warm!
After a fun “discovery” activation with the TEN-TEN R4020 on the morning of November 12, 2022–click here to check out that report and video–I realized I had just enough time to squeeze in another activation on my way back to the QTH.
I picked Lake James State Park (K-2739) because it was the most conveniently located; only a 20 minute detour.
When I arrived, the park was very quiet even though it was a Saturday no doubt because the ground was still saturated after the two days of rains we received from the remnants of Hurricane Nicole.
I grabbed my radio gear: the Elecraft KX2 and the new MC-750 vertical antenna sent to me (at no charge) by Jesse at Chelegance. This was only the second time I’d used the antenna–the first time was with the X5105.
I knew the MC-750 would be quick to set up and that was a good thing because I only had a max of about 45 minutes for the entire activation including set-up and take-down.
I walked down to a picnic table by the lake and deployed the station.
The MC-750 took me all of three (casual) minutes to set up.