Category Archives: News

HRWB DC Distribution Panel Kits in stock at Digikey!

Many thanks to Mike (KG4MTN) who notes:

Good morning Thomas,

I did not know if you are aware, but Digikey has in stock about 67 HRWB 5-port dc power strip kits. I ordered one last night, they are $49.94 plus tax/shipping. Apparently these have been out of stock for some time, I am glad to see them available.

72 and God bless,
Mike Serio
KG4MTN

Thanks for the tip, Mike! These will sell out quickly, so grab one while you can, I say! I love mine.

Click here to purchase one via DigiKey!

QRP POTA and testing the new JNCRadio MC-599 portable dipole antenna!

In late December 2023, I received a package from Jesse at JNCRadio/Chelegance. It was their new MC-599 portable dipole antenna. They sent it—full disclaimer: at no cost to me—for evaluation, but shortly after receiving it, life got crazy and I was delayed in taking it to the field.

Fast-forward to February, and I was eager to take it to the field and see how it might perform. On February 5, 2024, a nice window of opportunity opened in the afternoon while one of my daughters was rehearsing A Midsummer Night’s Dream with her cast. Pisgah National Forest and Game Land were a 20-minute drive from her meeting site, so I headed there to deploy this new antenna.

The JNCRADIO MC-599

On-site, I pulled out the two main components of the MC-599 dipole system: the bespoke padded bag holding the antenna and the portable mast.

I knew the basics about assembling the MC-599 because I had watched a video on the Chelegance website that morning.

However, this was the very first time I had deployed the MC-599. I had never even removed any of the antenna components from the padded bag.

With this antenna, it’s best to have an open area for the two sides of the dipole (two telescoping whips) to fully extend without touching tree branches, etc. I had one particular picnic site in mind at the roadside picnic area I chose, but a couple was having a picnic there when I arrived. I waited to see if they might be leaving soon, but they weren’t, so I chose a site I had used before, even though it was flanked by trees.

Assembly was easy: I simply attached the center of the dipole to the 13′ mast, then attached the two telescoping whips to either side and extended them to the 20M position silkscreened on the whip (identical to the MC-750 vertical markings—see below).

Next, you simply attach your coax to the center of the dipole, then extend the mast all the way up.

I had to avoid touching tree branches, but it actually fit quite easily into this small space.

Since it was a bit breezy, I used some line to guy the mast. Ideally, you’d want a minimum of three guying points, but I only had two lines with me, so I made do, and it worked fine—the antenna was stable.

Next, I set up my radio: the Yaesu FT-818ND. Since the MC-599 was, in theory, resonant, I didn’t need an ATU for a match.

I turned on the FT-818 and discovered that the SWR was a perfect 1:1. Amazing.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised because my Chelegance MC-750 is always perfectly resonant (without needing a transformer) simply following the whip markings for guidance.

I should note here that the MC-599 can handle up to 200 Watts PEP—I was pushing 5-6 Watts. Also, the frequency range using the whips is from 20-6 meters. Chelegance also includes two 7 MHz wire elements that can be deployed in an inverted vee shape to play radio on the 40-meter band. It’s an efficient system and has many fewer components than a Buddipole systems I’ve used in the past.

Gear:

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On The Air

Keep in mind that my POTA site was in a deep valley, flanked by high ridge lines–I wasn’t sure what to expect as I hopped on the air.

I started calling CQ POTA and the first station I heard was DL1OK operating in Spain as EA8/DL1OK. Logging Dmitrij was a good sign indeed for this portable dipole!

Stations kept flowing in. I worked my first ten contacts in ten minutes.

I continued working stations in a continuous pileup until I ran out of time. I ended up logging a total of 46 contact all within 50 minutes. I did spend a few extra minutes (as I always do) trying to pull out weak stations and slower code stations.

What fun!

QSO Map

Here’s what this five-watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map.

Note that this map does not include my contact with EA8/DL1OK in Spain:

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.

MC-599 notes

I’ve got to admit: the MC-599 made a great first impression.

As with the MC-750, I’m most impressed with the build quality. The components are all sturdy and nicely machined. The padded case was custom made to hold the MC-599 and its components. Everything fits together as it should and—again—was resonant when deployed according to the whip markings.

Even on this inaugural deployment, it didn’t take long to set up. The next time I deploy it, it will go even faster. Packing it up afterward (as you can see in the video) went very quickly.

Keep in mind: the MC-599 is a low-impact, high-profile antenna.

If you’re at a site that doesn’t allow antennas in trees, the MC-599 could be an excellent option. Other than using optional guy lines that would require tent stakes in the ground, it would have no impact on park grounds.

I love the fact that the MC-599 is self-supporting. This would be an absolutely brilliant antenna to use at parks with wide-open spaces and few trees for support.

That said, it is not a stealthy antenna. In fact, portable dipole antennas are some of the most conspicuous portable antennas you could deploy. They’re maybe slightly less conspicuous than a hex beam or Yagi. Even though I was cloaked by a few trees, the couple that was occupying the picnic site I had hoped to use couldn’t help but stop by on their way out and ask what it was I was doing. I bet if I had been using a wire antenna, they wouldn’t have even seen it.

I would always ask permission before setting up an antenna like the MC-599 at, say, a small historic site or urban park.

I could also see using the MC-599 for SOTA (Summits On The Air), but primarily on summits that are either drive-up, or where the hike is minimal. The aluminum alloy mast is lightweight for its size, but it’s quite large to consider taking on an extended hike. However, for a nice drive-up summit, I imagine you could work some serious DX. Just bring a few guy lines in case it’s windy.

I do think the MC-599 would make for a great Field Day antenna. Since it can handle up to 200W PEP and is easy to lower and switch bands, it would be a brilliant portable option for those operating a multi-band 100W rig.

But obviously? It’s an exceptional performer with QRP power. It’s hard to beat a dipole even when it’s only 13′ off the ground.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this fun 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)

Field Radio Kit Gallery: K4ZSR’s Xiegu X6100 Field Kit

Many thanks to Zach (K4ZSR) who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page. If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, read this post


K4ZSR’s Xiegu X6100 Field Kit

by Zach (K4ZSR)

My primary portable radio station is based around the Xiegu X6100. This was the first HF transceiver I bought after getting my ticket, and I have taken it on well over 100 POTA and SOTA activations across ten countries. Over time, I have learned what does and does not work for me and my operating style, and my field kit now has exactly what I need.

I have used several different packs to hold my portable radio gear, but my current favorite is this Quechua NH Escape 500 from Decathlon (I bought mine in Romania, but you can order them online). While designed as a laptop bag, this pack has all the features I need to carry for radio gear: full-opening main compartment, padded laptop/tablet sleeve, waist belt, good internal organization, and extra room. My field kit always stays in this bag, unless I am going on a long hike or camping.

The heart of this field kit is a fully self-contained station in a semi-hard side case (meant for a portable projector). As long you have a tree or other antenna support, everything you need is in this case. I always have more equipment with me, but this is the bare minimum. Two modifications I made to make the kit smaller was replacing the stock mic coil cable with an ultra-slim CAT 6 cable, and making a 6-inch power cable.

Gear

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

  1. LTGEM Hard Case
  2. SP4 POTA/SOTA Paddles
  3. Xiegu X6100
  4. Panasonic Earbuds and Moleskine Cahier notebook
  5. K6ARK 20w EFRW Antenna (laser-cut winder, 26g PTFE wire)
  6. GPS/GLONASS Receiver and USB cables for digital modes
  7. Bioenno 3Ah Battery
  8. “QRP” sized Weaver 8oz bullet throw weight with braided fishing line
  9. 10ft RG-316 Feedline

Since I do no always have a tree handy, and you should never be without at least two antennas, I always have a mast and an antenna accessory pouch with me as well.

Gear

  1. DIY spike base, tent stakes, and guy lines for mast
  2. K4ZSR 20m EFHW “Credit Card” antenna
  3. SOTABeams Carbon-6 Mast
  4. Solognac medium organizer pouch – purchased in Europe
  5. Miscellaneous antenna gear (compass, wire ties, extra stake, bungee cord, carabiners, etc)
  6. 80m extension for 6-band EFHW
  7. K4ZSR 6-band EFHW (40-10m, with 30 & 17m links)

Adding my Microsoft Surface Go 2 tablet for logging and running WSTJ modes, and my field kit comes in at just over 9 lbs (ignore the scale, the tablet case was empty in this picture).

If I am going to be operating in an accessible and open area, I may bring my vertical whip antenna system. This is one of my newest additions, I assembled this antenna over Christmas 2023. I wanted a ground mount system for a 17 ft whip antenna, but I needed it to pack down relatively flat to be able to carry easily in a back pack. My solution was a modular base designed like a pedestal mount used for soccer flags. Even in somewhat soft ground, this base is incredibly stable despite the small size of the ground spike.

Gear

  1. Wolf River Coils 17’ SS whip
  2. 25ft RG-8X coax
  3. Tent Stakes
  4. Wolf River Coils Sporty 40 coil
  5. Faraday cloth
  6. K4ZSR ground spike vertical antenna mount

Assembled, the mount is inserted into the ground until the disk makes firm contact. The spike and the 3/8-24 mount are removable for packing, and the aluminum boss has 4mm holes for inserting banana plugs to ground the faraday cloth, or to attach ground radials.

Here is the antenna system assembled and in use at K-2949, Harpeth River State Park.

My true passion for amateur radio is portable operations, and as I add to my collection my field kits will grow and evolve. The most important lesson I have learned operating portable is to have simple, durable kit that you are very familiar with. That way when the situation is different than expected, or conditions change, you are prepared to adapt and overcome.

73, de K4ZSR

Chasing Bands: Two Truck Activations take Brian closer to the James F. LaPorta N1CC Award

Parked in the lot at PA State Game Land 074

Two Truck Activations:  Racking up Bands and DX

by Brian (K3ES)

One of the things I like best about living in Western Pennsylvania is that after a stretch of heavy winter weather, we always seem to get a bit of a break.  The break never lasts long, but the sun comes out and the temperature warms enough to hold a promise of spring.  The first week of February 2024 gave us one of those respites.  With rising temperatures, the snow melted, a strange yellow disc appeared in the sky, and this operator’s thoughts turned once again toward POTA activations, and a free Sunday afternoon provided a perfect opportunity.

A Long-Term Goal

For just over a year, I have been working slowly toward POTA’s James F. LaPorta N1CC Award for activators.  I am under no illusions.  This goal may take me another year to complete on my terms.

The award requires an activator to complete QSOs on ten different amateur bands from each of ten different Parks on the Air entities.  To the extent possible, I am working to finish all of the needed contacts using CW mode and QRP power levels.  So, one specific part of my afternoon outing would include an attempt to make a QRP CW contact on my tenth band from PA State Game Land 283, K-8977.  Two previous activations of K-8977 had given me contacts on each of the nine HF bands from 80m to 10m.  So this afternoon, I would attempt to make a contact on top band, 160m.

Molly supervises many of my activations, and even when the weather warms into the 40s, she prefers to activate from the truck.

The Activation Plan

With a little bit of advanced planning, POTA Dog Molly and I packed the truck on a Sunday afternoon and headed out to attempt two activations.  First, we would set up at K-8773, Pennsylvania State Game Land 074, a new park for me, where we would have about 2 hours on the air before the time would be right to move to the next park and attempt an activation including 160m.  It would be just a short drive to K-8977, and we hoped to arrive there and set up around 2100Z (4pm EST).  The goal at K-8977 was to get enough contacts for a successful activation, then shortly before sunset move to 160m and get at least one contact to complete activation of the the tenth band.

Parking areas at Pennsylvania State Game Lands are mostly unpaved, but they are well marked.

Activating K-8773

With temperatures running in the low 40s Fahrenheit, I decided Molly would be most comfortable operating from the truck.  She appeared to be quite pleased with that decision.  So we pulled into one of the parking lots at K-8773 and parked along the tree line.  I tossed my arborist line over a branch near the truck, and used it to pull up my Tufteln 9:1 35 ft random wire antenna into a near-vertical configuration.  After connecting the 17 ft counterpoise wire and laying it out along the ground, I attached the 15 ft RG316 feedline and routed it into the truck through the driver’s side door seal.

I clipped the feedpoint of my Tufteln random wire antenna to the 2m antenna on the front fender of the truck.
I threw my arborist line over a tree branch, and used it to pull up the far-end of the antenna.  A few wraps around the handle for the back window of the cap kept it secure for the activation.
The RG316 feedline runs through the door seal into the truck.

Once inside the truck, I set up my KX2, prepared my log book, and made the decision to work my way downward through the amateur bands.  Conditions proved to be amazingly good that Sunday afternoon, and my 5 watt signal yielded 54 CW contacts, including 13 DX contacts spread across 7 European countries.

Moreover, I made at least one of these contacts on each of 8 amateur bands, from 10m to 60m.  Unexpectedly, getting contacts on 8 bands during a spectacular afternoon at K-8773 also puts that park well within striking distance for completing 10 bands, just not on this particular afternoon.

Not a bad afternoon’s work at the first park, not at all!

The KX2 sits on the console of the truck, with its feet straddling one of the cup holders.  This leaves plenty of room for my log book (yes, I’m one of those dinosaurs who uses pencil and paper for logging).
Another view of the operating station.  Note the home made VK3IL pressure paddles above the log book.
Supervising this activation was a particularly difficult task.  Molly has decided that a rest is needed.  She has tucked her nose in the blanket, a definite signal that serious napping is underway.
At K-8773, I logged 56 contacts across 8 bands.  I was delighted that 13 of those contacts were DX from Europe.

Activating K-8977

Packing my gear at K-8977 went quickly.  As a most excellent POTA companion, I rewarded Molly with a short walk along a Game Land road, then a 15 minute drive on some rugged back roads brought us to K-8773.  I had operated from one particular parking lot during previous activations, but a quick look around for places to set up my antenna caused me to head for a  different parking lot.  I would be using a wire antenna that was much longer than normal, and a nearby power line was too close for comfort.

ALWAYS watch for and avoid power lines when deploying your antennas in the field!

To activate on the 160m band, I intended to use my VK160 antenna.  The VK160 is a homebrew 9:1 random wire antenna with a 144 ft radiator and three – 17 ft counterpoise wires.  At the new location it went up quickly in an inverted V configuration.  With counterpoise wires spread out on the ground, and my 15ft RG316 feedline connected and run through the door seal of the truck, it was time to get the station assembled and on the air.  This time the rig would be a KX3 with built-in wide-range tuner.  The KX3’s spectacular tuner matches the VK160 on all bands from 10m to 160m.

I was easily on the air at 2100Z (4 pm EST), and had about 90 minutes before sunset.  My plan was to begin on 40m, and collect enough contacts to assure the activation before moving to 160m around 2200Z (5 pm EST), about 30 minutes before sunset.

Activating on 40m was a safe bet, even running 5 watts CW.  Once spotted, I was working a steady pileup for about 40 minutes.  When 40m callers tailed off, I switched over to 30m for 20 minutes and picked up a bunch more contacts on the new band.  Then, at 5 pm local, I switched over to 160m.  It did not take long to start making contacts.  It was not a pile up, but the three 160m contacts were very satisfying:  eastern Pennsylvania, western Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

I called QRT at 2215Z (5:15 pm EST), packed up my gear in the remaining daylight, and drove home.  I was home in time for dinner, and Molly didn’t say a word about being late for her normal 5 pm dinner time.

At K-8977, I logged 54 contacts.  Since I worked them on 30m, 40m, and 160m, it was entirely expected that most would be located in the eastern US and Canada.  Logging 3 contacts on 160m made it a perfect outing.

I do owe an apology to QRPer.com readers, because in the pace of the second activation, I failed to take pictures during my operation.  If you are interested in visuals, please take a look at previous QRPer articles on building the VK160 and testing it during Winter Field Day 2023.

Gear

Note: All Amazon links are affiliate links that support QRPer.com at no cost to you.

Equipment at K-8773

Equipment at K-8977

Another Feline Fan!

Many thanks to Steve (VA3FLF) who shares the photo above and notes:

Even kittens read QRPer!!

Her name is Jolene, Jojo for short. We have had her about 3 weeks and she is a Devon Rex. She is a very inquisitive kitten already.

Well we think she is on the track track if she’s interested in QRP! We have a history of felines who enjoy field radio. Thank you so much for sharing, Steve! She’s a cutie!

“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.

Gear:

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

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

Important Update: How to Join the QRPer.net Community

Dear QRPer.net Members,

As many of you have likely noticed, our QRPer.net Discussion Board has recently been targeted by an influx of SPAM users and comments. In response, our superhero administrator, Brian (K3ES), has been diligently working to sort and flag the SPAM comments and users from the genuine contributors.

To address this issue, we are implementing changes to our user registration process.

To address this issue, we are implementing changes to our user registration process.

Moving forward, new user registrations will undergo manual approval to ensure the authenticity of each member. While this adjustment may require a bit more effort, it is essential for protecting the quality of our community.

Here’s what you need to do to join QRPer.net:

  1. Go to https://qrper.net/ and click on the register button, then Follow the prompts to create a username and submit your registration to our admin.
  2. After submitting the registration, send an email to our admin team at [email protected] with the following information:
    • Your full name and callsign (or indicate “SWL” if you’re a listener)
    • The username you chose for the discussion board (exactly as you submitted it)
    • The email address you used in your registration

Once we receive your email, we will process your request promptly and get you set up to participate in our discussions.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we work to keep our community SPAM-free. Your support is invaluable in maintaining the welcoming and informative atmosphere of QRPer.net.

We look forward to welcoming you to our community soon!

Best regards,

QRPer.net Admin Team

SOTA and POTA in Japan: Ara combines travel and radio with a little help from friends

Abroad in Japan: SOTA and POTA

by Ara (N6ARA)

Getting the License

Several months ago, my wife and I were planning our first trip to Japan, and I couldn’t help but look at all the nearby SOTA summits and POTA parks and entertain the idea of activating one of them. While stunned by the sheer number of high point summits and local parks (many of which are easily accessible via Japan’s incredible public transport system), I realized one question I hadn’t asked myself yet: Can I even operate in Japan?

I recalled the concept of a reciprocal licenses from the ham test, but never really looked into it. A quick Google search yielded the JARL (the ARRL equivalent in Japan) foreign amateur radio license website, which details the process for submitting your documents to obtain the license.

However, I quickly learned that the application must be submitted at least 60 days prior to the date of operation. Problem was… I was 58 days out.

Around this time, I let my friends, Waka-san (JG0AWE), Kazuhiro (7N1FRE), and Ted (JL1SDA), know that I would be visiting Japan. They leaped into action and helped me figure out if there would be a way to obtain my reciprocal license in time, and advised me on which summits and parks would be doable with my constraints.

Thankfully, Waka-san was very generous and offered to make an appointment with Japanese government to apply for the reciprocal license on my behalf. I was absolutely stunned by this. I struggle to make appointments at the DMV office for myself, let alone for someone else!

Two weeks later, I was surprised to learn that my license had arrived. I was now JJ0XMS in Japan. This news fittingly arrived around Christmas, making it easy to remember the “XMS” part of my call. The reciprocal license I received was classified as “1AM”, meaning 1st Amateur license for mobile. This meant I could operate on all bands at power levels below 50W, which is perfect since I tend to operate QRP most of the time anyway.

It helps to have friends around the world, but please learn from my mistake, submit your JARL-96-04 application at least 60 days (plus margin) prior to your trip and obtain your license the right way. If you have any questions about the form or the process, contact Mr. Ken Yamamoto (JA1CJP) via email at [email protected] 

Band Plan

With my license sorted, the next step was to familiarize myself with the Japanese Band Plan. After careful review, I learned it is entirely possible to accidentally transmit out of band or mode if you are not careful. For example, in the US the 2m band ends at 148 MHz, but in Japan the band ends at 146 MHz. So in theory, an operator with a US radio could accidentally transmit on a forbidden frequency.

It’s also important to note that the calling frequencies are different for all bands and that some bands have dedicated emergency communications frequencies. Thankfully, the translated Japanese Band Plan covers these extensively.

Planning the Activations

I started planning my activations by setting the goal of activating at least one SOTA summit and POTA park. I figured I’d gain the experience of doing both to see how they differ from what I’m used to in the US (and writing this blog post).

For this trip, we mainly stayed with our friend in Tokyo, so I was limited to the summits and parks near the city. To start, I figured I’d take a look at the POTA map since Tokyo is a flat city (read as, no SOTA summits to be found within the city itself), so worst case, I’d only do a POTA activation.

Much to my delight, I learned that Tokyo has 146 POTA parks within the city alone… and best of all… they are accessible via Tokyo’s public transportation system! Overwhelmed with all the options, I figured the best thing to do next is to try and see which nearby parks had the most space and activation count. I figured that would improve my odds of activating without any issues.

To be honest, my main concern was putting up an antenna in a park which I’m not allowed to in, or folks approaching me to ask what I’m doing, only to run into a language barrier issue. After looking through several options, I landed on Yoyogi Park JA-1255. The park was near where I was staying, fairly large, and had almost 100 activations. 

Next was planning the SOTA activation. Since there are no SOTA summits in the city proper, it meant I would have to travel a little to get to one.

Coming from Los Angeles, one of the most car-centric cities in the world, I did not expect to find that most Tokyo residents (including my friend) don’t own a car. Renting one is an option, but I figured it’s not worth the effort. Especially since Japan drives on the left hand side of the road – which I’m not used to. That meant driving to a trailhead was out of the question for this trip. Thankfully, that wasn’t as much of a problem as I initially thought.

Looking through the SOTA map, I found several trailheads to the east of the city that are easily accessible via train/bus and short walk. Again, I looked at the activation count to get a sense of what is attainable and found Mt. Arashiyama JA/KN-032. The summit had 84 activations with a relatively easy 762ft gain across 2.25mi and the trailhead is a 15 minute walk away from the train station. The only downside was that the train ride itself was about an hour and a half away from Tokyo. But as those who do SOTA know, the commute to the trailhead is part of the journey. (I think there’s something wrong with us.)

Packing

With a game plan settled, it was time to configure the kit. One important thing to note here is that when I submitted my paperwork to apply for the license, I forgot to include the radio make/model I planned to use (required for the application process). Thankfully, Waka-san registered the ICOM IC-705, an HF/UHF/VHF all mode transceiver (which I so happen to have). This afforded me the flexibility to work a wide range of bands and maximized my odds of having a successful activation.

With the radio figured out, I thought to pair it with a portable antenna that strikes a good balance between volume/mass and performance. My hope was to cover 10/15/20m for DX and 40m for working locals, so naturally I gravitated towards my trusted K6ARK End Fed Half Wave EFHW with an added load coil, making it resonant on 10/15/20/40m. I like to use this antenna in an inverted-V configuration using a 7.2m fishing pole. Since I had one shot at each activation, I figured it would be wise to pack a back up antenna just in case something broke mid-transport, so I also decided to pack my Elecraft AX1 vertical whip antenna and T1 tuner.

For CW paddles, I couldn’t resist packing my recently acquired Ashi Paddle 45 from Mr. Haraguchi 7L4WVU in Japan. Only seemed fitting! Finally, I thought to print out copies of my US and Japanese ham radio license, and a translated note describing ham radio, SOTA, and POTA just in case someone asked what I was doing.

Packing List:

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Welcome to Japan

As soon as we landed in Japan and settle in at our friend’s apartment, we couldn’t help but go out for a nice bowl of warm ramen at Ichiran. It was a cold night, I was jet lagged, and this was exactly the “reset button” my body needed to adjust to the new timezone. I slept like a log that night. Highly recommend. 

Since this was my first time in the country, I tried my best to absorb as much of the food and culture as possible. From the Yakitori, to the Tonkatsu, to all the various Japanese curries, and Onigiri, I was glad to be walking around the city to burn off all the calories I was consuming. Everything we ate tasted incredible!

One of the first orders of business was to visit Akihabara, the electronic town I had heard so much about. Walking through shops, I found every possible component imaginable. Want a transformer? There’s a small shop that has every variant you can think of. LEDs? There’s a shop with a selection that will make you see floating dots when you close your eyes. It was like living in a Digi-Key or Mouser warehouse.

Walking through streets and multi-story markets, I was constantly running into small radio shops. Some selling commercial radios, many selling various ham radios and ham radio accessories. One golden nugget I found was a shop that sells home-brew radios, one of which was a 47.1GHz Transverter! Where else are you going to find something like that for sale in a shop?!

One last stop in Akihabara was Rocket Ham Radio, one of the largest ham radio shops in Japan (think HRO in the US). I couldn’t help myself from buying a 2m/70cm whip antenna for my IC-705 for portable VHF and UHF operations while in town. Would feel wrong leaving without buying *something*!

POTA Activation and Logging

POTA activation day was finally here, and much to my delight, Mr. Haraguchi (7L4WVU) reached out to say he was available to meet me at Yoyogi Park for a joint activation. Continue reading SOTA and POTA in Japan: Ara combines travel and radio with a little help from friends

Roadside POTA: Pedestrian Mobile with the Elecraft KH1 at Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve WMA

My family decided to take a short pre-Christmas break on the coast of South Carolina in mid-December.

It had been a hectic month, so we looked at our healthy hotel points balance and decided to burn up a few of those on an impromptu four-night getaway.

We decided to stay at the same Myrtle Beach hotel where I stayed only a couple of months prior to attend a family funeral in Georgetown, SC. You might recall my activations at Lee State Park, Myrtle Beach State Park, and Huntington Beach State Park during that particular trip.

In truth, we’re not big fans of Myrtle Beach—we prefer more secluded, less commercial spots along the coastal Carolinas. In the summer, Myrtle Beach is jam-packed with visitors—the traffic is a little insane—but in the winter, Myrtle Beach is relatively quiet. Getting around is a breeze, and accommodation is easy to find.

This trip was all about family time, so I didn’t pre-plan a single activation, and I didn’t pack several radios. In fact, the only radio I brought was my Elecraft KH1, which lives in my everyday carry backpack.

The KH1 is a constant companion these days. It was really fun to take it on one of the balconies of our room and hunt parks and summits. Despite a little QRM, I was able to make a number of contacts just using the KH1 whip and dangling the counterpoise.

I remember working my friend Alan (W2AEW) while he was activating a park in New Jersey. I sent him the photo above. What fun!

Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve Wildlife Management Area (K-3903)

On Wednesday, December 20, 2023, we decided to spend part of the morning and afternoon in Conway, South Carolina, which is about a 30-minute drive from Myrtle Beach.

My wife asked, “Surely, there’s a park you can activate along the way?” (She and my daughters fully support my POTA addiction.)

After a quick glance at the POTA Map, I determined that indeed there was!

Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve WMA was essentially on the way to Conway, and I could tell based on a quick Google Map search that one of the access points (a huge gravel parking lot) was conveniently located next to the highway. Score!

I grabbed my backpack and camera (of course I brought along the camera just in case!). We drove 25 minutes to the access point which was easy to find.

As luck would have it, as I parked, I noticed that a motor grader was resurfacing part of the parking lot and the main WMA access road. This wouldn’t affect my activation, of course, but it was incredibly loud—especially the constant back-up alert.

So that my KH1 audio would be audible over the grader noise and the highway noise, I connected it to my Zoom H1N recorder.

Setup was quick despite setting up the audio feed and arranging the camera position under the shade the open hatch of my Subaru provided.

Gear

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On The Air

I started calling CQ POTA on the 20 meter band and it didn’t take long before hunters started calling back. Continue reading Roadside POTA: Pedestrian Mobile with the Elecraft KH1 at Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve WMA

Field Radio Kit Gallery: KV4AN’s Elecraft KH1 Field Kit

Many thanks to Steve (KV4AN) who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page.  If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, read this post


KV4AN’s Elecraft KH1 Field Kit

by Steve (KV4AN)

The Elecraft KH1 is a new radio with less than two hundred delivered, so I thought the readers of QRPer.com may be interested in my take on a KH1 Field Kit.

The KH1 “Edgewood” package has everything necessary for 20-15 meter ultra-portable operation, such as pedestrian mobile, Summits on the Air (SOTA), or Parks on the Air (POTA).  Elecraft put a lot of thought into it and like others have said, “I feel like it is the radio I always wanted.”  However, I also wanted to be able to operate 40 and 30 meters and to be able to take it on a trip for a week; perhaps by air.  There were three challenges that needed to be overcome to meet to do this:  I needed an antenna for 40 and 30 meters, a way to recharge the battery, and everything needed to fit in one small protective case.

Figure 1. KH1 Field Kit Packed Up.

My solution was a field kit that had everything needed to operate 40-15 meters in the smallest possible hard case – the kit and components are shown in figures (1) and (2).

Figure 2.  KH1 Field Kit Components.

Components and Gear Links

The components of the KH1 Field Kit are listed below.  Every piece had to “earn” a spot in the Nanuk 904 hard case.  I tried the Pelican Micro M50 case, which is a little smaller than the Nanuk 904, but not everything would fit.

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  1. KH1 Transceiver – A new ultra-small, self-contained, five-band, QRP, CW transceiver manufactured by Elecraft.  The optional Edgewood Package includes a detachable keyer paddle, logging tray, ballpoint pen, ES20 carrying case, a telescoping whip antenna for 20-15 meters, and a 13 ft. counterpoise wire.
  2. ES20 Carrying Case – A custom soft case made by Elecraft for the KH1.  Protects the KH1 and enables ultra-portable operation.
  3. Panasonic RP-HJE120-K Stereo Earphones – Used as miniature headphones.  Fits in ES20 case.
  4. OLIGHT I3E-VROG-300000 Keychain Flashlight – Chosen for its extremely small size and orange color.  Uses one “AAA” battery.  Fits in ES20 case.
  5. Nanuk 904 Hard Case – This case was selected because it was large enough for the KH1 in its ES-20 soft case and all the gear in this list.  The quality of the Nanuk case is very good.
  6. Tufteln EFRW Antenna – This antenna has a 31 ft. radiator and a 17 ft counterpoise.  It was chosen because of its very small size when packed, good performance on 40 and 30 meters, and ability to be used with the KH1 internal tuner.
  7. Tufeteln Line Winder.  This is Line Winder for the EFHW antenna kit, purchased separately to store the arborist throw line.
  8. Gerber Mullet Micro-Multitool – Chosen for small size.  Has a Phillips and straight screw driver and a wire cutter/stripper.
  9. SOB 8 oz. Arborist Throw Bag –A durable arborist throw bag.  This is a replacement for the Camnal Throw Bag pictured.  Used to loft the antenna support line over a tree limb.
  10. X Monster Throw Line 1.8mm Easter Rope for Aborists, 50 ft. – Used to enable suspension of the end of a wire antenna from a tree.
  11. OXZEEWEE 12V 1A Power Supply Charger Adapter – a small wall-wart AC adapter used to charge the battery.
  12. Wisedry Desiccant Pack – 20 oz rechargeable silica gel pack – used to keep the inside of the sealed case dry.
  13. BNC to SO-239 Adapter – Enables use of coaxial cable with PL-259 connectors.

CONCLUSION

The Nanuk 904 Hard Case was the perfect size for all the things I needed for 40-15 meter operation on a muti-day trip and it is small and light enough to put in your carry-on bag for a flight.