Category Archives: People

Mike’s 2024 Four Days In May (FDIM) Photo Gallery

It’s hard to believe that Four Days in May (FDIM) took place two weeks ago! What a blast it was!

If you’re a QRPer, and you’ve never attended FDIM, you’re in for a treat when you finally do. This gathering is truly my favorite thing about the Dayton Hamvention weekend.

It’s a truly QRO event for all things QRP!

I was so busy at FDIM talking with fellow attendees that I took very few photos. Fortunately, my buddy Mike (VE3MKX) created a nice photo gallery to share with us!

Thank you, Mike!

Photo Gallery

Click to view the entire photo album–> Continue reading Mike’s 2024 Four Days In May (FDIM) Photo Gallery

Post-Hamvention Activation with Friends

The 2024 Dayton Hamvention is in the books!

This morning, I’m still at our hotel in Dayton, Ohio, but about to pack up and head out. Eric (WD8RIF), Miles (KD8KNC), and I are heading for a day at the Armstrong Aerospace Museum, then, hopefully, a POTA activation on the way back to Athens, Ohio, where I’ll spend the night.

Tuesday morning, I’ll be up early and hit the road for North Carolina. Really looking forward to seeing my wife, daughters, and Hazel.

I thought I’d share a very brief POTA activation I enjoyed yesterday with friends.

Pater State Wildlife Area (US-9492)

Yesterday morning (May 19, 2024), Eric, Miles and I met up with Kyle (AA0Z), Brian (K3ES), Joshua (N5FY), and Charlie (NJ7V) at our hotel.

Eric, Miles, Brian, and I had planned to activate a park in nearby Indiana that afternoon, as Brian and I had never activated in that state. Joshua, Charlie, and Kyle were planning to join us on an activation in southwest Ohio en route. Unfortunately, Joshua was driving back to his home in Georgia, and Kyle was dropping off Charlie at the airport on his way home, so they couldn’t join us in Indiana.

Eric’s first POTA activation with his Elecraft KH1!

We arrived on-site a little after 10:00 AM local. Eric immediately set up his Elecraft KH1 in desktop mode using his new Tufteln KH1 Right-Angle adapter.

Brian set up under a tree with his Elecraft KX2 and a Tufteln random wire antenna.

The amazing Brian (K3ES)

I grabbed my Elecraft KH1 and we coordinated frequencies. Brian took 30 meters, Eric took 40 meters, and I took 17 meters (thinking either Joshua or Eric might move to 20 meters).

This was another instance where having a fully handheld, pedestrian mobile station truly offered a level of activation freedom.

The bands were in rough shape, but I kept my KH1 in hand and walked around the entire site with the CW Message memory sending out my “CQ POTA DE K4SWL.”

Over the course of 13 minutes, I worked five stations. All the while, I was holding the KH1, chatting with my friends, and petting a sweet local dog that instantly made friends with us.

This pup was a hoot!

This activation also gave me an excuse to try out the new Tufteln KH1 Antenna Angle Adapter which makes it a breeze to keep the antenna nearly vertical while holding the KH1 at a more comfortable angle. Thanks, Joshua!

Eventually, I moved to 20 meters and we all started working each other to help with our QSO count and to simply get each other in the logs. I logged two more stations, plus Charlie, Brian, and Joshua to make my 10.

Kyle (AA0Z) and his brilliant Toyota Tacoma POTA machine.

The idea was to hop off the air quickly so that Kyle and Charlie could use Kyle’s KX3 station to activate the park as well.

L to R: Kyle, Joshua and Charlie

Conditions deteriorated further, so we did rely on a few P2Ps with each other to help Charlie and Kyle finish and hit the road.

Charlie calling CQ POTA

Here’s my QSO Map, but keep in mind that several of the pins are incorrect as Charlie, Kyle, Brian, and Joshua were all on-site:

All in all, we had an amazing time and it was a nice, relaxed way to wind down after an incredibly active 2024 Hamvention and FDIM conference.

Joshua working us P2P with his KH1 and the the most compromised–yet completely effective–antenna of all: a dummy load!

I will report more on Hamvention and share a few photos later this week.

For now, I need to wrap up this post and hit the road! There’s an aviation museum and POTA in my future today!

Heartfelt Thank You

I will add this one extra note: I’m simply overwhelmed with the kind comments and conversations I had with so many of you who took the time to catch up with me these past few days. Thank you so much!

Cheers & 72,
Thomas (K4SWL)

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

POTA with Jonathan (KM4CFT) at the Zebulon Vance Birthplace (K-6856)

On Thursday, December 28, 2023, I had the good fortune of meeting up with Jonathan (KM4CFT) at the Zebulon Vance Historic Birthplace (K-6856) to play a little POTA.

You might recognize Jonathan’s callsign because he has a popular YouTube channel and also produces excellent EFHW antenna kits.

These days, Jonathan lives in Colorado, but he’s originally from western North Carolina. We met once before when he was in town visiting his folks. That previous time was very short, though; this time, we wanted to meetup and fit in a POTA activation together.

We arranged to meet around 2:00 in the afternoon at the Vance Birthplace.

We decided to deploy one of Jonathan’s End-Fed Half-Wave antennas. He cut this particular one for 20 meters.

We set up under the picnic shelter with the antenna essentially in a sloper configuration.

Gear:

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I brought along a couple of radios that Jonathan had yet to operate. He chose to use the Penntek TR-45L (great choice!).

One wrinkle: Jonathan operates with his paddle in “reverse” with the left paddle sending dashes and the right sending dits.

Unfortunately, the TR-45L doesn’t have a software function to flip between “normal” and “reverse” settings. No problem, though: Jonathan simply turned his key (a BaMaKey TP-III) upside down! Problem solved!

The only annoying issue was the 45L speaker–something inside the chassis or speaker assembly was rattling/buzzing with louder signals and with the sidetone. After noticing the speaker vibration at an activation in South Carolina a few months ago, I opened up the TR-45L at the QTH and tried to tighten down anything that could resonate inside the chassis. My fix seemed to work until we powered it up for Jonathan to use. I may have to add some padding around the speaker assembly if I can’t locate the culprit inside the radio–it could be pretty much anything.

Jonathan plugged along and paid no attention to the buzz, nor my fiddling with the radio while he operated. (You’re a good sport, OM!).

Here’s Jonathan’s QSO Map:

After he completed his activation, Jonathan handed over the radio to me.

Since I couldn’t sort out the acoustic buzz/vibration without opening the radio on the picnic table, I opted to swap out the TR-45L with my Discovery TX-500.

I hopped on the air and logged quite a few stations on 20 meters. It was serious fun!

Here’s my QSO Map:

Activation Video

Here’s our 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.

POTA Meetups

Jonathan, it was great hanging with you and, again, I’m so impressed with your CW progress. It seems like only yesterday when you started your CW journey!

When folks are passing through western NC it can be difficult for our schedules to align for a POTA meetup,  but I’m so happy when they do.

Thank you!

Thank you for joining us on this joint activation!

I hope you enjoyed the field report and ctivation 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 weekend!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

The Lifeline of CW and POTA

Many thanks to Teri (KO4WFP) who shares the following guest post:


The Lifeline of CW and POTA

by Teri (KO4WFP)

The past five months have been tumultuous. I am now divorced and my son and I are making a new life for ourselves with my family. Those of you who’ve been through a divorce know how stressful and difficult a process it is, especially when navigating it for the first time. You are undoing relationships and patterns of behavior and figuring out how to move forward and what that looks like.

Why do I tell you this? Partially because I want those of you who’ve said “where the heck have you been?” to know why I’ve been absent from QRPer. However, I also want to thank all of you in the ham community because it is this community that saw me through my difficulties. Hams are some of the kindest and most wonderful people, especially CW and POTA hams. This community has rallied to my side and given me a reason to keep moving forward.

As Thomas noted in his September 17 post of this year, CW is indeed “radio therapy.” After I relocated, it was six weeks before I had a home station again. Six LONG weeks without seeing my code buddies – Caryn KD2GUT, Glenn W4YES, and Charles W4CLW – on the air. I felt cut off not having those QSOs, not being able to get on the air when I desired, like someone had removed my legs! The absence reinforced how much CW and POTA mean to me.

While working to get a home station again, I latched onto POTA. I vividly recall driving home from my first POTA activation after leaving my ex-husband and, for the first time in several weeks, the stress temporarily melted away. Life, for a few hours, felt normal. I felt like my old self.

CW and POTA were indeed therapy as I put my life back together. Getting out and activating was good for my mind and body. Ham radio for me is about relationships and seeing ops who hunt me regularly was like reconnecting with friends saying “hi”.

POTA became an integral part of my healing process and I pursued activations at George L. Smith State Park and, my old stomping ground, Butter Bean Beach, part of Wormsloe State Historic Site.

George L. Smith State Park is a pretty site for POTA. The park’s focal point is Mill Pond Lake which was created by the damming of 15-Mile Creek in 1880. Visitors can rent kayaks or canoes to explore three paddling trails in the 412-acre lake and its wetlands but are warned against swimming due to the presence of alligators. The land adjacent to the lake has seven miles of nature trails through sand-bottomed forest with hardwoods and longleaf pine.

The old mill at the site still exists. The original floodgates are used to control the water level in the lake with the addition of an electric hoist to open and close the gates. The mill, known as Watson Mill, is housed in a bridge which was open to motor traffic until 1984 and is one of only two mills operated by the State of Georgia. Watson Mill housed a sawmill for lumber as well as a gristmill, the latter which remains operational for demonstration purposes.

After a quick drive through the park, I chose to set up on the hill next to the park office which offered an open area without adjacent power lines. It wasn’t long before my EFRW was installed in a tree and I was on the air. Continue reading The Lifeline of CW and POTA

A welcome POTA layover with friends at Lee State Park in South Carolina

On September 30, 2023, my uncle Reggie passed away at the age of 83. I was incredibly fond of him. His funeral was to take place in Georgetown, South Carolina on Tuesday, October 3rd.

The funeral time was confirmed on Sunday evening (Oct 1), so I made all of my travel plans that night. I decided to leave early Monday morning and drive to Myrtle Beach where I’d reserved a hotel room for one night. I’d then attend the funeral the following day and drive back to my home in the mountains. Round trip, this would amount to about 12 hours of driving.

This, of course, was a pretty somber reason to take a road trip–although it would be nice to spend time with my SC family. I wanted to make the most of my travels and fit in a little “radio therapy” along the way. I glanced over the POTA map for a park that might make for a nice break from travels.

Before hitting the sack Sunday evening, I remembered that many months ago Keith (KY4KK) told me to give him a heads-up anytime I planned to pass by Florence, SC. I knew that Florence would be a simple detour on my journey, so I reached out to Keith and asked if he and his POTA buddies Tommy (N4GS) and Steve (W4JM) might, by some chance, be available for a quick POTA activation. Of course, this was very late notice.

Keith wrote back and recommended that I activate Lee State Park–he and Tommy were both available but, unfortunately, Steve had other plans.

Monday morning, I hit the road and arrived at Lee State Park in the early afternoon.

Lee State Park (K-2905)

I pulled into the park driveway and was greeted by a number of Halloween displays. Evidently, the park staff loves decorating for holidays.

At first glance, this looks like a POTA activator that never never got their ten logged.

I pulled into the visitor’s center parking lot and immediately met Keith and Tommy.

After a quick greeting, Keith said, “Thomas, our job here is to get you on the air as smoothly as possible so you can continue your trip.”

Keith, KY4KK (left) Tommy, N4GS (right)

Herein lies what I love about amateur radio and POTA specifically: even though Keith, Tommy, and I had only just met in person, they were instant friends.

I must say, Lee State Park is the perfect POTA park; there are loads of tall trees, covered picnic areas, open spaces, ample parking, and ham-friendly staff. It just doesn’t get better than this!

We walked to a large covered picnic area and Keith suggested that we deploy his 40 meter EFHW antenna.

I agreed without hesitation!

Unlike me, Keith is adept at using a slingshot to deploy his antennas.

As I started setting up the radio, Keith aimed his slingshot and snagged a really high branch on the first go. This 40M EFHW was being deployed as a vertical!

I decided to bring along my Penntek TR-45L on this trip. I’m glad I did: it was ideal for this sort of POTA activation! Continue reading A welcome POTA layover with friends at Lee State Park in South Carolina

Join Brooks (KO4QCC) on his First CW POTA Activation–!

Friday, March 24, 2023 was a very special day for Brooks (KO4QCC) and for K4SWL.

I’m so excited to share this with you.

You might recall that, last year, I met up with Brooks at Tuttle Educational State Forest as he performed his very first POTA activation in SSB. He did such an amazing job!

Since I first met Brooks, he’s always had a goal of learning CW and activating parks and summits using Morse Code.

I’ve been in touch with Brooks regularly over the past year and have followed him as he progressed on his CW journey.

Though, like me, he has an active family life, Brooks has found the time to practice CW both through lessons and actual on-the-air contacts. Fortunately, this is all possible because–again, like me–his wife and family are very supportive of his amateur radio adventures!

Early this year, we met on 80 meters and had a good one hour rag chew at about 12 words per minute. I could tell he was ready to do his first POTA activation in CW.

To give him a little real-world practice, we decided to hit the field on a day when I was performing an activation and he could log for me in real-time.

I could tell by how well he was logging as I worked stations at 18WPM  that he was ready to perform his first activation, so we made it a goal to do so within the next couple weeks.

Fast-forward to 8:30 AM on March 24 when Brooks and I met at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Coincidentally, this is the same location where I performed my first CW activation!

We deployed his MFJ-1984MP 40 meter EFHW (End-Fed Half Wave) and connected it to his Xiegu X5105 transceiver in very short order. Brooks also chose his lucky CW Morse paddle for this activation.

But before hopping into the field report, let’s back up just a bit…

First CW Activation: Getting there…

Brooks very kindly wanted to share a bit about his CW journey in this field report. He writes:

From the moment I knew of its existence, becoming a POTA activator using CW has been at the top of my “radio bucket list.”

It seemed like the ultimate challenge and I knew I would never be satisfied until I was able to confidently activate parks using CW. There is also a bit of mystique to CW that other modes lack, making it inherently more interesting to me. In this article, I am going to share the path I took to learn CW and how it culminated in a very successful CW activation.

Continue reading Join Brooks (KO4QCC) on his First CW POTA Activation–!

BBC Radio 4 – Lights Out: Call Signs


My dear friend, Volodymyr Gurtovy (US7IGN), has been featured in another brilliant documentary on BBC Radio 4 called Call Signs.

This documentary was produced by the talented Cicely Fell with Falling Tree productions for BBC Radio 4. Note that Cicely also produced a BBC Radio 4 Short Cuts earlier this year featuring Vlad as well. Enjoy:

BBC Radio 4 Lights Out: Call Signs

A man, a Mouse and a morse key: the story of a radio amateur in Kyiv as the Russian invasion unfolds.

When his wife and two children flee Kyiv to escape the war, Volodymyr Gurtovy (call sign US7IGN) stays behind in their apartment with only his radios and the family hamster, Mouse, for company.

Before the war, he used to go deep into the pine forests, spinning intricate webs of treetop antennas using a fishing rod, catching signals from radio amateurs in distant countries.

Prohibited by martial law from sending messages, he becomes a listener, intercepting conversations of Russian pilots and warning his neighbours to hide in shelters well before the sirens sound. After three months of silence, he begins transmitting again. Switching his lawyer’s suit for a soldering iron, he runs a radio surgery for his friends and neighbours, dusting off old shortwave receivers and bringing them back to life.

During air raids, he hides behind the thickest wall in his apartment, close to his radios, their flickering amber lights opening a window to another world. A story of sending and receiving signals from within the darkness of the Kyiv blackout.

Music: Ollie Chubb (8ctavius)
Producer: Cicely Fell
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4

Listen to Call Signs on BBC Sounds by clicking here, or via the embedded player below:

 

3 Watts of Fun: Pairing the Elecraft KX1 and PackTenna 20M EFHW at South Mountains State Park!

On Monday, September 12, 2022, I had one primary objective in mind: to test the Eton Elite Satellite portable shortwave radio.

Many of you know that besides being a QRPer, I’m also an SWL or shortwave listener. Over on my other blog, the SWLing Post, we post news, information, guest posts, and reviews covering the diverse world of shortwave radio and international broadcasting.

Occasionally, I evaluate new receivers and the Eton Elite Satellit is the latest shortwave portable from the Eton Corporation.  It was meant to be their flagship, benchmark portable but unfortunately early production units were plagued with a bit of internally-generated noise. On September 12, I was trying to sort out just how much this internal QRM affected the radio’s performance.

South Mountains State Park (K-2753)

I wanted to go to a known RF-quiet area to check the Elite Satellit and the South Mountains State Park Clear Creek Access was an easy detour during my errands that day.

The Elite Satellit

First thing I did after arriving on site was to put the Elite Satellit through some basic paces (AM/SSB, Mediumwave, Shortwave, FM, AIR, etc.). I also compared it with the Tecsun PL-990 portable.

I made a long list of notes and observations to send to Eton that afternoon.

After I finished the tests, I checked my watch and–woo hoo!–I had just enough time to squeeze in a short activation. I only had a 45 minute window, so this activation needed to be a very quick one.

I had two radio kits with me: The Mountain Topper MTR-3B kit, and the Elecraft KX1 kit.  I chose the Elecraft KX1 because I had such a blast using it the previous day at Lake James.

I had a number of antennas in my pack, but chose the excellent PackTenna Mini End-Fed Half Wave that I cut for 20 meters. This is one of my go-to SOTA antennas since it’s compact, rugged, efficient, and easy to deploy even if your only option is a short tree or telescoping mast as is often the case on a summit.

I felt like 20 meters would be a worthy band for the time of day and recent propagation trends as well. Hopefully, it would be productive enough to provide the 10 needed contacts to validate the activation.  If I needed, I could use it on 30 meters with either its internal ATU or (more likely) the Elecraft T1 that was also along for the ride.

I deployed the PackTenna within three minutes. Very easy and straight-forward setup.
Continue reading 3 Watts of Fun: Pairing the Elecraft KX1 and PackTenna 20M EFHW at South Mountains State Park!

POTA activation with WD8RIF at Beury Mountain WMA in West Virginia!

Grist Mill at Babcock State Forest Headquarters

This year, instead of attending the 2022 Hamvention, my buddy Eric (WD8RIF) and I hatched another plan.

Eric and I–along with his son Miles (KD8KNC) and sometimes Mike (K8RAT)–attend Hamvention every year it’s held.  We’d planned to do the same this year especially with it being the first in-person Hamvention since 2019.

As Hamvention approached though, we both had a lot going on in our lives and decided to save a little money, a lot of travel time, and meet in West Virginia for several days of POTA activations and just hanging out. I explain a bit more about the decision in this previous post.

We camped three nights and performed activations together for four days. It was an absolute blast!

Setting up camp

On the afternoon of Thursday, May 19, 2022, we (Eric, Miles, Theo the dog, and I) met at Babcock State Park and set up our tents at the adjoining campsites we’d reserved.

Babcock would serve as our home base for the entire WV POTA expedition.

As a bonus, Babcock State Park (K-1798) is also a POTA entity, so we activated it in the late shift after dinner each evening.

As soon as the tents were deployed that afternoon, we all jumped into Mile’s Subaru with our radio gear and hit our first park!

Beury Mountain Wildlife Management Area (K-7036)

Beury Mountain WMA is so close to Babcock State Park, I have to assume they share a common boundary.

The drive to the site was very brief but as with many WMAs and Game Lands, the entry road isn’t paved and there are rough patches you might need to avoid. Of course, Mile’s Subaru was way over-engineered for this task! Continue reading POTA activation with WD8RIF at Beury Mountain WMA in West Virginia!