Category Archives: Stealth

Building Positive Park Relations: Elevating Our Role as POTA Activators

Our Parks On The Air (POTA) community has experienced exponential growth since my introduction to POTA activations in 2019. Today, POTA boasts over 500,000 participants, including both hunters and activators.

Gone are the days of awkwardly explaining our hobby to park staff who were unfamiliar with amateur radio, let alone park activations. Nowadays, when I approach park staff for permission to operate, they often direct me to areas where other POTA activators have set up in the past, showcasing a growing acceptance and understanding of our community.

Goal: Positive Impact

With such a large and expanding community, we have the potential to significantly impact our park systems positively. It is crucial for POTA activators to not only leave a positive impression with park staff but also actively support and contribute to the well-being of our parks.

Why now?

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for several months. I hesitated to publish it because of my inclination towards positivity and reluctance to dwell on the negatives.

However, recent conversations with park rangers and staff from three different sites between June and November last year prompted me to share these insights. While acknowledging that interactions with POTA activators are generally positive, all three shared some concerns and criticisms.

I was surprised, in one case, that they hadn’t banned POTA activators from their site entirely. (I detail two examples at the end of this article.)

I imagine each and every one of these park rangers has had more negative interactions with the general public, but we POTA activators and amateur radio operators are a cohesive community that they lump into one group for better or for worse.

For instance, while a rowdy family gathering might disrupt the peace in a park, it doesn’t lead to a ban on families. However, repeated negative interactions involving POTA activators could result in our exclusion from parks or even escalation to wider park networks since many individual parks are tied to state, provincial, or national park systems.

Indeed, this has already happened at National Wildlife Refuges in Virginia. Check out the following message posted to Facebook this week from John (AB0O) who is a US mapping volunteer for POTA:

Time to be a positive force!

As John states in his message above, it’s time for us to proactively become ambassadors for POTA and good stewards of our parks and public lands.

I could have easily titled this post, “Ask not what your park can do for you; ask what you can do for your park!”

Let’s delve into some simple suggestions that I personally follow. This list is not exhaustive, so I invite you to share your strategies for promoting POTA positively in the comments below.

1. Obtain permission before operating

Despite the temptation to activate first and ask questions later, it’s essential to seek permission before setting up your station in a park. Some parks may require written permission for activations, regardless of the setup’s profile or impact (remember Leo’s recent field report?).

While most POTA sites allow activations as long as park rules are followed and other visitors aren’t disturbed, it’s prudent to confirm with park staff or experienced activators when in doubt.

In my experience, asking for permission is particularly crucial in parks with historical or ecological significance and limited facilities.

A piece of advice: When seeking permission, showcase your most portable, low-profile radio gear to help park staff understand the minimal impact of your setup. Over the years, this approach has resulted in successful activations for me, with only one instance of declined permission, primarily due to supervisor unavailability.

2. Choose inconspicuous locations

At the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, I received permission to operate and I set up my station well outside the viewshed of the lighthouse.

When setting up your station, avoid obstructing viewsheds or high-traffic areas within the park. Instead, opt for spots away from major attractions or foot traffic, ensuring minimal disruption to other visitors’ experiences.

Most POTA sites offer designated picnic or parking areas that are suitable for activations without interfering with scenic views. When uncertain, seek guidance from park staff to identify suitable locations.

3. Default to low-impact, low-profile gear

Unless you know in advance that a park allows wires in trees, stakes in the ground, or other antenna support structures, default to your most portable, low-profile, low-impact field setup.

Unless explicitly permitted, refrain from deploying antennas in trees or using stakes that could damage park grounds.

I believe every POTA activator should possess a compact, self-supporting antenna system to minimize environmental impact. Additionally, consider operating from your vehicle if uncertain about setup requirements.

An NC State Park ranger told me last fall, “I like to see POTA activators that aren’t taking up a lot of space and yelling at their radio.

Let’s not be the guy or gal he described!

4. Leave No Trace

Adhering to the principles of Leave No Trace is paramount during POTA activations and other outdoor adventures. Always dispose of trash properly and, if at all possible, pick up any litter you encounter at your operating site. My goal is to always leave the site cleaner and tidier than I found it.

In my backpack and car, I keep small litter bags along with nitrile gloves so that I can pick up and dispose of any trash I find.

Over the years I’ve operated POTA, park rangers and game wardens have caught me in the act of collecting trash and thanked me. I made a point of telling them that I’m an amateur radio operator doing a POTA activation. I feel like this can only leave a positive impression in their minds and help future activators who might seek permission to operate at a particular site.

Want to go a step further?  Consider organizing group clean-up events with your amateur radio club. This collaborative effort not only benefits the park but also strengthens park and community ties.

5. Support your park financially

Show your appreciation for park access by contributing financially, especially at smaller locations with visitor centers or donation boxes. Whether purchasing items from the gift shop or making direct donations, your support is invaluable in maintaining park facilities and programs.

For instance, during a recent visit to a historic site, I made a point to purchase items from the gift shop and donate to the park.

The park rangers thanked me and noted that another frequent POTA activator also donates a bit of money or buys something in the shop each time he visits.  They pointed out how much they appreciate that type of support.

While I usually prefer inconspicuous contributions, I intentionally inform park staff of my status as a POTA activator during these interactions. This transparency reinforces the positive image of amateur radio operators as park supporters.

6. Respect park operating hours

Ensure that your activations align with park operating hours to avoid overstaying your welcome. Familiarize yourself with park schedules and plan your activities accordingly to minimize disruptions and inconvenience to park staff.

I learned this lesson firsthand during an activation at Lake Norman State Park in 2021, where I unintentionally extended my stay past park closing hours. This happened during the week they shifted from more liberal summer hours, to winter hours. I was apologetic to park staff. Since then, I make a conscious effort to wrap up my activities well before closing time and communicate my intentions with park staff if I feel like I might cut it a bit close.

Be a POTA Ambassador

Vlado (N3CZ) draws a crowd on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

By following basic guidelines like these, POTA activators can cultivate positive relationships with park staff and demonstrate our commitment to responsible outdoor recreation.

As POTA Ambassadors, let’s engage with park staff, address any concerns they may have, and showcase the respectful conduct of our community. Listening to their feedback and acknowledging past issues can help mitigate negative perceptions and foster mutual understanding.

Real-word example

During a visit to a new-to-me urban park last year, I proactively sought permission to operate, considering the site’s limited space and popularity among POTA activators. Park staff appreciated my courtesy and expressed gratitude for my considerate approach.

Our conversation revealed previous negative experiences involving POTA activators. These included instances where operators failed to comply with park rules and even exhibited disruptive behavior. For example:

  • One operator tried to set up an antenna by tying a short 2×4 to fishing line and attempting to throw it into a tree. However, this park prohibits the use of trees for antenna support, and his “method” was causing damage to small branches. When asked to refrain from using the tree, the operator became confrontational, insisting on his ‘legal right’ to do so. Despite the staff’s polite explanation of the park rules, the operator angrily packed up and left.
  • Another incident involved a mobile activator who parked his truck in the park’s small lot, occupying three parking spaces, while deploying a hitch-mounted vertical. With a public event underway and all parking spaces occupied, park guests raised complaints. Despite staff requests to reposition his truck to free up space, the activator responded angrily, rolled up his window, operated for a few minutes, and then departed.

Despite these incidents, the staff emphasized that they were exceptions rather than the rule. They mentioned several regular activators whom they enjoy interacting with during their visits. Undoubtedly, these individuals serve as POTA ambassadors, exemplifying our community’s respect for parks and public lands.

Privilege and Responsibility

Wiseman’s View in Pisgah National Forest (K-4510)

While our tax dollars support public lands, park staff retain the authority to regulate activities that may impact park ecosystems or visitor experiences.

The recent notice regarding National Wildlife Refuges in Virginia serves as a reminder of this privilege and responsibility.

Let’s strive to represent POTA activators positively and proactively contribute to our parks’ well-being. Together, we can ensure that future generations continue to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of our public lands.

What are your strategies? Please share your tips and advice in the comments section!

KX2/AX1 Travel: Two Quick POTA Activations on the South Carolina coast!

SC Coast: A Postcard Field Report

When life gets busy (it is now) I don’t always have the time to produce a full field report. This is especially the case when I have, not one, but two field reports and two activation videos!

This “Postcard” field report covers two activations on the evening of October 2, 2023. At the time, I was staying on the coast of South Carolina for a night. (You might recall I activated Lee State Park with friends earlier that afternoon.)

Instead of producing two full-format field reports, this will be one report with two activations.

Note that I used the same gear for both of these activations.

Gear:

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

Myrtle Beach State Park (K-2907)

I arrived at my hotel in South Myrtle Beach around 17:30 local. I checked in (thank you, Hampton Inn for the room upgrade!), dropped off my bag in the room, then immediately made my way to what turned out to be my first of two parks.

As I purchased my park ticket at the entrance gate, the park employee told me that my ticket would also allow me into Huntington State Park (just 20 minutes down the road) until end of day.

At that point, I had no intention of hitting a second park…but of course I just couldn’t resist the temptation of that free entry!

I know that some South Carolina parks are picky about antenna deployments, etc. so I stuck with my low-impact, low-profile combo of the Elecraft KX2 and AX1. It doesn’t disturb the trees, the ground, nor any park visitors.

I parked at the pier and set up at a picnic area under the trees nearby. Early October is very much off-season on the coast, so the park was relatively quiet.

There was no one else in the picnic area, so I had the place to myself. Continue reading KX2/AX1 Travel: Two Quick POTA Activations on the South Carolina coast!

DITs and DAHs from Alcatraz

DITs and DAHs from Alcatraz

by Leo (DL2COM)

San Francisco Radio Diary – Part 1

“No way!” I said to myself when I saw that Alcatraz Island is an official Parks-on-the-air (POTA) reference which has only been activated four times by two operators.

Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island / POTA reference K-7888 & 2fer K-0647

It surprised me that such a historically relevant site hasn’t seen more ham radio activity in the past – or maybe it has, just not for POTA. I then got super excited as I was packing my bags for San Francisco.

I have missed this foggy beauty so much and it has been many years since I visited the city. I won’t bore you with the ordeal of our travel but it included canceled flights, multiple delays and rescheduling via Berlin and London the next day due to a hostage situation at Hamburg airport. So our already super short trip of 4.5 days shrunk into a good 3 days in SF. So which things to cross off the schedule now? It was clear that this unfortunate situation was certainly not going to eat into my activation budget. Hell no!

I admit since watching “The Rock” (1996) Alcatraz has always been a place of mystery and fascination to me. Those who are interested in reading more about the former fort, military prison and federal penitentiary can do so here.

After I learned that it was also a CW ATNO I instantly said: “Done deal. The ink is dry. I will activate with morse code in the shadows of Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris”. Of course I would do it plain vanilla style throwing good ol’ wires in trees and staking pointy things in the ground. Yeah right. Sometimes passion does tend to carry you away a wee bit so a little later I gathered myself and started doing some research.

K-7888 log so far

Apparently the first POTA pioneer on Alcatraz was KC1MIJ who managed to get 5 QSOs in with an FM HT in July 2021. I’d say that’s pretty awesome for a location almost as low as sea level. The first successful activation was done on December 3rd 2021 by Elizabeth “Liz” N6LY and her husband Kevin K6YD. Since then both of them had only been back one time in December 2022 for another day to achieve a whopping cumulative 761 phone QSOs in only two days of total operation. Wow! What an achievement. No other hams have tried to activate Alcatraz since.

National Park Service Badge
The entire island is under management of the National Park Service (NPS)

I didn’t hesitate to write Liz an email and ask about her experience operating from the island as I knew it would probably require some preparation. The POTA website also stated that a permit from the National Park Service (NPS) is required. Luckily Liz replied swiftly with a lot of helpful information and I am very thankful for the email exchange. She specifically pointed out that it is in fact necessary to get a permit (even for simple HT activity) and that she had already applied in July for another day activity this coming December. They are still waiting to hear back from NPS’s office so it does seem quite hard to get approval for a “proper” activation. It is understandable that folks there want to have control over an organized operation where antennas, 100w radios, chairs etc. might need to be set up. With so many tourists visiting each day they also want to make sure that any activity doesn’t interfere with their core business especially on weekends.

Since I really didn’t want to spoil any of the hard preparatory work with NPS that Liz and Kevin had done for the ham radio community as well as respect local processes I wrote an email to the Alcatraz Rangers Office asking for a permit only a few days before my arrival. I knew it was a long shot and highly unlikely that they’d get back to me in time. So I called them every morning and afternoon the days after to follow up but was unsuccessful reaching them on any channel. By that point I had almost given up. However there were plenty of other options for activations so I had a blast in/on several SOTA/POTA references in SF which I will report on later.

Alcatraz Island Ferry
Alcatraz Island Ferry @ Pier 33

On our last day I woke up and thought “Man, I can’t just leave the Bay Area and not activate Alcatraz.” Since one of my appointments got canceled short-term I didn’t think long, jumped on an Uber to Pier 33 and off I was (yeeeees, online tickets were still available).  Continue reading DITs and DAHs from Alcatraz

Bob pairs the QRP Labs QCX+, ATU-100, and a super stealthy longwire

Many thanks to Bob (K7ZB) who shares the following guest post:


QRP Operation with the QRP Labs QCX+ and ATU-100 on 20M CW

Bob Houf (K7ZB)

By now the QRP Labs QCX+ CW transceiver is well known, and many have been shipped by Hans.

The first unit I bought came fully assembled in the aluminum case but had a weird malfunction in the audio chain and after careful troubleshooting with Hans’ help a replacement unit was sent and worked well.

I have assembled plenty of electronics kits in 60 years of ham radio, building some from scratch and  worked as an electronics design engineer for years so having someone else solder up a board now is a luxury I am happy to pay for – but if you like the smell of solder as smoke gets in your eyes and your hands don’t shake, by all means save some money and build one yourself.

I picked up a Malahit rendition of the N7DDC ATU – mine came from Amazon and is the 100W version that uses an external power supply.

My first setup was to see if I could power both the QCX+ and ATU-100 simultaneously from a portable 25800mAH charger bank with two USB ports.  The addition of two USB-to-12VDC converter cables looked like an ideal way to minimize the size of the radio package for portable operation:

Unfortunately, although the power capability of the battery was far more than adequate, when transmitting CW for just a few seconds the battery BMS tripped the power unit offline.

So, my next move was to use my larger 12V, 6AH LiFePo4 battery to power both units which worked well.

The antenna used here is a longwire of 47’ running from the top of our second-floor balcony out to a tree.  The wire is about 25’ above ground and runs between two of the 3-unit townhouse/loft condo building units. There seems to be little interaction noticed on the signal reports received due to the physical proximity.  And, when not experimenting with QRP I routinely run 100W from my transceiver into the wire without a problem.

This time, however, I decided to use #26-gauge magnet wire instead of the far stealthier #28 wire I have run for the past year.  A tree trimming gang went through earlier in the summer and took out my #28 monofilament tether line in the tree, so I decided to go with a larger diameter wire.

In both cases I sponge a thin layer of battleship gray paint on the line which helps conceal it when looking up in the sky.

One discovery from this version is that there is a BIG difference in visibility between #26 and #28 magnet wire as seen from the ground!

I took down the #26 and will revert to #28 – which is essentially invisible at 25’ above your head.

I run the wire directly into a Common Mode Choke which then drops down to another CMC designed for other bands so that with the two in series I have no shield currents and no circuit breaker tripping or RF in the shack issues on 40, 20, 15 and 10M, even running 100 Watts:

I have a very low noise level on receive and don’t use a Balun at the feedpoint of the antenna, but I do use an antenna tuner to match the impedance, either the built-in tuner of my Kenwood transceiver or the ATU-100 for the QRP rig.

The CMC’s were designed by a friend using the K9YC cookbook approach available online and are very effective.

QCX Operation

The band conditions over the past weekend were funky with high noise level and rapid fading at times.

Despite this, I made multiple contacts in the western USA with reasonable signal reports and only one station had to send “sri no cpi”.

On Sunday evening I stumbled into the K1USN Slow Speed Contest (SST) and enjoyed making contacts from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest and everywhere in between.

Band conditions were much quieter and there were signals nearly every kilohertz from about 14.030 up to around 14.050+.

The QCX+ uses a CW filter design set at 200Hz and with 10Hz frequency resolution it was easy to copy one signal from another, despite the lack of more sophisticated filtering capability.

Since you only are putting out a 4-Watt signal you search and pounce with care and in a casual contest like the SST it makes for a very enjoyable way to spend an hour on Sunday evening before the SNF game steals you away.

Or a World Series game.

The ATU-100 was delightful to use.  Once it tuned to a decent match (1.33:1) on the wire, it was good for the entire span from the bottom of the band up to 14.060 where the POTA gang and other low power stations hang out.

In conclusion, this is a very excellent low power station, simple to use and I am looking forward to matching it with a clever 20M elevated vertical with elevated radials a fellow ham has designed:

The elevated vertical with coax connector and radials.

Once that is working, it is off to the Lost Dutchman State Park for some POTA fun…

A Trailside, Low-Impact, Knee Board POTA activation at the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site!

On Friday, September 15, 2023, my wife and I had a few hours midday to enjoy the gorgeous pre-fall weather, so we decided to go on a hike with Hazel.

My wife was the one that suggested I pick out a hike that would open the door to a short POTA activation (isn’t she the best–?).

Carl Sandburg National Historic Site (K-0804)

Earlier that week, I made a note to activate the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site in the village of Flat Rock, North Carolina. I passed this idea by my wife and she agreed that it’d make for a perfect outing.

The mission of the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site is to preserve Connemara, the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and writer Carl Sandburg.

The park has a wonderful trail network and I hadn’t visited it since 2016, during the National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) ARRL event.

Technically, I could go back into my NPOTA logs and upload my Sandburg activations to the POTA site because previous activations do count, but I’m not actually motivated by my park count so much as I am just having fun working new-to-me sites under the new POTA program.

That said, my somewhat flexible, non-committal goal of having at least 100 unique parks activated for POTA before the end of 2023 was also on my mind; a small motivator to expand my POTA footprint.

Admittedly, there really aren’t many parks that are within two hours of my QTH that I haven’t already activated for POTA. The ones left, like Sandburg, are just outside the corridors I normally travel.

The Sandburg site is a beautiful one, and I think Hazel may have even remembered this spot from so many years ago. My wife and I got a kick out of how giddy she was to hit the trails, smell the smells, and meet all of the other hikers.

Hazel: “Enough talking, Dad! More hiking!”

Time to hit the trails and find an activation spot!

Knee Board Portable!

Back in 2016, I got permission from a Sandburg park ranger to place a wire in a tree in order to perform my NPOTA activation. She only asked that I perform my activation on the trail network (not at the house and goat farm).

Wow…I just checked and I had forgotten that I made a short field report of that activation over on (my other blog) the SWLing Postcheck it out here.  Back then, my KX2 was still very new and shiny!

Not even a scratch on the KX2 back then! Today, Hedy looks a little more field battered! 🙂

And here we are seven years later and I’m still activating the Carl Sandburg site from my lap. This time, however, I don’t have my radio on a clip board, I’m using a folding knee board:

This is my Tufteln/N0RNM folding knee board and you’ve seen me use it in numerous activation videos.

Instead of just placing my logs and radio on the knee board, like I did back in 2016, I wanted to place my entire antenna system on it, too.

You see, although I’m sure the staff at the Sandburg home wouldn’t mind me putting a wire in their trees along the hiking trail, I couldn’t find a staff member to ask, so I used this as an excuse to try something I’ve always wanted to do: mount my AX1 on the knee board as well!

We found a park bench a mile up the trail and decided to set up there. Continue reading A Trailside, Low-Impact, Knee Board POTA activation at the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site!

Lunch Box POTA: Pairing the Elecraft AX1 with the Penntek TR-45L!

As I mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been using the Elecraft AX1 in heavy rotation this year. I made a commitment to myself to do a string of activations with it in January and February and also pair it with a wide variety of radios beyond the Elecraft KX2 and KX3.  So far, I’ve paired the AX1 with the:

In truth, the AX1 can be paired with any radio when you use a tripod mount.

It’s a bit trickier when connecting the AX1 directly to a radio and using the Bipod as a support because 1.) the antenna connector on the radio mustn’t be too high off of the surface, 2.) there needs to be enough clearance on the back of the radio to accommodate the bipod legs and 3.) ideally, it’s nice to have a ground point on the radio, else you’ll need to clamp the counterpoise to the shield of the BNC connector.

In addition, if your radio doesn’t have a built-in ATU of some sort, then you’ll also need a capacity hat or external ATU to finish off the impedance match. (For more notes about the AX1 and AX2, check out this previous post.)

Of course, you don’t have to use Elecraft’s bipod to support the AX1 when directly connected to a radio–you can build or 3D print your own support–but the bipod is really convenient when it does work.

Objective: Lunch Box Radio

One radio I’ve been eager to pair with the AX1 is the Penntek TR-45L.

Why? Because I love the form-factor.

Something about having a lunch box-sized radio sitting on a table with a telescoping whip protruding out the back and, with that combo, the potential of making contacts all over the globe. Continue reading Lunch Box POTA: Pairing the Elecraft AX1 with the Penntek TR-45L!

A casual and stealthy POTA activation at Le Domaine Maizerets

The weather in/around Québec City has been amazing lately; nice cool mornings and warm, clear days. I know this probably won’t last, so we’ve been taking advantage of it as much as possible (il faut en profiter, as francophones like to say).

Yesterday, we had a few errands to run in town: we needed to pick up some groceries, order a tarte au citron for my birthday (today!) from our favorite patisserie Pralines & Chocolat in Château-Richer, and yes, enjoy the great outdoors.

I wasn’t entirely sure if I’d be able to fit in an activation, but I tucked my KX2 radio pack in the car just in case. I didn’t take the camera because it was family time and if I managed an activation, I didn’t want to film it this time. That, and I have a huge backlog of activation videos I need to publish; I sidelined a lot of my field reports while studying for the Canadian Basic exam over the past month.

Le Domaine Maizerets (VE-5020)

We decided to hit one of our favorite little parks conveniently located on the east end of Québec City (Beauport): Le Domaine Maizerets.

We’ve been to this park a few times in the past to attend a Celtic festival and to meet with friends.

The grounds are beautiful and there are loads of foot paths.

An ATNO!

I checked to see if Le Domaine Maizerets was actually a park in the POTA system and I discovered that not only was it a POTA park, but it was an ATNO (All Time New One); meaning, it had never been activated before.

I was a bit surprised it had never been activated because this is a very popular park and even has free entry with free parking.

Keeping it Stealthy

I decided I wanted to stay fairly low-profile while doing this activation. I wasn’t worried about permissions (families, friends and groups meet here for all sorts of activities) but I wanted to see just how stealthy I could be while operating from a park bench in a city park. I don’t get this opportunity a lot because, back home, I’m usually operating from rural state/national parka and in remote game lands.

We found a couple of benches at the edge of the park that very conveniently had perfect antenna trees behind them.

While no one was watching, I deployed the PackTenna 9:1 random wire antenna; the jacket on its radiator is black and simply disappears with trees and flora in the background.

The wire is next to impossible to see from even 5 meters away

The more conspicuous parts of the antenna–the feed point and RG-316–were tucked away behind the park bench.

My high-visibility arborist throw line was hidden behind the tree and out of sight from those walking on the footpath.

From the footpath, you couldn’t see the antenna, coax, nor the throw line unless you were looking for it.

From behind the bench, you could though; in the very unlikely event someone would have walked behind us, it was pretty conspicuous (always avoid antenna tripping points). That and my family would have warned anyone coming near.

The Elecraft KX2 was a natural choice for this activation: it’s all-in-one and incredibly compact. I can also operate it and log  using the knee board Carolanne (N0RNM) kindly made for me last year.  No picnic table needed.

Operating CW with earphones is insanely stealthy. A CW op makes almost no noise whatsoever.

One of my daughters (K4TLI) was kind enough to log for me on my Microsoft Surface Go (using N3FJP’s AC Log).

 

Here’s what I looked like to anyone passing by:

Click to enlarge – Photo courtesy of K4TLI

My wife (K4MOI) and other daughter (K4GRL) were on the bench next to us sketching and painting. We looked like any other family at the park simply enjoying the amazing weather.

On the air

This was only my third activation here in Canada using my new Canadian callsign: VY2SW.

I’m still getting use to sending the new call; it flows well for me, but my muscle memory keeps kicking in and I find myself accidentally sending K4SWL. 🙂

Since I’m in Québec but have a Prince Edward Island callsign, I do intermittently add a /VE2 to the end of my call. It’s a fistful (VY2SW/VE2) so I don’t use it with every exchange or CQ.

Conditions lately have been absolutely in the dumps and yesterday was no exception.

When a propagation path opened, it was great, but conditions were very unstable with severe QSB.

I spent the better part of an hour hopping between 30, 40, and 20 meters to scrape together enough contacts for a valid park activation.

40 meters was absolutely dead due to flaring. I tried hunting a few CW and SSB stations there, but if I could hear them, they were barely audible.

20 and 30 meters served me better, but the QSB was so deep and frequent, I had to repeat my exchange on a number of occasions.  Some stations would call me with a 599+ signal and after my reply with signal report, they were then barely audible.

Still, I managed to snag my ten with a couple to spare. 🙂

Many thanks to all of you who waded through the ether to reach me on the other end.

QSO Map

It’s interesting looking at the QSO map post-activation. My best DX (EA4B) was easily the strongest station I worked with my 5 watts.

Click to enlarge the map:

This activation was so much fun.

Sure, contacts weren’t frequent but they were all meaningful and, frankly, none of us minded spending time outdoors on such a gorgeous day! It added an extra dimension keeping things very stealthy, too.

Thank you

Thanks for reading this field report. Now that my Canadian exam is in the books, I’ll have time to catch up on the numerous activation videos in the backlog!

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 which allows me to open up my work life to write more field reports and film more activation videos.

I hope you get a chance this week to play radio outdoors or chase/hint some park, island, or summit activators!

Until next time…73!

Cheers,

Thomas (VY2SW / K4SWL)