Category Archives: Travel

The POTA Babe Reaches the Halfway Mark!

by Teri (KO4WFP)

It is said that all good things must come to an end and a POTA trip is no exception. Packing up camp at Reed Bingham State Park the morning of June 3rd was an easy endeavor.  Daisy and I were soon headed toward Savannah with a POTA planned along the way at Alapaha River Wildlife Management Area (US-7881). We passed through the communities of Tifton and Ocilla, Georgia.

As one travels through Georgia, you see a variety of crops along the road – cotton, peanuts, corn, pecans, blueberries, soybeans, etc. – as well as cattle in fields and poultry houses. As I worked my way toward Alapaha River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), I came across a processing plant for peanuts in Tifton, Georgia.

Peanuts are big business in Georgia. According to the Georgia Peanut Commission, the state of Georgia produces 52% of the peanuts grown in the United States which translated to 1.45 million tons in 2022. That is a boatload of peanuts!

Peanuts are planted April through June and then harvested about five months later in the fall. One fact I did not know is there is a “peanut belt” in Georgia, an area south of the fall line but omitting the coastal counties, where peanuts are planted in the state. I was driving inside this belt.

Peanut crop in the field. source: georgiagrown.com
source: Georgia Peanut Commission

Nuts aside, it wasn’t long before Daisy and I arrived at Alapaha River WMA. This WMA opened in 2016 and contains nearly 7,000 acres. According to a Georgia DNR article, the site has an estimated 2,000 gopher tortoises, the most for any state-owned tract of land in Georgia. This is not surprising given the density of sandhills on the property, a habitat in which gopher tortoises thrive.

The dirt road into the property was nicely groomed. I drove past areas of young planted pines as well as more mature pine stands. However, neither of these areas were conducive to an activation, partially because the trees offered no shade and partially because the branches were either too low or too high for me to install my EFRW antenna.

Entrance into Alapaha River WMA
Young pines

I continued on Jacks Creek Road and headed toward a dove field (the brown area on the map down below) at the point the road dead-ends. I  figured there may be trees along the edge of the field offering what I needed. I turned left onto North Bugle Trail and, off to the right hand side, saw an area with both shade and trees I could use.

source: Georgia Department of Natural Resources
The shady area for my activation QTH
Trees with good branch options

After donning my blaze orange attire and installing the Tufteln EFRW, I attached the new hitch system to the hubcap of one of Kai’s front wheels and the rope to the clip on Daisy’s harness so she could make herself at home along with me in the shade.

While checking out the shady area, I noticed several things – dandelions with their sunny, yellow faces and animal tracks in the sand. The set of tracks for deer were easy to identify. However, another set, not so. I think the second set belonged to a raccoon.

Deer track
Raccoon track (I think)

Today’s activation would be short as I had a three-hour drive ahead of me and needed to be home in time for my son’s evening driving class. (Yes, we’ve reached that stage of life in the POTA Babe household.) In 45 minutes, I logged 19 contacts including one park-to-park with Charles AB9CA at US-2275 and a QSO with Ronald N7WPO in Washington state! That QSO on 5 watts and a wire is part of the magic I mentioned near the end of my previous article.

QSO Map for Alapha River WMA Activation

During the activation I had watched the sun creep closer and closer to Daisy and me. When the time reached 11:15 AM, we were nearly out of shade. It was time to call QRT and head home.

This overnight POTA trip turned out well. I learned more about my camping set-up and the beautiful state in which I live. I had time to do what I love – ham radio in the outdoors. And, with these three activations, I now have 30 parks toward my 60 new-to-me park activation goal for 2024!

I am halfway there.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me thus far. However, my journey is far from over and the fun will continue. Where will I activate next as I work toward 30 more new parks? Stay tuned…

Equipment Used

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From Hamvention to History: A POTA Excursion with friends through Indiana’s Past

You might recall that my friends Eric (WD8RIF), Miles (KD8KNC), Brian (K3ES), Kyle (AA0Z), Charlie (NJ7V), and Joshua (N5FY) all played hooky on the final day of the 2024 Hamvention (Sunday, May 19) and instead activated a couple of POTA sites.

I wrote a short field report about our first activation at Pater State Wildlife Area (US-9492). It was a lot of fun despite the rough bands.

Our next stop was Whitewater Canal State Historic Site in Metamora, Indiana, about an hour’s drive from the first park.

Only four of us continued to the next park; Kyle and Charlie needed to head to the airport, and Joshua needed to start his drive back to Georgia.

Whitewater Canal State Historic Site (US-6977)

I was excited about visiting Whitewater Canal because it would be my first official POTA activation in Indiana.

We arrived around 1:00 PM and opted to grab lunch at a nearby pizzeria before activating.

Around 2:00 PM, we grabbed our gear from the car and walked across the road to the park grounds.

The Whitewater Canal State Historic Site offers a glimpse into the 19th-century canal era.

Built between 1836 and 1847, the Whitewater Canal was a 76-mile waterway that connected the Ohio River to Hagerstown, facilitating the transport of goods and agricultural products.

This engineering feat played a vital role in the economic development of the region, contributing to the growth of towns and industries along its path.

Today, the preserved section of the canal, along with the historic grist mill and other structures, stands as a testament to Indiana’s rich industrial and transportation heritage.

I’ve always been fond of railroads and canals, so this site was brilliant as it featured both running parallel to each other!

Eric, Brian, and I (Miles didn’t activate) were careful to set up within the actual park boundaries.

In this case, it was a little difficult to determine the exact boundaries because the town and park blend together.

I used the Parceled app on my phone to confirm our location.

Eric set up his Elecraft KH1 station at a picnic table under a large tree.

Brian set up his KX2 on a covered bench next to Eric, using his Elecraft AX1 antenna mounted on a clamp secured to the bench.

Brian’s site was super stealthy behind the sign–since he operated with earphones, you couldn’t hear him and barely could see him!

Can you spot K3ES in this photo?

I wanted to put some space between my station and theirs, so I set up under the shade of a tree (it was blazing hot that Sunday) and deployed my Helinox camping chair.

Local ducks enjoying the shade–I picked a different tree.

I then deployed my Chelegance MC-750 vertical for 20-meter operation since Brian and Eric were on other bands.

I connected the MC-750 to my Elecraft KX2, which I mounted on my kneeboard, and was ready to play radio! My hope was that band conditions would be decent. Continue reading From Hamvention to History: A POTA Excursion with friends through Indiana’s Past

Overnight at Reed Bingham State Park for the POTA Babe

After a valid activation and exploration of Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area, Daisy and I headed to Reed Bingham State Park (US-2195), roughly a two hour drive. Along the way, we passed a huge lumber mill and drove through the communities of Douglas, Nashville, and Willacoochee.

Lumber mill
Train Depot in Willacoochee, Georgia

Courthouse in Nashville, Georgia

Reed Bingham State Park, located in southwest Georgia, is named after Amos Reed Bingham, who envisioned a dam on the Little River to provide electricity to the rural community. Even though the flow of the river was not sufficient for that purpose, Colquit and Cook counties purchased 1,600 acres along the Little River and deeded the land to the state of Georgia, creating the park. A 400-acre lake was created in 1970 by the current dam and provides recreational opportunities for park visitors.

source: Google maps
The lake at Reed Bingham State Park
Overflow from the dam into the Little River

Besides working toward my 60 new-to-me park activation goal, the trip to Reed Bingham served another purpose – refining my camping set-up and routines before my twelve-day POTA trip this summer. I made quite a few notes about equipment that would make camping life better and realized I need to think through where to keep certain items so I can lay my hands on them more easily and quickly.

The tent at the campsite

A new item I purchased for hiking and camping  trips is a hitching system for Daisy. I want her to be able to “free range” while I set up camp, make meals, or visit the bathhouse but still be contained. Ruffwear makes a hitch system with a daisy-chain (aptly named, don’t you think?) on one end and a kermantle rope on the other.

I ran the daisy-chain around a large pine and then, as there was not another tree close enough, the kermantle rope to the rails on the top of Kai. A large carabiner slides up and down the rope and Daisy’s six-foot leash attaches it to a clip on the back of her new harness. The system worked well and eliminated her getting tangled in a lead line while in camp.

After setting up camp and eating supper, it was time to fit in an activation. There were two trees near the campsite – a large oak and shorter-than-usual pine tree. I opted for the pine tree as it was closer to my tent. (I longed to sit in the comfort of my tent on my Thermarest chair for the activation.) Continue reading Overnight at Reed Bingham State Park for the POTA Babe

Overcoming Band Conditions: A Challenging (But Rewarding) POTA Activation at Scioto Trail State Park!

On the morning of Wednesday, May 15, 2024, I woke up, grabbed breakfast, and headed to Strouds Run State Park in Athens, Ohio. (You can read about that activation in my previous field report.)

Once I returned to Eric’s (WD8RIF) QTH, Eric, his son Miles (KD8KNC), and I packed up the car for the drive to Dayton—roughly 2.5 hours from Athens. En route, we decided on an activation of Scioto Trail State Park (US-1990) which also happens to be a two-fer with Scioto Trail State Forest (US-5448).

I’d hoped band conditions would remain as favorable as they were in the morning, but the sun had other plans! (Indeed, this would become a recurring theme throughout the following week.)

Scioto Trail State Park (US-1990) and Forest (US-5448)

We arrived at Scioto Trail around 2:00 PM, under scattered clouds and after passing through some rain. We hoped the weather would hold!

I’d never been to Scioto before and was pleased to see a small island on the lake accessible by a footbridge.  It had a gazebo, perfect for a POTA station.

Reunited

A highlight of this trip was giving Eric a chance to operate my Index Labs QRP Plus. Eric had owned one for 13 years as his first field radio. In fact, as I’ve mentioned before, when I first met Eric in 1997, it was while he was operating a QRP Plus during FYBO!

Since the QRP Plus is better suited for tabletop use, I recommended Eric set up in the gazebo.

I provided my Chelegance MC-750 for him to operate on 20M.

POTA in the Shade

I set up under a tree at the edge of the island—as far from Eric as possible to minimize interference. In reality, the island is small, so I was only about 15 meters away—not ideal!

The tree offered some shade and potential rain protection. I deployed my Helinox Chair, my “no-transformer, no feedline” Tufteln random wire antenna, the Elecraft KX2, and my Tufteln/N0RNM kneeboard.

When I turned on the radio, I could hear Eric’s signal bleeding through on 30 meters (a band I chose to avoid harmonic interference with 20M).

The KX2 is sensitive, so this wasn’t unexpected. Eric never experienced interference from my station, likely due to the QRP Plus’s less sensitive receiver.

Gear:

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On the air

This turned out to be an activation where I’d really put my KX2 ATU to work! Continue reading Overcoming Band Conditions: A Challenging (But Rewarding) POTA Activation at Scioto Trail State Park!

The POTA Babe Embarks on an Overnighter

by Teri (KO4WFP)

It is summer break and I’m getting stir crazy. Earlier this year, I scheduled an overnight trip to Reed Bingham State Park. However, given the chaos of my personal life, it was necessary to reschedule the trip. The earliest weekend available was Sunday, June 2nd.  My son would be out of school for summer break and riding lessons would move to weekdays.

Sunday rolled around and this POTA Babe was ready to hit the road again. Out came the camping gear with a few tweaks. I ditched the DEET insect repellant replacing it with a 20% picaridin spray and added a Thermacell unit. I purchased a hitch system for Daisy as well as a harness to replace her collar. The North Face sleeping bag would stay home and, in its place, I’d use a Sea-to-Summit bag liner for the warmer night temperatures.

Gear – camping, ham radio, video
Food for the trip

With my gear loaded, Daisy and I hit the road a little after 8 AM. Before arriving at Reed Bingham State Park, I planned an activation at Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area (US-3737). (Yes, I should just become the poster child for wildlife management areas as they’ve become my favorite place to activate in Georgia!)

The drive through rural Georgia was a pleasant one.

source: Google Maps

We passed through towns familiar to us (Pembroke, Claxton – the fruitcake capital of the world, and Reidsville) as well as new places like Daisy, Georgia. It was a pleasant trip and before I knew it, there we were, crossing the Altamaha River a stone’s throw from Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

Actually, Apple Maps routed me to Bullard Creek itself and not the WMA. After a little sleuthing, we were headed in the correct direction and accessed the WMA via a back route. (I knew we were in the right place when I began seeing WMA boundary signs!)

Bullard Creek WMA consists of over 17,000 acres in two tracts along the Altamaha River. One can hunt as well as fish, view wildlife, and use the public shooting range. This WMA was among one of the nicer properties I visited so far.

Shooting range on site

Not far after entering the WMA, I found a clearing off the main road and decided to set up there. Present in the clearing were pine trees with branches low enough to reach with my arbor line. (I knew the WMAs allow wire antennas and figured Reed Bingham would as well so I left the Chelegance MC-750 at home.)

After donning my blaze orange vest and hat, I had the Tufteln EFRW in the tree, the coax attached, and was settled to begin.

The road beyond our clearing for the activation
Pines with lower branches
Daisy’s checks out the surrounding woods

Two things happened in short order. (Remember, ALWAYS expect the unexpected with POTA.) I couldn’t access the POTA site to spot myself due to variable cell service. My partner Glenn W4YES came to the rescue and spotted me on 30 meters. I worked a few callers and then…the sun came out. Literally. Continue reading The POTA Babe Embarks on an Overnighter

POTA Activation at Strouds Run State Park: A Rainy Morning and Ham Radio Memories!

On Tuesday morning, May 14, 2024, I hopped in my car and headed north to Athens, Ohio. It was in Athens, back in 1997, that my ham radio journey truly began, and where I met my friends Eric (WD8RIF) and Mike (K8RAT).

For over 14 years, Eric, his son Miles (KD8KNC), and I have made the annual pilgrimage to Hamvention and FDIM, with few interruptions. My routine is to drive to Athens, catch up with Eric and his wife, Vickie, stay overnight, and then head to Dayton the next day with Eric and Miles. I enjoy this because it breaks up my travels and usually allows for some POTA activating along the way.

This Wednesday morning, Eric had an appointment and a meeting, so our plan was to leave for Dayton around noon. This gave me the morning free to play radio!

Breakfast at Miller’s Chicken

I left the house around 8:00 AM with the goal of activating Strouds Run State Park, conveniently located near downtown Athens. But first, breakfast!

I try to avoid chain restaurants when traveling, preferring local spots. I was delighted to discover that Miller’s Chicken, an Athens institution, served breakfast. I had no idea!

Miller’s Chicken holds fond memories for me. When my wife was a graduate student at Ohio University, for a brief period of time, she lived within walking distance and we often ate there. She even acted in a student film shot at the restaurant!

Walking in, I realized it had been 23+ years since my last visit. I ordered a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit with coffee as a group of students left, leaving me with the place almost to myself.

POTA at Strouds Run State Park (US-1994)

I arrived at the park around 9:15 AM. It had been raining all morning, so I sought cover under a picnic Shelter.  Eric, a frequent activator of Strouds Run, had told me where to find all of Strouds’ shelters.

Check out Eric’s standing on the park’s POTA page:

You can also read all of Eric’s hundreds of field reports on his website.

I found an empty shelter by the lakeshore (no surprise given the weather). I brought several radios with me on the Dayton trip: my Elecraft KX2, KH1, Index Labs QRP Plus, Venus SW-3B (always in the car), and my Yaesu FT-818.

Propagation has been a hot mess lately. I figured 40 meters and 20 meters would be the best bands to try, and the EFHW is resonant on both, eliminating the need for an antenna tuner.

Setup was easy, with trees near the shelter providing ideal suspension points for the EFHW.

(Note about audio: As I prepared this activation video, I discovered that my wireless mic wasn’t connected, so you won’t hear me when I walk away from the camera. My apologies! There’s also more wind noise than usual. However, you’ll hear plenty of waterfowl and other birds enjoying the park.)

Jeweler’s Bench Block

Only a couple of days prior, I received a Jeweler’s Bench Block that I purchased on Amazon.com (affiliate link). Several friends had recommended I pick up one to pair with my lightweight, portable keys that have embedded rare-earth magnets.

The key I paired with it was my BamaKey TP-III. You’ll hear me rave about this combo in the activation video.

It weighs 13.7 ounces and has a silicon base: I found that with the TP-III (which has a light action), it was rock-solid on the picnic table.

I wish I would have purchased one of these ages ago!

Gear:

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On The Air

I started calling CQ and, fortunately, hunters started replying! Continue reading POTA Activation at Strouds Run State Park: A Rainy Morning and Ham Radio Memories!

Ham-Map: OK1SIM creates an interactive park and summit map!

Many thanks to Michal (OK1SIM) who writes:

I needed a map, so I programmed it!

While planning one of the WWFF activities, I sighed that there was no map that suited me. So I started to program the map myself, even though I’m not a programmer, it’s not my job, I have some basics of PHP and MySQL and I’ve already done some web applications. I found out first where to download fresh reference data, I created daily synchronization into my own database so that I don’t have to worry about adding, deleting or changing. Over reference data, I then created an application using Leaflet and excellent Czech tourist mapmaps mapy.cz that shows WWFF, POTA, SOTA and GMA references. It’s all in development, I can think of other features. I’ve newly put it on the domain ham-map.com and I’m going to make the OpenSource code available on GitHub.

I place the greatest emphasis on usability on both a classic computer and a mobile phone. There are certainly many similar map applications with references, mine is just another one and it’s mine.

In the near future I’ll make available downloading data in .GPX format to an offline map application and the ability to view never-activated WWFF areas.

https://ham-map.com/

73 de Michal OK1SIM

Thank you for sharing your resource with us, Michael! I like how detailed the map layer is as well. Well done!

Elecraft KH1 in Motion: Proper Pedestrian Mobile Activation in an Ohio State Nature Preserve

I arrived back at the QTH late yesterday afternoon after an amazing week of travels.

I’ve got (no kidding) more than 100 emails in the inbox that require attention, so if you’ve written to me recently, my apologies in advance for the late reply. I’m spending the next few days catching up with my family.

I did, however, want to take a moment and share a short field report from a pretty extraordinary activation (for me) that took place on Monday, May 20, 2024.

Hamvention Decompression Day

I learned a few years ago that I need a full day post-Hamvention to wind down and relax before starting my travels back home. Fortunately, my FDIM/Hamvention travel companions Eric (WD8RIF) and Miles (KD8KNC) feel the same way. Nearly a decade ago, we started adding a Monday on to our travels.

Typically, we spend most of Monday at the USAF Museum in Dayton – it’s a brilliant, relaxing way to chill out.

This year, however, we decided to shake things up since I’d just spent a full day at the USAF museum in April with my family during our 2024 Total Solar Eclipse trip.

Eric suggested that we check out the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, then activate nearby Gross Memorial Woods State Nature Preserve (US-9410). We all agreed that sounded ideal.

In the BX and Commissary Complex on WPAFB

We packed up and left the hotel around 9:00 AM, then made our way to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Miles and Eric wanted to pop by the Commissary, BX, and Clothing Sales to pick up a few items (I purchased two more Rite in the Rain notepads, too!).

Armstrong museum entrance

We then drove one hour north to the Armstrong museum where we enjoyed nearly two hours browsing all of the displays and reading about the amazing life and adventures of Neil Armstrong – the first person to set foot on the moon.

After leaving the museum, we popped by a local deli and ate lunch – we were served possibly the largest portions of food I think I’ve ever seen. I could only eat half of my pork sandwich! (Al Woody’s Diner, in case you’re interested.)

Gross Memorial Woods State Nature Preserve (US-9410)

Gross Memorial Woods SNP was a short 15 minute drive from Wapakoneta.

We arrived on-site to find a small gravel parking area and a large, older-growth wooded area.

This is a nature preserve, so there was no shortage of “do nots” on the welcome sign.

The preserve consists of a 0.6 mile loop boardwalk trail with two or so wooden benches. There are no tables and you’re not supposed to step foot off of the trail.

Eric and I, of course, opted for low-impact radio gear.

Eric set up his KX2 field kit and used a small telescoping fiberglass pole to suspend his random wire antenna.

I’d initially planned to use my KX2 and a wire antenna, but I didn’t want to put a wire in a tree and I had no separate pole to suspend my antenna like Eric did.

Instead, I thought this might be a wonderful opportunity to test something new: pedestrian mobile with my Elecraft KH1 as I walked the loop trail.

Four Miles of Radio Goodness

Keep in mind that, while I got a fair amount of walking in during Hamvention, I’d also spent most of the day in the car on Sunday as we activated parks in Ohio and Indiana, so I was eager to stretch my legs.

I, once again, used my Tufteln angle adapter on the KH1 (you can see it as the red adapter on the antenna port in the photos). This adapter makes the operating angle a little more pleasant while pedestrian mobile.

Photo of the Tufteln angle adapter from the previous day’s activation.

The 13’ counterpoise wire simply trailed behind me as I walked. Being a boardwalk, it did have a tendency to very slightly pull the end of the counterpoise wire when it would slip between boards. Hypothetically, the wire could slip between boards and get pinched, but that never really happened. Since the end of the counterpoise was bare wire though, there was nothing to easily catch in the boards.

I’ve been thinking about building in a fail-safe mini banana plug connection/link near the top of my counterpoise that would simply pull away from the radio if the counterpoise were to ever grab something (or I trip on it). Since I hadn’t made this mod yet, I wrapped the counterpoise twice around a finger on my left hand as I held the radio. This provided a bit of strain relief. Again, there was never a problem with the counterpoise grabbing, but I wasn’t going to take my chances!

Also, I should note that I wouldn’t attempt operating the KH1 while, say, hiking up a summit trail. While that sounds like fun, I’m quite prone to trip on rocks and roots which is why I use two hiking poles.

I would limit my activations-in-motion to  roads and paths that are smooth and have no exposed tree roots or steep inclines/declines.

The path at Gross Memorial was smooth and had no trip hazards (trust me, I would have found them!).

I prefer my new Zebra pencil!

As a gift, my wife purchased a Zebra Mini Mechanical Pencil [affiliate link]which is identical to the Zebra Space Pen supplied in the KH1 Edgewood Package (you can see it between my fingers in the image above).

This was the second activation where I used the pencil and I must say that I, personally, prefer it to the pen. The reason why is I find that the pencil requires a little less pressure to write which is perfect for pedestrian mobile logging on the KH1 logging tray.

If you have a KH1 Edgewood Package, I’d recommend giving the Zebra pencil a try: it’s affordable at roughly $6.50 US and a nice option for the KH1.

**Horrible Band Conditions**

Propagation? Yeah, it was in the dumps. Conditions were very unstable and the numbers were not in favor of an easy activation.

Eric and I knew this activation would take some time.

Part of me felt like using the KH1 and its 4’ whip would be fairly futile, but I started out of the gate with a little promise.

As I turned on the KH1 and searched for a free spot on 20 meters, I happened upon Eric (VA2IDX) activating Mont-Saint-Bruno National Park (CA-0508) near Montréal. It only took one or two calls to work him. We were both pretty weak, but I was so pleased to start out this pedestrian mobile activation with a P2P from across our northern border. Continue reading Elecraft KH1 in Motion: Proper Pedestrian Mobile Activation in an Ohio State Nature Preserve

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)

From the Activation Archives: Pairing the Elecraft KX2 and MPAS 2.0 at Babcock State Park

In May 2022, my buddy Eric (WD8RIF), his son Miles (KD8KNC), and I opted to skip Hamvention that year and, instead, plan an extended weekend POTA campout in West Virginia.

Although attending the 2022 Hamvention was a tempting idea, I had already committed to a two-month family camping trip to Québec, Canada, scheduled to begin just a week later. Fortunately, the camping trip provided us with ample opportunities for field radio and was a more budget-friendly alternative.

During a recent review of my videos, I uncovered two videos from my West Virginia journey that had previously remained unpublished.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Hamvention 2024 (happening now), I’ve decided to shake things up by publishing these two videos. With my schedule packed to the brim during Hamvention weekend, I’ve arranged for these posts to go live automatically.

Abbreviated field report

Indeed, as I prepare this report, I’m only two days away from heading to Ohio and I’m pressed for time. In lieu of my regular in-depth field report, I’m keeping these two reports simple and short so that I can fit them in my tight schedule.

Babcock State Park (US-1798)

My second archived POTA activation is from Babcock State Park where Eric, Miles, and I (along with Theo the dog) actually camped for several nights.

On the final day of our West Virginia “RATpedition”–Sunday, May 22, 2022– we set up at the Sugar Run Camp Picnic Area. This particular picnic site is quite large and we had the place all to ourselves that morning.

Watching the activation video now, I remember how much I loved the dry-stacked stone picnic shelters.

As I say in the video, I’d love to build something like this at my QTH!

Gear:

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QSO Map

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

Activation Video

Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation.  As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.

Note that Patreon supporters can watch and even download this video 100% ad-free through Vimeo on my Patreon page:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Looking Back…

It’s so much fun reviewing these activations from nearly two years ago. We faced similar propagation challenges as we have recently (mid-May 2024), with numerous CMEs impacting our planet.

During some of the previous activations, we struggled to log even 10 contacts. In contrast, I’m pleased to have logged a total of 15 contacts during this activation. Although it was slow-going, it was a significant improvement over previous attempts.

Watching the video reminded me of my love for camping in West Virginia. We might consider organizing another WV RATpedition soon.

If you’re interested in reading Eric’s field reports from this camping trip, please visit his website using this link.

Thank you!

Thank you for joining us during this 2022 activation!

Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon, and the Coffee Fund. While not a requirement, as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.

As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo makes it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me!

Cheers & 72,
Thomas (K4SWL)