IX1CKN: POTA in the hills of Tuscany

Many thanks to Christian (IX1CKN) who shares the following field report:


POTA in the hills of Tuscany

by Christian (IX1CKN)

The beauty of the POTA program lies in the fact that, even if you’re not in your region, you can still participate and, in fact, feel somewhat at home even from a distance.

So, Sunday 7th April afternoon, while in Florence, given not common family commitments, I took two buses bound for Fiesole and then walked about twenty minutes to reach reference IT-1396, Monte Ceceri Park.

The concept of a peak at 414 meters above sea level might make a Valdostan smile, because it’s less than the center of Aosta, the place where I usually live, but the view of Florence and its surroundings is priceless and truly breathtaking.

Moreover, as reminded by a monument on the clearing at the summit, the mountain was the stage for Leonardo’s first flight experiments, which adds charm and historical interest to the location.

I set up the equipment I managed to bring with me on the trip: Xiegu G106 and a quarter-wave vertical on the ground, with about ten radials. Not more, but the truth is, more isn’t necessary.

The less than stellar propagation on the higher bands led me to mostly stick to 20 meters, even though they were hyper-populated for the SP contest. However, well, I found a corner with sustainable crowding…

The final log shows 30 QSOs in just over an hour and a half, including various park-to-park contacts (including Nicola IU5KHP, national POTA manager, and Andrea IW0HK).

Unfortunately, an unsuccessful attempt with Dario IZ3QFG, but there will be other opportunities.

No overseas contacts, but I repeat: it’s not about quantity or distance, but the fact that being able to reach a reference by public transport and walking is priceless. It manages to give one that feeling of familiarity – amplified by the voices of those you connect with, amazed to find yourself in a park far from home – which is why it’s no surprise that Parks on the Air is growing!

Planning a POTA Babe Trip – Part 3

(Note: As many of you know, I cut my spring-break Florida POTA trip short for personal reasons. However, I did not change this article and opted to leave the original itinerary intact as that was the intent of the trip.)

Having two POTA trips under my belt, I thought I’d share how I plan my trips in hope it will inspire others to undertake the same endeavor. After I explain my process, I’ll walk through the process using my spring-break POTA trip as an example.

The first questions to answer are where do I want to explore and how am I going to get there?

So far, I’ve traveled to Nova Scotia and Florida. Air travel was a necessity for the Nova Scotia trip but not my preference for travel in general. I loved to fly as a child but as an adult, it has lost its appeal. We live in a gorgeous country and have at our disposal a wonderful interstate system such that my transportation preference for a POTA trip is to drive. For a short trip (five to six days), I try to stay within 250 miles of my home QTH. For a trip longer than a week, I’m willing to drive 500 miles or more.

Google Maps

The next step is to decide where I’ll stay. Now that I am single, I need to watch my expenses closely. Camping is a great accommodation option if one is willing to put up with some inconveniences. So far I’ve found the campgrounds in the state parks to which I’ve traveled more than adequate. One has to be willing to walk to the bathhouse, accept whatever conditions the weather provides, and be less connected than we typically are in our modern society. Camping also requires certain equipment which I addressed in my first article.

Once I’ve nailed down my accommodations, it is time to begin choosing which parks to activate. For the past two trips, I chose parks based on their proximity to the roads I drove between accommodations, whether I needed to pay for access to the park, and how easily I could ensure I’m within the parks boundaries. My priority was to fit in as many park activations as I could during the trip.

Going forward, my criteria is the same but my focus is not. I want to spend more time in the parks I activate, choosing parks based on the scenery and/or other activities they offer so I may learn about the ecology and/or history of the location. I also want to savor the parks I visit, taking time to slow down and enjoy the experience.

So let’s walk through this process as to how I planned my spring-break POTA trip in April.

Choose a destination and how to get there

As I mentioned earlier, I prefer to drive. I’ll be gone six days for my April POTA trip, so I need to find a destination within 250 miles from Bloomingdale, GA. I chose to visit the state of Florida as I enjoyed my trip this past December and think the weather during the first week of April will still be comfortable that time of year.

Choose accommodations

For the Florida winter-break trip, I stayed in a different campground nearly every night. The advantage of that arrangement is I could cover more ground and experience more places. However, taking down and setting up camp every day eats up time and, depending on the weather, can be a pain. For the spring-break trip, I thought I might stay at the same campground the entire trip.

Itinerary for December 2023 POTA Trip Source: My Google Map

I searched for and found a map of all the Florida state parks with camping. There were several state parks within the 250-mile radius from my home; however, I also wanted a park that had lots of potential POTA sites nearby. After looking at my options, I chose Manatee Springs State Park at which I will stay three nights. Not far away is Suwannee River State Park which had availability for two nights. Bingo – accommodations done!

Source: https://www.floridastateparks.org/statewide-map
Source: pota.app
Choose which parks to activate

Now that I’ve chosen the parks at which I’ll stay, I need to figure out what POTA sites nearby are of interest. As I stated earlier, I want to choose activation sites based on what they can offer me in addition to the activation itself. Two prime activities at parks are wildlife viewing and hiking.

When I think of wildlife, I immediately think of national wildlife refuges. I Googled “best national wildlife refuges to visit in Florida” and found the following map. The refuge closest to the areas I plan to visit is St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge and, given what I read about that refuge, there is so much to see there that it may fill up an entire day.

Source: https://www.floridarambler.com/florida-parks-forests-wildlife-refuges/national-wildlife-refuges-in-florida/

 As for hiking, I googled “best hiking trails in Florida” and found  floridahikes.com. There were a fair amount of trails from which to choose though several were eliminated because dogs are not allowed due to the presence of alligators or ticks are a major problem. I took my time exploring the site finding trails close to or in the Manatee Springs and Suwanee River State Parks.

Now that I have my accommodations nailed down and some ideas for wildlife viewing and hiking, I need to fill in my itinerary. Continue reading Planning a POTA Babe Trip – Part 3

KX2 and TR-45L: Alan measures actual vs selected keyer speeds

Many thanks to Paul (W7CPP) who writes:

If you haven’t seen this it is worth watching. Alan does a great job calculating the actual versus selected keyer speed on the KX2 and TR-45:

Click here to watch on YouTube.

Brilliant video! Thanks for sharing this, Paul. 

Alan’s YouTube channel is one of my favorites. If you haven’t already, hop over there and subscribe!

SOTA: First activation of VE6/RA-174

As always there are lots of links within the article. Click one! Click them all! Learn all the things! 

You can see a full video of this activation on YouTube. Use it for CW practice as the footnotes follow the callsigns but only once I’ve gotten it correctly and have transmitted it back.

Our local club runs a repeater network with a dozen repeaters connected hub and spoke style on UHF links. It covers an area approximately 42,000 square kilometers (16,200 square miles) in Southern Alberta. I help to maintain that network and am constantly learning from the smart people that put it together and fix it when it goes awry.

On a Sunday afternoon, in mid-March, I discovered that our club’s VE6HRL repeater at Longview Alberta wasn’t passing audio back to the network, only carrier and some white noise. Local audio was passing along just fine, so the issue is either with the controller or the linking radio. A plan was struck for a service call and to activate this summit at the same time.

Given the repeater is located on Longview Hill, SOTA entity VE6/RA-174, and it is on private land, this summit cannot be activated unless we have reason to be there. Performing repeater maintenance gave us that reason, and so I enlisted the help of Canada’s first double GOAT, VE6VID, to come along with me as it’s a 2 person job to remove a repeater from the rack. We’d activate the summit after the work was complete.

So, on a Sunday morning late in March, the two of us set out in our respective 4x4s to crawl up the road to the summit. In the event you’ve disremembered, I’m in shape -round- and, as a result, my favourite type of SOTA to do is a drive-up. For our repeater sites that are on top of summits, we always bring along two vehicles in case one has mechanical difficulty or gets stuck in the snow. Yes, we have used snowmobiles to do service calls in the past!

The road on the north side of the hill runs up through small valley and does not catch much sun, so the recent snowpack proved to be a small nuisance as we crawled forward. That small nuisance became medium-grade once I got stuck due to lack of forward momentum. A couple of backside-puckering moments later I backed down the hill to take a run at it with more speed and more potty-mouth. Success and no digging with snow shovels was involved.

View from the summit looking West-by-southwest

We arrived at the summit and the view was breathtaking! There were only a few clouds in an otherwise vibrant blue sky, and with the 4″ of snow on the ground it was simply VERY BRIGHT OUT making both of us wish we had darker sunglasses! We entered the repeater building and performed some simple testing in situ and then I powered off the repeater and we removed the gear from the rack and put our tools away a half hour after we arrived. Now we can do SOTA!

The activation zone is quite large at this site and Malen drove a few hundred metres away to set up, providing needed separation between us. He set about to do his thing and I did the same. I brought out my crappie fishing rod/mast and propped it up along the barbed wire fence and set about putting out my VE6VID 66′ EFHW. The folding lawn chair would serve as a table, and a nearby metal cabinet that houses phone lines would hold my Contigo mug and two video cameras.

EFHW running parallel to the fence. The tower is straight in real life, but my camera was not!

With the antenna oriented to the west and sloping downwards and parallel to the very old barbed wire fencing (I call it Tetanus fencing given it’s age and your need for a booster shot if it should puncture your skin), I was uncertain how it would perform. As it turns out I had no cause for concern as I was able to make contacts without too much trouble. I trudged back up the hill to the now-placed lawn chair and finished my set-up.

My “desk” for the activation

I evaluated the bands by listening briefly on the FT8 frequency for 10, 15 and 20m. For me it’s a quick measure of how active the bands are, and dialing off a few kHz or so will reveal how noisy the conditions are. I settled on 20m. Aaand right about then, as if I needed another distraction besides the Canadian Rockies staring me in the face, my HamAlert went off on my phone; regrettably I was unable to hear my friend N4JAW at his activation. As it was too cold to handle my cellphone for typing and spotting, I set about getting spotted via SOTAmat and got on the air. Continue reading SOTA: First activation of VE6/RA-174

K3ES Travels: Ten Days of QRP with Compromised Antennas

Ocracoke, NC, home to this iconic lighthouse, was our destination for a week of relaxation.  Ten days of QRP operation was a happy consequence.

Ten Days of QRP with Compromised Antennas

by Brian (K3ES)

At the end of a hard (or even a not-so-hard) winter, Becky and I really enjoy the opportunity to spend a week at the beach with friends.  Even with the cooler and more unpredictable weather late in the off-season, it provides welcome relief from the cold and snow that we often get in northwest Pennsylvania.  This year we chose to visit Ocracoke Island, at the southern tip of the North Carolina Outer Banks.

While driving down and back, I fit in Parks on the Air (POTA) activations at parks in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.  Each of the activated parks was new to me, and  so were their states.  My time at the beach also included daily POTA hunting.  I knew that my radio activity would all be conducted using CW mode, and low power.  All of my contacts on this trip were made with 5 watts, except for a brief stint where I increased power to 10 watts to fight band noise during a longer QSO with my code buddy.  What I did not expect was that all of my contacts would be made using antenna configurations that were less efficient than normal.

At each of the activated parks, I paired my Elecraft KX2 with a brand new Elecraft AX1 vertical antenna.  While it proved very effective at making contacts, the 4 ft high AX1 vertical definitely compromises gain to achieve its tiny form factor for HF operations.  Once we moved into our rented house on the island, we knew that storms were expected.  In fact, gale warnings were issued for our area twice during our week-long stay.  Besides cutting off ferry service to the island, I feared that high winds would bring down any antenna mast that I might try to use.  So, I deployed my shortest wire antenna in a low configuration that I hoped would resist the wind, yet still enable some contacts.  I certainly did not expect it to perform like it had many times before when deployed in vertical or inverted V configurations, but proof would be in the contacts.  I will avoid suspense by saying that this installation was unaffected by the high winds that were predicted and received.

Gear

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Monocacy National Battlefield – US-0705

Monocacy National Battlefield, US-0705, is located near the junction of Interstates 70 and 270 at Frederick, MD.

Our trip south took us close enough for a visit to our 3-year old grandson and his parents.  Truth be told, any distance would have been close enough, so even though greater-Baltimore is slightly off the direct path, that was the destination for our first day of driving.  On the way to Baltimore, we also passed within a couple of miles of the Monocacy National Battlefield, near Frederick, MD.  So, we spent a couple of hours exploring interpretive displays at the Visitor Center, and of course, activating the park.

As a Civil War history buff, I knew of the Battle of Monocacy, but little about its details.  Briefly, in July of 1864 a small Union force faced off against a much larger Confederate Army led by Lieutenant General Jubal Early.  The Confederates were moving against Washington, DC in an attempt to take the pressure off of the defenders around the Confederate capital of Richmond, VA.  While the battle was a tactical defeat for the Union, it proved to be a strategic victory, because it delayed the Confederate advance for two crucial days.  In that time Washington’s defenses were strongly reinforced, so the Confederate Army withdrew back into the Shenandoah Valley without accomplishing its mission.  More on that later.

A picnic table near a wood line outside the visitor center made a perfect, unobtrusive location to activate US-0705.

For the activation, I set up my station at a picnic table.  A table top tripod supported the AX1 antenna, with a short piece of RG316 coaxial cable connecting it to the KX2.  I operated CW mode with 5 watts of power, and completed the activation with 11 contacts in less than 15 minutes.

The entire station, including table-top AX1, took up less than half of a picnic table.
Logging contacts…
Cannons overlooking the battlefield…
Map of contacts from US-0705.  Home QTH for one station is located at the south pole!

Operating from Ocracoke Island, NC

A week at Ocracoke…

We arrived on Ocracoke on the last ferry run to the island before a Gale Warning shut down service for two days.  We counted ourselves fortunate to be on the island, but gale force winds complicated deployment of antennas.  Except, that is, for the AX1. Continue reading K3ES Travels: Ten Days of QRP with Compromised Antennas

My first POTA Activation with the Index Labs QRP Plus Field Transceiver

Sometimes, we do things for the pure nostalgia of it all!

I mentioned in a previous post that I recently acquired a circa 1995 Index Labs QRP Plus transceiver. Being transparent here, this was an impulse purchase fueled by pure, unadulterated nostalgia.

The QRP Plus was the first QRP transceiver that I’d ever laid my eyes on only a month or so before obtaining my ham radio ticket in 1997. I’ll write about this in more detail in the future–and I speak to this in my video below–but let’s just say that this little cube of a radio made a big impression on me at the very beginning of my ham radio journey.

I thought it might be fun to take it to the field and compare this 1995 state-of-the-art radio with so many of my other field radios. The QRP Plus wasn’t a perfect radio, but it was a marvel at the time it was produced. I can’t think of a smaller, more battery-efficient general coverage 160-10M QRP transceiver at the time.

I was eager to introduce this little radio to the world of POTA so on the morning of Thursday March 21, 2024, I grabbed it and hit the field!

Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace (US-6856)

I called the Vance site that morning and learned that a large school group would be arriving around noon. Since I was planning to leave around that time anyway, it was perfect timing for me.

Since I hadn’t created a field kit specifically for the QRP Plus yet, I brought my watertight stackable Husky brand box that basically contains everything I need to set up a field radio station, save the radio.

I unpacked everything I needed: a key, key cable, battery, power cord, cable assembly, antenna, logbook and pencil.

Since the QRP Plus has no internal tuner, I paired it with my MM0OPX 40M EFHW antenna which would give me 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters. Note that Index Labs used to make an external manual ATU for this radio called the QRP Companion–I’ve never seen one in person, though.

Even though the Vance staff told me that the school group would not be using the picnic shelter, thus I could have free reign, I still deployed my antenna in a way that it would not become a trip hazard–keeping it close to the shelter and as conspicuous as I could (I do wish I would have brought along my flagging tape, but I left it at home).

Setting up the QRP Plus station was quick and easy. Time to hit the air!

Gear:

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On The Air

I started calling CQ POTA on the 40 meter band, hoping it would be a little productive while we were still in the latter part of the morning. Continue reading My first POTA Activation with the Index Labs QRP Plus Field Transceiver

N2HTT’s Tilt Cradle for the Penntek TR-45L

Many thanks to Mike (N2HTT) who recently reached out:

Hi Tom,

I recently treated myself to a Penntek TR-45L, and I think it’s the perfect field CW rig, except for one thing: the viewing angle sitting on a table is too vertical.

I made myself a tilt cradle that holds the rig at a 15 degree angle. It is form fitted to the rig, allows good clearance to all the controls front and rear, and raises it up off the table just a smidge.

Mike thanks/blames me for his purchase of the TR-45L and asked if I wanted one of his 3D-printed tilt cradles for my TR-45L. I just received it today at no cost to me–thanks, Mike!–and I really like the angle for using the TR-45L in my shack (and in the field, for sure). 

Mike is selling these for $25 in his Etsy shop. Click here to check them out!

Here are some photos:

Thanks again, Mike, for sending one to me–I really appreciate it. Now I just need to convince you to purchase even more radios! 🙂

The TR-45L is a gem–you’ll love it!

Planning a POTA Babe Trip – Part 2

(Note: I cut my Florida POTA trip short as I needed to take care of some personal business. I apologize for the change of plans and the inability to communicate that to y’all. I appreciate everyone’s support of the trip and the QSOs of those who hunted me. Articles will be forthcoming for those activations in the near future.)

Those of you who have followed my journey on QRPer know that I wrote an article about my kit for the trip I took last summer to Nova Scotia. Since then, what ham radio equipment I take with me has changed, partially because I am not flying to a different country far from home and partially because of my experiences with what I generally do and don’t need. I thought I’d share what my kit currently looks like for the spring-break Florida trip.

Here is a photo of what ham radio-related gear I am taking on my Florida POTA trip. We’ll first look at what I have in each section of the Elecraft bag I take with me and then a few items that do not fit in this bag but are still along for the ride.

When I purchased my KX2, I also purchased the Elecraft bag. Though the bag is bulky in its profile, it was a worthy purchase due to the amount of stuff it can store in one place in a well-organized manner.

The bag has three compartments.

In the first compartment is my main man, Craig, my KX2. He is the rig I use for all my QRP adventures out and about. I do have a protective cover I purchased for him but haven’t installed yet. I have a fear of messing with electronics and, though installing the shield isn’t rocket science, the project seems overwhelming enough that I haven’t tackled it yet.

Also in this first compartment are my throw bag containing an arbor line and throw weight, some S-carabiners, my homemade radials for the AX1, the tripod mount for the AX1, and a pencil and earbuds. I find I copy CW much better when I have a headset of some sort.

In this compartment, I used to have a back-up key. However, in its place is a new single-lever paddle from CW Morse [QRPer affiliate link]. I am using this key because it is wired to be a cootie or a paddle via an internal switch. I discovered my KX2 doesn’t balk at using this key like a cootie unlike when I use the CW Morse SP4. I desire to use QRP for more than POTA, specifically for SKCC and calling CQ for ragchews. SKCC requires a mechanical key and, as the cootie is my favorite key, this new key should fill the need  I discovered the last time I visited Skidaway Island.

In the second compartment, I have the AX1 and the Tufteln EFRW antenna. Those of you who have read my articles know I generally deploy the Tufteln EFRW antenna. On this April Florida trip, I plan to use the AX1 and the Chelegance MC-750 more often in preparation for my summer POTA trip. I anticipate I’ll be limited by terrain and park rules from deploying an antenna in a tree so more experience with verticals will be helpful.

In the third and final compartment are some odds and ends: neon pink flagging tape, an allen wrench for adjusting my CW morse keys, some twine, a short length of wire with an alligator clip on the end, two shock bungee cords, the cord for my CW Morse single-lever key, and a splitter for the headphone jack. I’ve used all these items (except the cord for the new key) at one time or another so I don’t want to leave the house without them.

Here are items I am also taking that don’t fit in the Elecraft bag.

The Tufteln kneeboard, POTA flag, and a notebook. I really like using pencil and paper for my POTA logs. I hold my key in the left hand and send with the right. For some reason, juggling that with paper is more manageable to me than logging in my phone or a laptop. The one thing I miss out on by doing that, though, is not knowing people’s names except those I’ve encountered many times. (And even then I forget names in the busyness of an activation so if I do, please forgive me.) I like to thank people by name at the end of the QSO rather than just their call sign if I know their name. I learned to do this in SKCC exchanges and I think it is a respectful and genteel practice. The one advantage I see to using a logging program is that I could do that with every QSO.

In a Tom Bihn bag, I have my RG-316 coax in three lengths (10’, 20’, and 50’), a short bungee cord, a stereo connector, and a newer version of the SP4 (aka The Minion).

Also coming along for the ride is the Chelegance MC-750. [QRPer affiliate link]

The last pieces of equipment I am bringing are for the first park I will visit – Lafayette Wildlife Management Area. In areas that allow hunting, Daisy and I wear blaze orange, even in the off season. Though as hams we try to be law abiding, we need to remember there are others out there who are not. When it comes to areas in which hunting is allowed, it is wise to wear blaze orange year-round because hunting violations due happen.

There you have it – the POTA Babe’s current QRP kit. I have one last question to address in this series – how I plan my trips. To find out, stay tuned…

WSPR Testing During the Total Solar Eclipse

Many thanks to Keith (KY4KK) who shares the following message originally sent to his local amateur radio club:


To anyone curious about how the eclipse might impact the ionosphere and amateur radio communications, this may be of interest.

On Saturday, 4/6/24, I set up 2 WSPR transmitters in my back yard. These will hopefully operate uninterrupted through sometime Tuesday afternoon, 4/9/2024. This should provide good baseline information before and after the solar event.

NASA scientists and other professional and amateur space engineers will consolidate data from amateur operators around the world to help understand how this rare event impacts the various layers of the ionosphere.

During the partial eclipse last year, a similar test revealed that several bands showed significant propagation changes for stations along the path of the event.

Tommy Walker (NG4S) graciously provided the WSPR transmitters and one of the antennas I’m using.

The configurations I’m operating:

  • WSPR Lite Classic (20 Meter Band)
  • Frequency: 14.097077 MHz (If you tune your HF rig to as close to this frequency as you can get, you MIGHT be able to hear some of the WSPR traffic going on)
  • Callsign: KY4KK
  • Transmit Power: 20 mW (.02 Watts)
  • Antenna: Chelegance MC-750 vertical – adjusted to resonance (no tuner)
  • Grid Square: FM04be
  • Start time: 00:44 Zulu 4/7/2024

WSPR Lite Classic (40 Meter Band)

  • Frequency: 7.040142 MHz (see above)
  • Callsign: KY4KK
  • Transmit Power: 20 mW (.02 Watts)
  • Antenna: Chelegance MC-750 vertical with 40 meter coil – adjusted to resonance (no tuner)
  • Grid Square: FM04be
  • Start time: 23:10 Zulu 4/6/2024

WSPR is a one-way digital communication protocol using VERY low power (less than .2 Watt or 200 mW). I usually set the transmitters to much lower power than that (.02 Watt or 20 mW) because the weaker signal is more likely to reflect subtle changes in either the antenna or the atmospheric conditions. The sending station transmits a beacon on a specific frequency for each band. The digital package sent by the transmitter contains the callsign of the operator, grid square location and transmitted power in milliwatts. The message is sent slowly and repeated several times. Then, there is a pause and it starts again.

There are amateur receiving stations around the world that are specifically configured to look for WSPR signals. If they can hear me, they record my information and the strength of my signal (how loud it is against the background static – measured in decibels). Their receiver, connected to the internet, then adds information about their station and automatically sends all of it to a central database that is accessible to the public in real time.

Several websites are available to extract the data or view it in map format. All of the ones I use are free and do not require a login. The ones I most frequently use are listed below, but there are others. In general, use my callsign (KY4KK) as the transmitting station, leave the receive station blank and select either 20 or 40 meters.

DXPLORER SB

This site will allow you to pull raw data into a spreadsheet in .csv format if you want to do data analysis.

It also shows the most distant contacts and can display a map
Specifically, I will use this to look at individual stations that recorded me several times during the day. Where was the eclipse during each of the recordings, and did my received signal significantly change?
Also, I will look for differences in how the two bands will be affected.
https://dxplorer.net/wspr/tx/spotsmap.html?callsign=KY4KK&timelimit=1d

WSPR Rocks

I like this site for mapping my contacts.

The interface takes some getting used to, but to start, go to the search button, select the number of spots to show, the time frame (10 minutes if you want to see immediate activity only), band (20m or 40m) and TX Call (KY4KK) and click Search. Then you can click map and it will show all of the contacts the station has made in that time frame.
http://www.wspr.rocks

PSK Reporter

This is another mapping program that may have an easier interface.

Display Reception Reports

As I have mentioned to some of you before, I am continuously amazed at how far WSPR transmissions can go with such low power. There has to be magic involved…

Final Disclaimer: When doing a test like this over several days, a lot of things can go wrong. Batteries die in the middle of the night, a dove crashes into my antenna, the dog runs away with one of my antenna radials (all of these have happened). If I see something has interrupted the transmission, I will try to correct it as soon as possible.

Best Regards,

Keith Wyrick – Amateur HAM Scientist
KY4KK

Field Report: Elecraft KH1 for a Quickie POTA Two-Fer!

On Wednesday, March 27, 2024, I had a number of errands to run in town. Before leaving the house that morning, I looked at my schedule and honestly couldn’t see a wide enough opening for an activation.

In the latter part of the morning, however, I was miraculously ahead of schedule en route to a meet-up in Asheville. I decided to take a scenic route option along the Blue Ridge Parkway (US-3378). It was misty and foggy that morning; a beautiful time to drive the BRP.

Of course, any time I’m on the grounds or within the boundaries of a national or state park, it feels odd not to activate it (do you feel that way too–?) even though I drive the BRP.

I looked at my watch and realized I had about 15-20 minutes max to perform an activation.

I only had one radio in the car: my Elecraft KH1. I didn’t have any of my camera gear which was fine, because it would have been very difficult to set up a video and complete the activation all within 15-20 minutes.

I pulled over to quickly schedule my activation on the POTA website. I then drove about 5 minutes up the BRP to a larger pull-over with a short path to the Mountains To Sea Trail (US-8313).

Instead of setting up on the MST, I just walked down the bank and stopped within a few feet of the MST. This would yield an easy POTA two-fer!

I set up the KH1, sporting some new pressure paddles via K6ARK (one’s I’m testing), and I hit the air.

Gear:

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I called CQ POTA and started receiving replies slowly. Well, in truth, it wasn’t that slow, but it felt like it when I was in such a rush.

After working five stations, I checked the POTA spots page and discovered that I had not been auto-spotted. Sometimes the connection between the POTA spots page at the Reverse Beacon Network is down. Indeed, several times lately, I’ve tried to activate when it’s been down–my timing has been impeccable.

I had a little mobile phone service, so I self-spotted and the rest of the contacts rolled in quickly.

I called QRT after logging 10 contacts with apologies to those who were still calling me. I had to get back on my schedule.

My QSO Map:

Screenshot

This quick activation did make me realize how the KH1 seems to be fitting into my POTA/SOTA routine.

I never intended going pedestrian mobile 100% of the time after I got my KH1. Instead, I find it to be the radio that gives me the most freedom and flexibility when I need it. The KH1 allows me to seize radio opportunities I’d otherwise miss.

In this case, setup and pack-up time was really no more than 40 seconds in total.  It took me a minute to walk down the bank to the spot next to the trail to do the activation. All the rest of the time was radio time. I feel confident that had I been spotted properly, I would have validated the activation (10 contacts) in less than 15 minutes.

It’s fun to realize you can play radio anywhere (almost literally) with a handheld transceiver like the KH1. It almost feels like cheating!

Eclipse Time!

As I write this post, I’m in our hotel’s breakfast area. We’re in Dayton, Ohio to view the total solar eclipse tomorrow. I hope to fit in a couple of activations– the only radio I’ve brought along for the ride is the KH1 (well, save my SW-3B Headrest kit).

Traffic yesterday (en route to Ohio) was pretty heavy. I imagine it’ll be much worse today and even crazier tomorrow.

We took a break from traveling, yesterday, to visit my father-in-law’s alma mater. Can anyone recognize this beautiful campus? Bonus points for correctly identifying it!

Our family is meeting up with Eric (WD8RIF) and his wife, so I’m sure we’ll manage to hit at least a couple of parks!

I must admit: it feels odd to be in Dayton a few weeks prior to Hamvention.

Maybe I should camp out at the Greene County Fairgrounds for the next five weeks just to be the first to grab a good deal in the flea market–!?!

[Sinister laugh slowly fades…]

72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

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