Tag Archives: Alan (W2AEW)

Alan demonstrates how to quickly tune the TR-45L’s Z-Match Tuner

Our friend Alan (W2AEW) just published this excellent short video demonstrating how to quickly tune the Penntek TR-45L’s Z-Match ATU. Of course, this same technique can be applied to the Emtech ZM-2 or any other manual Z-Match tuner:

An excellent tutorial, Alan! Thank you!

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!

POTA is changing park prefixes and, in some cases, park numbers

I’ve just learned that the Parks On The Air (POTA) admin is in the process of cleaning up and reorganizing the way Programs, Locations, DX Entities, and Parks are stored in its database.

Many thanks to Alan (W2AEW) who shared a link to this document which explains what they’re doing and even links to logs as they implement these changes.

In short, this will have an effect on activators, especially, because there’s a decent chance you will be using a new park prefix, and in some cases, possibly new park numbers.

A number of POTA prefixes have changed already.

In fact, if you’re activating in Canada, you might have already noticed that the park prefix is no longer VE, but is now CA.

As an example, in my activator logbook, what was once VE-1596 (Hog’s Back Conservation Reserve) is now CA-1596.

Here in the States, the prefix will soon change from K to US.

These prefix changes will happen for many other countries as well.

Of course there’s nothing, as an activator or hunter, you need to do other than start using the new prefix when it has been implemented. All of your old logs will automatically update in the POTA system with the new prefixes and/or numbers.

It might take time for logging applications like HAMRS to adjust to new prefixes. Activators might need to use the old prefix while live-logging during an activation, then use a find/replace string in a text editor later to fix the ADIF file.

Again, check out this document on the POTA website which goes into much more detail.

Thanks again, Alan, for the tip!

Field Report: Alan’s P2P POTA Activation Challenge!

Many thanks to Alan (W2AEW) who shares the following guest post:

A self-imposed POTA Park-to-Park Challenge…

by Alan (W2AEW)

One of the things I love about the Parks on the Air program is that every activation is a bit of small challenge.  What will the band be like?  What antenna will I be able to deploy when I get there?  Will I have a spot to setup?  Will my CW ‘ear’ be properly tuned up? You get the picture…

There are a few parks that I activate much more than others – call them my “home” parks.  These are the ones that are close to my home, easy to get to and setup.  One in particular,  Washington Rock State Park (K-1635), is certainly the closest. It has some interesting Revolutionary War History.

Not only is this park very close to my home, it also has pretty good elevation (about 500’) for this part of New Jersey.  In fact, the local fire department hangs a very large illuminated star during the Christmas season at their building that is adjacent to this park.

This star can be seen for miles to the South and East of the ridge.

It’s no wonder that I’ve activated this park more than 20 times in the last year and half.

My XYL Nancy was *very* generous to me this year at Christmas – gifting me a new Begali Adventure CW paddle!  She even had it engraved with my call:

I wanted to think of a unique way to celebrate my first POTA activation using this paddle. I would be going to K-1635, so the location would be very familiar.  Therefore, I thought of an interesting self-imposed challenge…   Attempt to complete an activation with ONLY Park to Park contacts!

As I thought about this, I figured my best chance of success would be to operate on the weekend (significantly more parks are active), and use my most efficient multi-band antenna (a 40m EFHW).

Being an engineer, I’m use to having goals.  I’m also used to having additional constraints imposed – let’s call them stretch-goals.  Possible stretch goals for this P2P Activation Challenge could be:

  • Operate QRP (all of my POTA activations are QRP, so not much of a stretch)
  • Operate only CW (nearly all of my activations are CW, and this helps with the QRP goal too)
  • Attempt this using a more compromised antenna
  • Attempt this during a weekday

It turns out I had a few free hours on Wednesday, December 27, 2023 to play radio…  It was kind of a dismal day weather-wise.  I figured it might be the day to attempt this challenge.  The wet weather had me thinking that I’d setup my SuperAntenna MP1 vertical instead of using the 40m EFHW (and having it and the throw line get all wet and muddy).  The stage was set for the challenge including the stretch goals.

I setup the MP1 on the bedrail of my truck, using an MFJ-1976 ten-foot whip on top.

The band conditions were in pretty good shape, so I figured I had a shot.  I setup the rig inside the truck because of the rain, and got the iPad going with the POTA spotting page to see who I could hunt.  I logged four P2P contacts in the first 20 minutes, so there was hope!

In the end, it took about 90 minutes to log 11 Park-to-Park contacts.  Well, actually 12, since one of them turned out to be a two-fer.  I logged a few “familiar” activators, including Teri KO4WFP – a frequent contributor of Field Reports here, and Jonathan KM4CFT – running a two-fer out of North Carolina.  There were a few that I noted in my paper log because I had a good copy on them, but ultimately couldn’t bust thru the pile ups there were getting (like K7SHR at K-10946 in WY and K0YY at K-4416 in TX).

A personal thanks to all of the activators in my log that helped me reach my P2P Challenge:

  • KL7NL at K-6945 in NC
  • KM4CFT at K-8313 and K-3378 in NC
  • WD4AWD at K-2982 in TN
  • KU8T at K-4208 in IN
  • KO4WFP at K-0659 in FL
  • W0ABE at K-10532 in CO
  • N4XTT at K-2982 in TN
  • NM1L at K-7475 in FL
  • KC1BDJ at K-7879 in FL
  • KI5GBQ at K-7687 in OK
  • NS1C at K-2420 in MA

All contacts were on 20m with the exception of NS1C on 40m.  All were CW.

This was a fun little challenge, one that I hope to repeat in the future.  Hope to see you all on the air – POTA-ON!

72 de W2AEW

Tiny EFHW and EFRW Kits by KM4CFT

Long time QRPer.com contributor and supporter, Jonathan (KM4CFT) has designed and started producing ultra-compact end-fed antenna kits (eBay affiliate link).

His end-fed antennas are incredibly small, thus perfect for portable operations. They remind me very much of K6ARK’s end-fed wire antenna kits, but a little easier to build because the board is larger and there are no surface mount components.

Jonathan sent me one of his end-fed kits (assembled) a couple weeks ago, but I’ve yet to trim mine due to my crazy schedule and activities as of late (well, that I need need to order more wire!). I will take this antenna to the field this month, but the video may not show up for a few weeks.

W2AEW Builds the KM4CFT UNUN

This morning, I learned that my good friend Alan (W2AEW) published a video where he builds, tunes and tests Jonathan’s  QRP End Fed UNUN kit:

Click here to watch on Alan’s (excellent) YouTube channel.

Alan’s video is superb. If you purchase this EFHW kit, I’d encourage you to watch his build. (And subscribe to his channel!)

How to purchase

Jonathan is selling his antenna kits on eBay–click here to check it out. The price is $29.95 plus a modest shipping fee. I think it’s an excellent deal.

Of course, you’ll need some wire for your radiator and/or counterpoise.

I plan to build mine with a 30 meter link to pair with my Mountain Topper MTR-5B.

Click here to check out the antenna kit on eBay. (note: this is an eBay partnership link that supports QRPer.com)

Click here to download the detailed assemble guide.

Field Radio Kit Gallery: W2AEW’s Comprehensive Elecraft KX2 Field Kit

Many thanks to Alan (W2AEW) who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page. If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, read this post. Check out Alan’s field kit:

W2AEW Field Radio Kit

I’ve only been active with POTA for a little over a year, but have put together a kit that gives me lots of options for antenna deployments.

The main kit is in an old camera bag that I picked up at a hamfest for $5:

One of the outside side pockets houses a small tripod and some little ground stakes for securing support ropes, etc.

The other outside side pocket houses a small digital recorder and a cellular hot spot:

The front outside pocket houses some rubber coated twist ties that I use for securing a portable lightweight pole, as well as a few POTA brochures, QSL cards and eyeball cards:

The pouch on the inside of the lid contains a 25’ length of coax, a few extra pens and other accessories:

The main chamber houses the KX2 Shack a Box bag, a Maxpedition accessory bag, the AX1 antenna kit and my iPad:

The KX2 bag is the main bit of the kit.  Sometimes, this is the only thing I carry with me (and will often put the AX1 kit inside also):

The rightmost pouch contains the 40m EFHW antenna, which is one of my two workhorses for my activations.

The middle section holds the logging pad, writing utensils, spare wire bits for antenna and counterpoise use, lightweight clips, etc.

The main section of the bag holds the KX2 which includes the internal battery and tuner. Continue reading Field Radio Kit Gallery: W2AEW’s Comprehensive Elecraft KX2 Field Kit

Alan’s Long Beach Island Radioactive Vacation!

Many thanks to Alan (W2AEW) who shares the following guest post:

Radioactive vacation on LBI (Long Beach Island)

by Alan (W2AEW)

We look forward every August to our much needed 2 week vacation “down the shore” as we say here in New Jersey.  Our vacation spot of choice is Long Beach Island, one of the barrier islands on the Jersey coast. This is an 18 mile long island that hugs the Atlantic coast of southern NJ, just north of Atlantic City.  The part of the island we love to stay in is called Surf City.  The Surf City area has been continually populated since 1690, although the town of Surf City was officially established in the late 1800s.

The XYL and I are both pretty fair skinned, so laying out on the beautiful LBI beaches everyday isn’t really our thing.

So, the house we rent is actually on the bay side, facing west, overlooking the Manahawkin Bay.  We enjoy sitting back and watching (and occasionally participating in) the wide variety of activities on the bay – the fishing & crabbing, the power boats, personal watercraft, paddle boarding, sailing, etc. Our favorite though, and the thing that keeps us coming back every year, are the awesome sunsets over the bay.

Of course, we always need to find a house that is pet friendly. Sophie loves LBI also, especially the long walks around town with the sea breeze.  Here she is waiting at the top of the stairs – hoping to hear the magical word….  “walk”…

LBI is certainly a family and pet friendly place.  Even the local Dunkin Donuts has a wall dedicated to the local pets:

I certainly planned to do a fair amount of QRP operating while on vacation – both from the rental house as well as POTA from the nearby parks (more about this soon).  But lest you think this was purely a radioactive vacation, let me reassure you that we did a lot of “normal” vacation activities too.

Like most, a lot of vacation is about relaxing, eating, other stress relieving activities, eating, shopping, and of course, eating…  Breakfasts were typically some homebaked muffins, or even some fresh biscuits from the oven with some great Black Bear Jam – a gift from a good friend in NC.  Yummy!

The main meals were a mix of good ‘ole home cooking and some great local cuisine, including great Jersey pizza from Panzone’s,  fresh local seafood from Mud City Crab House and   Pinky Shrimp’s Seafood Company.  Of course, no trip to LBI is complete without getting some of the best burgers in the state from Woodies Drive In in Ship Bottom, right next to Flamingo Mini-Golf – one of *many* mini-golf places on the island.  I’ve personally seen Ray Romano golfing at Flamingo with his family.

I did manage to do some other “normal” vacation activities besides radio…  A couple of relaxing afternoons on the beach, completed a 1000 pc jigsaw puzzle, read two James Patterson novels, lounging on the decks overlooking the bay and lots of strolls with the XYL and the dog.

But who’s kidding who, this is a QRP blog right!  Let’s get radioactive!

One of the first tasks after unpacking was setting up the antenna at the rental house.  The location was great, right next to the bay!  I strapped my slip-fit military fiberglass poles to the corner post of the 2nd floor deck, which made a great support for the 40m EFHW wire.  This is the same UNUN & antenna that I featured in a “build” video a few years ago. Continue reading Alan’s Long Beach Island Radioactive Vacation!

POTA activation with Alan (W2AEW) and WCARS Hamfest Photos

On the weekend of July 29, 2023 we had a very special guest visit the Asheville area: Alan (W2AEW).

You likely know Alan because he has an amazing YouTube channel where he takes deep dives into a wide variety of ham radio, test equipment, and other technical topics. Alan is also an avid POTA (Parks On The Air) activator and a regular contributor here on QRPer.com.

Alan reached out in early July and mentioned that he would be in town to see his nephew’s band (Safety Coffin) who would be performing to celebrate the release of their new album.

Fortunately, that weekend was the one free weekend in my schedule during July because I had cleared it in anticipation of the 2023 WCARS Hamfest. Vlado (N3CZ) and I had planned to reserve a few tables to sell some gear, but both of us were so busy leading up to the hamfest, we skipped the idea of being vendors and decided instead to simply enjoy the hamfest without all of the prep.

Early Saturday morning, I picked up Alan and we made our way to the hamfest.

The WCARS hamfest is always a good one. There’s a large indoor area and loads of outdoor spaces as well.

It seemed to me that there were even more vendors this year than I had seen in the past. I don’t think there was one free spot indoors.

My buddy Philip (N4HF) is a regular at the WCARS hamfest.

Alan and I browsed all of the vendors and both of us ended up buying a few adapters and other small items.

I wasn’t too tempted to make a major purchase, but there were some real goodies, like an Elecraft KX2 and Elecraft KX3 package. Gil (KS4YX) tried to convince me I needed his KX2 as a spare, but I resisted the temptation! (Good try, Gil!)

After all, I needed to show Alan that I had some measure of restraint. Right? [Don’t worry: the following weekend I picked up not one, but two small QRP radios from a friend–more on that in a future post.]

We also spent some time with my buddy Dave (K4SV) who gave us a proper deep-dive into his Tesla Model Y (thanks again, Dave!). My wife and I are planning to buy a used EV and the Model Y is high on the list.

It was brilliant seeing so many friends at the hamfest, but Alan and I didn’t hang around too long. Alan needed to be back with his family around 12:30 and both of us hoped to squeeze in a POTA activation. I was especially keen to get Alan on the air because he had yet to add North Carolina to the list of states he’d activated. We needed to take care of that quickly!

POTA on the Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378)

The easiest spot to activate, without a doubt, was the Blue Ridge Parkway Folk Art Center in East Asheville. We parked, set up an end-fed half-wave, and Alan was on the air within a couple of minutes. Continue reading POTA activation with Alan (W2AEW) and WCARS Hamfest Photos

Alan’s POTA Mapping Tip!

Many thanks to Alan (W2AEW) who shares the following tip:


I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find it hard to locate maps for the national and state parks. Some of the parks have good maps on their websites, some do not. Others have maps, but they aren’t detailed enough sometimes to definitively determine if you’re within the boundary or not.

I’ve found that one of the best sources for the national, state and local park boundaries is OpenStreetMap.org. This is a free mapping site. One missing piece is that it does not map National or State Trails very often. But, for park boundaries, it is great.

For example, this map clearly shows that most of Barnegat Light State Park (K-1609) is also within the boundaries of the NJ Pinelands Reserve (K-6609). From experience, I know that this also falls within the NJ Heritage Coastal Trail (K-6544) – thus making it a 3-fer.

At my early activations from this park, I did not know that it was part of Pinelands and thought it was only a 2-fer.

I have also used an app called “onX road” on my phone which can show owners of properties, but in order to see that, it isn’t free.

Just another tool for your toolbox.

Thank you for the tip, Alan! I have not used OpenStreetMap.org as a POTA tool, but I certainly will moving forward. 

I have been using the free app, Parceled, on my iPhone to discover the owners of land parcels–it works brilliantly and is free (so far).

Thanks again, Alan!

If you have a mapping tip you’d like to share, please comment!

Guest Post: Alan’s Jersey Shore Vacation POTA-Fest

Many thanks to Alan (W2AEW) who shares the following guest post:

Jersey Shore Vacation POTA-Fest

by Alan (W2AEW)

One of our favorite vacation spots is Long Beach Island (LBI), NJ.  It’s not hard to imagine since my XYL and I are both born & raised in NJ near the shore.  Our late-spring / early-summer vacation was an extended family affair with a few celebrations and long-distance relatives coming to visit the beach rental house on this 18 mile barrier island off the southern coast of New Jersey.

The vacation rental house we stayed in is in the town of Surf City.  It is situated on the bay side of the island, overlooking Manahawkin Bay.

In addition to setting up my Penntek TR-45L and a 40m EFHW at the beach house, I also brought along my POTA kit – complete with the Elecraft KX2 and a small variety of antennas.  The entire island and surrounding area are part of the NJ Coastal Heritage Trail (K-6544).   Two other nearby parks are the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Management Area (K-0453) and Barnegat Light State Park (K-1609). These latter two parks also fall within the boundaries of the NJ Pinelands Preserve National Conservation Area (K-6609).

My first POTA activation was a simple walk across the street to one of the public benches along the bay shore.  This qualifies as public area within the Trail (K-6544).

The antenna is the SuperAntenna MP1 equipped with a 10’ stainless telescoping whip on top from MFJ.  I used a deep-reach locking clamp to fasten the antenna to the aluminum bulkhead.  The salt-water made a nice counterpoise.  The rest of the setup was resting on the park bench with me.  I only had a limited time to operate, but conditions were pretty favorable and I logged 11 QSOs in 20 minutes on 20m CW running 5W.

The next day, I had another short window to play POTA and planned a short trip to the Edwin Forsythe WMA.  Just as I was heading out of the door, I received a phone call from my nephew that was out running.  He had come across a mother duck and some ducklings that were hanging out near a storm drain.  It turns out that some of the ducklings had fallen through the grate. We tried to lift the grate ourselves and couldn’t.  We called the local police and they arrived a few minutes later.  They called the water department.  Together, we were able to lift the grate, and with 30-40 minutes of coaxing, were able to rescue the trapped duckings from the storm drain and reunite them with the mother.  Needless to say, I didn’t get to the park for the activation.

I was able to finally head out to Cedar Bonnet Island, which is a small island that sits between LBI and the mainland.  This island is part of the Edwin Forsythe WMA, and also lies within the boundaries of the NJ Pinelands Preserve and the NJ Coastal Trail – making it a 3-fer! Continue reading Guest Post: Alan’s Jersey Shore Vacation POTA-Fest