Tag Archives: Morse Code

A QRS Pileup!

Just a quick note here…

I shared this on Mastodon and Twitter, but I wanted to share it here on QRPer.com too because, frankly, it made me feel proud to be a CW operator.

While making dinner, I turned on the Mission RGO One and started hunting POTA and SOTA stations.

I tuned to 7044 kHz and heard a POTA activator moving along at a slow, but steady pace with a straight key. He was doing a great job and working through exchanges. I checked his profile on the POTA website and discovered that this was likely his first CW activation.

After he finished his exchange, I called him and he answered. We moved through the whole exchange and he did a fantastic job despite a noisy band.

Here’s what got me…

When he finished our contact and sent 73 with the customary “dit dit,” a large pileup of hunters started calling him all at his slower cadence!  It was brilliant!

A huge group of CW hunters wanting to make contact with this fellow, all matched to his speed!

If you’re a new CW activator, don’t worry. We obviously all have your back!



QRP SOTA: Beautiful day for a hike to the summit of Bakers Mountain!

Sometimes, I crave a nice summit hike but don’t have enough time in the schedule to fit in a long one.

When I’m doing overnight trips to my hometown of Hickory, NC, my go-to spot for a proper hike is Bakers Mountain Park. The icing on the cake is that Bakers Mountain is also a SOTA summit (W4C/WP-007).

I wish Bakers Mountain Park was a POTA site as well, but at present the US POTA administrators aren’t including county and municipal parks–only state and national parks.

For more information about Bakers Mountain, check out this field report in the archives.

On Tuesday, August 1, 2023, I only had about 2.5 hours to fit in a hike and SOTA activation. That was plenty of time to hit Bakers Mountain!

Bakers Mountain Park has a nice long-ish loop around the perimeter of the park called the “Bakers Mountain Loop”; it’s about 2.75 miles long and has a reasonable amount of elevation change over the topography.

Adding in the spur trail to the true summit of Bakers Mountain, I’d say my total hike is about 3.25 miles or so.

Lookout platform on the Bakers Mountain Loop Trail.

Note that I actually include a bit of my hike to and off of the summit in the activation video below.

Setting up

Can you spot the MW0SAW EFHW hanging in the tree?

Once on the summit, I chose a spot to set up. Since I planned to deploy my 40 meter end-fed half-wave, I looked for a branch overhanging the summit perimeter trail.

Next, I deployed my trusty 40 meter EFHW that Steve (MW0SAW) made.

I also forgot my Tufteln/N0RNM knee board, so used my GoRuck GR1 backpack as a field desk. It worked pretty brilliantly, actually. Continue reading QRP SOTA: Beautiful day for a hike to the summit of Bakers Mountain!

CW POTA: Steve’s simple clipboard mod for super-stable field keying

Many thanks to Steve (W4JM) who writes:

Here is what I use for POTA activations to keep the key stable.

A clip board, carpet tape on the back to hold a carpet pad in place.

The Begali I put two slots in the clip board on either side of the traveler where then I could use a tie wrap to pull it secure to the board.

On the CW Morse I just used two screws with locking nuts to secure it to the board.

Your right hand holds the pencil while sending and your wrist weighs down on the clip board and I printed some POTA logs on excel to fit to the left of the key.

I hope this helps some of your readers with key movements. I now have my left hand to drink my coffee.

Steve W4JM

Clever and simple! I love it, Steve. Thanks for sharing!

A Speedy QRP POTA Activation of the President James K. Polk State Historic Site

On the morning of Tuesday, July 25, 2023, I packed an overnight bag, grabbed my Elecraft KX2 and Chelegance MC-750 then drove to Charlotte, NC.

I go to Charlotte very rarely these days, but somehow in July of this year, I managed two separate visits. Before that, I think I was last there four years ago to catch a flight to Denver.

My main excuse for visiting Charlotte on the 25th was to give a presentation at the Mecklenburg Amateur Radio Society’s monthly meeting.

Since I was in Charlotte for most of the afternoon, I also used it as an opportunity to do a bit of car shopping and test driving. Very soon, I’ll have two new drivers in the family, so we plan to add another vehicle to the mix sometime within the next few months.

While driving to Charlotte I contacted the President James K. Polk State Historic Site. I had never visited this site before so wasn’t sure what to expect. I did a bit of research Monday evening and discovered that their hours were from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM; typical hours for NC State Historic sites.

I knew my schedule would be tight. The park is located on the south west side of Charlotte (in Pineville) and my 3:00 test drive was in the north east part of Charlotte. If you’ve ever driven in Charlotte, you’ll know that driving times are unpredictable once 4:00 hits. I figured I might not arrive until 4:30 or later.

En route to Charlotte, I called the park to ask for permission to do an activation. Anytime I plan to activate a smaller park like a historic site, I always seek permission first from the park staff in advance. Often, they have restrictions about where you can set up and the types of antennas you can use (some historic and archaeological sites, for example, don’t allow any stakes in the ground or lines in trees).

The park staff gave me a thumbs up to do the activation. I didn’t expect them to deny me because this particular park has been activated over 150 times. No doubt, it’s so popular because it’s the closest park to the Charlotte metro area.

I then asked the staff if they closed all of the park grounds at 5:00 or only the visitor’s center. My hope was that, like the Vance Historic Site, they left the park gates open after hours. Unfortunately, the staff member confirmed that they do indeed close the entire site at 5:00, but he added, “you can certainly do your activation up to closing time, though.” He knew I would be pressed for time to fit in this activation.

Fortunately, I made good time to Charlotte and actually was able to bump up my appointments. I finished my last test drive a little after 3:00 and made a beeline for the park.

I arrived on site around 4:00 PM.

President James K. Polk State Historic Site (K-6848)

Before hitting the picnic area, I walked into the visitor’s center to ask where they prefer that I set up. Plus, I wanted to check out some of the displays in the museum!

I chatted with the park staff for a good 15 minutes or so. They were incredibly kind and very familiar with POTA (of course). They were especially familiar with my buddy Max (WG4Z) who lives nearby and activates the site frequently. He’s evidently been a great POTA ambassador!

Having spent so much time in the visitor’s center, I was only left with 45 minutes to complete my activation from setup to pack-up. Continue reading A Speedy QRP POTA Activation of the President James K. Polk State Historic Site

Sometimes you just need a little radio-active therapy

This has been a busy summer.

In fact, “busy” is an understatement.

We have a number of DIY projects going on at the QTH, I’ve a long list of things I need to fix (this has been the year of everything breaking), we’re scoping out a new PV system, and family life has been at an all-time high in terms of activity.

It’s funny: Matt mentioned in his recent field report that my POTA/SOTA catchphrase is, “I don’t have much time for this activation.

It’s so true! I say and think that all the time.

My schedule is such that I so rarely have more than one hour tops to spend at a park or on a summit. At this point in my life–being the father of two amazing teenage girls, a husband, and checking in on my sweet parents regularly–my days are packed pretty darn full.

That said, I get a small thrill out of doing fully portable park activations even with a little time pressure. Perhaps it’s because it’s what I’ve gotten used to? Regardless, it’s fun.

My hope, by the way, is to add a bit more camping at parks into the mix this fall so I can spend long relaxing evening sessions on the air. We’ll see if that becomes a reality!

“Radio-Active Therapy”

One thing I know for sure: activating parks and summits is proper radio therapy.

I know I probably sound like a broken record on this point.

Something about hitting the field, deploying an antenna, hopping on the air, and using the “sacred language” (i.e. CW) just takes me away from all of my worries and obligations. It clears my headspace.

I liken it to the same feeling I get when mountain biking. When I mountain bike, I rarely think of anything other than the path in front of me, preparing for roots, rocks, and other things that could otherwise flip me off my bike.

With POTA and SOTA? I listen to the ether, pull out contacts, and connect with friends via magical wireless links. That’s where my mind goes.

After a good ride or a good activation, I feel a million dollars.

Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)

The days leading up to Wednesday, July 12, 2023, had been particularly hectic; I was in need of some proper radio-active therapy, so I stopped by one of my favorite spots–Tuttle Educational State Forest–for a little POTA. Continue reading Sometimes you just need a little radio-active therapy

KO4WFP: A Return to Butter Bean Beach

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

A Return to Butter Bean Beach

by Teri (KO4WFP)

Given the trip to Nova Scotia and then getting a cold upon my return to Savannah, Georgia, it had been awhile since catching up with the guys in my local club – Coastal Area Radio Club (CARS). They have a No Work Wednesday club that meets weekly, activating either Butter Bean Beach at the Wormsloe State Historic Site (K-3725) or Fort Pulaski National Monument (K-0930). This Wednesday, July 19th, they opted for Butter Bean Beach, hoping for a maritime breeze given the hot and humid weather.

I always arrive early at Butter Bean Beach on Wednesdays to get my CW activation out of the way as my local guys use SSB. I rolled into the parking lot around 7:30 AM and saw stuff already piled up on one of the picnic tables in the pavilion. Uh-oh.

I, then, saw people I recognized – Garret Jones and Lisa Goodman. Garret volunteers with Wilderness Southeast and Lisa is the organization’s Executive Director. Wilderness Southeast offers eco trips and group programs to connect people with the environment. On one of my past activations, they were at Butter Bean Beach with a group of ninth graders for their Fish Gotta Swim program. Also assisting Lisa and Garret today was Sierra Abbasi. They warned me that around 9 AM a group of kids would arrive for their kayaking camp. Good thing I had my noise-cancelling headphones!

Last time I activated this site, I used the EFRW antenna in a tree but I thought to try something different today. Frankly, I figured my SOTAbeams travel mast looked a bit lonely, especially since I had lugged it all over Nova Scotia but not deploying it once while there.

It didn’t take long to get the mast deployed and the antenna where I wanted it. Now how to deal with the feed-end? The night before, I recalled a recent conversation with a friend who suggested using gallon water jugs to hold the ends of an inverted V. I figured that might work just fine for attaching the feed-end and keeping it taut. It did!

As for the counterpoise, even though I received a comment on a previous trip report that the counterpoise does not need to be elevated, I thought “let’s just gild the lily and elevate it anyway.” So I put out my water bottle and attached the end of the counterpoise to that. Besides, I wanted to be prepared for kids possibly walking around my antennas. A black, thin wire lying on the ground would not be easily noticed. But one slightly elevated with neon pink flagging tape might.

It wasn’t long before I was on the air. When at Butter Bean Beach, I almost always start first on 40 meters due to the early hour. (Note: I did not check the band conditions before heading out that morning but good thing I didn’t because 40 meters obviously didn’t read that report either.) Continue reading KO4WFP: A Return to Butter Bean Beach

KO4WFP: The Final Fling at Grand-Pré National Historic Site

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

The Final Fling at Grand-Pré National Historic Site

by Teri (KO4WFP)

If you read my four previous articles, you know my family and I went to Nova Scotia for eight days. At this point in my trip, I had three successful POTA activations and three unsuccessful. Tomorrow, July 6th, my family and I would head back to the States. I hankered to attempt one more QRP POTA activation before that happened.

For our final day in Nova Scotia, we opted to drive back from our Airbnb in Middleton on Highway 101 to Halifax. The night before, I looked at the POTA website for parks along the route to activate. I had learned to avoid urban parks if possible due to the noise level and limited space for the EFRW antenna which I preferred to deploy. One park seemed to fit the bill – Grand-Pré National Historic Site (VE-4839).

The morning of Wednesday, July 5th was overcast and rainy. Despite the dreary and less-than-optimal conditions, we drove toward Grand Pré. To buy myself a bit more time in hope the showers might abate, we grabbed a bite to eat at the Just Us Roastery and Café outside the town.

After a quick breakfast, we arrived at the site around 12:45 PM. Given the rainy conditions, I would need to stay in the car. Too bad because the site looked inviting and I would have enjoyed setting up on my jacket like I did at Fort Anne.

The limitation of operating out of my car meant staying close to the parking lot. The trees in the main parking lot were all shorter than I preferred. And, as I learned at other sites, the main lot didn’t give me any buffer from people walking into my antennas. However, at one side of the property was a separate small lot for two or three RVs. Two trees on the far side of it were tall enough for my antenna and, better yet, no one would be walking into them. We pulled into this lot parking on the grass at its edge so I would be out of the way of any RVs. Continue reading KO4WFP: The Final Fling at Grand-Pré National Historic Site

POTA & SOTA at Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville, Alabama!

I had some big POTA plans for Alabama this summer.

After returning home from Hamvention, I had about three days to prepare my truck, our small travel trailer/caravan, and pack for one week of camping in Huntsville, Alabama.

We had a great excuse for hanging around Huntsville: my daughter was attending Advanced Space Academy (Space Camp) at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The drive to Huntsville is about five hours and we decided that it would fun to go camping with not a whole lot to do for a week. Proper relaxation!

I looked at the POTA map in advance and plotted out at least four or five parks I could activate without driving too far. I planned to fit in activations on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday, we planned to spend the full day at the Space and Rocket Center and Friday was my daughter’s graduation.

My truck, though, had other plans!

About half way on our journey to Huntsville, my 1997 Dodge Ram 2500 started to have issues. Without going into too much detail here, there seemed to be a problem with the accelerator.

We drove to Huntsville on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, so not an ideal time to have mechanical issues. I limped to truck to Alabama and waited for a diesel shop in Huntsville to open on Tuesday morning.

In the meantime, I was able to hunt POTA and SOTA stations from our campsite which overlooked the Space Camp model rocket launching station. No kidding: we probably witnessed some 300 model rocket launches during the day that week and it was an absolute blast (pun intended).

I never got tired of seeing a full scale Saturn V model above the tree line on our evening walks!

Fortunately, the diesel shop was able to sort out the issue and fix it in one day–I was super pleased with that. However, that only left Wednesday to play POTA–we’d already plotted out a visit to Monte Sano State Park. That was fine by me because, turns out, almost the entirety of Monte Sano State Park is also within a SOTA activation zone! A SOTA/POTA two-fer! Continue reading POTA & SOTA at Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville, Alabama!

This seven hour road trip calls for a QRP POTA break at Yatesville Lake State Park!

On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, I had one main goal in mind: drive from my buddy Eric’s QTH in Athens, Ohio, back to my QTH in Swannanoa, NC.

This was the final leg of my one week Hamvention journey and I was ready to get back home and rest up before yet another road and camping trip only a few days later.

Before leaving WD8RIF’s QTH that morning, I consulted him about possible POTA sites I could easily activate on my journey.

On the return trip, I chose to drive through Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, then North Carolina.

Eric knows regional parks very well because he’s activated nearly all of them. He suggested Yatesville Lake State Park as it was an easy detour off of Highway 23 in Louisa, Kentucky.

Before leaving Eric’s house, I scheduled the activation and put the address in my car’s GPS/Sat Nav.

Yatesville Lake State Park (K-1272)

I arrived at the Yatesville Lake around 10:45 AM EDT and drove to the campground entrance where I met the campground host. I introduced myself and told her I was looking for a picnic spot to do a POTA activation (explaining to her, of course, what POTA is).

She couldn’t have been more helpful. She pointed out a roadside picnic spot beside us at the campground entrance, she also noted some covered picnic shelters nearby (that seemed to be in use), and even told me I could drive into the campground, find an empty camping spot and just set up there! A very generous offer, but I opted for the roadside picnic table next to me at the campground entrance since I was already parked in the right spot.

There wasn’t much to this particular site; just a picnic table and corn hole game next to the road in full sun. I had my sun gear on (wide brimmed hat and long sleeve lightweight hiking shirt) so the lack of shade wasn’t an issue.

There were plenty of trees on the perimeter of the site, but none would be an easy snag for my throw line because there were no branches overhanging the perimeter. Still, I knew if I launched the throw weight as close as I could to the tree line, I should be able to snag a small branch without having to search in the woods for the end of the line.

As long as I could suspend my mostly homemade 40 meter end-fed half-wave, I’d be a happy activator. Continue reading This seven hour road trip calls for a QRP POTA break at Yatesville Lake State Park!

An in-depth review of the Xiegu G106 QRP HF transceiver

Note that the following review first appeared in the May 2023 issue of TheSpectrum Monitor magazine.

Update: Also, please note that the G106 is on sale at Radioddity at time of posting. With our affiliate link pricing is only $264 US (see note at end of review). Please read this review prior to making a purchase decision!

An in-depth review of the Xiegu G106 QRP HF transceiver

by Thomas (K4SWL)

Last year––in May of 2022, that is––Xiegu announced a new compact field radio that would be added to their line of transceivers: the Xiegu G106.

Xiegu has really made a name for themselves over the past few years with several transceiver offerings, many of which have become very popular. Among these:

  • The Xiegu G90 is a 20-watt transceiver with an excellent built-in ATU. The G90 has become a very popular field radio over the past few years.
  • The Xiegu X5101 is a five-watt shack-in-a-box HF transceiver covering 160-6 meters. The X5105 has become a go-to QRP portable due to its fine built-in ATU and built-in rechargeable battery pack.
  • The Xiegu X6100 is much like the X5105, in that it’s also a shack-in-a-box QRP transceiver, but it leverages SDR technology to provide a beautiful color spectrum display and a host of features not found on its predecessors. Many have adopted the X6100 because its operating system is Linux-based and many enthusiasts have created their own X6100 interface that promised direct digital mode operation.

Because we’re seeing more products like these from Xiegu, the up-and-coming Xiegu G106 stirred interest.

Moreover, Xiegu has become a low-cost leader among HF transceiver manufacturers. In each of the reviews I’ve published about Xiegu radios, my summary statement is that each unit offers a lot of performance for the price. Xiegu transceivers don’t have the most robust receiver front-ends, and the audio is unrefined, but their rigs get the job done and have some serious “fun factor.”

So when I first learned about the new Xiegu G106, I was curious where it would fit into their product line.

Introducing the Xiegu G106

As I was capping off my summer in Canada back in August of 2022, Xiegu retailer Radioddity started shipping the G106. Radioddity had me on the list to send a loaner G106 for review, but  upon my return I found myself so busy that I didn’t immediately request it.

I did watch, however, K8MRD’s initial and updated review of the G106 on YouTube. While it was less than stellar––understatement alert––more relevant to me was that Mike shipped his second evaluation unit to me on behalf of Radioddity.

I connected that G106 to a dummy load, checked the transmitted signal on my SDRplay RSPdx spectrum display, and it simply didn’t look very clean. In fact, it looked worse than it did when Mike checked it only a couple of weeks prior.

I shared my results with Radioddity and told them I didn’t feel comfortable putting the G106 on the air; they asked that the unit be returned and checked out.

Fast-forward to January 2023, when I was once again contacted by Radioddity to see if I would like to field test an updated G106? I answered that I was happy to do so, because I was curious whether the G106 experience had improved.

In the spirit of full disclosure, keep in mind that Radioddity is a Xiegu retailer/distributor––the company is not the manufacturer, nor is it owned by Xiegu. They sent this G106 to me on an extended loan for an honest evaluation.

So where does the G106 fit into the Xiegu product line?  It’s being marketed as a low-cost, entry level, multi-mode QRP HF transceiver that leverages 16-bit CODEC sampling to provide the user with a lot of radio for the price. It’s basic, and meant to be so, in that  it’s only a transceiver; there is no built-in ATU or battery. The G106 is marketed as a bare-bones portable HF transceiver.

I feel like it hits this mark.

The G106 doesn’t have a lot of features or controls one might expect in other Xiegu radios, but it has more features than any other modern HF radio I know of in its price class (see features list below). Indeed, I can’t think of any other 80-10 meter general coverage QRP transceiver that retails for $320 or less. The G106 has this market niche to itself for the moment.


When I first received the G106, I was a little surprised:  it was even more compact than I had imagined.

The sides of the G106 are rounded and the chassis extends beyond the encoder and front controls of the radio, thus the interior is quite well protected in the event the radio is dropped. This is one of the few QRP field radios on the market that doesn’t need an aftermarket cage. I’ve been transporting the G106 in an old hard shell headphone case a friend gave me. The case isn’t large, but it easily holds the G106 and a power cord with a bit of room to spare.


The G106 sports a small monochrome backlit display that’s very easy to read in the shack or in the field with full sunlight.

Besides the weighted encoder (which has soft detents), the volume control, and microphone port, there are also four multi-function buttons located under the small display on the front panel. On top of the radio, there is a power/backlight button, mode/pre-amp button, and two band buttons that also can be pressed and held to change the frequency cursor position. The internal speaker is also mounted on the bottom of the top cover, just behind the top panel buttons.

On the back of the G106, you’ll find a BNC antenna port, ground/earth lug, key port, COM port, 8 pin ACC port, and a DC input port.

The most conspicuous omission is a headphone or external speaker port. I would have expected this in a QRP field radio because operators often prefer using headphones in the field rather than a speaker. I know that some G106 owners have built their own RJ9 audio plug to port out the audio to headphones. There is a headphone port on the supplied speaker mic, but CW-only operators might prefer a more direct way to connect earphones in order to keep the bulk of their field kit to a minimum.

What is surprising is that the G106 has a very basic spectrum display that is actually quite useful!


The ergonomics of the G106 are overall pretty good…but a bit quirky. To be honest, giving the user access to numerous functions and features on a radio this small is always going to affect ergonomics; there’s only so much control-surface real estate. Continue reading An in-depth review of the Xiegu G106 QRP HF transceiver