Tag Archives: Elecraft KH1

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

NI1Q’s Long-Awaited Elecraft KH1: Worth the Wait?

After 126 Days, A Long-Awaited Unboxing: The KH1 Arrives!

by Emily (NI1Q)

If there was one thing being in a physical rehab facility for 4 months taught me it was friends and families were a comfort.  They brought encouragement, broke the boredom and were helpful in bringing hope when I wasn’t sure if I would be walking again. I was able to have my DMR handheld and checked into nets and talked with friends, but I really missed being on HF.

Although I own an IC-705 and a QRP Labs QMX, managing them in a room would have been difficult.  I really love the 705, and can manage the QMX, but the 705 is not the kind of rig you can put in a bedside table drawer;  the QMX with an EFHW + batteries becomes about as large and difficult to deploy.  Especially in bed.

It was with this mindset that I watched in interest Tom’s initial videos of the Elecraft KH1.  I initially saw it as something akin to the QMX, and I had some reservations about the key.  As I watched several of Tom’s exploits, my mindset began to change.  On January 29, 2024, I placed an order for KH1 Edgewood package.  I would soon (I hoped) become an Elecraft owner, part of what sometimes seems to be a cult, and other times seem to be the most loyal fanbase in ham radio.

I initially calculated I would get delivery sometime in April, just in time for my birthday.  As that time passed I talked to Elecraft and they opined that I would have it in time for Dayton.  A week before, it wasn’t going to happen, and I packed heavy to take the IC-705 with me.

And, then, May 30th, my wait was over. An email arrived: The KH1 was on the way!

Boxes Arrives:  I can’t contain myself…

On June 1st, I was out playing fetch with Zoe and saw the postal truck coming down the street, and I rushed over to the curb to meet him.  As he clicked his phone to certify delivery I asked “It’s from Watsonville CA, right?”  He smiled; “You must have been waiting for this one.”  “126 days for sure.”  I rushed into the house with my package quicker than Ralphie Parker running out into the snow with a Red Ryder BB-gun on Christmas day.

I had previously ordered the right angle antenna adapter, so together I had two boxes to unwrap.  The KH1 was packed well enough the box puffed up with what I assumed was bubble-wrap.

Carefully cutting the packing tape confirmed my assumption, and I was greeted by a very nice and unexpected colour manual that confirmed I had now become an Elecraft owner for the first time.

I thumbed through the manual and made a mental note of the sections I’d need for a quick “getting started” activity.  Time set – check.  Antenna selection – check.  Charging – check.  On-off switch – check.

I was ready (and eager) to go.

Pieces, Lots of Pieces.

Even though it looks like a tidy group of four things, there were multiple layers.  First out was the Edgewood case.  It’s a nice case but with only one extra pocket.  I would later learn it wasn’t really enough. The case was well padded, so for now it would be where the radio lived. Continue reading NI1Q’s Long-Awaited Elecraft KH1: Worth the Wait?

The Adventure You Get

Many thanks to Matt (W6CSN) who shares the following post from his blog at W6CSN.blog:


The Adventure you get is not always the adventure you expect. Recently I’ve been plotting a unique activation of the De Anza National Historic Trail, but that particular POTA activation is going to need a good antenna and just as importantly, time.

This day afforded a few hours in the morning for outdoor radio but not enough to retrace the steps of the De Anza expedition. Instead, I headed down to the San Francisco Bay side for a quick outdoor amateur radio session.

Marina entrance light from years gone by

Since it was was a Saturday, my usual spot at Presidio East Beach was heavily impacted by weekend recreation enthusiasts, so I continued for a quarter mile to the practically empty parking lot east of the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Small dry beach on the marina side of the jetty

Thence on foot past the old stone light tower and the clubhouse of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, you find yourself of the path to the end of the breakwater where a unique art installation sits.

Alcatraz Island at anchor off the point

The Wave Organ is a curious sculpture that uses tubes and cavities between old cemetery stones to channel and amplify the watery sounds of waves as the tides move in and out of the Bay.

Surrounded by saltwater at the end of this jetty, which by my reckoning is within the boundary of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (US-0647), this location was perfect for the “no impact” operation afforded by the Elecraft KH1.

This granite wall served as the operating bench

My plan was to see if I could complete an activation of making 10 contacts entirely by hunting other POTA activators, perfectly reasonable given it was a weekend with no geomagnetic storms to disrupt radio propagation.

An entire station in the palm of your hand

What I did not count on was that it was a contest weekend with both 20 and 15 meters wall-to-wall with rapid fire contesters. As a QRP station, finding the POTA needles in that haystack was going to be tough.

The wave organ is a naturally contemplative environment

I retreated to 17 meters which should offer good daytime propagation and no contesters. There on 18 MHz, I was was able to collect five park-to-park contacts in a span of 23 minutes.

At that point I’d exhausted all of the 17m active CW stations on the POTA spots page and didn’t really have time to wait for more to show up. Therefore the “all hunting” activation strategy was abandoned and I commenced calling “CQ POTA.”

A fresh charge delivers nearly 6 watts into a matched antenna on 17m

The activation was “validated” with a call from Dave, AA7EE as the 10th QSO and then completed with one more park hunted, K9DXA in US-1001. Most of the contacts were with stations east of the Rockies.

http://tools.adventureradio.de/analyzer/

One thing I learned from earlier outings with the KH1 was to not cut the log sheets too small, as might be suggested by the lines printed on the page. Without enough paper under the top and bottom tabs of the logging tray the sheets can easily be caught and snatched away by the wind.

Leave enough margin on the logging sheets and they are easily secured in the tray, even in the face of brisk Bay breezes.

Looking across the marina entrance toward Fort Mason

The “hunting only” activation plan didn’t quite work out but it was a great time out playing radio at scenic spot in San Francisco Bay.

Sailing season is well underway on SF Bay

While I didn’t expect to activate from the wave organ today, it turned out to be a fun adventure and an excellent spot from which to get on the air with the KH1.

73 de W6CSN

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)

Handheld SOTA DX and Testing K6ARK’s New KH1 Pressure Paddles!

On Tuesday, March 12, 2024, I woke up with SOTA (Summits on the Air) on my mind.

That morning, I plotted to activate a local drive-up summit I’ve basically ignored the past few years.

Peach Knob (W4C/CM-097) is one of the most popular summits in the Asheville area no doubt because it’s so accessible. That said, it’s also a cell phone and water tank site with limited parking. When I first drove up a few years ago, there was a crew working and I would have only been in the way had I opted to activate. Also, to truly be within the activation zone on Peach Knob, there’s really only one small portion of the site where you can set up. Most of the summit is on private land.

I do SOTA primarily for the hikes. I’m not aggressively chasing activation points (ahem…obviously!) so I tend to ignore drive-up sites that are cramped and a bit awkward. Someday, I’m sure I’ll eventually hit Peach Knob just to do it, but that Tuesday? Yeah, I quickly decided I wanted a hike too.

I had a window of about three hours to fit in a SOTA activation. For POTA (Parks on the Air), that’s a generous number–I could easily hit three POTA sites in that amount of time, but SOTA takes more time. Typically there’s a longer drive to a trailhead, then a round-trip hike to figure into the planning as well. I immediately thought of one summit that would fit the bill.

Bearwallow Mountain (W4C/CM-068)

Bearwallow isn’t a long drive from downtown Asheville–maybe 20-25 minutes one-way. The hike to the summit is also fairly short and most enjoyable. The activation zone is the opposite of Peach Knob; it’s massive!

I arrived at the trailhead around 12:30 local and found that there were very few people parked there–-after all, it was a random Tuesday mid-day!

I’d packed my Elecraft KH1 field kit with the intention of doing a fully pedestrian mobile activation. I also had another goal: to test a prototype KH1 pressure paddle Adam (K6ARK) sent me to thoroughly test. I felt there was no better way than to SOTA with it!

Funny, but when operating pedestrian mobile with the KH1, you need so little extra kit. In fact, I could just grab my Pelican M40 case containing the full kit and be ready to go. But I always carry a first aid kit, headlamp, water, and other emergency supplies even if the hike is short and easy. Even if I have no need of those supplies on a short hike, someone else may. Twice, I’ve given other hikers first aid supplies from my pack.

Also, since I planned to film this activation, I needed to carry my camera, mics, and a tripod. I chose one of my favorite day packs: The GoRuck GR1!

My activation video, below, includes a bit of the hike and the contents of my backpack as I set up the KH1.

Gear:

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On The Air

I decided to start this activation on the highest band the KH1 can serve up: 15 meters. After a delayed start (due to phone calls), I began calling CQ SOTA and the contacts started rolling in. It was funny–my first two contacts mirrored a previous Bearwallow activation: Christian (F4WBN) and Michael (N7CCD) in the same order! Within three minutes, I’d logged the four contacts necessary to validate the activation. Continue reading Handheld SOTA DX and Testing K6ARK’s New KH1 Pressure Paddles!

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:

Note: All Amazon, CW Morse, ABR, Chelegance, eBay, and Radioddity links are affiliate links that support QRPer.com at no cost to you.

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)

Thank you!

As always, I’d 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.

John’s KH1 Redeems an Otherwise “Frustrating” Start to a Cross-Country POTA Rove

Many thanks to John (NS6X) who shares the following field report:


Frustrating rove from California QTH to OzarkCon in Branson, MO.

by John (NS6X)

I had great plans for a radio-centric, POTA activation road trip from my home in Camarillo, CA (outside Los Angeles) to my first visit to OzarkCon in Branson, MO. The Four State QRP Club hosts the two-day conference. I recently became a kitter (I put together one of the kits) for the club, assembling the parts and shipping the Cricket20 (see kits a 4SQRP.com).

I had the parks planned out along I-40 where I would stop, overnight stops for my little trailer, and my traveling companion Sachiko (Agnes), my Tortie cat.

Long story, but my wife of 48 years died three years ago from ovarian cancer, so I now enjoy traveling alone. I am calling my trip story, “Traveling with Agnes,” a shout out to John Steinbeck and Traveling With Charley. I seldom plan ahead, so to have night stops, parks planned, and such was something for me.

I packed my Elecraft KX2, KH1, FT-891, Penntek TR-35L, and my 22-year-old KX1. I have multiple Bioenno batteries for power, that I packed in an official QRPer.com/HRWB bag and placed next to the door.

I should have stepped out of the door and put it in my truck or trailer, as I left the batteries at home. I did have a Bioenno solar “generator”, but it doesn’t have power pole output connectors, and I haven’t made power pole-adapted cables for it. And of course, I left my power pole crimpers and connectors at home, too. I didn’t discover this until I stopped at my first POTA park, the US-1058, Homolovi Ruins State Park in Arizona, just outside of Winslow.

My KX2 had a partially charged battery, so after futzing about with the power sources, I set up my KX2 and AX1 antenna. I was able to make 7 QSOs in a little less than an hour, even after spotting myself, but did not have the time to stay longer to complete the activation. My campsite was at a KOA in Albuquerque; it was raining/snowing/hailing, and my next stop at the Petrified Forest was out, too. I was discouraged, so packed up and took off.

I had watched Thomas’, K4SWL’s videos and read about the KH1 being used as a radio for an activation, but after my limited number of contacts in Arizona, I wasn’t too positive about it. However, coming from a suburban lot in a housing tract, the lack of QRN/M noise in the Arizona desert was amazing. I didn’t think that I had turned on the radio, seriously.

So, driving through New Mexico, and part of Texas, into Oklahoma for the evening, stopping at a Harvest Host location for the night, I decided I would listen to the bands, using the KH1. I heard a few signals. My stop was only a few miles from the Washita County Wildlife Management Area, US-8661, so I decided to take the KH1 and mosey over to the POTA site.

I told myself why not, spotted myself on 20 meters at 14.058.2, called CQ and was I surprised. LOUD signals came back. Many stations were calling me. I completed my activation with 12 QSOs in 16 minutes, using the KH1, putting out 4.6 watts. The SWR was about 1.1:1. I was impressed with the stations from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, Missouri, and North Carolina that called me. Did I say they were LOUD? And no noise.

I just finished the activation – forgot to take photos. I was a photojournalism major (although my career was as a firefighter and paramedic). How could I keep forgetting to take photos?

My takeaway and lesson learned was to pack ahead of time, with a checklist (I am never that organized), and that the KH1 is a real radio, able to do things like be used for a POTA activation.

It didn’t hurt that I had a zero noise level, and that there were QRO stations calling me, as well as the spotting system that makes POTA and other similar activities workable, and fun.

After becoming first licensed in 1966 at 11 years old, I am once again excited about ham radio. The social aspect of ham radio is a real positive. The fun of POTA and SOTA is invigorating my radio life. I am back contesting, and putting up a better antenna at my house: the CC&Rs are no longer valid as they haven’t been enforced for more than 35 years, no HOA, and the city issued a permit to me.

I will be back at another Oklahoma park in the morning. I am writing this in the early evening after getting back to my trailer. My KH1 battery is charged, ready to go, if anyone else is ready at 8 AM.

Off to Joplin, MO tomorrow, then Branson, MO for the conference on Thursday, beginning Friday morning. The conference is over Sunday. I did make a reservation for Sunday night in Branson to hang over and watch the eclipse as the sun passes over Branson on Monday.

72’s, NS6X, John Kitchens

Dale Goes “SOTA-Lite” with the Elecraft KH1

Many thanks to Dale (N3HXZ) who shares the following field report:


SOTA-Lite with the KH1

by Dale (N3HXZ)

My KH1 Edgewood Package finally arrived in late February. As an owner of a KX2, I wondered why the heck I was buying the KH1. I am perfectly satisfied with the KX2 for my SOTA operations. However, the idea of shedding a few pounds in my pack got my attention, and the notion that I could set up and be on the air in a minute or so was also intriguing. I like to do several summits a day and this would be a time saver.

I decided to take Elecraft to task by convincing myself that I could do successful activations with just the Edgewood package.

The only exception to the package was to bring along the AXE1 extender so that I could operate 40 M.

I also wanted to prove to myself that I could carry all my gear with just a waist pack (Hence SOTA Lite!). A picture of my gear is shown below. I have an older AXE1 and it does not fit into the whip post of the KH1. I reverted to using the AX1/AXE1/Whip attached to the bnc jack. I include the 33’ counterpoise for 40M, a right angle jack for the ear buds (to not conflict with the log tray), a small first aid kit, deet, a spare keyer, a power bar, and a waist pack. The total equipment weighs in at 2.9lbs (excluding water!).

My traditional SOTA gear includes the KX2, the Chameleon MPAS-Lite Vertical antenna, a small portable pad to set the gear on, and a folding stool. Along with a backpack, the equipment comes in at 17 lbs. Hence the KH1 gear saves me 14 lbs! I decided to jettison the folding stool and operate in true pedestrian style (standing) with the KH1.

Traditional SOTA gear:

KH1 SOTA gear:

Jim (KJ3D) and I have done several activations together and he also purchased the KH1. Our first outing was a day trip on March 4th from our QTH’s in Pittsburgh to Maryland to activate Marsh Hill (W3/WE-001) and Dan’s Rock (W3/WE-002).

Jim operated on 17M and 20M, I operated on 15M and 40M. My favorite band for morning operations is 15M. If you hit it right, you can work both Europe and the West Coast at the same time. 11 AM was such a time and with the KH1 at 5 watts, I was able to reach east as far as Sweden and west as far as California. Not bad for a compact transceiver, 5 watts, and a compromised whip antenna!

I decided to also check out 40M with the AX1/AXE1 on the bnc post. It tuned up nicely and I worked a couple stations (including an S2S!). The QSO map of the contacts is shown below.

The first activation also gave me some real-time experience using the log tray. I was skeptical going in as to how effective this would be, especially in a pile-up. I also like to record RST signal reports so I can report a complete QSO. The log sheets are not set up for that, but you can jot down the signal reports in a lower line. I was recording about 4-5 QSO’s per sheet. With a pile up going on, I found it easier to just stuff the sheets in my pocket after they were used up rather than trying to insert them in the log tray behind the unused sheets.

Still, I applaud Elecraft for the log tray design; doing the best you can with the real estate space available in an all-inclusive compact transceiver unit.

My operating platform switched from a rectangular pad holding the KX2 gear on my lap while sitting in a stool to operating from my left hand while standing. The picture below captures my operating set-up. As a courtesy, I like to include the chaser’s name in my QSO. I have a sheet of ‘Frequent Chasers” in my hand as a quick reference!

Having completed an initial outing to work out the kinks of operating a new rig, we took a two-day trip to the Blue Ridge mountains on March 14th-15th and activated seven summits along Skyline Drive. I wanted to see if the KH1 and my slimmed down gear would meet the challenge. T

he summit hikes along Skyline Drive are not too rigorous; roughly 0.5 to 1 mile each way with elevation gains from 200 ft. to 600 ft. We operated North Marshall (W4V/SH-009), Hogback Mountain (W4V/SH-007), The Pinnacle (W4V/SH-005), Stony Man (W4V/SH-002), Hawksbill (W4V/SH-001), and Hazeltop (W4V/SH-004). Here is a pic of Jim operating atop North Marshall.

The KH1 performed flawlessly. We operated all the bands (40/30/20/17/15). Activations got easier as we got more familiar with operating the rig. I grew very accustomed to activating standing up; Jim preferred to sit on a rock or log. What surprised the both of us was the positive impact on our physical endurance from shedding 14 lbs of gear. This cannot be underestimated for rigorous summit hikes and for me is a key reason to buy the KH1.

Another key factor was eliminating the time needed to set up and tear down a more traditional SOTA set-up (transceiver, antenna, cables, etc.).

Finally, my fears about operating 5 watts with a compromised whip antenna have vanished. From my experience having 5 operating bands is more important than more power, or a larger antenna. Below is a composite of my two-day activation QSO’s which encompassed the 5 bands available with the KH1.

Finally, the article would not be complete without a view atop Dan’s Rock (W3/WE-002) just off I68 near Cumberland MD.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Aside from a beautiful view looking east, you have psychedelic paint covering the rocks! At first you think this is an affront to the natural beauty of the land, but after a while it kind of grows on you. 🙂

Radio Gear:

Pedestrian Mobile POTA Hunting: Pairing the KH1 and N6ARA’s Tiny Paddle Plug

On Sunday, March 3, 2024, I had a couple of errands to run in downtown Asheville and also had to pick up my daughter.

I ended up having about 40 minutes to kill and, since I had my Elecraft KH1 field kit packed in my EDC bag, I thought it might be fun to fit in a little radio time.

Since I was downtown, the only viable POTA site to hit would be the Thomas Wolfe Memorial–you might recall my activation there last year–but technically, the park was closed. It is an urban park in the middle of Asheville, and there are no gates to keep people from walking across the grounds, but still, I’d feel better activating with permission from the staff first. (I’m pretty sure they’ll grant that permission, by the way.)

Instead of activating, I decided to do a little POTA hunting.

I parked at the spot where I planned to meet my daughter and grabbed my KH1 field kit.

Upon opening it up, I remembered that I had put N6ARA’s new KH1 TinyPaddle Plug Adapter in the M40 case!

My good friend, Ara (N6ARA), designed a small 3D-printed adapter that allows his TinyPaddle Plug to fit the KH1 securely. He sent me (free of charge) this new key/adapter to evaluate.

The adapter is a super simple design that works with the TinyPaddle Plug (not the TinyPaddle Jack).

I hadn’t used this new adapter in the field yet–I only very briefly tested it at the QTH a couple of days prior.

I mentioned last year, shortly after the KH1 was introduced, that I expected a number of 3rd party paddles to start appearing on the market. Since the interface with the KH1 is a standard 3.5mm plug, it does open the door to 3D-printed designs and experimentation. Admittedly, it’s a small space to fit in a paddle, but it’s doable.

I believe N6ARA was actually the first non-Elecraft paddle I used on my KH1 because his TinyPaddle Plug will fit it natively. That said, the new KH1 adapter makes it a proper secure fit–the way it should be!

Side Note: The OEM Elecraft KH1 paddles (the KHPD1s) are now in Revision 2, and all KH1 owners (who received the original paddles) will get version 2 paddles eventually via Elecraft for free.

The original KH1 paddles have a green circuit board.

I haven’t received my Rev 2 paddles yet, but I know I will before long. It’s my understanding that the Rev 2 paddles have a much better feel, and keying is more accurate.

Still…it’s brilliant that Elecraft used a standard jack so that we hams can design our own paddles if we like.

The TinyPaddle Plug

Ara’s TinyPaddle design is super simple, and while he originally designed the TinyPaddle to be a back-up option, I know a number of hams who use the TinyPaddle as their main field key.

If you’d like to hear more about the TinyPaddle and Ara (N6ARA), I’d encourage you to listen to this recent episode of the Ham Radio Workbench podcast when he was our guest. He’s such a brilliant fellow.

Park Lot Pedestrian Mobile

Again, I can’t stress how cool it is to have a radio that allows you the flexibility to hit the air pretty much anywhere, anytime.

The KH1 is so quick to deploy, low-impact, and low-profile.

It’s as conspicuous as holding a transistor radio with a telescoping whip. So far (it’s still early days, let’s be honest here) no one has seen me with the KH1 and asked me if I’m a spy. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked this over the years of POTA activating!

POTA Hunting vs. Activating

Even though both activities–hunting and activating–are a part of the same program, they are very different animals. Continue reading Pedestrian Mobile POTA Hunting: Pairing the KH1 and N6ARA’s Tiny Paddle Plug