Tag Archives: Elecraft KX2

The POTA Babe Goes Back to Florida – Day 3

Day 3 of my spring-break Florida POTA trip began well. Those of you who read my “A Confession from the POTA Babe” article know my personal life has been anything but settled as of late. Two weeks prior to the trip, I experienced a traumatic break with a close friend and partner. I hoped this trip would help me move past that event and began putting my life back together.  This was the first morning I woke in two and a half weeks feeling like myself and ready for whatever POTA adventures lay ahead of me.

Day 3 of my spring-break 2024 Florida trip

Participating in the pilot session of CW Innovation’s Comprehensive ICR course in October 2022 introduced me to the concept of a code buddy. A code buddy is someone with  whom you have regular CW QSOs, a trusted friend who keeps you active on the air and with whom you grow your skills. I have two code buddies currently – Caryn KD2GUT and Charles W4CLW. Charles and I usually meet Tuesday mornings at 8 AM EDT and I thought why not try to meet up during the trip.

As noted in my article about the first day of this trip, I had to take down the EFRW at my campsite as per park regulations. I pulled out the Chelegance MC-750 as I thought it might stand a better chance than the AX1 with any noise in the campground. As Charles’ QTH was only 232 miles from my campsite, I figured 40 meters would be the only option for us.

I turned on the KX2 and the noise was horrible. However, Charles cleared a frequency and called QRL. He was a 599 on my end but when it was my turn, he could not hear me at all. Oh well. We at least tried.

I figured since I already had my equipment up and running, why not have an impromptu activation?

I spotted myself on the POTA website and began calling CQ. Within 40 minutes, I had a valid activation. Thirty meters gave me four contacts and 20 meters eight contacts including Manuel WP4TZ in Puerto Rico, another member of the Comprehensive ICR course I am currently facilitating with CW Innovations.

I also had one park-to-park QSO with Dave KQ4CW who was activating US-0567 in Virginia. At this point, it was time to pack up my equipment and head south to Cedar Key Scrub Preserve (US-3611).

QSO Map for Manatee Springs 4-2-24 Activation Source: http://tools.adventureradio.de/analyzer/

On the drive southward, I noticed lots of yellow flowers (I think dandelions) along the road as well as wild verbena. I enjoyed the encounters with the natural world I had on this trip. The previous day, I had several different caterpillar species visit me during my activations. They ended up on my clothes as well as my equipment.

During today’s impromptu activation at the campsite, three deer walked  through the area. Nature galore!

a tussock moth caterpillar
a Tent caterpillar
possibly a salt marsh moth caterpillar

Daisy and I arrived at Cedar Key Scrub Preserve (US-3611) around 11:30 AM. It was fairly warm at this hour of the day so I set up in the shade generated by Kai and some overhead trees. I chose to work with the Chelegance MC-750 again.

This activation proved to be a busy one, all on twenty meters. Over the course of 50 minutes, I logged 32 contacts including one DX with Chris F6EAZ in France, a QSO with another team member in my class – Pat K2SCH, and one park-to-park QSO with Jeff KF4VE at US-4857 in Virginia.

At this point, the sun had overtaken Daisy and I. We were beginning to roast so it was time to call QRT.

QSO Map for Cedar Key Scrub Preserve Source: http://tools.adventureradio.de/analyzer/
USA Only QSO Map for Cedar Key Scrub Preserve Source: http://tools.adventureradio.de/analyzer/

I had planned to take a walk at Cedar Key Scrub Preserve but due to the warm temperatures and foliage that would not provide much shade, I scrubbed (yes, you can groan) that plan, packed up, and headed further south to Cedar Key.

The town of Cedar Key is made of small islands (called keys) linked together by bridges. We navigated over them to Cedar Key Museum State Park (US-3610).

Unfortunately, the museum was closed for maintenance. But, as I surveyed the site, I saw a shady bench beckoning me.

A QTH with potential!

I set up the Chelegance MC-750, Daisy sprawled out for a nap, and I got down to business.

This activation ran slower than the previous one. I ended up with 25 QSOs on 20 meters in an hour. However, it was pleasant to relax in the shade, enjoy the breeze, and not be in a rush. In fact, after the activation and everything was packed up, Daisy and I relaxed at this spot for a good thirty minutes, soaking in the experience.

On the drive back to my campsite, I received an unexpected call. It was the close friend and partner I thought I had lost several weeks ago.  I pulled off to the side of the road. The conversation was a heart-felt and cathartic one.

I had a choice to make. There were three days remaining in my trip and potentially four more parks I could activate toward my 60 new-to-me activation goal.  Or I could choose to step through the door that just opened. It didn’t take me long to decide.

This spring-break Florida trip was a productive one. I activated six parks toward my goal, used two antennas with which I was not very familiar, and camped on my own. I also did what I set out to do in my “A Confession from the POTA Babe” article – savor the beauty around me, think, reflect, and be. I cancelled the remainder of the trip to visit this cherished person with the joy of reconciliation.

It doesn’t matter if it is POTA or your personal life; relationships are what matter. This POTA Babe has learned her lesson and has her priorities in the correct order now. Thanks to all of you who continue to share my adventures. They are far from over.

Equipment Used

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

The POTA Babe Goes Back to Florida – Day 2

Day 2 of my spring-break Florida POTA trip began well. The night before, I left the rain fly off one corner of the tent, the one out of which I could look when lying on my Thermarest pad listening to the bird song all around us. There must be something about being outside because I had the soundest and most sleep I’d experienced in several weeks.

someone is not ready to get out of bed yet
Day 2 of my April Florida trip

We headed to the Nature Coast State Trail first as I was concerned about the temperature due to the sunny forecast. We found the Old Town trailhead, parked, and walked toward the trail’s bridge over the Suwannee River. Not far from the bridge, I spied a bench with an overhang and thought it would make a great QTH.

Old Town trailhead parking area
the trail
flowers along the trail
potential QTH

I had left the Chelegance MC-750 in the car as I wished to work with the AX1 today. It wasn’t long before I had it installed on the Joby Gorillapod ready for 40 meters. I turned on the KX2, put on my earbuds, and was greeted by NOISE, S5-S7 noise.

Well, noise happens and I typically find it on 40 meters than any other band when I activate. Undaunted, I tweaked the AX1 and moved to 30 meters. I found less noise (S3-S4) but no one answered my CQ. Now I was getting worried.

I removed the 40 meter coil from the AX1 and tried 20 meters. Now 20 meters didn’t sound that noisy; however, I had no callers. I found the same on 17 meters. What the heck?

And then I noticed the power lines across the road. How they had escaped my notice I have no idea. They weren’t just your typical power lines but also high-voltage power lines. That had to be the source of the noise. I felt like an idiot not even noticing them. The AX1 is a compromised antenna to begin with and, in those conditions, I don’t think it stood a chance.  Note: I later learned the band conditions were not great that morning either.

Deflated, I packed everything up and walked a little ways up the trail to the bridge crossing the Suwanne River. After a few moments to enjoy the view, I headed toward my second park – Fanning Springs State Park. It was but a 5 minute drive from the Old Town trailhead. I began  looking for somewhere to set up. Good news – not many power lines.

Suwannee River

I found a grassy field/parking area off to the side and set up there. My riding instructor would always say “Set your horse up for success.” Well, this I thought was a more successful situation for the AX1 (at least I hoped it would be). Once the AX1 was installed on top of my car, I got down to business.

AX1 on top of the car on Joby Gorillapod

I didn’t do well on 40 meters (only one caller in Florida) or 30 meters (no response). I removed the 40 meter coil and set up shop on 20 meters. Would anyone hear me today? YES! Over the next 20 minutes, I logged eight contacts including Dan N0ZT who is in my current Comprehensive ICR class for CW Innovations.

At this point, I only had nine total contacts, not enough for a valid activation. Hearing no more responses to my CQ on 20 meters, I headed to 17. After a while, Craig KC3TRT responded to my CQ. Over the next ten minutes, nine ops had a QSO with me including Raffaele IK4IDF in Italy. Whew – a valid activation.

QSO Map for Fanning Springs State Park
QSO Map (USA contacts) for Fanning Springs State Park
The springs (as close as we could get as dogs are not allowed near them)

By now I was worn out and decided to regroup back at the campsite. I felt kicked in the keister over the failed activation in the morning. There are five trailheads for the Nature Coast State Trail. Maybe I could find a section without power lines (not likely) and maybe the conditions in the late afternoon/early evening would be better.

After an early supper and a few minutes to read, Daisy and I headed back to the trail for another attempt. Yes, there were power lines (but not high voltage ones) near the trailhead I chose in Chiefland. It was peaceful on this section of the trail. We ambled along until I found another bench like I saw that morning.

AX1 with radials

I opted to sit instead in my Helinox chair on the ground with Daisy to my right and the AX1 to my left. There was thick foliage in front of me as well as a park area that I hoped would provide a buffer from any RFI from the businesses on that side of the trail. I took a breath and called QRL. I picked 20 meters thinking that might be my best bet this time of day, around 6 PM.

Guess what? The AX1 delivered!

I had 18 contacts in 30 minutes including a QRP-to-QRP QSO with Karl K5KHK in New York. I also had one park-to-park QSO with David WN1E at US-0897. I practically floated back to the car and then celebrated with a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone from Dairy Queen.

QSO Map for Nature Coast State Trail
Way more ice cream than I needed but it was good!

People don’t talk about the emotional component that comes with morse code. My life has been an emotional rollercoaster as of late and that failed activation felt like another punch in the gut.

You know the ops that I see make the most progress, in general and in the class I facilitate with CW Innovations? Those with determination.

They don’t give up but persevere despite their struggles. Life is really tough for me right now but I have to hang in there as I did with this activation. You never know when success or for what you are waiting will be around the corner.

For day 3, I’ll head south toward Cedar Key. What antenna will I choose to use and how will those activations go? Stay tuned…

Equipment Used

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

16th Floor QRP: Coffee break portable at the office

Many thanks to Bill (KG4FXG) who shares the following guest post:


Return to the Office:  Operating portable during coffee breaks (Atlanta to England)

by Bill Carter (KG4FXG)

Have you ever thought about operating from your work location?  Perhaps during lunch or a coffee break?  What if that location was downtown in a big city?

In my case, I work in a 17 floor Skyscraper.

The building has several large outside balconies on the 5th, 10th, and 17 floors.  There is also a green space on the 5th floor that is a grassy area with a lawn and trees.  What are all the possibilities here for portable operation? Let’s find out!

Amateur Radio is about learning, and to that end we may build antennas, perhaps QRP Rigs, and other things.  I’ve been building many QRPGuys and Tufteln antennas.  I also use a few that I’ve purchased, such as the Chelegance MC-750, AX1, Gabil Vertical Antenna GRA-7350TC [gear links below].

Sometimes, the weather does not play nice and I’m forced to try operating indoors.  Here I am using the Chelegance MC-750 on the 16th floor where I have clearance all the way to the top of the 17th floor.

The antenna almost touches the ceiling on the 17th floor.  I was able to make a contact in England: John G4RCG.  His location was in Kirkhamgate, Wakefield–about 11 miles from Leeds. We were able to exchange names but that was about it on 20M.

This antenna is amazing, I can’t wait to try it outside in our green space.

I was using the Elecraft KX2 but I have several QRP Rigs that I have brought to the office.  Such as the Norcal 40, Elecraft K1, both of which were kits I built.  I started QRP back in 1999 before there was POTA.  Back then, you had to build your radio.  Most did back then.

Learning about propagation has been interesting.  It is not ideal to operate indoors.  One simple way I test conditions is to see if I can hit the reverse beacon network.

Here’s a screenshot of the Reverse Beacon (below) while I was using the Chelegance MC-750 on 20 meters:

(Click to enlarge)

Simple Office Setup

I work for the railroad.  You will notice my mug says Taggart.  Some humor here, but that is from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.  Story about a railroad and so much more.

Here is the Green Space on the 5th floor.  Could you use this space for portable operations?

Here is pictured where I operated off the 10th floor balcony.  The view is amazing!

For the balcony, I just throw a wire over the glass railing.  The balcony is huge with many tables and chairs for lunch.  I have used K4SWL’s Speaker Wire antenna build here.

My hours are very unusual.  I normally work from 2AM to 5PM and I leave to drive home at 11AM.  I love telecommuting for work these days.  So, when I operate, it is around 3AM or 4AM.  Not ideal times for POTA, but a great time of day to work DX!

I have so much more to try.  I have a Spiderbeam Pole and SOTABEAMS Pole that I am playing with as well.  I also have the Alex Loop Antenna that I will try from work.

Another operating position: here I am inside running RG-316 through the door to the 10th Floor Balcony.  I am using Thomas’s Speaker Wire antenna here.

One of the challenges that I face at 3AM is cold temperatures and wind.  There can be wind around these large buildings that can make operating difficult.  In cases of cold weather, I just opt for the little table and chair next to the door.  Besides, the coffee stays warmer longer inside!

New buildings make it very difficult if not impossible to get an RF signal out.  Getting an antenna outside is key.  And even then, that does not guarantee success.  The building’s corners have glass conference rooms.  You feel like you are outside, but I haven’t found a really good location for QRP.  That said, there are many more options to try.

Have you tried operating from your work location, perhaps at lunch?  Maybe as a POTA chaser?  What is your go-to method and set up?  Check out more of my shack on QRZ.

Bill KG4FXG

Gear:

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

The POTA Babe Goes Back to Florida – Day 1

In pursuit of my 60 new-to-me park activations, I headed back to Florida for six days the first week of April. The weather forecast looked promising – high temps in the upper 70s falling to the upper 60s by the end of the week. Rain might dampen my spirits on Wednesday but otherwise, the sun was likely to shine during my journey.

Day 1 of my April 2024 Florida Trip

Daisy and I packed up the car and headed out early Sunday, May 31st. It was an easy journey – three and a half hours south down I-95 and then southwest across Florida. Of course, we stopped at the Florida welcome center and got our picture snapped, this time just the two of us.

Here we again in Florida!

We arrived in Branford which actually did look like a nice place to live. Lafayette Forest Wildlife & Environmental Area (US-6315) is just outside the town. Unlike the wildlife management areas in Georgia I’ve visited, this one looked more manicured. The road into the park could have been the entrance into some genteel Southern plantation.

Not far inside, we found a fenced-in parking area and kiosk. I figured this would be the easiest place to set up. Checking the kiosk, I confirmed we were out of hunting season though we would still wear our blaze orange items for our walk after the activation. (Before we arrived at the park, we actually saw a turkey crossing the road.)

Map of Lafayette WMA

I opted to use the Chelegance MC-750 on the tripod mount because I need more practice with it. That proved to be a good choice as I had to re-read the instructions to set it up – hi hi. This is what happens when you don’t use equipment on a regular basis.  Continue reading The POTA Babe Goes Back to Florida – Day 1

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!

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…

The POTA Babe and AX1 Make Up

by Teri (KO4WFP)

Sunday, March 10th, my son had another Dungeons & Dragons session. I figured why not play QRP radio again on the north end of Skidaway Island at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. The weather appeared more conducive for radio than my previous visit. My friend Glenn W4YES accompanied me.

Skidaway Island’s Location in Savannah, GA area from Google Maps
UGA Institute of Oceanography at north end of island as per Google Maps

I chose as my location the bluff behind the aquarium which contains picnic tables and looks out over the intracoastal waterway. There was a stiff breeze but what a pretty place to play radio!

My QTH on the bluff

The Straight Key Century Club (SKCC) was holding the Weekend Sprintathon (WES), a monthly event for members. As I mentioned in my previous Skidaway article, SKCC is an organization with 28,000 plus members that use mechanical keys (straight, cootie, and bug) for their QSOs. Participating in their sprints is a simple way (like POTA) for new ops to gain experience and build confidence.

I figured I’d accomplish several things at once today: get more QRP experience with something other than POTA, garner a few more QSOs on my march toward Senator for SKCC, and use the AX1.

In researching my upcoming summer POTA trip, I read a post by Bob Condor (K4RLC) on the W4SOTA groups.io about modifications to the AX1. I plan to attempt my first SOTA activations during the trip and want light, nimble antenna options.

Admittedly, the AX1 and I haven’t been on the best terms. Bob modified his by adding three 14’ radials instead of the counterpoises with which the antenna comes.  He used this configuration during a trip to Greece and had good results. I figured, why not give it a try? It was easy to make the radials with a lug connector on each end to add them to the AX1 mount on my Joby Gorillapod (the only tripod I currently have).

While Glenn took a leisurely walk on the nature trail at the bluff, I began on 20 meters.

I engaged the ATU which dropped the SWR from 2.2 down to 1. There were a lot of stations on 20 meters but I finally found a place to settle. After 8 minutes calling CQ, Randy K8ZAA answered me and gave me a 579 in MI, a good signal report for the AX1.

Given the paucity of stations answering my CQ, I decided to move to 17 meters but realized the WARC bands are not allowed in the SKCC WES so I opted for 15 meters instead. After a few minutes calling CQ, Bob AF5Z answered me. He gave me a 449 in Texas.

It became quiet again after that QSO so I jumped to 40 meters, had no callers, and moved back to 20 meters. After 10 minutes calling CQ, Jerry WA4JK answered me and gave me a 559 in Alabama. By this point, the wind had increased and Glenn and I had enough of being buffeted by what felt like gale-force winds. However, I still had an hour and a half before my son’s Dungeons & Dragons session ended so this POTA Babe wasn’t ready to call it quits. Continue reading The POTA Babe and AX1 Make Up

Testing the Tufteln AX1 Support: Late-Shift POTA with Vlado in Pisgah National Forest

On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, one of my daughters had a dress rehearsal for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The venue where the cast meets is a good 45 minutes from my QTH, and if I didn’t have POTA fever, I’d have to find something to do to burn four hours of time.

Since I do have POTA fever, I see these windows of waiting around as an opportunity!

An opportunity to spread the POTA fever, even.

On that particular Tuesday night, my dear friend Vlado (N3CZ) didn’t have any plans, so I invited him to join me on a short, late-shift activation. The idea was that he’d perform an activation, then we’d go grab dinner at a restaurant in Mills River.

Pisgah National Forest (K-4510) and Game Land (K-6937)

Quick note about park numbers: As of the time of publishing this article, we’re still using the “K” prefix for US parks. Tomorrow (March 20, 2024), all US park prefixes will change to “US.” Pisgah National Forest, for example, will be US-4510 starting tomorrow. Today, it’s still (barely!) K-4510, so that’s what we’ll use.

We drove to the Sycamore Flats Picnic Area where I performed a number of late-shift activations in February. What I love about the site is that it’s rarely busy (especially at dusk and into the evening), there are numerous spots to set up, and it’s pretty convenient to the Shakespeare venue.

Tufteln AX1 Antenna Stand

I’d mentioned to Vlado in advance that I was going to test “a new antenna support system.” I think he might have assumed I was packing a large tripod with a 1/4 vertical or something similar, so it was fun to pull out the AX1 and  Tufteln AX1 Antenna Stand!

Vlado, like me, loves compact radio gear, and I knew he’d never used the Elecraft AX1 before, so I was looking forward to showing him just how capable of an antenna it is for POTA, even on 40 meters.

That day, it had been pretty gusty, and in the evening hours, while a little calmer, it was still a tad windy. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to pair the AX1 with Joshua’s AX1 stand because it’s much more stable than the AX1 bipod in windy conditions.

Source: Tufteln.com

The stand consists of two parts: a base and an antenna sleeve. The sleeve screws into the base, and the AX1 simply slides into the sleeve. The height is perfect for the KX2’s BNC (indeed, it works with a number of radios). The stand will also accommodate the AXE 40M coil.

Source: Tufteln.com

When attached to the KX2, it makes for a very stable base. You can even use it as a stand-alone antenna support for the AX1.

Joshua has had this stand in his Tufteln product line for over a year, but I don’t think I’ve actually used it during an activation that I’ve also filmed.

New Mics!

Speaking of filming, this activation with Vlado gave me an opportunity to test my new DJI wireless mics. The system comes with two mics so both Vlado and I used them.

I filmed the activation, but in truth, was doing this more or less to test the mic audio. I believe I mentioned early on that this video might not ever be published.

In the end, I decided to publish it–the audio was quite good, and the wireless mics cut down on the wind noise dramatically.

Gear:

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

N3CZ: On The Air

My goal was to get Vlado on the air and give him a taste of POTA using the AX1 and 40M coil. I hadn’t planned to activate–since we were grabbing dinner afterward–but I did end up activating after the UTC day changed.

Without realizing it, I actually put a lot of pressure on Vlado.

He started his activation at 18:42 local (23:42 UTC). That meant, in order to log a valid POTA activation on February 13, he needed to log at least ten contacts in 18 minutes (using the AX1!).

Keep in mind that Vlado is a contester and DXer (also, very much a QRPer!). He’s used to operating CW at insane speeds when needed. In fact, he’s always one of the top people (if not the top) in the CW speed test at the W4DXCC contesting and DX conference.

I suggested he operate around 20 words per minute.

He started calling CQ POTA, and the first few contacts came in pretty slowly. I was getting nervous that I might have unintentionally made Vlado’s first POTA activation one that wouldn’t be valid.

Then the pace started picking up. (Whew!)

He ended up logging a total of 10 contacts in 12 minutes! Woo hoo!

Here’s his QSO Map, showing what the AX1 pushing 5 watts for twelve minutes can do:

Next, we decided that I would, indeed, perform a quick activation.

I spotted myself on the POTA site and started to call CQ, then it hit me: it was 23:58 UTC. If I worked one contact in that two minutes, it would be considered an activation on February 13 of only one contact.

Instead, we waited for a little over a minute for the UTC day to change!

I ended up working a total of 24 contacts in 21 minutes. Woo hoo!

Here’s my QSO Map:

And here are our logs:

Activation Video

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

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

Click here to view on YouTube.

What fun!

I always enjoy hitting the field with Vlado.

Since this quick little activation, he’s been out there hitting POTA sites regularly.

He hasn’t seen the doctor yet, but I’m positive he caught POTA fever. It’s incredibly contagious.

Also, the Tufteln AX1 stand worked perfectly in the wind. I’m going to keep this tucked away in my pack alongside my second AX1 to pair with a wide variety of radios.

Thank you!

Thank you for joining me during this activation!
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them!

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

As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo makes it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me!
Cheers & 72,
Thomas (K4SWL)

The POTA Babe Takes One for the Team

by Teri (KO4WFP)

I had planned to take the week off from POTA when I received an email from Dave N1CGP asking if I was participating in the March 8th Young Ladies Relay League event. The event is an all-day celebration of International Women’s Day with POTA activations. Well, there was no way the POTA Babe could sit that out!

Young Ladies Radio League logo

My day was already packed with appointments but I had four hours in the afternoon I could squeeze in an activation. I chose to activate Canoochee Sandhills Wildlife Management Area (WMA), a 35 minute drive from my home QTH. The park would not count toward my 2024 goal as I had already activated it last year. However, it would work for this event.

Signage photo from a previous trip

Daisy and I headed out around 2:30 PM under partly cloudy skies and 73 degrees. Apple Maps took me a slightly different route than my prior trips. As I was driving along, suddenly the paved road became dirt but what a fun ride! We fishtailed a little and that put a smile on this POTA Babe’s face.

Carolina Jasmine, a vine with yellow trumpet-like flowers, bloomed along the roadside. It is the state flower of South Carolina and adaptable, growing in a variety of conditions. What I didn’t know about it before writing this article is that all of the plant is poisonous. Even deer and rabbits will not eat it and that is saying something.

At the WMA, there was only one pickup truck parked off the road so it looked like Daisy and I would have the place pretty much to ourselves. I decided to use the Chelegance MC-750 vertical since time was limited. Daisy and I donned our blaze orange gear, set up, and got down to business. I had one hour to get a valid activation. As I hadn’t used the 40 meter coil yet on this antenna, I opted to start with 20 meters. I called and called CQ but had only two takers in 20 minutes.

https://georgiawildlife.com/canoochee-sandhills-wma

It was time to see if 17 meters would come to my rescue. It did! I had 22 contacts on that band in 40 minutes including Peder SM2SUM (a regular) in Sweden.

QSO Map including Sweden http://tools.adventureradio.de/analyzer/
QSO Map with just US stations

The weather, while operating on 17 meters, turned cold and windy, gusty enough to blow over the antenna during one of my QSOs. I put on the hoodie I had taken off earlier and wished I was sitting INSIDE instead of outside the car.

ominous weather

At this point, I hoped to hunt a few activators, most of whom were on 20 meters. I reset the vertical for that band and began hunting but came up empty handed.  The last one I tried, Melvin W3PYF, barely heard me and sent “Sri try later”. Unfortunately, I didn’t have later as I had a code buddy QSO with my best friend Caryn at 6:30 PM. Besides, I was sufficiently chilled from the weather that rolled in and was ready to head home.

This wasn’t one of my favorite activations, partially because I was pressed for time and the weather turned unpleasant. However, I did support my fellow YLs with the activation.

Sometimes, as a POTA Babe, you have to take one for the team.

Equipment Used

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Bird Dogging POTA in Augusta, Georgia

As I had no appointments scheduled for Monday, February 26 during the day, I planned a POTA outing in the Augusta, Georgia area which is a two-hour drive from my home QTH. The destination: Spirit Creek Educational State Forest (K-4654).

Source: Google Maps

Apple Maps routed me west on I-16 and then northwest through Statesboro, home of Georgia Southern University (the Eagle Nation). On the drive, I passed acres and acres of farmland, some of it for cotton. I noticed a few of the fields had a reddish tinge and were full of a plant I had not seen before. I did some detective work once back home and  think the plant is red sorrel, a member of the buckwheat family that is native to Europe. I am guessing the red sorrel is a cover for the field between crops.

Source: https://1000logos.net/georgia-southern-eagles-logo/

Red sorrel?

Apple Maps also routed me through Waynesboro which is the “Bird Dog Capital of the World.” The city hosts the largest field trials in the world. Field trials are a competition to evaluate a dog’s ability to find and point coveys of quail. Waynesboro is bird dog crazy; even the town’s water tower is decorated with a bird dog. Wow – the interesting stuff I learn about my home state!

Source: http://thetruecitizen.demo.our-hometown.com/wp-content/uploads/images/2006-08-23/008p1_xlg.jpg

However, we aren’t here to discuss bird dogs but POTA. After sitting longer than I usually drive to a POTA destination, I arrived at my destination. The 570-acre property is surrounded by private land with the entrance tucked between two residences. The road through the forest appears decently maintained and is easier on which to drive than my previous forays into such properties.

Not far into the forest was an open area for parking and a kiosk with hunting information. Upon checking the kiosk, I read the only thing in season right now is small game and knew I’d be unlikely to come across anyone on a Monday morning hunting. However, to be on the safer side of things, I set up in the parking area rather than somewhere else in the forest.

Source: https://georgiawildlife.com/spirit-creek-forest-wma

Speaking of hunting, Bob WK2Y who lives in Atlanta, reached out to me after my Hiltonia WMA article. He emphasized the need for ops to wear blaze orange in such places whether in hunting season or not because of hunting violations which are more frequent than I realized. (I plan on addressing that topic in a future WMA article.) Because of this, I now always keep a blaze orange vest in my kit for Daisy and me. I’ve ordered a blaze orange hat as well as purchased hot pink magnetic decals for my car. (The website said “hot pink” though I think “bright pink” is more like it but close enough.)

In the parking area was a pine tree perfect for my EFRW. Continue reading Bird Dogging POTA in Augusta, Georgia