Tag Archives: Guest Posts

Sam’s Thunderbird Mk 1 Takes Flight: A Homebrew Radio Field Report from the American Southwest

Many thanks to Sam (WN5C) for sharing the following guest post:


Homebrew in the Field

by Sam (WN5C)

What a week it’s been!

I have the opportunity to spend a month traveling through and camping in the American Southwest (specifically, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado) doing archaeological work. And of course, that means the prospect to operate portable at weird times and in lots of places.

I’ve been planning for this trip for a couple of months, about the same length of time that I’ve been trying to achieve my amateur radio dream: to build a complete transceiver. So why not try to do both things at once?

This is just a quick note of my experiences in the first quarter of my trip of taking a homebrew rig into the field.

First off, I have absolutely no background in RF engineering, or electronics at all. But the literature is good and Elmers are priceless (thanks Kenn KA5KXW!). I started small, with kit projects, and then very basic transmitters.

I’ve always appreciated how much satisfaction my father gets by building things by hand, and finally I have a similar hobby. I called the radio I designed the Thunderbird Mk 1 based off the fact that I cut my CW and POTA teeth at Lake Thunderbird State Park in Oklahoma and will probably continue to work there the most. It’s a 6-band (40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 10) CW QRP transceiver with SSB receive.

The receiver is direct conversion and is an amalgamation of VU2ESE’s DC40, KK7B’s Classic 40, and W7EL’s Optimized QRP Transceiver. The VFO is an Arduino/si5351 combo based on the schematics and code written by VK3HN (who has helped me from afar, thanks Paul!). It’s crude, but I use a 6-position rotary switch to manually switch between the band-pass filters.

The transmitter is based on W7ZOI’s Updated Universal QRP Transmitter, married with VK3HN’s Arduino code that acts as the oscillator, keyer, and side tone generator. I get about 3 watts output for 40, 30, 20, a little less for 17 and 15, and about a watt on 10 meters. Like the receiver, I manually switch the low-pass filters.

Here’s a picture of the digital parts (ignore the second Arduino Nano, I thought I would need it but did not), the power board, and the filters. It’s on the bottom:

On top is the main board with the receiver, the transmitter, and T/R switching. Also, you’ll notice the green PCB. I *really* wanted to build NM0S’s Hi-Per-Mite from scratch but I couldn’t get the circuit to run right before my trip so I opted to install one that I built from a kit. It’s a fantastic CW audio filter that I can switch in and out (everyone should have at least one!).

I can switch in a little speaker and added a straight key jack. I printed the box on a 3D printer at the local library. It works great for the shack. In the sun, it’s starting to warp in the heat, so I’ll have to address this, but things still work!

Getting out the door on time with a finished radio was tough! I had finished right before I left on my trip (end of May 2024) and had no time to field test. The best I got was taking the rig to the table in the back yard and firing it up during the WPX contest.

I made amazing DX contacts on all the contest bands I had and called it good. But working superstations isn’t real life, and over the next week I’ve had to MacGyver the radio (rigging a car jump pack, an inverter, and a soldering station together at a picnic table to replace a bad transistor, for example). I think I’ve finally shaken out (literally) all of the loose solder joints and bad grounding. Continue reading Sam’s Thunderbird Mk 1 Takes Flight: A Homebrew Radio Field Report from the American Southwest

The POTA Babe Reaches the Halfway Mark!

by Teri (KO4WFP)

It is said that all good things must come to an end and a POTA trip is no exception. Packing up camp at Reed Bingham State Park the morning of June 3rd was an easy endeavor.  Daisy and I were soon headed toward Savannah with a POTA planned along the way at Alapaha River Wildlife Management Area (US-7881). We passed through the communities of Tifton and Ocilla, Georgia.

As one travels through Georgia, you see a variety of crops along the road – cotton, peanuts, corn, pecans, blueberries, soybeans, etc. – as well as cattle in fields and poultry houses. As I worked my way toward Alapaha River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), I came across a processing plant for peanuts in Tifton, Georgia.

Peanuts are big business in Georgia. According to the Georgia Peanut Commission, the state of Georgia produces 52% of the peanuts grown in the United States which translated to 1.45 million tons in 2022. That is a boatload of peanuts!

Peanuts are planted April through June and then harvested about five months later in the fall. One fact I did not know is there is a “peanut belt” in Georgia, an area south of the fall line but omitting the coastal counties, where peanuts are planted in the state. I was driving inside this belt.

Peanut crop in the field. source: georgiagrown.com
source: Georgia Peanut Commission

Nuts aside, it wasn’t long before Daisy and I arrived at Alapaha River WMA. This WMA opened in 2016 and contains nearly 7,000 acres. According to a Georgia DNR article, the site has an estimated 2,000 gopher tortoises, the most for any state-owned tract of land in Georgia. This is not surprising given the density of sandhills on the property, a habitat in which gopher tortoises thrive.

The dirt road into the property was nicely groomed. I drove past areas of young planted pines as well as more mature pine stands. However, neither of these areas were conducive to an activation, partially because the trees offered no shade and partially because the branches were either too low or too high for me to install my EFRW antenna.

Entrance into Alapaha River WMA
Young pines

I continued on Jacks Creek Road and headed toward a dove field (the brown area on the map down below) at the point the road dead-ends. I  figured there may be trees along the edge of the field offering what I needed. I turned left onto North Bugle Trail and, off to the right hand side, saw an area with both shade and trees I could use.

source: Georgia Department of Natural Resources
The shady area for my activation QTH
Trees with good branch options

After donning my blaze orange attire and installing the Tufteln EFRW, I attached the new hitch system to the hubcap of one of Kai’s front wheels and the rope to the clip on Daisy’s harness so she could make herself at home along with me in the shade.

While checking out the shady area, I noticed several things – dandelions with their sunny, yellow faces and animal tracks in the sand. The set of tracks for deer were easy to identify. However, another set, not so. I think the second set belonged to a raccoon.

Deer track
Raccoon track (I think)

Today’s activation would be short as I had a three-hour drive ahead of me and needed to be home in time for my son’s evening driving class. (Yes, we’ve reached that stage of life in the POTA Babe household.) In 45 minutes, I logged 19 contacts including one park-to-park with Charles AB9CA at US-2275 and a QSO with Ronald N7WPO in Washington state! That QSO on 5 watts and a wire is part of the magic I mentioned near the end of my previous article.

QSO Map for Alapha River WMA Activation

During the activation I had watched the sun creep closer and closer to Daisy and me. When the time reached 11:15 AM, we were nearly out of shade. It was time to call QRT and head home.

This overnight POTA trip turned out well. I learned more about my camping set-up and the beautiful state in which I live. I had time to do what I love – ham radio in the outdoors. And, with these three activations, I now have 30 parks toward my 60 new-to-me park activation goal for 2024!

I am halfway there.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me thus far. However, my journey is far from over and the fun will continue. Where will I activate next as I work toward 30 more new parks? Stay tuned…

Equipment Used

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Guest Post: Preparing radio and trail gear for a once-in-a-lifetime, epic through-hike

We’re excited to welcome Bryce Bookwalter (KD9YEY) as a guest contributor on QRPer.com!

I had the pleasure of meeting Bryce at the 2024 Hamvention, where he shared his plans for an ambitious hiking adventure next year. Knowing he wanted to incorporate radio into his journey, I asked if he’d be willing to bring us along by sharing updates on his preparations and experiences on the trail.

To help fund his adventure, Bryce has started a GoFundMe campaign, which you can learn more about at the end of this post. Additionally, please note that some of the gear links below are affiliate links that help support QRPer.com at no extra cost to you.

Bryce, take it away…


Backpacking Booky: A Quest to Hike the Appalachian Trail

by Bryce (KD9YEY)

The dream is formed, and it always seems so attainable. It’s as easy as the desire to walk in the woods and explore the beauty of nature. To find community with the world around you and discover your reflection is no different than the hills and streams that stand steadfast against time. I feel like anyone who wishes to pursue a long hike starts with these feelings and lofty ideas of what the trail will be like and the experience they will have…and then you realize you’re going to have to poop out there.

Hello, my name is Bryce Bookwalter and in 2025 I am attempting a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. This has been a goal of mine since I was in my freshman year of high school in 2005 and first learned about the trail.

I was in Front Royal Virginia at the time and one weekend we went hiking and our trail passed by the A.T. I remember hearing that this same trail traveled all the way from Georgia to Maine and it blew my mind.

I wanted to hike it right then, and I still want to hike it today. Life happens of course, and I had to let the dream go for some time. I have found myself in a unique time of my life recently where I will be between schooling and a new job and I realized that if I don’t hike the trail now, I may never get the opportunity again. My education has been off and on throughout the last decade and 5 years ago I ran out of my GI Bill that I received from the Army. With only 2 semesters remaining until I received my degree, I started doing construction to save money to return to school. 5 years later I have returned to Indiana University, and I am now 1 semester away from finally receiving my degree in Community Health. With this milestone accomplished, I have decided that before I start another job I need to try and complete my long-time goal of hiking the A.T.

It is an interesting turn of events that brought me back to the love of backpacking. It would seem an illogical path to say that Ham Radio is responsible for my rekindled passion for the outdoors, but this is in fact the case. Two years ago, my stepdad Joe (W9NVY) got into Ham Radio, and I decided to at least get my Technician License so that we can communicate through the local repeaters. Later that year we both participated in the GOTA team for a local Field Day club out of Indianapolis. After working to set up the antennas and operate for 24 hours, I was hooked on HF!

Since then, I have received my General License and am currently working on my extra. I learned about Parks on the Air and discovered that there is a whole side to this hobby that involves preparing gear, packing it, and carrying it into the wild to set up and operate remotely. This speaks to me in so many ways. Not only do I get to play radio, which I love, but I also get to add hiking and backpacking to the mix.

I am a gear junkie! I will admit it openly. I love researching gear and seeing what works for others and obtaining gear and putting it to the test in the field. This harkens back to some of my favorite aspects of the military and Civil Air Patrol before that.

Civil Air Patrol days.

So, let’s talk gear! When preparing for a thru-hike, there is a lot to consider. You’re not just planning for a weekend outing but for a 4–6 month long adventure. It’s hard to know what to take…and even harder to know what NOT to take. There is a saying that I agree with that says, “Backpacking is the art of knowing what NOT to take.” This is so true.

There are different levels of backpackers, from conventional to ultralight.

Conventional backpackers can find their packs weighing 30-40 lbs. or more. Ultralight typically have their base weight (weight without food and water) down to under 10 lbs. I find myself somewhere in the middle. I lean towards lightweight, but I certainly do not consider myself an ultralight backpacker. Especially considering I will be carrying radio equipment with me along the trail.

The journey of finding the right gear is a constant process, though I believe I have narrowed the list down considerably. So, I will break my gear down into two sections: Backpacking Gear and Radio Gear. Continue reading Guest Post: Preparing radio and trail gear for a once-in-a-lifetime, epic through-hike

Overnight at Reed Bingham State Park for the POTA Babe

After a valid activation and exploration of Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area, Daisy and I headed to Reed Bingham State Park (US-2195), roughly a two hour drive. Along the way, we passed a huge lumber mill and drove through the communities of Douglas, Nashville, and Willacoochee.

Lumber mill
Train Depot in Willacoochee, Georgia

Courthouse in Nashville, Georgia

Reed Bingham State Park, located in southwest Georgia, is named after Amos Reed Bingham, who envisioned a dam on the Little River to provide electricity to the rural community. Even though the flow of the river was not sufficient for that purpose, Colquit and Cook counties purchased 1,600 acres along the Little River and deeded the land to the state of Georgia, creating the park. A 400-acre lake was created in 1970 by the current dam and provides recreational opportunities for park visitors.

source: Google maps
The lake at Reed Bingham State Park
Overflow from the dam into the Little River

Besides working toward my 60 new-to-me park activation goal, the trip to Reed Bingham served another purpose – refining my camping set-up and routines before my twelve-day POTA trip this summer. I made quite a few notes about equipment that would make camping life better and realized I need to think through where to keep certain items so I can lay my hands on them more easily and quickly.

The tent at the campsite

A new item I purchased for hiking and camping  trips is a hitching system for Daisy. I want her to be able to “free range” while I set up camp, make meals, or visit the bathhouse but still be contained. Ruffwear makes a hitch system with a daisy-chain (aptly named, don’t you think?) on one end and a kermantle rope on the other.

I ran the daisy-chain around a large pine and then, as there was not another tree close enough, the kermantle rope to the rails on the top of Kai. A large carabiner slides up and down the rope and Daisy’s six-foot leash attaches it to a clip on the back of her new harness. The system worked well and eliminated her getting tangled in a lead line while in camp.

After setting up camp and eating supper, it was time to fit in an activation. There were two trees near the campsite – a large oak and shorter-than-usual pine tree. I opted for the pine tree as it was closer to my tent. (I longed to sit in the comfort of my tent on my Thermarest chair for the activation.) Continue reading Overnight at Reed Bingham State Park for the POTA Babe

The POTA Babe Embarks on an Overnighter

by Teri (KO4WFP)

It is summer break and I’m getting stir crazy. Earlier this year, I scheduled an overnight trip to Reed Bingham State Park. However, given the chaos of my personal life, it was necessary to reschedule the trip. The earliest weekend available was Sunday, June 2nd.  My son would be out of school for summer break and riding lessons would move to weekdays.

Sunday rolled around and this POTA Babe was ready to hit the road again. Out came the camping gear with a few tweaks. I ditched the DEET insect repellant replacing it with a 20% picaridin spray and added a Thermacell unit. I purchased a hitch system for Daisy as well as a harness to replace her collar. The North Face sleeping bag would stay home and, in its place, I’d use a Sea-to-Summit bag liner for the warmer night temperatures.

Gear – camping, ham radio, video
Food for the trip

With my gear loaded, Daisy and I hit the road a little after 8 AM. Before arriving at Reed Bingham State Park, I planned an activation at Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area (US-3737). (Yes, I should just become the poster child for wildlife management areas as they’ve become my favorite place to activate in Georgia!)

The drive through rural Georgia was a pleasant one.

source: Google Maps

We passed through towns familiar to us (Pembroke, Claxton – the fruitcake capital of the world, and Reidsville) as well as new places like Daisy, Georgia. It was a pleasant trip and before I knew it, there we were, crossing the Altamaha River a stone’s throw from Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

Actually, Apple Maps routed me to Bullard Creek itself and not the WMA. After a little sleuthing, we were headed in the correct direction and accessed the WMA via a back route. (I knew we were in the right place when I began seeing WMA boundary signs!)

Bullard Creek WMA consists of over 17,000 acres in two tracts along the Altamaha River. One can hunt as well as fish, view wildlife, and use the public shooting range. This WMA was among one of the nicer properties I visited so far.

Shooting range on site

Not far after entering the WMA, I found a clearing off the main road and decided to set up there. Present in the clearing were pine trees with branches low enough to reach with my arbor line. (I knew the WMAs allow wire antennas and figured Reed Bingham would as well so I left the Chelegance MC-750 at home.)

After donning my blaze orange vest and hat, I had the Tufteln EFRW in the tree, the coax attached, and was settled to begin.

The road beyond our clearing for the activation
Pines with lower branches
Daisy’s checks out the surrounding woods

Two things happened in short order. (Remember, ALWAYS expect the unexpected with POTA.) I couldn’t access the POTA site to spot myself due to variable cell service. My partner Glenn W4YES came to the rescue and spotted me on 30 meters. I worked a few callers and then…the sun came out. Literally. Continue reading The POTA Babe Embarks on an Overnighter

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?

A Pretty Picnic for the POTA Babe

by Teri (KO4WFP)

Those of you who follow my articles know I generally activate in the morning. However, as school just let out for my son, we’ve transitioned to a summer schedule and that means horseback riding lessons are now in the morning. With my afternoons uncommitted, I’d like to give hunters who may miss me in the morning an opportunity to hunt me  by activating later in the day.

Wednesday, May 22nd, I resumed my 60 new-to-me park activation goal as well as the pursuit of the WMAs near the Altamaha River by heading to Clayhole Swamp WMA (US-3740). Clayhole Swamp WMA is a 8,500 plus acre property along the south side of the Atlamaha River.

I arrived at the property around 3 PM and began looking for an activation site. I first thought to activate near the river as Glenn W4YES and I did at Sansavilla. However, I didn’t have time to drive all over the park as I wanted to be on the air at 4 PM. An hour sounds like gracious plenty of time but when you are driving up and down dirt roads in an unfamiliar area, it isn’t.

entrance road
the woods along the entrance road

The road into the property (as you saw in a photo above) is well-packed and maintained. However, as you drive further into the WMA, other roads are less so. I found Lemmond Road and gave it a go. Given the recent rain, it was a bit on the boggy (but no less fun) side.

Eventually, it became two ruts in the forest and I appeared no closer to finding the river. Also, a multitude of flies swarmed all around the car. At this point, despite having fun mud-bogging on the road in my Subaru Crosstrek “Kai,” it was time to turn around and find a less buggy and muddy QTH.

Source: Georgia DNR – map of Clayhole Swamp WMA
mud-boggin’ road!
Kai needs a bath now

I retraced my path to the entrance and a little past the entrance into the WMA found a clearing off to the right. The terrain was such I could drive the car just a little way in and set up my station.

There were trees all along the side of the clearing. I donned my blaze orange vest and hat and pulled out my arbor line and weight. Amazingly, it took just one toss to get a line up and in no time, my EFRW was hoisted and ready. I oriented it southeast hoping to get good coverage to the west but also the northeast which turned out to be the case.

my antenna “mast” choices
arbor line high up in tree
feed-end out in clearing
Antenna orientation

The site I chose was shady so despite the afternoon temperature being in the 80s, Daisy and I were cool. I also brought along her cooling vest from Ruffwear. You wet the vest and put it on the dog. The evaporative cooling it provides can lower the temperature for the dog by 3-4 degrees. It worked. She didn’t pant at all during the activation while wearing the vest. This piece of equipment will come in handy for POTA in the summer.

Wx in Savannah before heading to WMA
Daisy’s cooling vest

I began with 30 meters, logging 4 contacts before moving to 20 meters. Twenty meters gave me 11 contacts, including a park-to-park (P2P) QSO with John W4ER at US-3691 in Alabama. Continue reading A Pretty Picnic for the POTA Babe

POTA Activations in Canavese: Monti Pelati and Laghi di Meugliano

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


POTA Activations in Canavese: Monti Pelati and Laghi di Meugliano

by Christian (IX1CKN)

My Canavese connections, tied to the fact that my mom is from San Giorgio Canavese, have been strong since I was a child. Yet, at the ripe age of 50, I realized there are corners of that Piedmont area I hadn’t explored.

I discovered two such places this afternoon, activating POTA with Andrea (IW0HK), a significant motivator for seeking out new references. The first was the Monti Pelati and Torre Cives Natura 2000 (IT-0178), in the municipality of Vidracco (though the protected area also includes parts of Baldissero Canavese and Castellamonte).

This interesting site, reachable within 20 km of Ivrea, is where IW0HK and I met, coming from opposite directions. A short walk from the parking area leads to the summit, where Torre Cives stands, with a panoramic viewpoint facing east along the way.

Upon reaching the parking area with informative signs about the reserve.

Overall, not too many trees, altitude (around 570 meters), and a 360-degree view, an optimal situation for HF (High Frequency) operations.

At the “peak,” we set up the HF station with Elecraft KX3 (8 watts), using a quarter-wave vertical on the ground (also on 40 meters, with the appropriate coil), and followed 144 MHz with Quansheng UV-K5.

No need to dwell on the propagation conditions this weekend (with Aurora seen in southern Florida, and around Rome in Italy!). In shortwave, given the sun’s antics, the situation wasn’t promising at all.

However, Andrea and I decided to overcome this fear. Hamradio is, above all, about experimentation and activity. So, instead of worrying about how many would respond before leaving home, we decided to go, turn on, call, and tally them up.

In 34 minutes on-site, we logged 16 QSOs. Nine on 20 meters, 4 on 40 meters (the coil seems to be working, although you can’t expect miracles compensating for a significant lack of physical length in the element): 1 on 15 meters, and 2 on FM 144 MHz.

As you can see from the map, the responders were mainly POTA friends: Spanish, Polish, and English stations. I won’t list the calls, but you could guess them. However, local stations also responded, even on HF, which is always pleasing. With some, it was natural to try 2 meters as well, getting solid signals.

So, satisfaction despite the complicated propagation, whether for the validity of the activation or for discovering a new place.

Ritual photos with the tower, and off to the second reference.

We’re talking about IT-1634, Laghi di Meugliano and Alice. We’re still within a twenty-kilometer radius of Ivrea (in the Turin province). This time, the municipality is Valchiusa (in Valchiusella), and the lake basin sits at 720 meters above sea level. Now, don’t let the fact that we’re about 200 meters higher than the previous reserve fool you. For HF operations, we immediately encountered a less favorable situation because the lake is of morainic origin, nestled in a sort of basin with trees all around.

We chose not to set up right at its edge (it was quite crowded being a Sunday), but – also fearing the rain (which was forecasted) – in a pine-like area near the restaurant that serves the lake.

The quarter-wave antenna, planted on the ground, perhaps wasn’t in the most unobstructed condition possible, but at least we could take advantage of the shelter of the trees and a convenient table/bench.

Here, besides the propagation conditions, maybe the timing didn’t help much either, as we started the activation at 15:30 UTC. Probably, it’s a time when anyone, in half of Europe, on a Sunday afternoon that’s easy to imagine being warm in a good part of the continent, isn’t at home. Anyway, we replicated the pattern of the previous activation, starting on 20 meters with the calls…

In this case, the activation lasted for 32 minutes. The overall result is 15 contacts. Ten ended up logged on 20 meters (including the always active I1JQJ Mauro), two on 40, and three on VHF 144 MHz. Regarding this last band, I would like to highlight both the QSO with Daniele IU1LCI, for a total of 47 km from his QTH, and the one with Beppe I1WKN and Fabrizio IZ1DNQ, who were mobile returning from a SOTA in Valle d’Aosta (ironically, I had contacted them before descending into Piedmont) and stopped near Ivrea to try the contact.

Once again, both Andrea and I, as we returned to the car to head home (and witnessed, among other scenes that only POTA can provide to a hamradio enthusiast, the movement of a flock of sheep), were filled with happiness at the sight of a new place.

Above all, though, as we reviewed the log, the activation remains an opportunity where some ham spirit close to the roots prevails, which warms the heart to keep seeing. Wanting to exaggerate, on the way back to the Ivrea toll booth, there was still the Bellavista hill with its woods and marshes (which is reference IT-1635), but time had truly run out, so that’s for next one.

A Glancing Blow for the POTA Babe

by Teri (KO4WFP)

by (Wednesday, May 15th, Glenn W4YES and I decided to activate a new park for me – Sansavilla Wildlife Management Area (US-3773), a wildlife management area (WMA) along the Altamaha River next door to my last activation – Penholoway Swamp WMA.

Google maps

We arrived at a decent hour (9 AM) and ahead of schedule. The entrance is off Highway 25 and across the railroad tracks. After passing a church, the road changes from pavement to dirt and the fun begins!

Sansavilla WMA Map – source: Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources
Morning band conditions. source: https://hamradiofornontechies.com/current-ham-radio-conditions/

We drove down what is Sansavilla Road almost until it dead-ends as I hoped to set up close to the Altamaha River. However, along this road ran a good set of power lines. Given I would run QRP, it was time for Plan B.

Road into the WMA
power lines running along Sansavilla Road

We backtracked, took a right onto River Road and then a right toward the river. This road dead-ends at a public boat landing inside the WMA. There is a pavilion with concrete benches and tables. A short distance beyond the pavilion is the landing to which we drove for a quick view of the river whose current moved at a rapid pace.

route to boat landing
credit: Glenn W4YES
boat landing. credit: Glenn W4YES
Altamaha River

Glenn joined me this activation and, given the last experience, we made some changes to his set-up. Instead of using my Yaesu FT-891, he brought the Yaesu FT-991A in his possession with which he familiarized himself over the past week. He dialed the power down from 75 to 5 watts. (Yes, he’d be working QRP!) He also switched antennas from the Pacific Antenna 2040 trap dipole to the Chelegance MC-750, hoping the set up would be easier and give him the flexibility of changing bands. Continue reading A Glancing Blow for the POTA Babe

The POTA Babe Resumes Pursuit of Her Goal

by Teri (KO4WFP)

Now that life has settled down, it is time to return to my 60 new-to-me park activations goal for 2024. I currently stand at 24 out of the 60. For #25 on the list, I chose Penholoway Swamp Wildlife Management Area (US-3767) outside of Jesup, Georgia.

This park is a one-and-a-half hour drive from my QTH. I set out around 8 AM this past Wednesday, May 8th for my activation. Rather than drive Interstate 95 most of the way, I opted to drive through rural Georgia which I prefer. The route took me through the communities of Hinesville (just outside of Fort Stewart, home of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division), Ludowici, and Jesup.

As I entered Jesup, I encountered a sizable manufacturing plant next to the Altamaha River. Owned by Rayonier, the plant is the largest speciality cellulose plant in the world, producing 330,000 metric tons a year.

Paper mills are big business in Georgia. According to georgiagrown.com, the state of Georgia accounts for 21% of all US exported pulp and paper (both newly milled & recycled products). I found a 2015 Georgia Forestry Commission report noting there are 22 pulp and paperboard mills in Georgia resulting in $12.5 billion in revenue.

Rayonier cellulose plant

Paper mills often produce a smell like rotten eggs or cabbage. In Savannah, there was the Union Camp paper mill (later purchased by International Paper) on the Savannah River. The joke I remember while growing up in Savannah was that when tourists asked what that smell was, you would reply “the smell of money.” The Savannah mill is still operating and produces a million tons of paper product every year which eventually gets made into cardboard boxes.

Penholoway Swamp Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a 10,500+ acre property near the Altamaha River with hunting opportunities. The WMA contains lots of pine stands including several stands of longleaf pines which are maintained by prescribed fire and mechanical thinning. As I mentioned in my Oliver Bridge WMA trip report, longleaf pine areas are important habitat for threatened species such as the gopher tortoise and indigo snake.

evidence of a controlled burn

I thought I would set up my station near the kiosk at the entrance. However, there was not much room and what little there was didn’t offer much shade. Looking at the map I printed from the GA Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website, I decided to drive down Post Road to where it dead-ends into Hinson Road near the Altamaha River. Maybe that section of the park would be more secluded and offer some shade.

park entrance off River Road
Entrance area with kiosk
pine stands in the WMA
a road off the main drag (Post Road)

Sure enough, the section of Hinson Road off to the left of Post Road went a little way before being blocked off by a gate. Oaks, pines, and other trees created a canopy over the road and looked like a perfect QTH off the beaten path.

WMA Map. source: https://georgiawildlife.com/penholoway-swamp-wma
a shady location

Before I left the house, I checked the GA DNR Hunting Regulations booklet as to what might be in season for this WMA. Turkey is currently being hunted, though I didn’t expect on a weekday to run into many hunters. Either way, I made sure to don my blaze orange hat and vest as well as put Daisy’s vest on her before setting up my equipment. Continue reading The POTA Babe Resumes Pursuit of Her Goal