Tag Archives: KQ4CWT

Guest Post: Combining POTA with an FBLA national competition road trip!

Many thanks to Doug (KO4WDE) for sharing the following guest post:


by Doug (KO4WDE)

I have recently found myself fully immersed in the world of Future Business Leaders of America, as my wife is the chapter leader for the middle school where we teach.  She started the program with just a handful of kids, and they performed so well their first year that six students qualified for national competition in Atlanta, Georgia last year.

To save money, and help provide this experience, we loaded them in our camper and took to the road.  Fast forward to this year and they have continued to grow and develop to the point where they now have more than twenty four members!  Now here’s the cool part: they didn’t just grow, they have developed into a powerhouse of Kentucky’s FBLA. Of the twenty four members, fifteen placed either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd at the state level competitions and qualified for national competition in Orlando Florida this summer.  Of those fifteen, eleven went to Florida.

The costs for this trip were huge.  Fuel alone for the vehicles to get us there was nearly $1000, and lodging, registration fees, and food drove the cost per student to well above $1500 per student.   The students voted that they would not go unless they could all go.  So they hit their computers and applied for grants and scholarships.  They were successful in obtaining a local  grant for $3500 to cover their registration fees, and came up with a battle plan for fundraising as much as possible. They formed a team that would go out into the community and present to local business owners in efforts to gain sponsorships to help lower the cost of the trip.

Goal Achieved

To say that they were successful was an understatement.  The students were able to gain enough financial support to lower the cost of the trip to $300 each.  This includes opportunities for the kids, (some of whom have never been out of Kentucky) to see the ocean, and experience many attractions that Orlando has to offer including Universal Studios and downtown St. Augustine.

That Ocean experience is where POTA plays a part.  Our travel plan had us staying at Anastasia State Park (US-1832) for two nights.  A couple of the FBLA members attending are also members of the School’s radio club (KQ4CWT) and were looking forward to the club’s first POTA activation (although the ocean was far more fun for them).  I had not activated Florida  myself and was greatly looking  forward to the experience.

Traveling with fourteen people total, in two vehicles (a Nissan Armada, and a Honda Pilot) space is extremely limited so I started the process of streamlining several separate systems into one specific mission bag.

The Field Kit

The host radio was my Xiegu G90 kit seen here combined with a small folding camp table and a Wolf River Coils vertical antenna to use on the beach.  My G90 kit is designed to be as simple possible for voice and digital modes, but it is completely based on using trees and wire antennas to get on the air, and picnic tables to operate from, so a few changes needed to be planned.

The nature of the beach itself is the most important change to plan for: no trees… no wire antennas.  I don’t own a mast, so the WRC needed to be in the kit.  Secondly, we would be on the beach for our planned activation, so I would need a small portable table to keep the gear out of the sand.  I chose a cheap amazon table [QRPer affiliate link] that is small enough to fold up into my host backpack (a maxpedition Riftcore) and sturdy enough to hold the G90 and my Evolve III laptop.  Preliminary testing on this little table was promising.

Testing the Amazon table

The Bioenno battery can wedge under the table while also supports lowering the center of gravity and freeing up the table top. The radio itself has lost the cooling stand as it was just too big and clunky for my go kit.  It now rests on a small laptop stand [affiliate link] that is suspiciously similar to the radioddity version for a quarter of the price.  I planned on sitting in the sand, under an umbrella using this little table to activate the park.

The Merging of the Bags

The G90 bag consists of the radio, battery, laptop, coax, power cables and adapters, stand, Digirig and backup wire antennas and tree line kit.  The coax has been replaced with RG-316 to save weight but the kit is essentially the same as seen in the article linked.

The Wolf river coil bag is an old camelback hydration pack.  It contains the SB-1000 coil, three legs, three radials, a 25 foot run of RG8X, and the whip.

The Riftcore has two main compartments and two secondary compartments. The front the main compartments consist of a large deep area in the back, and a slightly smaller and thinner area directly in front of that.  The main compartment holds the table top, the table frame, and the WRC system with just enough room to zip up.  The zippered pouch opposite holds the coax.

The main rift core compartment

The second compartment holds the radio, battery, stand, and ground coverings that double as padding and chargers, as well as the evolve III POTApotamus laptop.

The secondary rift core compartment

The front compartments hold the backup wire antenna, tree kit, power cables and Digirig.

The small outer rift core compartment

The kit, as planned, was much larger and heavier than the Redrock outdoors bag I’m used to carrying, but I thought it to be better since I would only have to keep up with one bag.  Especially since I would be carrying other beach gear out to the beach, and would have the kids with me.

Success All-Around

So how did it go? Success, and major FBLA success!

We arrived in St. Augustine around 7:00pm.  The boys and I setup camp, three tents.  A boys tent dubbed “Brozone Zero”, a girls tent “The She Shack”, and “Smalls” a small tent for my youngest daughter, my wife and me. The girls took the Armada into town to get pizza for dinner on the beach.

I usually RV camp, but when I do tent camp it’s in a Kelty.  Our little tent wasn’t a Kelty. We stayed in a Walmart special 3 man tent while the ladies enjoyed the Kelty tent.

When they arrived back, my wife laughed at our little tent and asked if it was like the magic one in Harry Potter.  Bigger on the inside.

It wasn’t.

The boys blowing up floats to use as mattresses in “brozone zero”
Pizza on the beach

The kit worked out better than I had planned. I was able to snag eleven SSB contacts between rain storms on the beach.  I was unable to sit down and really do an activation because of a change in plans. We planned to stay two nights but we canceled one and moved to the local Hilton to avoid tent camping storms the second night, so it was more of a “set up as fast as you can and get ten” type deal.

The table worked perfectly, although the beach wind blew my WRC vertical over.  Propagation was fair on 20 meters and I was able to get my last couple contacts via P2P hunting.  I was excited to add Florida to my list of activated states.

Admittedly, it was a fun challenge to setup and get those contacts as fast as possible and repack. I need to pack some flags for the radials in the future.

The camp table was perfect
Even with the feet of the WRC dug into the compacted sand the wind still managed to knock the system over

Once we left the beach for the hotel, radio time was over and I dedicated myself to the FBLA mission at hand. We spent five days competing and exploring Orlando. Our FBLA chapter performed very well overall and my daughter placed 2nd in the nation for her performance in the learning strategies competition.

My lovely wife was named the middle school chapter advisor of the year!  We had many, many more successes across the event but we will learn final scores in August.

My daughter winning 2nd place
The entire chapter before the closing ceremony party

This adventure was so much fun. It was very tiring, but worth every second of work to make it happen, and of course it’s always okay to sneak a little radio wherever you go.


Doug (KO4WDE)

Field Radio Kit Gallery: KO4WDE’s Dual Purpose Xiegu G90 Field Kit

Many thanks to Doug (KO4WDE) who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page. If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, read this post

KO4WDE’s Dual Purpose G90 Field Kit

by Doug (KO4WDE)

I have always been an outdoorsman, and for all of my professional life I have been a teacher.   It wasn’t until 2021 that I became a ham. I started out with my tech, and earned my general a few days later.  I built a modest shack around an IC7300 and a Par Endfedz 80-10M EFHW. When these three facets of my life combined something sparked in me and I immediately did two things, took my radio with me outdoors, and I took it to school. Long story short, we now have a school radio club. (KQ4CWT), and I am a POTA junkie.

The Need:

To go portable, I would take my 7300 with me, powered by a Bioenno 20Ah battery, packed neatly into a hard case, with the battery and Wolf River Coil SB1000 stuffed in the front pockets of a massive brown deployment style bag.  My “go kit” was more like a “Hire a mover kit” and weighed a ton.  This worked well, but I really wanted something different.  I needed a portable field radio kit that would be small enough for me to use when hiking and camping, but also serve as a valid and friendly introductory platform for middle and high school students exploring ham radio.

I needed a radio that would provide some of the luxury of the IC7300, including the panadapter waterfall for seeing signals, as well as SSB, and digital mode capability.  The kids, like me, really like FT8.

The Solution:

I settled on the Xiegu G90 radio.  It was much smaller and lighter in weight, had less power consumption, and had many of the features that I thought would still hook kids’ interests, as well as serve me well in the field.  An internal and capable tuner is much appreciated as well. I love the G90, and my students love the G90.

The Build:

To build this kit, I started out with the basic components: the radio, the battery, and the antenna.  To power the radio I use a Bioenno 9ah battery.  It is a bit bigger than what I need but this comes in handy for FT8 activations and the demanding duty cycle penalty that entails, and gives me some slack for device charging. The Wolf River Coil antenna was replaced by an antenna that my club built as a project.   It is a 3D printed chassis and winder for the antennas components and wire designed by (IU10PK) and listed online as “tactical end fed antenna winder” on thingiverse. In addition to these basic components I added an FT8 kit consisting of a DigiRig Mobile, needed cabling and a Evolve III notebook pc.

After reading all of the gallery builds here, I decided to choose a medium sized sling bag to fit the rest of the loadout. Again, I was looking for something to pull double duty for POTA and student work.  My huge original “Hire a mover kit” taught me that I had a tendency to carry way too much. I wasn’t aiming for “Spartan Simple” but I wanted to cut as much as I could. I made a list of my radio critical components, and my support components and shopped accordingly.  I intentionally chose a bag slightly smaller than what I thought I would need to force myself to trim the fat.  I settled on the “Large Rover” sling pack by Red Rock Outdoors.  I chose gray because it would look more at home in my classroom than FDE or OD green, but the color has really grown on me.

The Bag: Red Rock Outdoors Large Rover

(Meme dog talisman adds 5db to all antennas- a wonderful handmade gift from a student!)

The main compartment:

 The main compartment of the bag carries the G90 (with the semi-attached and very bulky fan unit), battery and a Tactical Tailor shemagh I use as a table cloth or ground cover for my bum.  I use the rolled shemagh as a protective layer between the battery and radio.  The battery sits inside the main compartment nicely as well.  Inside the main compartment, there are two sleeves, the rear is unused but the front sleeve houses my coax cable.  The zippered “flap pouch in the top of the main compartment stores my hand mic.  I use little 3D printed protective covers for the mic connectors.

(Little 3D printed protectors for connectors)

The other compartment(s):

The front of the bag has a medium sized pouch with several elastic loops and sleeves.  I use this pouch for my EFHW antenna and my “K4SWL” style bare bones 25M arborist throwline.  There is a small zippered sleeve on the outside that carries an additional 100 feet of 3mm Paracord divided into two sections.

(The front compartment is quite roomy)

At the top of the bag, there is a small zippered pouch that houses my Digirig Mobile and assorted cabling for the G90.  It also carries my charger for the Bioenno battery, and a tiny Anderson Powerpole to USB-C PD charging adapter made by Tufteln that I use to top off the Evolve III’s battery.

The rear of the bag has a very nice sleeve for a device.  The evolve III is a perfect fit.

The Wrap-up:

Although I am new to ham radio and field operations I feel like this little budget kit works exceptionally well for its dual intended purpose.  It’s capable for use in the classroom (or school grounds) as a teaching tool, but also small enough to not murder me on the trail.

The Kit Components:

            Red Rock Outdoors “Large Rover” sling bag

  1. G90 radio with “H2” stand (note: this is an affiliate link that also offers a discount to QRPer.com readers)
  2. 9Ah Bioenno LiFePO4 battery and 2 amp charger
  3. 150A Power meter (Powerwerx clone)
  4. DIY 40-10m EFHW antenna (Link to 3d file)
  5. 25’ Rg8x coax
  6. 25 meters of Marlow Excel 2mm line and a 10oz weight.
  7. Digirig Mobile and cabling
  8. Tufteln Anderson to USB-C adapter
  9. Two 50’ foot lengths of 3mm paracord on scaled down 3d printed antenna winders
  10. Evolve III notebook
  11. 3D printed ethernet cable protectors for mic jacks
  12. Tactical Tailor Shemagh (Discontinued)

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