Tag Archives: Lake James State Park (US-2739)

Sunday in the Park: A beautiful day to put the TR-45L Skinny on the air!

The more I use my Penntek TR-45L “Skinny” the more I love it.

Although, in truth, I loved it from day one because it’s just a flatter, more portable version of my original TR-45L.

The audio is wonderful, the controls are simple, and the receiver is top-shelf. Any excuse to take it to the field!

On Sunday, April 28, 2024, I made a quick trip to visit my father in Hickory. He was still in the hospital at that point and I wanted to spend the morning with him and get updates from his specialists and doctor. He was improving which was a very good thing indeed.

After spending a few hours with my dad, I could tell he wanted to take a nap, so I thought it a good time to head back home, with a short detour at Lake James.

Lake James State Park (US-2739)

It was an absolutely beautiful day to be outdoors. I expected Lake James to be packed on a Sunday, but the Catawba River Access wasn’t too terribly busy. I imagine the more popular Paddy’s Creek Access was much busier.

I decided to set up at a picnic table close to the parking area–one I’ve used before and one that makes it easy to deploy an end-fed half-wave without creating a tripping hazard for others.

My EFHW simply disappears among the trees which is why it’s important to deploy it in a space where other park visitors won’t walk.

I deployed the 40 meter EFHW that Steve (MW0SAW) made for me a couple years ago.

Setting up the TR-45L was easy enough especially since the padded bag Penntek sells so easily accommodates all of the items needed for an activation. In fact, it is spacious enough I could easily put an antenna and feed line inside, too, but I opt to simply carry those in my backpack.

With everything set up, it was time to 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.

On The Air

With band conditions having been so unpredictable lately, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My schedule only allowed for a short activation, so I hoped to wrap things up within 30 minutes.

Twenty meters seemed like the most promising band, and thankfully, it was in decent shape. I started calling CQ POTA, and to my delight, the first ten stations were logged in a mere ten minutes! It doesn’t get much better than that.

I continued making contacts for a few more minutes, logging four additional stations. Then, with the band quieting down, I decided to call it a day.

I would have loved to spend more time on the air, but I was also eager to get back home to my wife and daughters. Sometimes, a short activation is all you need.

QSO Map

Here’s what this five-watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:

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.

Penntek radios

On a bittersweet note, I mentioned previously that John (WA3RNC) is closing down the Penntek shop this year and will no longer manufacture transceivers. If you haven’t already placed an order for a Penntek transceiver, you might not be able to snag one at this point. I would check the updates on the Penntek site for more information. I felt John’s radios were so unique and packed with proper field performance.

The original TR-45L pictured here at Lake Norman

Then again, at 77 years old, John deserves to enjoy his retirement to the max, so I’m happy for him.

My Penntek TR-35

I know I’ll never sell my Penntek radios and I’ll do all I can to take care of them so they serve me over the long haul! I’ve no doubt that they will.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me during this short POTA 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! Have an amazing Memorial Day weekend!

Cheers & 72,
Thomas (K4SWL)

When Plans Change: A Relaxing “Plan B” POTA Activation at Lake James State Park

Lately, it’s been a proper challenge to get out and activate.

I’ve had a number of projects that have kept me at home working and when I do head out the door, my timing has been tight. While I love squeezing in park activations when I’m otherwise busy running around town, I also never activate if it’s truly inconvenient.

I’m a big believer in never feeling pressure to activate. Rather, I believe in enjoying the radio journey and therapy.

This is why I don’t pay close attention to my stats in either the POTA (Parks On The Air) or SOTA (Summits On The Air) programs. Maybe when I’m an empty-nester in a few years I’ll spend some time working on my numbers–for the fun of it–but for now, it’s just not in the cards. (Admittedly, when I have more free time, it’ll be fun to achieve my first Mountain Goat award!)

On Monday, April 15, 2024, I planned a trip to my hometown of Hickory, North Carolina, to take my father out to lunch at the airport café.

A 2020 photo from KHKY

If you’ve been a subscriber/reader for long, you’ll know that for the past five years, I’ve spent a lot of time in Hickory doing caregiving for my mother. I would typically spend a night or two in Hickory per week and take her to her frequent oncologist and specialist appointments. .

When she passed away in January, and my sister and her daughter moved in with my father, I no longer had a need to do weekly overnight trips. Indeed–I have no place to stay as the house is full. It’s all worked out really well and now our family trips to Hickory are mostly day trips with my wife, daughters, and Hazel.

It was during those overnight trips that I would fit in park activations–there are a number of parks around Hickory that I would frequent.

Thwarted Rove

I’d plotted a proper POTA rove en route to Hickory on the 15th. I planned to hit a number of parks I used to activate frequently–at least two parks on the way and one or two parks during my return home.

I packed my car with three different radios and a variety of antennas with the idea of using a different pairing at each park.

Twenty minutes into my journey to the first park that morning, I received a call from my daughter’s physician who reminded me that she had an appointment at 2:00 in the afternoon. Doh!

Somehow, that appointment didn’t make it into the family calendar and it was too late to shift it to another date.

I’ll admit: I was bummed.

This dramatically changed my schedule, but I was determined to fit in at least one activation and lunch with my father. As I was driving, I did the mental time math–if I activated Lake James, it would be a very modest detour and I would have an hour or so to play radio. I’d need to pick up my father no later than 10:45 to take him to a (now early) lunch.

This would give me just enough time to get back to the QTH and pick up my daughter no later than 1:30 PM.

I called my father and confirmed it all.

Lake James State Park (US-2739)

I arrived at the Lake James entrance around 8:45 AM. The weather was beautiful and ideal for POTA.

I knew I had about one hour to fit in this activation and I wanted it to be relaxed since the rest of the day would be pretty pressed, time-wise.When I first arrived at the Lake James parking area, I thought I was going to be the only visitor on the site. After hopping out of the car, though, I heard a group of people shouting and then noticed a load of cars and a school bus at the opposite end of the lot.

Turns out, at least two school groups were visiting on a field trip.

I made my way to the lakeshore and picked out a picnic site in the shade and with a nice antenna support (i.e. tree) just waiting to assist in my activation!

I decided to pair my Elecraft KX2 with an end-fed half-wave my buddy Steve (MW0SAW) built for me a couple years ago.

As I started setting up the antenna, a school group, led by one of the park rangers, moved to a site nearby to do some hands-on science. Part of me hoped they might venture past my site and I was ready to tell them all about amateur radio, if asked, but they remained at the same site during my entire activation.

Gear:

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

On The Air

Again, since I had a fair amount of time to complete this activation, I thought I’d experiment by heading to the higher bands, knowing they’d have less activity. Continue reading When Plans Change: A Relaxing “Plan B” POTA Activation at Lake James State Park

October Leaf Colors at Lake James: Pairing the Elecraft KX1 and Chelegance MC-750

This past fall was a busy season for me.

So busy, in fact, I completely overlooked an activation video I filmed two months ago (on Monday, October 23, 2023)!

That said, one of the things I love about making field reports and recording videos is re-living activations a second time. It’s fun to remember the site conditions, the weather, the radio/antenna choices, and all of the folks I might have logged.

I enjoyed stepping back in time a couple of months for this one!

Lake James State Park (K-2739)

That Monday was the first day I surfaced to fit in an activation after fighting a respiratory bug the previous week. I felt much better and tested negative for Covid, so I made my way to Hickory to help my parents with some tasks.

On the way that morning, I stopped by Lake James to play a little POTA with one of my favorite radios in the world: the Elecraft KX1.

On October 23–as I mention in the video–the QRP world had only just learned about the new Elecraft KH1 and I had yet to receive the almost-production unit I ordered as a field tester.

I knew that once I received the KH1, I’d be using it heavily for a few weeks, so I wanted to fit in a little KX1 time in advance!

POTA in Color!

The weather and fall colors at Lake James were absolutely stunning!

New KX1 Tufteln Cover!

Back when I filmed this video, it had only been one week since the W4 SOTA campout where my friend Joshua (N5FY) gave me a few prototype snap-on protective covers for my KX1s.

These covers are very clever because they protect all of the important front-panel components yet remain very low-profile so add little bulk to the radio.

Image: Tufteln.com

Joshua provides two new screws for the front panel (you simply replace out the stock KX1 screw); the cover magnetically snaps onto the higher-profile screws and seats itself securely.

Image: Tufteln.com

I demonstrate my cover in the activation video.

At the time, this was a product Joshua was considering adding to the Tufteln line-up–since then, he’s made it available to order–click here to check it out.

At present, Joshua offers the covers in two colors: black and light brown. Mine are the light brown color.

You’ll notice in the video that Joshua added my callsign to the covers he gave me. I don’t think the production covers are customized with your callsign because Joshua makes these in batches. You would need to check with him about customization–I assume there would be an extra charge and lead time for that because it would require modifying the file and printing a one-off cover.At any rate, I love the covers and have added them to all of my KX1s. Note that I used a Sharpie to write the name of each radio on the cover–this makes it very easy to tell the difference between my KX1 models (they’re named Ingrid, Greta, and Ruby)!

Gear:

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

On The Air

It was early enough in the morning that I decided to spend some time on the 40 meter band to work POTA “locals.” I deployed my Chelegance MC-750 with the 40 meter coil.

I tested the SWR and discovered it was high due to a loose connection on the end of the cable assembly–I fixed that and the SWR came down to 2.5:1. With the MC-750, I could have easily lengthened or shortened the whip to get a perfect match, but instead I took the lazy (& speedy) route and simply used the KX1 ATU to get a 1:1 match.

Even though I’d spent a long time talking about the KX1, KH1, the Tufteln cover, etc. in the  video, I actually didn’t have a lot of on-the-air time. (Typical me to talk away my activation time!).

I started calling CQ POTA and the contacts started rolling in.

Within ten minutes, I’d already worked ten contacts.

I worked a couple more, then called QRT. Looking at the time, I had to end this activation earlier than I’d hoped. I needed to hit the road again.

I packed up in short order, but still took a few moments to enjoy the beauty of that lovely autumn morning.

QSO Map

Here’s what this five watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:

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.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this activation!

I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them. I enjoyed reliving this Octeber activation.

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 certainly 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 make 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!

Here’s wishing all of the you best of the Holiday Season!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

Ham Radio Workbenches On The Air (& POTA): A short field report and a very long activation video!

Many of you know I’m on the crew of the Ham Radio Workbench podcast. In fact, as of this month, I’ve been there a year now (my how time flies).  Although it shows a certain lack of judgement on their part, I’m glad they invited me on board!

On October 9, fellow HRWB crew member, Mark (N6MTS), pitched an idea to us via email:

“What do y’all think about doing an HRWB On The Air event?”

We all agreed it sounded like a great idea. Things like this normally take a year’s worth of planning, promoting, and organizing. Not when Mark’s in charge, though.

Next thing we know, Mark had us sorting out the best date/time (December 3, 2023/1800-22:00UTC) for HRWBOTA and even reached out to some amazing volunteers who helped put together a website and spotting page.

Holy cow!

December 3, 2023

I planned to operate the entire four hour event period from Lake James State Park (K-2730) since it would be an easy detour en route to Hickory, NC (where I was staying that night). Of course, each contact would could for both HRWBOTA and POTA.

The previous day, however, I learned that one of my daughters had a meeting in downtown Asheville from 18:00-19:00 UTC. She doesn’t have a driver’s license yet, so I had to take her. Had it not been an important meeting in advance of her finals, she would have skipped.

This really threw a wrench in the works. I knew that by the time her meeting ended and I dropped her off at the QTH, the earliest I could be at Lake James was 20:15-20:30 or so.

How could I increase my on-the-air HRWBOTA time?

KH1 to the rescue!

Since the Elecraft KH1 was packed in my EDC bag, I decided to play a little HRWBOTA in the parking lot behind the meeting building.

I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest. I wasn’t spotting myself anywhere but the HRWBOTA spotting page, and I was limited to the 15, 17, and 20M bands with the KH1’s 4′ whip antenna.

I spotted myself, hit the air and started calling CQ HRWBOTA!

In the span of about 45 minutes, I managed to log a total of 15 stations! Not bad considering I was standing in an urban parking lot, swimming in QRM, and going QRP!

I didn’t make a video of this part of the HRWBOTA activation–sorry about that if you worked me then. I needed every moment of on-the-air time I could grab. Here’s my log sheet:

Lake James State Park (K-2739)

I legged it to Lake James after my daughter’s meeting–in fact, to save time, I started my activation video while I was still in my car driving on I-40.

I arrived at Lake James, parked, plugged in the car, grabbed my gear and made my way to the picnic area next to the lakeshore. It wasn’t hard to find a site with a tree that might support my KM4CFT 30/40M linked EFHW antenna.

I include the full antenna deployment and station set-up in my (rather long) activation video below. Continue reading Ham Radio Workbenches On The Air (& POTA): A short field report and a very long activation video!

One Watt, Low-Profile QRP: A Labor Day POTA Activation at Lake James State Park

I realize that I’m fortunate, in many ways, that I perform POTA activations at times when parks are relatively quiet: weekdays, mostly, and during that 9-5 window when many are at work. On the flip side, I’m also activating when there are fewer hunters out there.

The upshot, for me, is that I rarely have any competition for picnic tables or activation spots at state and national parks. In general, as you’ll see in my activation videos, the park is quiet and sometimes I literally have the place to myself.

I actually take this for granted until I activate on a busy weekend or a holiday. Something like…

Labor Day!

While traveling back to the QTH on Monday, September 4, 2023, I decided to pop by Lake James State Park (K-2739) for a quick POTA activation.

Lake James State Park spans about 3,743 acres and is divided into two areas: the Catawba River Access and Paddy’s Creek Area.

Typically, I play radio at the smaller Catawba River area because there are so many excellent picnic sites with loads of trees.

The Paddy’s Creek area is much larger and (big bonus) has many more trails.

Paddy’s Creek also has a large beach and swimming/boating area with a huge parking lot and large covered picnic shelter (that is often occupied or reserved).

On Labor Day, the weather was gorgeous and, as you might imagine, the park was packed!

So why did I choose Paddy’s Creek on such a busy day?

I might have mentioned in a previous video that we recently purchased a used Volvo C40 Recharge EV (Electric Vehicle). While I normally charge it up at home, I’m trying to familiarize myself with charging on the go as well.

I’d read that Lake James has two (free!) convenience chargers at the Paddy’s Creek area. I drove to the site mainly to see where the were located. On such a busy day, I didn’t assume either of the chargers would be available–my plan was to find them, then head to the Catawba River access.

But turns out, the only available parking spot I could find at the Paddy’s Creek lot was one EV charging spot right there at the beach access and shelter! What!?! That’s an omen, I told myself, so I pulled into the spot, plugged in, and by golly, the car started charging.

I’m still new at this stuff, so it’s all a bit of magic to me. Forgive my excitement.

But where to activate?

The park was teeming with people all out enjoying the weather, the water, and the food and drinks. Truth is, I love seeing parks being enjoyed on this scale. Continue reading One Watt, Low-Profile QRP: A Labor Day POTA Activation at Lake James State Park

Golden Hour QRP POTA Activation with the REZ Ranger 80 Portable Vertical Antenna

On Sunday, August 20, 2023, en route to check in with my parents, I popped by Lake James State Park for a little early evening POTA fun.

In the car, I’d pack the Elecraft KX2 kit and I still had the REZ Ranger 80 vertical antenna system on loan from REZ Antennas (it’s since been returned to them).

The last time I deployed the REZ was on Mount Mitchell in some pretty sketchy weather.  While I recorded a couple of short videos, I didn’t record a full activation video since we were having a family picnic that day.

Before sending the Ranger 80 back, I wanted to fit in a proper activation showing how I deploy the antenna, how I tuned it for the first time, and how it might perform on the 40 meter band.

Lake James State Park (K-2739)

It was golden hour at Lake James and the park was bustling with activity. There were kids running around, parents chasing them, and several families cooking out at the numerous picnic sites.

I sought out a location that was private and quiet mainly because the Ranger 80 antenna has four 31 foot radials, thus a large footprint; I didn’t want children, pets, or anyone tripping on the ground radials.

Fortunately, one of my favorite spots overlooking the lake was free, so I could simply set the Ranger 80 up in the woods where folks weren’t walking.

The Ranger 80 is super easy to deploy: simply extend the vertical, attach it to the top of the base, then attach the stainless spike to the base and plunge the entire thing into the ground. Next, you deploy the four radials and connect it to the base of the antenna.

It only takes a couple of minutes especially since the counterpoises are wound using the over-under method. I simply tossed each line into the woods and didn’t worry if they were all lying perfectly on the ground.

Note to REZ: Consider offering optional high-visibility counterpoise wires–for those of us setting up in busy parks, it would make the ground radials more conspicuous to passersby.

Next, I needed to tune the Ranger 80 for the forty meter band.

Typically, when I use a sliding-tap tuning coil style antenna like this one, I turn on the radio and move the coil until I hear an audio peak, then I fine tune it by sending a “dit” on the radio, checking the SWR, and adjusting the coil slider.

That evening, though, I had my RigExpert AA-35 Zoom antenna analyzer so I set it to continuous SWR monitoring and adjusted the coil until I achieved a good match. Easy.

I should add here that when you use an antenna like this frequently, you learn where the best tap points are on the coil thus tuning becomes easier. My friend Alan (W2AEW) actually made a PVC rig for his coil antenna (click here to check it out).

With the antenna all set up and ready to rock-and-roll, I simply hooked up the Elecraft KX2, my VK3IL pressure paddles, and prepared the logs.

It was time to play radio! Continue reading Golden Hour QRP POTA Activation with the REZ Ranger 80 Portable Vertical Antenna

Getting To Know You Series: The Ten-Tec Argonaut V (Model 516) – My thoughts, notes, and a POTA activation!

I’m very fortunate in that over the past few years I’ve accumulated a number of QRP radios that I use in rotation when I do park and summit activations.

I’m often asked for advice on choosing radios, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, I feel like the decision is a very personal one–everything is based on an operator’s own particular preferences.

I’ve written formal reviews about most of the field radios in my collection over the years. In those reviews, I try to take a wide angle view of a radio–I try to see how it might appeal to a number of types of operators: field operators, DXers, summit activators, contesters, rag-chewers, casual operators, SWLs, travelers, outdoor adventurers, mobile operators, etc. I highlight the pros and cons, but I don’t focus on my own particular take because, again, my style of operating might not match that of readers. I try to present the full picture as clearly as I can and let the reader decide.

On that note, I thought it might be fun to take a radio out for a field activation and spend a bit of time explaining why I enjoy using it and why it’s a part of my permanent field radio collection. Instead of taking that wide-angle view of a radio like I do in magazine reviews, I share my own personal thoughts based on long-term experience.

Each new video in the Getting To Know You series will highlight one of the field radios from my field radio collection.  I’ll spend time in each video explaining what I personally appreciate about each radio, then we’ll do a park or summit activation with the radio.

I’ll release these every few weeks or so–when the notion strikes me.  They will not be on a regular schedule, but I hope to include each of my radios in this series over the the next year.

The Ten-Tec Argonaut V

The third radio in the Getting To Know You series is my Ten-Tec Argonaut V (Model 516).

I’ve always been a big fan of Ten-Tec products because I love their focus on quality, high-performance receivers, and benchmark audio fidelity.

Ten-Tec has produced some impressive radios over the years and was a trail-blazer in the world of QRP with their Power Mites and original analog Argonaut series (check out these and more T-T radios here).

When Ten-Tec manufacturing was located in Sevierville, Tennessee, I knew many of the employees of the company and even did Alpha and Beta testing for their QRP radios like the Patriot, Rebel, and Argonaut VI.

I love the ergonomics and simple front panel design of the Argo V.

I purchased my Argonaut V used in 2021 when I saw it for sale on QTH.com. The price was right and, frankly, I wanted a Ten-Tec radio back in my life.

In the activation video (below) I’ll speak to all of the reasons I love the Argonaut V, why I think it’s so unique, and why I’ve no intention of ever selling it. Then, we’ll perform a POTA activation with it.

Keep in mind that my perspective will primarily focus on HF CW operating–I don’t actually own a microphone for the Argonaut V, but I do plan to at some point.

Lake James State Park (K-2739)

On Sunday, August 13, 2023, I made a detour to Lake James State Park en route to visit my parents in Hickory, NC. As I’ve mentioned many times before, Lake James is one of the easiest parks I can hit in my travels and it’s open every day of the week–in the summer, it’s also open quite late which is a bonus.

The only negative with evening activations at Lake James is fighting the mozzies–they can be persistent!

I picked out a picnic table close to the car and pulled the Argonaut V from my Husky latching box.

I then immediately deployed my MW0SAW 40 meter End-Fed Half-Wave antenna. Since the Argonaut V doesn’t have an internal ATU, the EFHW would give me the flexibility to operate on 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters natively.

Of course, it was in the early evening, so I only intended to hop on 40 meters, but I had the option to move up the band if needed.

After deploying my antenna, I recorded the “Getting To Know You” portion of the activation video–I’d encourage you to check that out below!

Time to hop on the air! Continue reading Getting To Know You Series: The Ten-Tec Argonaut V (Model 516) – My thoughts, notes, and a POTA activation!

POTA Field Report: A Morning 40 Meter QRP Activation at Lake James State Park!

On Monday morning (July 31, 2023) I left the QTH with POTA on my mind.

As I mentioned in a previous post, July was a busy month and I was in desperate need of some POTA Therapy! Fortunately, I had the full morning to play radio, so I plotted a two (or possibly three) park rove, starting with Lake James State Park.

Lake James State Park (K-2739)

I arrived at Lake James a little after 9:00 AM and pretty much had the park to myself.

In order to keep my setup time a little on the short side, I chose a picnic table next to my car.

I grabbed my throw line cube and (1st gen) Red Oxx Micro Manager pack in which I’d packed my Discovery TX-500 and accessories.

Since it was in the morning, I planned to spend time on the 40 meter band and, hopefully, work a number of hunters in the surrounding states.

For this activation, I paired my Discovery TX-500 with MW0SAW’s 40 meter end-fed half-wave antenna.

I powered the TX-500 with a homemade 5Ah LiPo battery my friend Joshua (N5FY) sent me a couple months ago.

Of course, since I was using a 40 meter end-fed half-wave antenna, I didn’t need an ATU for 40 meters (or 20, 15, or 10 meters for that matter). Continue reading POTA Field Report: A Morning 40 Meter QRP Activation at Lake James State Park!

Snagging a little POTA QRP DX with the Chelegance MC-750 and Xiegu G106

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to give the Xiegu G106 a thorough workout in the field. This little HF QRP radio is on loan to me from Radioddity who has very kindly been quite flexible about the loan period.

I want to give the G106 a fair shake-out because I believe it must be the least expensive multi-mode, full HF coverage transceiver on the market. Field ops are always looking for portable, affordable, effective radios to take to the field so many are considering the G106.

Of course, you simply can’t get benchmark performance out of a low-cost leader.

My full review of the Xiegu G106 will be in the May 2023 issue of The Spectrum Monitor magazine. It’s one of the longest reviews I’ve published in TSM because I try to fully explore the pros and cons of this pint size rig in order that pretty much anyone can make a purchase decision based on their own preferences and requirements.

POTA Plan B

On Saturday, March 18, 2023, I  decided to take the G106 out for a very brief activation during a return trip to my QTH.

My park of choice was Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861) because it’s conveniently located, is an excellent POTA site, and I wanted to fit in a quick hike as well. Tuttle’s two mile loop fit the bill perfectly.

When I arrived at the park entrance, however, the gates were closed. I had double checked Tuttle’s schedule in advance and was under the impression that they had started opening the park on Saturdays again for the season.

I really wanted to fit in a decent hike so the next logical park choice was Lake James State Park. It didn’t require a major detour and I was certain it would be open.

Lake James State Park (K-2739)

Lake James has two major access points: the Paddy’s Creek Access and Catawba River Access.

I prefer the Catawba River Access even though it’s much smaller than Paddy’s Creek. For one thing, it’s always less busy and they’ve better spots to set up for POTA (since I like hanging wires trees more often than not). Although the Catawba River access lacks the trail network found at Paddy’s Creek, they do have a few trails that can be stitched together for a nice workout.

Lake James State Park Map Catawba River Access

After arriving at the park, I put on my hiking boots and walked the Fox Den Loop and a bit of the Lake Channel Overlook.

I hiked back to my car, ate a bite of lunch, then grabbed my radio gear for some cheap POTA fun!

Higher Bands

The great thing about the G106 compared with some of my more affordable QRP radios (MTR-3B, SW-3B, R4020, TR-35, etc.) is that it’s not limited to CW and it covers all bands from 80 to 10 meters. Continue reading Snagging a little POTA QRP DX with the Chelegance MC-750 and Xiegu G106

Postcard Field Report: Pairing the Mission RGO One with the Elecraft AX1 at Lake James for some QRP DX

Welcome to my first Postcard Field Report!

If you’ve been following QRPer.com and my YouTube channel for long, you’ll notice that I typically post two field reports with videos per week when my free time allows. Each report takes about four hours to produce along with a video. I’ve currently got a small backlog of videos I need to post, so in order to squeeze them into my schedule, I’m going to use a slightly more abbreviated field report format: a “postcard” format!

My Postcard Field Reports will still be information-packed, just slightly more concise and distilled than my average field report. I’ll primarily post these for sites I visit frequently.

Speaking of which….

Lake James State Park (K-2739)

Thursday, February 2, 2023, was a rainy, dreary day so the perfect time to play a little POTA, right?  I made time in my morning to visit Lake James State Park (K-2739).

When I arrived at the Catawba River Access, the parking lot was empty. Not too surprising considering it was a Thursday morning on a chilly, rainy day.

Of course, I had the picnic shelter all to myself, so why not use it to stay dry? Continue reading Postcard Field Report: Pairing the Mission RGO One with the Elecraft AX1 at Lake James for some QRP DX