Tag Archives: Lake Powhatan

Antenna Versatility: Pairing my Linked EFHW and the TR-45L Skinny at Lake Powhatan!

On Tuesday, April 23, 2024, I had a bit of time in the middle of the day to perform a park activation, but I couldn’t go too far afield because I needed to pick up my daughters from school around 3:00 PM.

Where to go?

I didn’t want to activate the same spots I’ve been activating a lot lately; I wanted to find a new spot, but my window of time limited my options.

Here in the Asheville area, we only have a few POTA entities within, say, a 25-30 minute drive of downtown, but a few of the sites we do have are vast. The Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest, and Pisgah Game Land are massive and it would be easy to activate every day of your life and set up at a different site each time if you’re willing to bring your own chair and table/kneeboard..

It was such a beautiful day, I ideally wanted to find a spot with a picnic table under the shade of a tree. I know of a couple sites on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I’d activated them recently. Also there was the Vance Birthplace, but again, I’d been there a lot lately.

Then it dawned on me that Lake Powhatan, in Pisgah National Forest (US-4510), might be a good option. It’s close to Asheville, a beautiful site, and I was almost certain I remembered seeing picnic tables there when I camped there with friends some two years ago. I made a quick call to the park office and confirmed.

Lake Powhatan requires a day use permit of $5 per person–you pay at the entrance and then have access to the lake and beach area for the full day. I didn’t mind paying this fee at all because I will typically leave that same amount in the donation box of many of the state parks I frequent anyway.

It’s a really short walk from the parking area to the lake and picnic sites.

I grabbed my TR-45L Skinny (in its padded camera pack) and my GoRuck GR1 backpack that had all of my antenna supplies and even my Elecraft KX2 inside.

Had this been a summer day, the lake would have been packed with families!

Why bring two radios? I really wanted to use the TR-45L, but I also thought about testing the waters on the 15, 12, and 10 meter bands. Since the TR-45L only covers 80, 40, 30, 20, and 17 meters, I needed another option.

Lots of picnic table options around the lake.

Turns out, the higher bands weren’t in great shape, so I didn’t need to use the KX2 after all.

I didn’t pair the TR-45L Skinny with an ATU, thus I needed an antenna option that would be resonant or matched on each of the bands I planned to operate. I decided to deploy my KM4CFT EFHW that I’d cut as a 30 meter end-fed half-wave with a 40 meter extension. This antenna would give me all of the bands of the TR-45L (save 80M). As a 30M EFHW, I’d have 30 and 17 meters, then by adding the 40M extension, I’d have both 40 and 20 meters as well.

Setup was quick and easy (even though it took several tries with my throw line to hit the branches I wanted).

Gear:

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On The Air

I deployed the antenna as a 30 meter EFHW and started calling CQ POTA on the 17 meter band.

I quickly found out that 17 meters was not in great shape. I did work N5PJ after a few minutes (thanks, Perry!) but didn’t hang around 17 meters much longer.

The poor state of 17 meters was likely a good indicator of what the higher bands might be like, so I abandoned the idea of going up to 10 meters. Instead, I QSY’d to the 30 meter band.

30 meters was in better shape. I worked five more stations in short order, then there was a lull in activity for several minutes. My thinking was that the bulk of the POTA activity would be on 20 meters, so I lowered part of my antenna, connected the 40M link, and raised it again.

Turns out, 20 meters was pretty active.

I ended up adding 16 stations to the logs including at least one Park-to-Park with AC9OT (thank you!).

All-in-all, I logged 22 stations on three bands. Propagation was a bit rough for sure, but the activation was a lot of fun!

Here are my logs:

QSO Map

Here’s what this five-watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map (click image to enlarge):

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.

An Idyllic Site

I’m so glad I decided to give Lake Powhatan a try. I’m very tempted to pay $40 for an annual pass.

There are several other picnic sites in/around the lake that I’d like to try and, frankly, next time I think I’ll bring my mountain bike! There are loads of trails on-site that also connect up to the (very popular) Bent Creek network.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me during this peaceful 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 a brilliant week!

Cheers & 72,
Thomas (K4SWL)