Tag Archives: Lee (M0VKR)

Lee’s QRP CW POTA Adventure on Black-a-Tor

Black-A-Tor Copse National Nature ReserveMany thanks to Lee (M0VKR) who shares the following field report and video:

A QRP CW POTA Adventure on Black-a-Tor

by Lee (M0VKR)

It was another sunny morning when my wife Joanne and I set off for a new mini adventure. Our destination was Black-a-Tor on Dartmoor, Devon, a scenic location ideal for a Parks on the Air (POTA) activation. We had not activated this park before so didn’t know what to expect. With excitement abound and a bit of nervous anticipation after looking at the propagation figures, we parked their car at Meldon Dam Reservoir car park, the starting point of our trek.

The weather was pleasantly warm as we began the journey, following a meandering river that gently led us towards our destination. The path was relatively easy, allowing us to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding us. At one point a horse fly latched onto my arm, and although I indicated my displeasure it continued to harass me for a good 10 minutes or so, before eventually giving up.

As we hiked, the silhouette of Black-a-Tor gradually appeared on the horizon, beckoning us closer. A short climb later, we found ourselves at the summit, ready to set up for our POTA activation.

After a delicious boil in the bag meal of Chicken curry and a pot noodle heated on the jet boil stove (and of course a mug of tea!), we started proceedings with the trusty Elecraft KH1 hooked up to the MPAS, calling out into the ether for about 45 minutes.

Despite best efforts, the airwaves remained silent, and no contacts were made. Relatively unfazed but a little dejected, I decided to bring out the backup—the Elecraft KX3. This radio, with its extra power, held the promise of better luck. I think in hindsight if I had just stuck with the KH1 a little longer the RF gods would swing things in our favour, or perhaps the extra little bit of power helped? Now I know you need to quadruple your power to make a single S unit of difference at the receiving station, but maybe, just maybe the extra 5 watts or so might have helped us just break over the noise threshold?

After setting up the KX3, we managed to make a very scratchy CW contact with my son, Daniel, who was back at home on 40 meters, around 70 miles away. I must admit at this point enthusiasm was depleted a little and the poor propagation conditions continued to be a challenge on this activation, and I was struggling sending with the Bamatech key for some reason. I think I had been a bit over enthusiastic when setting it up and it felt a tight in operation. A couple of European stations faded out just as quickly as they had appeared, leaving me feeling a bit frustrated to be honest. Things are not normally this difficult! I think this is the point of these longer videos (se below) it’s important to show the struggles and the highlights.

With all this being said, as if by magic after calling again on 20m, the station K2UPD suddenly erupted out of the KX3’s speaker loud and clear, as if he was on the next hill. The sudden clarity of the signal was surprising and caught me off guard. I simply couldn’t believe I was hearing a letter K, and I struggled to comprehend the characters, once my brain had recalibrated itself. I couldn’t help but smile.

It was a gentle reminder of the CW innovations Comprehensive Instant Character recognition course that coach Jon KC1FUU has mentioned so many times, Ignore the scope, and ignore the propagation predictors, persevere, and just call, as you never know who will answer! In ham radio, sometimes it’s all or nothing. The contacts started to come in more steadily after that and it really woke me up. Suddenly we were back in the game, and eventually, we reached the 10 contacts required for a successful POTA activation.

As the summit grew busier with curious passersby, Joanne found herself fielding numerous questions about our intriguing setup. The interest from the public added an unexpected but enjoyable social element to our adventure. With our mission accomplished, we decided it was time to pack up.

On our way back down, we took a detour through the ancient woodland at Black-a-Tor. The old oak trees, with their branches draped in lichen, and the river running quite fast down the slope as it meandered through created an enchanting atmosphere. It felt as if we had stepped back in time. We lingered there for about 20 minutes, absorbing the serene beauty of the place.

It was an 8km round trip. The walk back to the car was under the blazing sun, and we were both getting a little tired from it. By the time we reached the car, we realised we had gotten sunburned on the back of our necks. It was a small price to pay for such a fulfilling day, and we made a mental note to remember the sunscreen next time, perhaps I will add a small travel tube to the admin pouch.

Reflecting on our adventure, and despite the sunburn, Joanne and I felt a deep sense of satisfaction that had overridden the previous frustration. Despite the challenges, we had successfully activated Black-a-Tor and enjoyed a day immersed in nature. The memory of this outing, like the lichen on the ancient oaks, would stay with us for a long time.

Click here to view on Lee’s YouTube channel.

QRP SOTA: Lee pairs the KH1 and MPAS 2.0 to activate High Willhayes (G/DC-001)

Many thanks to Lee (M0VKR) who shares the following field report and video:

SOTA CW Activation on High Willhayes Dartmoor

by Lee (M0VKR)

It was an overcast and breezy morning when wife Joanne and myself Lee, M0VKR set out on our latest SOTA (Summits on the Air) activation adventure. Our destination was High Willhays, the highest point in Devon UK – SOTA G/DC001, Dartmoor is well known for its rugged beauty and challenging terrain.

We parked the car a short distance up the road from the army camp, slung our packs over our backs and set off. The gravel tracks leading to the summit stretched out before us and took a winding path through the moorland.

A few sheep and cattle grazed in the rough grass as we made our way upwards on the gentle slope. It was a breezy morning and we had had rain a short while earlier. Despite the weather our spirits were high, and we were eager to reach the top and get on the air with the Elecraft KH1.

In my pack was my now trusty Elecraft KH1 and an MPAS 2.0 vertical antenna, with the KX3 as backup, a reliable setup for such expeditions. I’m pretty sure I could halve the weight in my pack, but as it’s not a huge walk to the summit I don’t mind ferrying the extra gear to the top. The weather, though overcast, was adding a touch of drama to the landscape, and the breeze kept us cool as we trekked upward.

Joanne, ever the supportive partner, helped carry some of the cooking equipment and victuals and she kept the mood light with her cheerful conversation.

After a brisk hike, we reached the summit of High Willhays. The view, even under the Grey sky, was breathtaking. Rolling green hills and expansive moorland stretched out as far as the eye could see.

I set about preparing the station, using the MPAS 2.0 vertical antenna, which is quick to deploy and ideal for the variable conditions we faced. Despite the less-than-ideal propagation conditions, I was determined to make the activation a success.

Although the MPAS in vertical form isn’t very efficient on 40, I prefer to take advantage of the quick setup that it offers, one of these days I will look at adding a top section to make 40 more efficient, perhaps as a sloping inverted L or something similar, more reading of the manual required!

With everything set up, I made the first call on the 40m band. My Friend Matt MW0KAX answered, he was essentially line of sight from Wales, so his signal was strong. That was the first and last contact on 40m. I changed to 20 meters, where the MPAS was more efficient for the little KH1 and it was able to breathe a bit easier. The tuner in the KH1 is nothing short of amazing, and quite happily tuned 40 meters in a few seconds.

The static crackled, and for a moment, there was silence. Then, a faint reply came through. The thrill of making that first contact was palpable. It still amazes me every time I make those first few contacts that QRP does work, even with a compromised antenna system. Despite the challenging conditions, My limited skill, Plenty of luck and the reliability of the equipment began to shine. All the equipment I was using was off the shelf, I hadn’t made a single thing myself, maybe one day.

One by one, contacts started to come in. Each short QSO contact was a small victory, a testament to perseverance and the joy of ham radio. It is necessary to persevere as a newer CW operator and use QRP power levels and poor propagation conditions. It’s non-negotiable after driving for 2 hours, and a 4km hike that we go home empty handed. I logged each contact meticulously, my excitement growing with every successful connection. Joanne watched on slightly bemused but very supportive of the hobby, sharing in the triumphs that each contact brings and providing much-needed encouragement.

By the end of the activation, We had made several QSOs. While the propagation conditions had been far from ideal, the activation was undeniably a success. We had achieved what we set out to do: connect with fellow hams across the airwaves from the summit of High Willhays for a SOTA activation.

As we packed up our gear, the breeze picked up, and the clouds began to clear slightly, offering a glimpse of blue sky. The trek back down was filled with reflections on the day’s achievements and plans for future activations. We both felt a deep sense of accomplishment. We had braved the elements, navigated the challenging RF conditions, and emerged victorious.

This activation, like many before it, was a reminder of the joys of ham radio, CW and QRP operation and the adventure it can bring. For me and my wife Joanne, High Willhays would always hold a special place in our memories, not just for its height, but for the heights that we reached together on the airwaves.

Activation Video:

Take care and Speak soon, 72,


M0VKR’s Lewesdon Hill SOTA activation with the Elecraft KH1

Many thanks to Lee (M0VKR) who shares the following field report and video:

Activating Lewesdon Hill with the Elecraft KH1

by Lee (M0VKR)

After taking a day off from work my wife Joanne and I pondered about what we could do. “Shall we go over to Dorset to that hill you have spoken about and take your new radio?” There is no need to ask me twice to get outside and activate so we were quickly packed.

The KH1 came as the Edgewood package, so everything is contained in its own pack, ready for moments just like this. I grabbed it off the shelf in the shack, along with a KX3 as backup.

Within 10 minutes we had our labradors Toby and Konnie in the car and set off on a new CW ham radio adventure to activate Lewesdon Hill in Dorset for a SOTA activation. It was mid-morning by this point and things looked promising for a perfect day of outdoor radio operation.

With my Elecraft KH1 and KX3 as a backup snugly packed, along with my trusty home brew antennas, we embarked on the journey. The drive was scenic, with the rolling hills of the Dorset countryside providing a beautiful backdrop, Traffic was light too – Perfect.

After 45 minutes or so we arrived at the base of Lewesdon Hill. I took a moment to appreciate the tranquility of the area, breathing in the fresh air. The only downside was no nearby carpark, so we parked the car in a layby making sure it wasn’t going to be in the way of any farm traffic.

Finding the right spot to set up was the first small challenge.

Lewesdon Hill is only 279 meters (915 feet) to the summit, not exactly a mountain but it is the highest point in Dorset. We set off up the concrete driveway to a local farm, then turned right through a gateway and began ascending. The ascent is marked as a footpath and is pretty much through woodland until you get to the summit. It is a relatively steep climb, and we stopped every so often to take in the expanding view of the countryside through the trees.

Joanne had completed a 10K run a few days before so was happy to stretch her legs.

We arrived at the summit in good time. I needed a location with good elevation and a clear view to maximize my reach.

After a brief walk 1KM’ish, Joanne found the perfect spot—a clearing with a panoramic view of the surrounding area and a fallen tree which made the perfect workstation. I could already feel the anticipation building as I began unpacking my gear.

Setting up the antenna is always a mix of art and science, but mostly just plain luck. Today, I was using my favourite home brew random wire, which had served me well in previous activations. I found a stone to act as a weight and tossed the wire into a tree on the first shot and with a few quick adjustments, it was up and ready. Next came the radios.

The Elecraft KH1 and KX3 are compact yet powerful, ideal for portable operations like this. Because the KH1 had been configured already at home and previous activations, I hit the tune button. It tuned the random wire within a second or so and I double checked the keyer speed and set it to 16 WPM. Luckily, there was good phone service, so I sent out a spot on the SOTA website and I was ready to start.

The band conditions were not exactly favourable, however the clear blue skies hinted at a good run. I powered up the KH1 and began calling CQ. A station in Northern Ireland came back instantly and exploded out of the speaker, at a lovely cadence. One by one, contacts started rolling in. Each successful connection was a small victory, a testament to the power of CW communication and the effectiveness of my setup and of course the superb performance of the Elecraft KH1.

The weather was kind, with a gentle breeze keeping things cool. Throughout the activation, I logged 4 contacts, each one a story in itself. Notable among them was a contact from my good friend Steve MW0SAW from across the Bristol Channel in Wales, a testament to the reach of my modest setup. Steve and I had been in the same CWOPS class last year, so it’s always great to get him on air, even though we speak most days on the phone.

By the end of the session, I had made 4 contacts. I was really satisfied and could have sat for longer working the bands but, content, we decided to pack up and go grab some lunch from the nearby bakery in the village of Beaminster. The KH1 had performed flawlessly, and the homebrew wire antenna had once again proven its worth and overall, it had been a successful activation.

Reflecting on the day’s achievements as we hiked back down, the sun now a little higher in the sky, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. Having just completed a 10 week comprehensive ICR course with CW innovations and being a relatively new CW operator, I was pleased that the contacts had come back at a predictable pace. This made copying the callsigns easy. As I complete more activations, I am finding each activation is a unique experience, and today with the Elecraft KH1 was no exception. We are looking forward to the next adventure, with new challenges and new stories to tell.

Back at home, I reviewed the logs and relived the day through the video footage I had been encouraged to make by my family and friends. For those who want to see the activation in action, you can check out this video on my YouTube channel:

73 and see you on the airwaves!

Lee (M0VKR)

Readers: Would you do me a favor and subscribe to Lee’s new YouTube channel? Lee kindly shared his field report at my request and this activation video was a first for his new channel. Let’s support him by giving his video a thumbs up and subscribing! Thanks for sharing your report, Lee! -Thomas (K4SWL)

From Customs to Summits: Steve’s KH1 journey into Wales and onto summits!

Many thanks to Steve (MW0SAW) who shares the following guest post:

Getting a KH1 into Wales and activating a couple of SOTA summits

by Steve (MW0SAW)

I suspect like many QRP enthusiasts, when the brochure of the KH1 surfaced on the Elecraft FTP site, and the YouTube videos appeared, I worked myself into a frenzy of radio desire for the KH1. I knew I had to have one, end of story!

I was so keen to place my order, I totally missed the small print about not being able to ship to the UK or EU because of the lack of CE certification. Or UKCA for that matter. So I placed an order online with Elecraft on 21st Oct 2023 and later it was cancelled because of my location.

Waters and Stanton used to be Elecraft dealers in the UK, in fact I got my KX2 from there a few years ago. But sadly they no longer sell Elecraft products.

Looking on the dealer list, I turned my attention to Rene and Carine at Lutz Electronics in Switzerland. Although a more expensive route to ownership, Lutz have an agreement to buy the KH1 in as a kit and assemble the unit as a service before shipping on to the customer.

So after quite a few emails back and fore with Carine, I learnt I had reserved one of a batch of 40 units destined for the Swiss border. This was around early April.

A few weeks later, on 26th April, I got the email from Lutz requesting international bank transfer payment.

It felt I was really close to getting a KH1 in my hand now, or so I thought!

2nd May I got the tracking number, and by this time I was about to pop with excitement. I was checking the tracking at almost an hourly basis by now! It arrived in London Heathrow and that’s exactly where it stopped for a week. 🙁

The unit was held by customs and I just could not find any information on who to talk to. So after a week of radio silence, a letter from UK Borderforce arrived requesting I assign myself a customs agent to get my parcel cleared. There was even a mention that the parcel would be returned or even destroyed!

Long story slightly shorter, after several more stressful days of worry, I managed to find an extremely efficient company called UK import services. It did cost me a fee, but within a couple of days of providing the invoice and seller information, they got the parcel cleared.

Saturday the 25th May 2024…the big day! I remember pacing around the house looking up the street for the postman. The parcel was handed over and I dashed inside my home to open the box.

OMG there is was, in my hands, wow so small and such a thing of radio QRP beauty!

My friend Lee (M0VKR) also received his that morning and immediately packed his car to head for his nearest SOTA summit: High Willhays (G/DC-001).

Conditions had been terrible with the solar activity, but I managed to get my first QSO with Lee on 40m, in fact KH1 to KH1. I did have to plug it into my home QTH ZS6BKW to make the trip.

So two days later, I was presented with the opportunity and decided to grab a local summit: Craig yr Allt (GW/SW-037).

Conditions weren’t great but I wasn’t put off trying. I managed to qualify with the whip antenna and 17m came up with the goods to qualify.

I was struck by how small and light the unit is, and just how quick the station is to deploy.

In the distance the Bristol Channel and the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm. Flat Holm being the place where Marconi sent his first oversea radio signal to Lavernock Point.

The following weekend I took the KH1 out to the SOTA summit of Mynydd Y Glyn (GW/SW-027). Another day of terrible radio propagation. This time I deployed one of my MW0SAW EFHW antennas and the Bamatech TP-III key.

So despite the difficulties getting the radio, and despite the poor radio conditions it was great to be out with the KH1.

I absolutely love it.

It now goes everywhere with me, it’s insane how quick you can deploy it. Even managed to chase a German SOTA station from the office carpark, on 30m with the standard whip and 13 foot counterpoise!!

73 from Wales.