Tag Archives: Mount Mitchell State Park (K-2747)

POTA on Mount Mitchell: The new REZ Ranger 80 and how to use the Over/Under method to coil wire and cable

The REZ Ranger 80 antenna system ships with everything you need, including a nice backpack.

Back in March, I received an email from┬áMike Giannaccio (W5REZ) the owner of REZ Antenna Systems–he was curious if I’d like to check out his REZ Ranger 80 antenna system.

At the time, my plate was pretty full, so he arranged to send it to me on loan in July.

If you’re not familiar, the Ranger 80 is a portable vertical antenna with a tuning coil at the base that employs a sliding tap for tuning. The Ranger 80 will cover anywhere from 80 – 15 meters without needing any sort of external matching device (like an ATU).

The Ranger 80 Tuning Coil.

If you’re familiar with the Wolf River Coils antenna systems, then you’re familiar with this type of vertical antenna. The difference is that the Ranger 80 is built to what I could only describe as MilSpec standards.

Much of the Ranger 80’s components are CNC machined from premium materials. It sports a Delrin body, black anodized 6061 aluminum, and all stainless steel hardware.

This is not a featherweight antenna: it has the heft to match the caliber of materials used in its construction. It’s not an inexpensive antenna either–it’s currently about $560 US at DX Engineering.

The base of the Ranger 80: note the beautifully CNC-machined holes for the four counterpoises.

The Ranger 80 is also rated for 500W SSB and 250W CW/Digital–in other words, quite a bit more power than I’d ever use in the field, but this design will make activators and field ops happy that like to push some wattage.

I was curious how easy the Ranger 80 would be to deploy and tune, so on Sunday, August 6, 2023, I took it to one of my favorite parks on the planet.

Mount Mitchell State Park (K-2747)

I wasn’t alone on this trip: it was a proper family picnic with my wife, daughters and, of course, Hazel.

The weather was very moody that day–driving up to the park, we watched clouds and mists rise up through the trees like waves crashing on a rocky coast line. Continue reading POTA on Mount Mitchell: The new REZ Ranger 80 and how to use the Over/Under method to coil wire and cable

Testing a new Tufteln knee board and antenna during this beautiful SOTA activation on Mount Mitchell

On the morning of November 4th, I woke up with one thought on my mind: “I need to activate Mount Mitchell before it’s too late!”

It’s not like Mount Mitchell was going to disappear, but I knew I was already on borrowed time since the long section of the Blue Ridge Parkway I use to drive to Mount Mitchell from Asheville typically closes in the early part of November for weeks at a time. The park itself will close to guests too–in fact, last year, it closed its gates as I drove out of the park! There are often other roads open to Mitchell in the winter, but they’re very much out of the way for me and frankly, weather can shift and the park close at the drop of a hat.

As the crow flies, Mount Mitchell is actually very close to my QTH. If I wanted, I could hike there directly from my home. I’ve yet to do this, however, because with the 3,000′ elevation change and the anything-but-direct trails that skirt the Asheville watershed, I’d need a full day or more to hike it one way. I will for sure do this sometime, but only when I can pack appropriately and reserve a campsite.

Morning drive

As soon as I surfaced that morning, I check the weather map. I noticed that the temp at Mount Mitchell was actually slightly higher than at my QTH. I looked out the kitchen window and could see fog in the valley. This meant one thing: inversion!

When we have inversion, the cold air is pushed down into the valley and warmer air can be found at higher elevations. The flip opposite of what you’d typically expect.

I ate a quick bite, grabbed come coffee, and hit the road.

As I drove past Warren Wilson College’s farm, it was absolutely gorgeous. I had to stop and take a photo or two [click images to enlarge].

The drive up to Mount Mitchell on the BRP was ideal: clear skies and quite warm!

Mount Mitchell State Park (W4C/CM-001 and K-2747)

In fact, I felt like I really struck it lucky that day. I didn’t even need a heavy jacket or gloves. Continue reading Testing a new Tufteln knee board and antenna during this beautiful SOTA activation on Mount Mitchell