Tag Archives: Nemo Chipper Foam Seat

Soggy POTA: Pairing the Elecraft KX2 and AX1 Amidst Flaky Propagation!

On Saturday, May 4, 2024, I drove to the Hickory, NC area to visit my father, who had recently been released from the hospital and was starting rehab at a skilled nursing facility. I had a busy afternoon planned back home in the mountains, but I couldn’t resist squeezing in a quick POTA activation!

Many of you know this is a recurring theme for me – it’s rare that I have a lot of time for activations. I’d be doing far fewer if I couldn’t manage 45-60 minute windows to set up, operate, and pack up.

Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)

The facility where my father is staying is only about 20-25 minutes from Tuttle Educational State Forest, so I had to stop by.

It was rainy that Saturday, so I was already thinking about Tuttle’s excellent picnic shelter. I had my Elecraft KX2 and AX1 antenna packed, and while operating under a metal roof with a compromised antenna isn’t ideal, I’ve had surprising success in the past, including one of my first Transatlantic Park-to-Park contacts (click here to read that field report).

I arrived at Tuttle and found that there was no one in the parking lot. Not surprising considering the weather.

I grabbed my gear and headed to the shelter, only to discover that the lights were on and it was reserved from noon to 5:30 PM. Dang!

Even though it was still drizzling, I wasn’t too concerned. Tuttle has plenty of trees, so I figured I could find a spot under a good canopy to protect my gear. I went back to the car for my rain jacket and my new folding foam seat.

A Funny Story…

I had been planning to buy the Nemo Chipper Foam Seat from REI, but a couple of days after adding it to my cart, one arrived in the mail!

It was a gift from Al (N4EII), who mentioned he loves his and uses it for SOTA and POTA because it’s so lightweight and portable. I think it was this very rainy activation that prompted him to send me the Nemo seat!

Thank you, Al, for reading my mind! So very kind of you!

Setting up

I found a picnic table under a heavy canopy and set up my Elecraft KX2 and AX1 antenna–one of my favorite radio/antenna combos.

That said, I was definitely taking a bit of a gamble. Band conditions (a recurring theme here lately) were quite rough and using a compromised antenna would be risky compared with, say, a much higher-gain 40 meter end-fed half-wave. But the AX1 is so quick to deploy, which is key when time is limited.


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 being midday, I decided that 20 meters would likely be the best band choice.

I started calling CQ POTA and was a bit surprised that my first contact was Michael (N7CCD) in Washington State.

Michael is in my logs a lot–even though he runs QRP from home most of the time, he has a very effective hex beam that casts a signal into NC with ease. With the bands in such rough shape I didn’t expect to work him that day.

Then again, many of the solar numbers have been healthy, it’s just that the ionosphere has been quite unstable. This usually results in deep QSB (fading) thus contacts may be strong one minute, then completely gone the next. This is how I felt conditions were at Tuttle that day.

I continued logging stations at a very respectable rate. I did note a lot of activity from 5 land (Texas and Mississippi). It’s funny how sometimes a path will open like this. Indeed, Texas has had a most welcome opening into North Carolina a lot lately.

In the end, I worked a total of eleven stations–one more than the required ten for a valid POTA activation.

I did all this in just 16 minutes on air. That’s actually an impressive rate considering propagation was so flaky.

No doubt, I could have worked more stations if I had the time.


Here’s what this five-watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map (it’s still hard for me to believe this can be accomplished with such a small antenna!):


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.

Soggy POTA

Rainy weather doesn’t stop me from activating if I have my mind set on it.

That said, when it’s raining, I do seek out parks with shelters. It makes the whole set-up process easier and quicker.

Ideally, you want your antenna out in the open, but I’ve even used quarter wave verticals in shelters without issue (I’m thinking of this Lake Norman activation in particular).

Of course, I also keep a small rainfly in my car for makeshift shelter if needed. With a rainfly, camping chair, and kneeboard, I can activate in the wettest of weather. In fact, a rainfly saved this quick Field Day activation last year.

And of course, when raining, you can always activate from inside your vehicle! That may be the easiest option of all for some of us.

Again, Al, thanks again for the Nemo seat – it’s fantastic!

Thank you

Thank you for joining me during this 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! And today being Memorial Day, my thoughts are with families who’ve lost loved ones in service to their country.

Cheers & 72,
Thomas (K4SWL)