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QRP DX: Pairing the MM0OPX EFHW & Icom IC-705 during an impromptu activation

Turns out, if you go to Canada for nearly two months, when you return home you’re going to have about two months worth of catch up.

It’s all explained in one of Einstein’s theories. If memory serves, Einstein stated:

“One cannot simply ignore stuff for two months and expect no repercussions. Time lost must be accounted for due to the principles of the conservation of energy. Plus…what in creation were you thinking?”

When we returned from Canada in early August I had some pretty big plans about the parks and (especially) summits I would hit here in North Carolina. But after returning, I quickly realized I had so much work to do around the house and a number of DIY jobs I’d postponed at our investment property. They all immediately took priority.

Indeed, in the one month span after returning from Canada, I only performed three park and no summit activations. There was a three week period of time without activations of any sort. I simply didn’t have the time to fit anymore in my schedule. This all gave me a serious case of activation withdrawal.

If you’ve been following my field reports, you’ve no doubt noticed that I never do multi-hour activations at one site unless I happen to be camping at a POTA park.

I’m asked about this fairly regularly (why I don’t do longer activations to achieve Kilo awards, etc.) but the truth is I make POTA/SOTA fit in my busy family schedule. This often equates to short (30-60 minute) activation windows.

Then quite often, I’m on the road or doing errands in town and realize I have a short opening for an activation, so I squeeze it into the day. This is why I always have a fully self-contained field radio kit in my car. At a moment’s notice, I can set up a station, and play radio.

In a way, I find this style of quick activation fun, too. “Can I seriously validate a park during this short window of time–?”

These activations remind me of that scene in A Christmas Story where the father gets a small thrill out of timing himself as he changes a flat tire on the side of the road. I totally get that.

Except with me it’s deploying antennas instead of managing lug nuts.

Hamfest time!

Friday, September 2, 2022 was a big day for me. On the way back from visiting my folks that morning, I spent a couple of hours at the Shelby Hamfest.

The Shelby Hamfest typically has the largest outdoor tailgate market in all of North Carolina and likely one of the larger ones in the southeast US. I had no items on my wish list, I just wanted to see what was there.

This was the first hamfest I’d attended in a little over a year. It was a lot of fun and I got to meet a number of friends and readers/subscribers.

If you’d like to see the treasure I found at the Shelby Hamfest, by the way, check out the large photo gallery I posted over on the SWLing Post.

Back to the topic of impromptu activations…

South Mountains State Park (K-2753)

Driving home after the Shelby Hamfest that early afternoon, I realized I was passing dangerously close to the Clear Creek access of South Mountains State Park.

I had a couple of errands to run back home before the post office closed at 17:00 that day, but in my head I believe I had just enough time for a quick activation. The total amount of detour driving would only be about 15 minutes; I’d just need to keep the activation (including most set up and pack up) under 45 minutes or so.

At the last minute, I took a right turn and headed to the park!

Fortunately, the one lonely picnic table at the Clear Creek access was unoccupied.

I grabbed my IC-705 kit and a new antenna!

The MM0OPX QRP End-Fed Half-Wave (EFHW)

A few weeks prior, Colin (MM0OPX) reached out to me and asked if I would consider testing a new high-quality, highly-efficient QRP EFHW he’d designed.

Of course, there’s nothing new about an EFHW–it’s one of the most popular field antenna designs on the planet–but Colin’s goal was to make one with the lowest insertion loss possible in a compact, lightweight (50g), and durable format.

I say he succeeded.

In fact, this activation was actually the second one where I used Colin’s QRP EFHW. The previous day, I paired it with a then very Beta version of the Penntek TR-45L at Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861).

In short, the antenna made for a wildly successful QRP activation. Here’s the QSO Map (you’ll need to click and enlarge to see the number of contacts):

QSO Map from the previous day with the MM0OPX QRP EFHW

The Penntek TR-45L was still quite new at the time and even though¬† I got John’s (WA3RNC) blessing, I didn’t post the activation video and mini overview on YouTube. Keep in mind the TR-45L was still in Beta so not all features had been finalized.

I did, however, post the entire TR-45L activation video on Patreon.

Quick side note: Why this video only on Patreon?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve now invested in a Pro account with Vimeo that allows me to post completely ad-free videos¬† that my Patreon supporters can enjoy and even download. I recently discovered that YouTube unfortunately inserts ads even though I have monetization turned off. I pay for Vimeo’s bandwidth and server space, so I also can control the ad experience completely (basically eliminating any possibility of ads!).

My Patreon supporters are the ones making it possible for me to pay the annual $420 fee to Vimeo and I am incredibly grateful, so I pass along the benefit to them.

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