Tag Archives: Pisgah National Forest (K-4510)

QRP & Coffee: Late-Shift POTA using the new Chelegance MC-750 80 Meter Coil!

I mentioned in a previous post that Jesse at Chelegance had sent me some antenna goodies to evaluate. One of them was the MC-599 portable dipole antenna which you might have read about in my previous field report.

Another item he sent, which I was equally excited about, was an 80-meter coil for my beloved MC-750 vertical antenna.

In the spirit of full transparency: he sent this at no cost to me, and, as a reminder, Chelegance is also an affiliate of QRPer.com.

I’ve been eager to take the 80-meter coil on a POTA activation because 1.) if it proved effective, it would be great to have such a low-impact, low-profile antenna for 80 meters, but 2.) it’s been very difficult to fit in an evening POTA activation with my family life.

It would have been difficult to gauge how effective an 80M antenna performs in the late morning or early afternoon when I typically activate local parks/summits.

On Wednesday, February 6, 2024, a two-hour window of opportunity opened. One of my daughters had a dress rehearsal that night, and I knew of a nice, quiet, secluded POTA spot only 25 minutes away.

Pisgah National Forest (K-4510) and Game Land (K-6937)

My original plan was to arrive at the Looking Glass Falls’ picnic area, deploy the antenna, fire up the stove, make some coffee, eat on-site, then begin my activation after the start of the UTC day.

So why wait for the new UTC day?

Mainly because once you hit the new UTC day, it counts as a new activation. That really works in your favor as an activator if your goal is to complete a valid activation (with ten contacts) and you’ve enough time to do that before the UTC rollover. If you time it all correctly, you could activate double the parks with a minimum of 20 contacts (split 10/10). In my case, that would mean a total of four parks activated in one evening (since this was a two-fer).

I decided fitting in an activation prior to the UTC rollover simply wasn’t worth the rush.

Once I arrived on-site, however, I was already changing my mind.

I started my activation video, deployed the MC-750, and looked at my watch. I had roughly 15 minutes before the UTC rollover.

It would be tight, but I decided to give it a go and try logging ten contacts before 18:59:59 local (or 23:59:59 UTC).

If I couldn’t log ten before the UTC day, who cares!? It would be a fun challenge for sure, but I wasn’t going to cry if I couldn’t gather enough contacts for a valid activation.

There was another factor, too: operating 80 meters with a 17′ loaded vertical isn’t exactly “efficient.” My theory, though? It doesn’t need to be efficient. It’s crazy portable, convenient, and as a POTA activator, I only need enough performance to get the job done.

Time to hit the air!

Radio Gear:

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Coffee Gear:

Photo from the Fall of ’23.

On The Air

I’d scheduled my activation on the POTA website, so was relying on it to spot me via the Reverse Beacon Network.

I started calling CQ POTA and the contacts started rolling in… very… slowly.

Well, it felt slow because I had a goal of ten contacts in fifteen minutes. Continue reading QRP & Coffee: Late-Shift POTA using the new Chelegance MC-750 80 Meter Coil!

QRP POTA and testing the new JNCRadio MC-599 portable dipole antenna!

In late December 2023, I received a package from Jesse at JNCRadio/Chelegance. It was their new MC-599 portable dipole antenna. They sent it—full disclaimer: at no cost to me—for evaluation, but shortly after receiving it, life got crazy and I was delayed in taking it to the field.

Fast-forward to February, and I was eager to take it to the field and see how it might perform. On February 5, 2024, a nice window of opportunity opened in the afternoon while one of my daughters was rehearsing A Midsummer Night’s Dream with her cast. Pisgah National Forest and Game Land were a 20-minute drive from her meeting site, so I headed there to deploy this new antenna.

The JNCRADIO MC-599

On-site, I pulled out the two main components of the MC-599 dipole system: the bespoke padded bag holding the antenna and the portable mast.

I knew the basics about assembling the MC-599 because I had watched a video on the Chelegance website that morning.

However, this was the very first time I had deployed the MC-599. I had never even removed any of the antenna components from the padded bag.

With this antenna, it’s best to have an open area for the two sides of the dipole (two telescoping whips) to fully extend without touching tree branches, etc. I had one particular picnic site in mind at the roadside picnic area I chose, but a couple was having a picnic there when I arrived. I waited to see if they might be leaving soon, but they weren’t, so I chose a site I had used before, even though it was flanked by trees.

Assembly was easy: I simply attached the center of the dipole to the 13′ mast, then attached the two telescoping whips to either side and extended them to the 20M position silkscreened on the whip (identical to the MC-750 vertical markings—see below).

Next, you simply attach your coax to the center of the dipole, then extend the mast all the way up.

I had to avoid touching tree branches, but it actually fit quite easily into this small space.

Since it was a bit breezy, I used some line to guy the mast. Ideally, you’d want a minimum of three guying points, but I only had two lines with me, so I made do, and it worked fine—the antenna was stable.

Next, I set up my radio: the Yaesu FT-818ND. Since the MC-599 was, in theory, resonant, I didn’t need an ATU for a match.

I turned on the FT-818 and discovered that the SWR was a perfect 1:1. Amazing.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised because my Chelegance MC-750 is always perfectly resonant (without needing a transformer) simply following the whip markings for guidance.

I should note here that the MC-599 can handle up to 200 Watts PEP—I was pushing 5-6 Watts. Also, the frequency range using the whips is from 20-6 meters. Chelegance also includes two 7 MHz wire elements that can be deployed in an inverted vee shape to play radio on the 40-meter band. It’s an efficient system and has many fewer components than a Buddipole systems I’ve used in the past.

Gear:

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On The Air

Keep in mind that my POTA site was in a deep valley, flanked by high ridge lines–I wasn’t sure what to expect as I hopped on the air.

I started calling CQ POTA and the first station I heard was DL1OK operating in Spain as EA8/DL1OK. Logging Dmitrij was a good sign indeed for this portable dipole!

Stations kept flowing in. I worked my first ten contacts in ten minutes.

I continued working stations in a continuous pileup until I ran out of time. I ended up logging a total of 46 contact all within 50 minutes. I did spend a few extra minutes (as I always do) trying to pull out weak stations and slower code stations.

What fun!

QSO Map

Here’s what this five-watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map.

Note that this map does not include my contact with EA8/DL1OK in Spain:

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.

MC-599 notes

I’ve got to admit: the MC-599 made a great first impression.

As with the MC-750, I’m most impressed with the build quality. The components are all sturdy and nicely machined. The padded case was custom made to hold the MC-599 and its components. Everything fits together as it should and—again—was resonant when deployed according to the whip markings.

Even on this inaugural deployment, it didn’t take long to set up. The next time I deploy it, it will go even faster. Packing it up afterward (as you can see in the video) went very quickly.

Keep in mind: the MC-599 is a low-impact, high-profile antenna.

If you’re at a site that doesn’t allow antennas in trees, the MC-599 could be an excellent option. Other than using optional guy lines that would require tent stakes in the ground, it would have no impact on park grounds.

I love the fact that the MC-599 is self-supporting. This would be an absolutely brilliant antenna to use at parks with wide-open spaces and few trees for support.

That said, it is not a stealthy antenna. In fact, portable dipole antennas are some of the most conspicuous portable antennas you could deploy. They’re maybe slightly less conspicuous than a hex beam or Yagi. Even though I was cloaked by a few trees, the couple that was occupying the picnic site I had hoped to use couldn’t help but stop by on their way out and ask what it was I was doing. I bet if I had been using a wire antenna, they wouldn’t have even seen it.

I would always ask permission before setting up an antenna like the MC-599 at, say, a small historic site or urban park.

I could also see using the MC-599 for SOTA (Summits On The Air), but primarily on summits that are either drive-up, or where the hike is minimal. The aluminum alloy mast is lightweight for its size, but it’s quite large to consider taking on an extended hike. However, for a nice drive-up summit, I imagine you could work some serious DX. Just bring a few guy lines in case it’s windy.

I do think the MC-599 would make for a great Field Day antenna. Since it can handle up to 200W PEP and is easy to lower and switch bands, it would be a brilliant portable option for those operating a multi-band 100W rig.

But obviously? It’s an exceptional performer with QRP power. It’s hard to beat a dipole even when it’s only 13′ off the ground.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this fun 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 certainly 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 make 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!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

“Three Watts and a Wire: Seizing a Last-Minute POTA Opportunity with the Elecraft KX1!

I woke up a little too early on the morning of Saturday, February 3, 2024.

The previous evening, we recorded a Ham Radio Workbench podcast episode with my dear friend Ara (N6ARA) as a guest. It was a load of fun, and we ran over time (no surprise there). Since we started recording at 18:00 Pacific Time, it means that it was 21:00 here in the Eastern time zone. By the time the episode ended, it was well after midnight my time.

For some reason, my body clock only allowed me to sleep for five hours, but I planned to sneak in a nap at some point during the day. Our plans were modest that Saturday (only to visit my father-in-law in the hospital), and I had no intention to fit in a POTA activation.

Around noon, my daughters asked if I’d drive them to watch one of their friends in a Shakespeare performance at 2:00 PM. We quickly sorted out plans, and I grabbed my GoRuck GR1 pack, which (due to a crazy January) had hardly been touched since my activation with Hazel nearly a month prior.

Pisgah National Forest (K-4510) and Game Land (K-6937)

As you’ll hear me mention in a number of my field reports, the venue where my daughters rehearse Shakespeare and perform is a short drive to Pisgah National Forest/Game Lands. In the past couple of months, I’ve enjoyed numerous activations in Pisgah.

The weather was perfect for playing radio outdoors. It was chilly, yes, but not so cold that I needed to wear gloves.

I was looking forward to putting the Elecraft KX1 on the air again. As I state near the end of my video below, it’s one of my all-time favorite QRP rigs.

My trusty GoRuck GR1

I decided to pair the KX1 with my KM4CFT end-fed half-wave that I built for 30 meters, with a linked 40-meter extension.

On this particular afternoon, I wanted to focus on 30 meters, so as I deployed the antenna, I unhooked the 40M link.

Gear:

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On The Air

I started calling CQ POTA, and it didn’t take long for the RBN to spot me, and Evan (K2EJT) was the first to call (thanks, OM!). Continue reading “Three Watts and a Wire: Seizing a Last-Minute POTA Opportunity with the Elecraft KX1!

Keying In The Rain: One rather soggy but incredibly fun POTA activation!

I’m lucky enough to live in a part of the world where–by and large–the weather is pretty darn nice.

In fact, I recently received a comment from a reader who jokingly said that I should work for the tourism board of western North Carolina because the weather always seems so pleasant in my POTA/SOTA videos.

It’s true: most of the time I hit the field to play radio, the weather is very pleasant.

That said, you see more of these “fair weather” activations because I tend not to make videos of ones in poor conditions mainly because I don’t like managing the camera in high winds, heavy rains, or even super cold conditions–especially when I want to get in and out of the field quickly. The camera tends slows everything down.

On Friday, December 1, 2023, though, I decided to do a park activation in the rain and make a video! Here’s my field report:

Pisgah National Forest (K-4510)

That Friday morning, I dropped my daughters off at classes, then made my way to the Mills River library to put the finishing touches on a field report and publish it. It was rainy and I wasn’t complaining; it had been a very dry fall in WNC up to that point.

After I published my field report and attempted to catch up on the email backlog a bit, I hopped in the car and headed to the Sycamore Flats picnic area in Pisgah National Forest (K-4510) and Pisgah Game Lands (K-6937).

That day, knowing it would be soggy, I packed my Discovery TX-500 which is pretty much rain-proof. By this, I mean that it’s designed to cope with rain, but it’s not designed to be completely submerged in water.

Truth be told, I had no intention of making an activation video. Once I arrived on site, though, I thought, “Why the heck not?” After all, other than being rainy and chilly, conditions were pretty pleasant. That and my OSMO action camera is completely waterproof.

I grabbed the camera and started filming the activation while closing up the car.

Setting Up

When playing POTA in the rain, I tend to select picnic tables or sites that are under the canopy of trees if at all possible. Trees not only provide antenna supports, but they also help divert a bit of the rain.

I found an ideal site under the canopy of a few hemlocks.

I deployed my PackTenna end-fed half-wave (EFHW) oriented (nearly) vertically and with the feed point close to the tree trunk so that it would be better protected from the rain. I wasn’t worried about the antenna getting wet, but I also didn’t want the toroid and windings to get completely soaked either. It’s never a bad idea to use what bit of natural protection the trees can offer.

As you can see in the photo above, I had my TX-500 completely exposed, but the battery, in-line fuse, and (to some extent) the speaker mic were all protected in the TX-500’s Telesin Case.

As always, I used my Rite In The Rain notepad which is a champ at handling wet conditions. Continue reading Keying In The Rain: One rather soggy but incredibly fun POTA activation!

SSB and CW QRP POTA: Testing my new KM4CFT End-Fed Antenna Kit!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Jonathan (KM4CFT) sent me one of his new QRP end-fed half-wave/random wire antenna kits.

When my friend, Alan (W2AEW), caught wind that I planned to buy some 26AWG wire for this build, he sent me a spool of wire from a large reel he’d recently picked up at a hamfest.

What a nice guy! The blue wire is absolutely ideal for portable antennas.

Being the nice guy he is, Alan actually published a video about building Jonathan’s antenna kit on his YouTube channel. I highly recommend watching it!

Before I received the kit, I already knew what type of antenna I’d build: a 30 meter end-fed half-wave (EFHW) linked with a 40 meter extension. This antenna design has been on my mind for some time and Jonathan’s kit was the perfect excuse to build one.

Why a 30M EFHW with a 40M extension? Because a 40M EFHW gives me excellent SWR matches on 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters without needing an ATU.  A 30M EFHW gives me matches 30 and 17 meters.

Thus, with one linked wire antenna, I can cover 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, and 10 meters! That’s a lot of bands!

And since the antenna needs no extra matching, it’ll work with my transceivers that lack an internal ATU.

The Mountain Topper MTR-5B I acquired earlier this year.

In fact, I originally thought about this antenna design to use with my Mountain Topper MTR-5B which covers 40, 30, 20, 17, and 15 meters.

I built this antenna by first trimming it for a 1:1 match on 30 meters including a loop and strain relief to attach the extension.

When I was satisfied with my 30M EFHW, I then made the 40M extension, attached it to the 30M section with 2mm bullet banana connectors, then trimmed the antenna for a 1:1 match on 40M.

I spent the better part of 60 minutes trimming this antenna. I feel like patience really pays off because it’ll set up the antenna for good matches on all of the upper harmonics. Admittedly, I was a bit pressed for time that day, so I only tested this antenna in one configuration (an inverted vee shape) so hadn’t checked the SWR as a sloper or vertical.

My advice is to aim for a 1.3:1 or better match on 30M and 40M–that should be very doable if you wound your transformer correctly.

This was my first attempt at making in-line links, so I wouldn’t consider link my method as a “best practice”–rather, check out K7ULM’s guidance for making in-line links. Continue reading SSB and CW QRP POTA: Testing my new KM4CFT End-Fed Antenna Kit!

Postcard POTA Field Report: Pairing the KH1 with an EFHW at Pisgah National Forest

Welcome to another Postcard Field Report!

If you’ve been following QRPer.com and my YouTube channel for long, you’ll notice that I typically post two field reports with videos per week when my free time allows. Each report takes about four hours to produce along with a video. I’ve got a busy day ahead on the road (including a POTA activation), so in order to squeeze this field report into my schedule, I’m going to use my more abbreviated field report format: a “postcard” format!

Speaking of which….

Pisgah National Forest (K-4510)

On the morning of Friday, November 10, 2023, I had a couple hours to fit in some POTA time.

All morning, we had been receiving some much-needed rain in the form of scattered showers in a constant heavy mist.

I decided to explore picnic areas I hadn’t yet visited in Pisgah National Forest along the Pisgah Highway near Brevard, North Carolina.

I was curious if I might find a small shelter at one of the roadside sites. Unfortunately, I did not; however, I did find quite a few sites that were ideal for POTA with tall trees, space between picnic tables, etc. I decided to pick one at random that had no other park visitors.

I did have a small rainfly in the car I could set up, but I decided to simply risk it. The goal was to pair the new Elecraft KH1 with my (MW0SAW) End-Fed Half-Wave antenna.

I wanted to see if the KH1 ATU could match the EFHW on 30 and 17 meters (outside of its resonant bands of 40, 20, and 15 meters).

Setup

Since I wasn’t using the KH1 pedestrian mobile, I connected my N0SA (“SOTA paddle”) and my Anker Soundcore Mini portable speaker.

Antenna deployment was easy enough (though I did take a few tries to hit *the* tree branch I wanted)!

In no time, I had the KH1 on the air and ready to start calling CQ! Continue reading Postcard POTA Field Report: Pairing the KH1 with an EFHW at Pisgah National Forest

Kneeboard SOTA: INSANE DX with my smallest, most compromised antenna!

I walked out of my front door on the morning of Friday, September 29, 2023, knowing I was going to do an activation, but I had no idea where that might be.

I certainly had no idea it would be one of my most memorable activations ever–!

I knew I had a five hour window to play radio somewhere not too far from my daughters’ classes near the Asheville Airport.

I really wanted to do a SOTA (Summits On The Air) activation, but I’d pulled a muscle in my back and was nursing it a bit.  I knew that an invigorating hike on a long, gnarly trail was not really in the books.

After dropping off my daughters, I sat in the parking lot running through the activation options in my head. There were 5 or so parks within an easy drive. I knew a POTA activation probably made the most sense since it wouldn’t require hiking or carrying a heavy pack.

Then again, I really wanted to do a SOTA activation–the weather was so amazing, I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to take in a summit.

I decided that if I took a minimal amount of gear and activated an “easy” summit, then maybe I could get away with a little SOTA without hurting my back. I thought this might be the perfect excuse to do a SOTA activation pairing my Elecraft KX2 and AX2 antenna. I had a lightweight chair and my kneeboard, so in theory, I could set up anywhere on the summit with my entire station on my knee.

Next, I only needed to find the right summit and one came to mind almost immediately…

Black Balsam Knob (W4C/CM-005)

The last time I activated Black Balsam was with my buddy, Monty, in 2021. I remembered that it was an easy hike with stunning vistas of Pisgah Forest (K-4510) and the Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378).

This it the Mountain Ash (Sorbus Americana) with bright red fruit!

I drove 55 minutes to the trailhead and was happy that there weren’t too many cars in the parking area yet that morning. Black Balsam is one of the most popular summits on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so sometimes it can be a challenge to find a parking space…especially with stunning weather like this!

The hike was very pleasant and my GoRuck GR1 backpack was pretty light.

I knew I’d chosen the right summit hike.

The views from the Art Loeb Trail do not disappoint. (Click images to enlarge.)

In fact, if anything, I wish this hike were just a little longer because I enjoyed the scenery so much!

It’s only 3/4 of a mile one way, so it goes by quickly. Still… it’s why I chose this particular summit. I knew it would be gentle on my back (and it was).

Once I reached the summit, I started searching for a spot to set up. There were quite a lot of folks on the summit that morning, so I looked for a site just slightly off of the main trail.

I found an area on a side trail that provided just enough room to set up my folding chair without disturbing the flora.
Continue reading Kneeboard SOTA: INSANE DX with my smallest, most compromised antenna!

Deck Rail SOTA on Mount Pisgah and Improvising my Wire Antenna Deployment!

On the morning of Tuesday, June 27, 2023, a rare occasion happened in my otherwise hectic summer schedule: both a weather window and a wide activation window opened!

As the French say, “Il faut en profiter!

I always try to take advantage of any opportunities like this.

That morning, I checked in with my daughter, Geneva (K4TLI), to see if she might wish to do a SOTA activation. She was game, so I told her to grab her backpack.

My other daughter was at a one-week writer’s camp at UNC Asheville and my wife had other plans for the day, so it was also a great opportunity for some father/daughter time.

Oh, and another member of the family saw the hiking boots come out and immediately stopped what she was doing (tearing up a plush toy) to join us.

Hazel never, ever passes up a hike–! She gets more excited than anyone else in the family.

Mount Pisgah (W4C/CM-011)

We arrived at the trailhead of Mount Pisgah around 9:45 AM local.

Hazel, quite literally, bounced out of the car and towards the trailhead. She, no doubt, remembered the last time we played SOTA on Mount Pisgah.

There were much fewer hikers parked at the trailhead than I expected–then again, it was a Tuesday morning.

About thirty minutes into our hike we passed a couple who mentioned they’d spotted bears on the trail closer to the summit.

Not terribly surprising because (like my QTH) Pisgah is very much in bear territory. Since bears at this particular part of the parkway are used to human activity (and tourists feeding them), I pack bear spray. Those are the worst bears.

Black bears, in general, are fearful of humans and usually bolt the other way when they see you.  Bears used to being fed by tourists are not and are known to get aggressive. I don’t take my chances.

The hike to the summit of Pisgah is actually quite moderate. The first half of it is very relaxed with little elevation change. It’s the second half of the hike that packs it in! Continue reading Deck Rail SOTA on Mount Pisgah and Improvising my Wire Antenna Deployment!

Backcountry Drive and Beautiful Views: SOTA and POTA QRP combo on Dogback Mountain!

In the latter part of the morning on Thursday, June 15, 2023, I hopped in my car and started the drive back to my QTH after spending a couple of days helping my parents in Catawba County, NC.

I had a window of about three hours where I knew I could fit in a POTA activation or two.

I’m quite familiar with POTA landscape along this particular corridor of western North Carolina, so I starting considering my options. I could have easily hit South Mountains State Park, Lake James State Park, and/or Table Rock Fish Hatchery, but what I really wanted to do was a little SOTA (Summits On The Air).

The problem, that particular day, was that the AQI (Air Quality Index) wasn’t great–not ideal for a strenuous hike, so I quickly dismissed that idea. The skies, in fact, were a bit hazy from the forest fire smoke blowing down from northern Canada.

Then it dawned on my that I could drive to the summit of Dogback Mountain (W4C/EM-066) and perform not only a SOTA activation, but a POTA two-fer as well since the activation zone is also in Pisgah National Forest (K-4510) and Pisgah Game Lands (K-6937).

In truth, I don’t do a lot of drive-up summit activations because, typically, when I want to do SOTA, I also want to hike. But drive-up summits are ideal on days like this when either weather is questionable, or the AQI is high.

The drive

If you live near western North Carolina, Dogback Mountain is a must. It’s one of the few sites I go to that I enjoy the drive as much as the activation.

As I mentioned in my previous Dogback field report, the road to the summit is a Forest Service road that has a very backcountry feel to it. It’s not maintained regularly, so you can expect washboarding, deep ruts, large exposed stones, deep potholes and wide mud holes.

This isn’t a road I’d recommend for someone driving a sedan or minivan (that said, many years ago I did take a minivan up this road–made for a dodgy drive). Your vehicle would benefit from some proper ground clearance and, ideally, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

Frankly, I absolutely love driving this road because it’s passable most of the year, offers up amazing views, and has a number of dispersed camping spots (or POTA activation sites–!) along the way.

I drive backcountry roads routinely, so this is pure fun for me.

Dogback Mountain (W4C/EM-066)

The summit of Dogback Mountain is pretty much right on the forest service road. There are two pull-off parking areas on either side of the summit and both are well within the activation zone. In theory, you could set up your portable station along the road and do the SOTA activation there.

Note: Unlike POTA, the SOTA program does not allow mobile activations. If you activate a drive-up summit, you still need to set up a portable station that in no way uses your vehicle for support. 

I parked my car (turned on my video camera for the activation video below) then walked the very short path to the true summit. Continue reading Backcountry Drive and Beautiful Views: SOTA and POTA QRP combo on Dogback Mountain!

SOTA: Breaking in the Venus SW-3B on Dogback Mountain & taking in Wisemans’ View!

When I take a new radio to the field, I often don’t know what to expect until I arrive at the site and put it on the air. It’s one thing to use a radio in the shack, and quite another to use it in the field.

Earlier this year, I purchased a Venus SW-3B, three band QRP transceiver after much poking and prodding from readers and subscribers.  I actually contacted Dale (BA4TB) at Venus and asked for a loaner to do a review, but he had no units set aside for loans, so instead offered me a coupon code. I was hesitant to purchase yet another QRP radio–which is why I asked for a loaner–but his coupon discounted the radio enough I could even afford to splurge for expedited shipping.  He made money and I didn’t have to worry about loan periods, etc. It turned out to be a win/win.

I knew I wanted the SW-3B’s maiden voyage to be a SOTA summit, but I had to wait for a good weather window.

On Thursday, February 10, 2022, I got that opportunity!

Dogback Mountain (W4C/EM-066)

I learned about Dogback Mountain from my buddy Dave (W4JL) who activated it earlier this year. He told me it was a drive-up summit and was high enough to even rack up winter bonus points.

Back on January 26, 2022–during my POTA RaDAR run–I tried to activate Dogback Mountain, but the forest service road was too icy in all of the wrong places. I made it to within three miles of the summit but stopped and performed an activation of Pisgah Game Land and Pisgah Forest instead.

The road had no ice on it February 10, although it was very muddy and slippery in spots. Made for a very enjoyable drive in the Subaru, although post-activation you would have never guessed I’d washed the car the day before!

I arrived on site and parked the car at a pull-off that was well within the activation zone of the summit.  Dave was right: this summit was very accessible (well, as long as your vehicle has a bit of clearance–this isn’t a road for sports cars or low sedans).

I walked up the short path to the true summit and was absolutely gobsmacked by the views of Linville Gorge, Table Rock, and Hawksbill Mountain. Continue reading SOTA: Breaking in the Venus SW-3B on Dogback Mountain & taking in Wisemans’ View!