Tag Archives: Rain

POTA at South Mountains: Wet Weather, Flaky Bands, but Brilliant Field Radio Fun!

On Friday, April 26, 2024, I dropped in on a POTA site I hadn’t visited in months: South Mountains State Park (US-2753).

The Clear Creek Access area–on the north west side of the park–is the quickest POTA detour for me as I travel from Asheville to Hickory along the I-40 corridor.

In my previous field report, I mentioned that my trips to Hickory have become less frequent compared to before, when I would go at least once a week. Now, when I do go, it’s typically not an overnight stay, which limits my opportunities for activations.

That Friday, the weather was predominantly wet. As I drove up to the Clear Creek parking area, clouds had rolled in and it was lightly raining. It was one of those days I wish I had packed my TX-500.

Fortunately, I typically set up under a large oak tree at this site and I knew it would offer pretty good protection from the rain.

Upon arriving at the site, I was surprised by the number of parked vehicles. Ordinarily, I would expect to see only one or two other vehicles besides my own, but on this rainy day, there were about a dozen. This is the largest number of vehicles I’ve ever observed at the Clear Creek access.

I was a little worried that the one lonely picnic table at this site would be occupied, but fortunately, it was not.

I later learned that the bulk of the cars were there because a homeschool group was visiting. In fact, at one point, you’ll hear me speaking to one of the homeschool moms about amateur radio in the activation video below. That’s what I love about homeschoolers: they’re always ready to approach and ask questions!

I reached the picnic table and started setting up my field kit.

I had a simple, but effective pairing in mind for this activation: my Elecraft KX2 and Packtenna 9:1 random wire. In the past, I’ve used this combo numerous times with great success.

What I love about a good random wire is just how easily I can hop from one band to another.

Setup was simple and pretty speedy. Also, the tree did keep me pretty dry while it rained lightly.

Gear:

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On The Air

Propagation has been very flaky as of late, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I hopped on the air. Continue reading POTA at South Mountains: Wet Weather, Flaky Bands, but Brilliant Field Radio Fun!

Matt’s Rainy Day POTA Activation

Many thanks to Matt (W6CSN) who shares the following post  from his blog at W6CSN.Blog:


Rainy Day Activation

by  Matt (W6CSN)

It’s late December and one of a series of winter storms is driving into northern and central California. The previous day, my plans for a combined Summits On The Air and Parks On The Air activation fell apart due to weather. Today most of the UTC day had passed with only light drizzle, and itching to get on the air, I hatched a plan for an activation at my nearby park reference K-7889, the Presidio of San Francisco.

Typically when activating at this park from the “East Beach” area, I will back into a parking space, setup the radio on the trunk lid and run the coax a short distance to a 17 foot vertical telescoping whip antenna which is clamped to a short steel post.

Today however, I chose to operate from inside the vehicle so both myself and the radio equipment would stay dry. Not wanting to leave the coax unsupervised where someone could trip over it, I deployed the Gabil GRA-7350T antenna with a triple mag-mount on the roof of the car.

The CW Morse paddles mounted to a steel clipboard on the center console.

The GRA antenna is a short, loaded vertical with the whip portion maxing out at about 8 feet in length. It works well on 20 meters, but it’s less of a compromise on higher frequencies. On 18 MHz, only a small amount of the loading coil is needed to achieve an acceptable SWR, so with the bands in pretty good shape I brought the Yaesu FT-818 so I could get on 17 meters.

There weren’t many spots for 17m on the POTA web site, but I posted my spot anyway and started calling CQ. It wasn’t long before KX0Y responded, followed by more hunters from across North America and Alaska. The Golden Gate Bridge was visible from my vantage point at the start of the activation, but as the rain intensified the bridge became enshrouded by the incoming weather front.

With 00 UTC approaching, the rain now coming down harder, and 13 QSOs in the log I called QRT. Rather than carefully stowing the antenna and mag-mount, I simply broke it down as quickly as possible and tossed it all the back seat since I would have to bring it inside to dry anyway.

The following equipment was used in this activation:

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Thanks to all the hunters that responded and made the activation a success.

73 de W6CSN.

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!

Fickle weather during an early morning activation at Parc de la Rivière-du-Moulin, Saguenay

Each time our family spends the summer in Québec, we make time to visit the Saguenay region  which is just a couple hours north of Québec City.

We enjoy the hikes, the river walks, and other outdoor activities. It’s a beautiful part of Québec.

This year, we spent more time along the north shore of the St. Lawrence visiting Baie-Comeau and later camping and whale watching a little north of Tadoussac. We also explored more of the Charlevoix region and even parts of the Québec City area we’d never visited in the past. I really enjoyed driving some new-to-us back country roads.

A couple weeks before leaving Québec, we took a family poll and unanimously decided to squeeze in a trip to Saguenay despite our other travels.

Due to other activities we’d scheduled, we only had a window of a couple of days to make the trip. The weather didn’t look that wonderful for the drive north and, in fact, it wasn’t. We drove along a line of torrential rain that was so heavy at one point, I (along with many other drivers) pulled off the road to wait out the heaviest bit.

Otherwise, the drive was/is a beautiful one through the Jacques-Cartier  National Park on 73/175 North. Had it not been for the thunderstorms and rain, I would have taken a small detour to make at least one activation.

The first day in Saguenay was all about walking on the river, and hitting some of our favorite spots when the rain finally moved on; I didn’t attempt a park activation. I decided instead to do an early morning activation the following day (July 22, 2022).

Finding a park

You may have noticed that quite a lot of my activations in Québec have been ATNOs (All-Time New Ones). I didn’t specifically set out to activate ATNOs–in fact, they were hard to avoid because there were so many.

Not so in Saguenay!

POTA activators in Saguenay are an active bunch and they are spoiled for choice in terms of the density of parks; there are so many!

It really pleased me to see so many previous activations at the parks I researched–not only activations in the summer months, but also winter (and they have proper winters in Saguenay/Chicoutimi–!).

There were so many parks to choose from, I decided I would simply choose the one closest to our hotel and that turned out to be Parc de la Rivière-du-Moulin.

It was so close to our hotel, I could have easily walked there.

Continue reading Fickle weather during an early morning activation at Parc de la Rivière-du-Moulin, Saguenay

Poor propagation but impressive QRP DX with the CHA MPAS 2.0 vertical antenna

One of the funny things about doing field activations is you never know what to expect when you arrive on site, setup, and hop on the air. It’s part of the fun, really. There are certain things you can control, and then there’s propagation.

On Sunday, February 14, 2021 (yes, Valentine’s Day), we had a modest break in the weather and my wife and daughters encouraged me to hit the field to do a quick activation before an afternoon movie marathon. Sunday was the first day I had seen the sun at our house since the previous Wednesday when the cloud ceiling descended to the altitude of our house (3,300′ ASL) and stayed there. It also wasn’t raining incessantly on Sunday, which was a welcome change.

I checked with my go-to propagation friend Mike (K8RAT) before heading out the door and he informed me that things were dismal. I wasn’t surprised: earlier that morning I worked a couple CW stations calling CQ POTA on 40 meters who had very few takers.

Still…I wasn’t going to let propagation stop me.

“Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead.”

I chose the Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace (K-6856) as my POTA site because it’s the closest park to me that has a covered shelter. I fully expected rain to move in within an hour and really didn’t want that to cut my radio play short.

Once I arrived on site, I decided to deploy my  Chameleon MPAS 2.0 vertical antenna. Why would I use a multi-band vertical instead of a more efficient wire antenna on a day with dodgy prop?

Aren’t you a handsome antenna!

For one thing, I had a limited amount of time and the MPAS 2.0 can be deployed and packed up within a few minutes. Also, I could position the MPAS 2.0 close to the shelter so if heavy rain moved in, I could even keep the base of the antenna protected and pack it up under cover. That and I really didn’t want to fiddle with a wire antenna in the rain if I didn’t have to.

Gear:

On The Air

In short: I only made 12 contacts during this brief activation.

But what I lacked in quantity, I made up for in quality!

Let’s skip straight to the QSOmap of the activation. Keep in mind these are contacts made with a vertical antenna and only 5 watts of power (green poly lines are CW, red is SSB):

Click to enlarge.

Days like Sunday we can’t expect large pileups with five watts, but we can expect normal–albeit brief–openings that allow for some serious low-power DX.

My five watts and a vertical caught Raffaelle’s (IK4IDF) attention in Italy. Sure…he has good ears with a nine element HF Yagi, but I worked him with 5 watts over a distance of 7653 km / 4755.36 mi.

951 miles per watt? Yes, please! I’ll take that!

Parks On The Air isn’t really about working DX, but it’s so much fun when it does happen.

Video

I made a video of the full activation which includes setting up the Chameleon CHA MPAS 2.0. As I mention each time, this is a real-time, real-life video so keep expectations low. 🙂 It includes a number of mistakes on my part.

Click here to view on YouTube.

I’m hoping this odd pattern of bad weather will break soon. I shouldn’t complain: I feel pretty fortunate that we haven’t gotten hit hard with some of the heavy winter conditions affecting much of North America right now.

As soon as it dries up a bit, I’m ready to hike to a local summit for a little SOTA (Summits On The Air) fun! I can’t wait…