Tag Archives: Washington Rock State Park (K-1635)

SSB Style: Mark pairs the Elecraft KX3 and AX1 for some challenging activations

Many thanks to by Mark (W2ITG) who shares the following field report:

Elecraft KX3/AX1 Field Report

by Mark (W2ITG)

I’m an avid POTA activator and wanted to try an experiment to see if I could complete an activation using just the Elecraft KX3 & AX1 on 40 & 20m SSB. I’ve seen others do it on CW but not on SSB. My CW learning is not going well by the way.

This was at K-1635 Washington Rock State Park 02-07-2024, with a beautiful view of the NYC skyline approximately 20 miles away.

My 1st attempt was a failure because I ran into SWR issues on 20m when I picked up the microphone & RF was getting into the audio as well. This was with the antenna mounted directly on the side of the radio using a 90 degree elbow connector, the AX1B bipod & an elevated radial connected to one of the case screws of the radio, unfortunately it didn’t work.

It’s a good thing I had brought along my Tuftln EFHW and telescopic carbon fiber fishing pole as well because it saved the day which allowed me to complete the activation. When activating make sure to have a backup plan, so far I have no incomplete activations.

Fast forward to 02-27-2024 I’m making another attempt but using a clamp mount, clamped on to the side of the picnic table, 25’ of ABR Industries RG-316 with built in CMC choke, the Elecraft AXT1 tripod adapter, and an elevated counterpoise.

I was much more successful, but barely. I did get my 10 contacts, 7 on 40m and 3 on 20m. This really took me by surprise as the AX1 is more of a compromise on 40 than it is on 20m.

Radio set up at a different picnic table.
This clamp mount was taken from one of my BuddiStick setups.
Notice the electric fence post in the background to elevate the counterpoise.
The QSO map, it took me an hour and a half to get these 10 contacts.

Using the AX1 was quite the challenge to say the least. It does prove that even with a very limited antenna you can make contacts. My guess as to why it didn’t work as well on 20m, is poor band conditions. Living in the very populated northeast is what I believe allowed me to make more contacts on 40m.

Would I recommend buying this antenna? Most definitely, just as long as you know what it’s limitations are. I will try another attempt, but by trying 2 elevated counterpoise wires instead of 1. This antenna can use all the help it can get.

Field Report: Alan’s P2P POTA Activation Challenge!

Many thanks to Alan (W2AEW) who shares the following guest post:

A self-imposed POTA Park-to-Park Challenge…

by Alan (W2AEW)

One of the things I love about the Parks on the Air program is that every activation is a bit of small challenge.  What will the band be like?  What antenna will I be able to deploy when I get there?  Will I have a spot to setup?  Will my CW ‘ear’ be properly tuned up? You get the picture…

There are a few parks that I activate much more than others – call them my “home” parks.  These are the ones that are close to my home, easy to get to and setup.  One in particular,  Washington Rock State Park (K-1635), is certainly the closest. It has some interesting Revolutionary War History.

Not only is this park very close to my home, it also has pretty good elevation (about 500’) for this part of New Jersey.  In fact, the local fire department hangs a very large illuminated star during the Christmas season at their building that is adjacent to this park.

This star can be seen for miles to the South and East of the ridge.

It’s no wonder that I’ve activated this park more than 20 times in the last year and half.

My XYL Nancy was *very* generous to me this year at Christmas – gifting me a new Begali Adventure CW paddle!  She even had it engraved with my call:

I wanted to think of a unique way to celebrate my first POTA activation using this paddle. I would be going to K-1635, so the location would be very familiar.  Therefore, I thought of an interesting self-imposed challenge…   Attempt to complete an activation with ONLY Park to Park contacts!

As I thought about this, I figured my best chance of success would be to operate on the weekend (significantly more parks are active), and use my most efficient multi-band antenna (a 40m EFHW).

Being an engineer, I’m use to having goals.  I’m also used to having additional constraints imposed – let’s call them stretch-goals.  Possible stretch goals for this P2P Activation Challenge could be:

  • Operate QRP (all of my POTA activations are QRP, so not much of a stretch)
  • Operate only CW (nearly all of my activations are CW, and this helps with the QRP goal too)
  • Attempt this using a more compromised antenna
  • Attempt this during a weekday

It turns out I had a few free hours on Wednesday, December 27, 2023 to play radio…  It was kind of a dismal day weather-wise.  I figured it might be the day to attempt this challenge.  The wet weather had me thinking that I’d setup my SuperAntenna MP1 vertical instead of using the 40m EFHW (and having it and the throw line get all wet and muddy).  The stage was set for the challenge including the stretch goals.

I setup the MP1 on the bedrail of my truck, using an MFJ-1976 ten-foot whip on top.

The band conditions were in pretty good shape, so I figured I had a shot.  I setup the rig inside the truck because of the rain, and got the iPad going with the POTA spotting page to see who I could hunt.  I logged four P2P contacts in the first 20 minutes, so there was hope!

In the end, it took about 90 minutes to log 11 Park-to-Park contacts.  Well, actually 12, since one of them turned out to be a two-fer.  I logged a few “familiar” activators, including Teri KO4WFP – a frequent contributor of Field Reports here, and Jonathan KM4CFT – running a two-fer out of North Carolina.  There were a few that I noted in my paper log because I had a good copy on them, but ultimately couldn’t bust thru the pile ups there were getting (like K7SHR at K-10946 in WY and K0YY at K-4416 in TX).

A personal thanks to all of the activators in my log that helped me reach my P2P Challenge:

  • KL7NL at K-6945 in NC
  • KM4CFT at K-8313 and K-3378 in NC
  • WD4AWD at K-2982 in TN
  • KU8T at K-4208 in IN
  • KO4WFP at K-0659 in FL
  • W0ABE at K-10532 in CO
  • N4XTT at K-2982 in TN
  • NM1L at K-7475 in FL
  • KC1BDJ at K-7879 in FL
  • KI5GBQ at K-7687 in OK
  • NS1C at K-2420 in MA

All contacts were on 20m with the exception of NS1C on 40m.  All were CW.

This was a fun little challenge, one that I hope to repeat in the future.  Hope to see you all on the air – POTA-ON!

72 de W2AEW