POTA K-0060 Saguaro National Park
2022-12-11 Our son, John, who lives in Minnesota has organized a family gathering at a condo in Tucson, AZ Feb 27 through March 3. He along with his wife, Jeri our other son, Charles and his daughter Millie and our daughter Anna Marie and her husband Doug and my Sharon and I will be the participants. We are very excited.
John likes to put together a picture board for trips he planned. One of the pictures had a sign for Saguaro National Park which happens to be POTA k-0060. When I realized that I began thinking about activating the park. So today, I began planning. With nearly 2000 QSOs and 100 activations under my belt I have a pretty good idea what I need and what to expect as far as gear. But there are some different issues to think through, particularly related to antennas. The biggest difference is that almost all of my activations to date have been within walking distance of my car. Only one, on a multi-day wilderness canoe trip, was not. But I'm looking forward to the challenge!
2022-01-27 Due to the complexity of taking my 9 ft foldable vertical on our trip to AZ, I think I'll just take the K6ARK 29 ft end fed wire and my KM4ACK 40 meter EFHW wire. Both are solid performing antennas, pack up quite small and can be set up using my 15 ft collapsible fiberglass mast. That gives me two antenna options. Those with either the x5105 or IC705 gives me a solid QRP station for either CW or SSB. And everything will fit easily into my carry-on bag along with personal items. I'll plan to support the mast with the three short guy ropes and tent stakes. And both have been proven at my two nearby parks with a combined total of 180 activation QSOs at both 5 and 10 watts.
2022-01-19 I am vacillating on several equipment options as I plan for this trip. As to antennas, I think I've settled on taking both my 9' vertical with the WRC tripod and 18" legs, and my K6ARK 9:1 unun with 29' element. They will fit nicely into my carry on bag. For antenna supports (you can't throw lines into trees or cactus!) I have a 15' collapsible fishing pole and short guy lines and tent pegs that I've used many times. That is light weight and small and will fit into my carry on bag. That will work well with the 29' end fed. The 9' vertical is free standing on the WRC tripod.
As to radios, I'm considering two options. Option 1, ICOM IC705 with Elecraft T1 tuner. Option 2, Xiegu X5105. Both setups have internal or attached batteries batteries and can handle either antenna. Both are 5 watts, though the IC705 will produce 10 watts with an external battery.
The final consideration is how to pack/transport everything. The antennas and supports will fit into my carry on roller bag and still leave plenty of space for my clothes and personal items. If I take the X5105, I've got a quite small semi hard sided case that I use a lot. It will handle the radio, key, mike, feedline, small external batter, etc.. and is easy to carry. If I take the IC705 I have two options.
Option 1, the ICOM LC192 backpack. It has space for the radio, external battery, key, mic, feedline and more. What I like about it is that you simply unzip the radio compartment, connect the antenna and key to external jacks, fire up and go. It is also free standing and works well on the ground beside a lawn chair, on a picnic table or park bench or whatever. It also makes it really easy to carry everything on a short or longer walk if needed. It's downside is that it is larger than is sometimes needed, a bit heavier than my other option.
Option 2, is a small thrift store bag that will fit the radio, a small external battery, key, mic, antenna tuner, the K6ARK end fed antenna, feedline, etc. It really works very well. It is a bit less "carriable" and requires unpacking and connecting up the radio. It also does not provide anyplace to set the radio while operating. It might even fit into my carryon roller bag along with everything else. It has a lot going for it.
I don't think I'll need to worry about charging either radio as I won't have but a couple hours to use one, but another advantage of the IC705 is that it would recharge off a small 5 volt wall wart saving the need for a 12 volt charger which would be required for the X5105. So those are the things I'm mulling over.
2022-01-12a The temperature got up to 39 today after nearly a week of near zero at night and teens in the daytime. So I had to try out my "new" Wolf river Coils tripod with my DIY 18" legs. The antenna I intend it for is the 9' foldable whip I got off Amazon sitting atop a DIY loading coil with taps for 15m, 17m, 20m, 30, 40 nd 60 meters. I have over 300 contacts with the antenna over the months, mostly on activations. So I know it works. My concern was how the tripod would do in supporting it.
My conclusion is that it works very well. It was easy to set up, was pretty stable and the on air results were great, 32 QSOs in an hour on 20m CW at 10 watts. This will definitely be in my bag for Arizona!
I ended up sticking with the PVC pipe extensions as shown in the photo at right. They extend the 12" legs from Wolf River Coils to 18" which will fit in my suitcase and seem to provide adequate stability for the tripod.
Using that setup connected to my IC705 in the car with a 30' RG316 coax I got those 32 contacts. And everything will fit in the luggage just fine.
On another note, I exchanged emails with two hams who have activated the park just a few days ago and got some good input. So I feel like I can go prepared.
2022-01-12 The radio for this trip will be my ICOM IC705. I will probably take it in the ICOM LC192 backpack. Contents will likely be a IC-BP307 3150 Ah extra battery pack, a 4.5Ah bioenno external battery, CWMORSE US paddle, microphone, Elecraft T! tuner, and NanoVNA antenna analyzer. Other bits and pieces will be a clipboard with log sheets (I log on paper), several mechanical pencils, some small marker cones and a 30' length of RG316 coax. There is space for a small QRPGuys 9:1 unun and a 29' radiator and 17' counterpoise and a few other antenna related items. My goal will be to have everything I need in that bag other than my antenna supports, whatever those turns out to be.
For antenna's I'm currently thinking of two. One may be my DIY 9' bottom loaded vertical. I've used it quite a bit for activations and have been happy with its performance. The main issue for this trip is how to support it. It has its own 12" ground spike made from 3/8" aluminum rod which works very well. For an alternative I'm considering using the tripod from my Wolf River Coils TIA. It would be relatively light weight and would fit into a small suitcase.
I have both the 12" and 24" legs for my WRC tripod. Playing with it last evening it was clear that the 12" ones were too short for stability for my brass 9' whip. This morning I cut three pieces of PVC pipe 12" long with a screw at six inches so when I slide them onto the 12" legs the result is 18" legs. That is much more stable. I don't want to use the 24" ones as they won't fit in my suitcase! I think I'll buy some 3/8" aluminum rods, cut them to 18" and thread one end resulting in three 18" solid legs. The PVC approach is a bit unstable if it tips.
For my second antenna I'm considering taking a QRPGuys 9:1 unun with either a 35' or 29' radiator and 17' counterpoise. That's small, light and works well. I've done many activations with that antenna. The primary consideration there is support. I don't want to depend on trees so am considering a 15' fiberglass fishing pole. It collapses small enough to fit into a small suitcase. The question is how to support that mast? Likely I'll plan to use short guy lines with tent pegs.
Over the next few days, weather permitting, I'll be testing out all the above options. It's exciting to do the preparations!