POTA Activation, K-4265 Richard Bong State Recreation Area
2020-11-22 Thanks to the 22 hunters who responded to my calls on 30 and 40 meters today, eleven on each! Furthest contact on 30 meters was with NQ7R in Arizona, 1,443 miles. Furthest on 40 meters was with VE3DQN in Ontario, 647 miles. All were CW. I used my g90 at 10 watts driving my WRC with the 213" whip and four 10' counterpoise wires. The feedline was 25 ft of RG-58/u. Both the G90 and the antenna are easy to set up and seem to perform well.
2020-11-16 I may get tired of K-4265, Richard Bong State Recreation Area! But it is so easy to get to and activate that it is just ideal for quick activation on a cold day! With that said, I went out there again today after lunch. Once again I took my xiegu x5105 QRP rig. But this time I took my QRPGuys 3 band vertical. It only took about 5 minutes to set it up using my drive-on stand and 20 ft carbon fiber fishing pole. even the coax was easy, just a 15ft piece of RG-174. I set the antenna to 40 meters and jumped in the car. It wasn't "bitter" cold but was a about 30, cloudy and breezy. But it was nice and cozy in the car.
Flipped on the x5105 and tuned around. N3LOU was calling CQ POTA on 7.214 SSB from K-1740, Killens Pond State Park in Deleware, about 700 miles. So I gave him a call and he came right back. Nice way to start the activation! I then tuned down to 7.041, posted a spot on POTA site and within a few minutes started getting calls. I went QRT after 18 contacts. Total on-air time was 33 minutes. The rig and vertical performed perfectly! That simple wire vertical is a good antenna for any use but especially for portable. With its four ten foot radials it takes up very little space.
But the highlight of the experience was while I was taking down the antenna. A car pulled up behind me and said something like, "I suppose this will be on Facebook! It was K0MKE. Andy was activating the park at the same time on 20 meters SSB! He also saw my Spot so drove around and found me! We had a nice chat. It was really fun to eyeball with a fellow POTA enthusiast! Thanks for stopping by, Andy.
2020-11-13 Well, went back to K-4265, Richard Bong State Recreation Area near Burlington, Wisconsin this afternoon. This time I took my x5105 QRP rig and QRPGuys EFHW inverted vee. Had 18 CW contacts in the 30 minutes I was on the air. The first one was with a SOTA station. The rest were POTA hunters, including three P2P stations. All signal reports were good both directions.As the one photo shows, I tied the driven end of the antenna to a jug of antifreeze! Some nearby bushes took care of the other end. Furthest distance was just under 900 miles. The rig and antenna performed perfectly. Nice simple setup - that works!
I ran the x5105 off it's internal battery which I believe is a 3.8Ah battery. Based on the 1.1Ah it took to recharge it I'm guessing I used about 1Ah during the outing. So it would likely have run another two to three hours depending on the transmit/receive ratio.
Once again, thankyou, hunters!
2020-11-12 Today I did another activation of the Richard Bong State recreational area K-4265 near Burlington in southeast Wisconsin. About 50 degrees, light wind and sunny. Setup was my G90 and a light weight 40-10 EFHW inverted vee using a QRPGuys 49:1 transformer and about 40' of RG-174 coax. Center support was a 20' carbon fiber fishing pole off Amazon standing in a DIY drive-on stand.Started off looking for P2P stations and landed one on 40 SSB. Then spotted myself at 7.043. After just a couple calls it got busy. Ended 40 minutes later with 34 in the log, all CW except for the first one.
I really like my DIY drive-on stand. One other change is that rather than using a tent peg to hold the far end of the antenna I used a jug of windshield washer! Works well. I may try a half gallon jug. It is probably heavy enough for my very light weight antenna made with about 26 gauge wire, even in wind.
Also, if anyone is interested, My G90 was powered on for about an hour and and in active CW QSOs for about 40 minutes at 20 watts. It took 1.8Ahs or 24Whs to recharge my miady 6Ah, 77Wh battery when I got home. So I could probably have kept up at the rate I was going for a couple more hours from my battery's point of view! Next time I will take along a device to measure actual power usage.
Thanks so much to all the hunter's. The patience of those toward the end was especially appreciated. Both my mind and fist (I'm a straight key Guy) we're turning to mush! I failed to take any pictures but though I was in a different part of the park, my setup was nearly identical to the one pictured below on October 31.
2020-10-31 Went back to K-4265, Richard Bong State Recreation Area again today. I wanted to try out my new DIY drive-on mast support for real. Found an empty parking lot and backed the rear wheel onto the 1x6 board and strapped my 20 ft carbon fiber fishing pole to it with two bands of 1/8 bungee cord. Then I strung up my QRPGuys EFHW antenna as an inverted vee with the far end attached to a wild bush and the driven end secured to a tent peg with another piece of bungee cord in the grassy area nearby. Could have tied it to the tree there just as well. A 25 foot RG-174 coax connected the antenna to my Xiegu G90 in the car where I could stay warm and out of the strong, gusty, cold wind.
Hunted POTA stations in other parks and ended up with 11 park-t0-park contacts and one other contact. six on 40 meters, five on 20 meters and one, my most distant one at 1450 miles in Idaho, on 15 meters. All were SSB but the one CW contact on 40 meters. The drive-on support, mast and antenna all did great both in dealing with the wind and in performance.
My goal is to have this mast for use when the ground is frozen so that tent pegs and guy ropes or a single support stake will not work for holding up a light weight push-up mast. Also, normally when I set up the EFHW or other EF antennas, the driven end is close to my operating position. But with the mast located at the car, the coax needs to connect some distance from the car, about 20 feet in this case. This setup deal with both those concerns..
2020-10-02 Well, I did it again! Went to K-4265, Richard Bong State Recreation Area east of Burlington, WI this afternoon to play POTA. Left home about 2:45 and was back home at about 4:15. Was on 40 meters for about 45 minutes and logged 17 SSB and one CW contacts during that hour. I started by responding to two other stations doing POTA and then spotted myself, called CQ POTA and got the other 15 contacts. Thanks to everyone who came to the party.
Rig was my xiegu g90 set to 20 watts. Power was my Bioenno 4.5Ah battery. It took 1Ah to recharge it so I used about 20% of the batteries capacity in that hour. My antenna was my QRPGuys 3 band vertical using four ten foot radials or counterpoise wires tossed on the ground toward the four winds. Feedline was 25ft of RG-174 coax.
It was in the upper 40s and breezy, so I set up the antenna near the car and worked from inside the car. The pictures give some idea of the setup. Thanks again to all who contacted me. The log has been submitted.
2020-09-13 One of the things I like about the Ham Radio hobby is that there is no one, right or best way to do anything! It's a good platform to learn that the things in life are deeply impacted, perhaps even determined by the broader situations of life, the context, if you please. The last week it has been misting, raining or even down-pouring off and on every day! So until yesterday I felt "confined" to home and unable to get out and play POTA. Picnic tables were wet. Stringing an EFHW antenna would be a messy job. Just stuck. Then I got to thinking maybe I could set up and work from inside my Ford Escape. Then, I discovered when you fold half the back seat down the result is a completely flat and level surface! Awe, set the rig up there, sit in the other half of the seat, set up my Wolf River Coils antenna outside the car and have at it! It wouldn't be "roughing it" which was my image of a legitimate POTA activation, but it just might work!
I failed to take any pictures, but yesterday, that is exactly what I did. And it was really fun. It was dry (and a bit steamy) inside the car as it drizzled and misted the whole time while I was at K4265, Richard Bong Recreation Area, but I logged sixteen QSO's, twelve of them Park-to-Park (P2P)! All SSB on both 20 and 40 meters. I was dry, my WRC was wet but both were happy. My rig was my xiegu G90 powered by one of my 6Ah miady LIFEPO4 batteries with a 50ft RG8x to the antenna. Lesson learned (maybe), there are different ways to get there! And, oh, the mosquitoes didn't get a single piece of me! :-)
2020-08-26 Today was a significant day in my 60 year ham radio life. After months of being a POTA hunter, logging 260 QSOs with stations operating from 37 different parks, and "dreaming" about being an activator myself, today I did it! I packed up my xiegu G90, QRPGuys EFHW antenna, 6Ah LIFEPO4 battery, carbon fiber collapsible fishing pole and dri\ove 4-1/2 miles to Wisconsin's Richard Bong State Recreation Area. I've been there many times over the years to hike, camp and fly RC planes. But never to operate HF radio!
All my gear except the 20 foot carbon fiber collapsible fishing pole were packed in a hard sided case from a local thrift store. The site was an open picnic area shaded by large oak trees. It was relatively cool at 10:00am when I arrived but swarming with mosquitoes. Thankfully, after a few minutes the OFF kicked in and they quit bothering me. If one purpose of POTA is to show the public what ham radio is I didn't do well. the only visitor, other than mosquitoes and a few birds flying around, was some strange bug that landed on my case! He wasn't impressed and didn't stay long.
I chose my QRPGuys EFHW antenna and set it up as an inverted vee using the carbon fiber pole to support the center. I secured the pole to the ground with half of a fiberglass snow marker. The pole was tied to the snow marker with three turns of 1/8th inch bungee cord secured with a cord lock. I find that bungee cord and cord locks, indispensable for setting up antennas. I also used a piece of bungee cord about 8 feet long to tie the far end of the antenna wire to a tent stake in the ground and another shorter piece to tie the transformer to the picnic table. It provides more than adequate strength to hold the antenna taught but is very easy to work with and provides the antenna flexibility. Great stuff I discovered in my hiking/camping hobby.
The picnic table served well as my operating bench! Here are some observations from the experience.
- Being a POTA Activator is not nearly as "threatening" as I imagined. I chose CW as my mode and people worked well with my funbling and stumbling! Even the couple small pileups weren't too bad. It helped that I had been a hunter for so long and pretty much knew what to expect.
- Being out in a park is much quieter than being at home! There was very little noise on 40, 30 or 20, the three bands I checked out. Forty meters seemed the most alive so I settled on it.
- The G90 set at 20 watts worked well for me. I love the G90, using it a lot at home and that love continues after today. The antenna was resonant with as close to a 1:1 SWR as one can imagine so I didn't use the internal tuner.
- The QRPGuys End Fed half Wave antenna using SOTABEAMS light antenna wire, about 26 gauge, performed very well. The contacts ranged from 250 to 850 miles, all but one to the south or east. No trouble hearing or being heard. And it is light as a feather, about five ounces. The SOTABEAMS wire is perfect, strong, flixible, tangle free and very light weight. The 20 foot fishing pole hardly bent at all. I used an identical antenna system at home for over a year as my primary antenna, only changing so I could run more than 20 watts. Oh, and it is inexpensive!
- Logging is interesting! I had made up some log sheets which I used but quickly realized was a mess! The column widths field order simply didn't work well! But they served. I had another note pad to do my doodling on so I could keep the log sheet somewhat legible. I've already designed a new one! I decided not to mess with the logging program on my phone, though I use it for casual portable operating. The chance of making an error with no trail for recovery is too great. With a notepad and paper log I was able to deal with the fast QSOs and scratchy writing. Nearly every entry had some "backup" on the scratchpad. Obviously I have a lot to learn from future activation's.
- Finally, preparing the log to submit was a very time consuming and confusing process. I use Ham Radio Deluxe for all my logging so I entered these QSOs into that. That part went well. But I simply could not find a simple way to export "just what is needed" to send to POTA. Finally, I stumbled onto ADIF Master which allows editing of the ADIF file exported from HRD. But it took me all afternoon and I haven't heard back whether it is acceptable or not. There has be, needs to be, a simpler way!
Conclusion? A lot of fun. I'll be back again, I'm sure.