Sunday, April 18, 2021

A non-solar-powered POTA activation (K-4420)

Icom 705, ailing Hardrock-50, paddles, mic, battery, PAR MTR end-fed antenna, solar panel.....

No, it's not a stealthy set-up. It's not going to fit, KX2-like, in a shirt pocket, and there are certainly easier ways to put a 50-watt signal on the air from a portable location.

So what's the point of all this stuff?

I'm trying to whittle down my ham station to the bare essentials with the idea of spending a good amount of time RVing with part of that time being off the grid. The Flex/KPA-500/AT2K combo can't go there and I'll have a tear in my eye when I set them free.

Thus the IC-705, the HR-50 and the new quasi-portable solar panel. POTA activations are fun in their own right but they also serve as learning platform for operations of the type I envision.

More about all that later.

The first lesson learned at today's activation is: Antenna-supporting trees are not always situated in such a way as to allow solar panels to collect sunlight. Something in the name of the location - John Kirby Memorial State Forest - should have alerted me that shade would be plentiful. That pesky F-word again.

Lesson Two is yet to be taught - only the curriculum exists, and it does so as a single question: If your activation location contains a 140 ft/43m lookout tower, what would you bring for an antenna? A 20m HamStik with magnetic base to mount on the tin roof? A 1/4-wave sloper for 40 meters? The PAR end-fed with feedpoint (and operator) up top?

As Arnold said, I'll be back to this park - and probably in next weekend if something doesn't come along to jinx my fantasy of portable antenna awesomeness.

Surprisingly, there was a lot of QRN on 40 meters. I was in the middle of a forest, surrounded by more forest, and not a car, house or anything else man-made in sight or earshot. But S7 QRN. I know I had callers there but I just couldn't pull many out.

Come to think of it, there was a schoolbus on the road in but I think its QRN-making days ended some time ago.

There was a problem on 30m as well - my Hardrock-50 ain't amplifying. All the other bands are okay. I

thought it was my antenna but tests at home on the Cantenna show the same result. Time to dig in and look for a relay problem.

Despite that, numerous contacts on 30m (at 5 watts) went into yon log.

Twenty was fair, very active on both phone and CW.

All told, 50 contacts across the bands, including a few friends with whom I've been exchanging dots and dashes for many years. Always a pleasure.

No DX but a very interesting contact on 40m phone with PE1OAD/mm off the coast of Florida. I thought he might be on vacation, puttering around in a motorboat or going natural with the wind in a sailboat, but no - check out Michel's ride here.




VE9KK said...

Good evening John, once again I was following your CW spots on the POTA site but just was not able to pull you out. Up this way the bands were not in great shape, and I was only able to hear one POTA station, and he was in the mud. Oh well maybe next time.

John AE5X said...

Thanks for trying, Mike - we'll get it eventually. The bands were not great...I usually work a few EU stations but didn't hear any at all this outting and only 2 Canadians. A few days ago, 20m was in fantastic shape so I was hopeful it would last, but...


PE4BAS, Bas said...

"If your activation location contains a 140 ft/43m lookout tower, what would you bring for an antenna?" If you get near the bas of this tower.....I would try to load it up as an antenna. VK3YE has done similair. Good luck. 73, Bas

John AE5X said...

I thought about that but then I would need a good RF ground. Four 1/4-wave radials for 40m is a lot of wire. Maybe for CQWW.....


Anonymous said...

I encountered a similar lookout tower in Montana. My solution was to toss wires out two windows on opposite sides, hook them to the KX2, and work a bunch of stations.
It was mighty windy up there though!
73 de W0ZF

John AE5X said...

I believe Stew Perry W1BB accomplished most of his 160m success using an antenna as you describe installed on a lighthouse. Man, I'm sorry now that lowband DX season is over...maybe I'll see if I can get the state of TX to install a "firetower" in my backyard. For the safety of the community, of course.