Friday, August 6, 2021

POTA K-3013 (Galveston Island State Park) activation report

I got up at the ridiculous hour of 4:45am yesterday to be in Galveston, on the beach, by sunrise. The main purpose of this insanity was photography, not ham radio.

An amazing little app I've been tinkering with for some time (the Photographer's Ephemeris) allows one to determine the proper location in a given area to see the sun or moon rise (or set) over any given landmark. I wanted to catch the sunrise as it rose over Pleasure Pier. The weather was predicted to be stormy, which would add to the photographic drama as long as the cloud cover didn't block the sun completely. Always a risk.

I'm happy to report that the Photographer's Ephemeris is dead-on accurate. I parked at Seawall and 31st Street, hopped over the seawall and planted myself and camera/tripod in the sand with 12 minutes to spare. At the precise time, there came the sun, in the exact spot indicated days earlier by the app. The clouds cooperated and I am happy with the results - but little did I know, I'd get a better image later as I activated the park.

K-3013 is 12 miles west of Galveston, so I loaded the camera gear into the car and drove to the park. My first contact was with KG4LMW at 1240Z. Over the next hour and a half, I would make 47 contacts, all on 20 meters and all on phone.

Evidently, I don't have the brain capacity that would allow me to remember to take all the required radio gear if I'm also distracted by needing to take camera gear - I'd forgotten my paddles, so no CW.

I did, however, have the FT-891 installed into the car properly. The body of the rig is under the passenger seat and the head unit is mounted into a cup holder. Power still comes from the 12AH LiFePO4 battery which is also secured under the seat. I'm unsure if I want to run a DC cable from the radio to the car's batt'ry - getting through the firewall of a modern car is nothing less than an ordeal.

The highlight of this activation was working Jim W1PID. Jim and I have had 20 QSO's across most of the HF ham bands, all on CW. Finally an SSB QSO - it only took 17 years! Jim does a lot of outdoor QRP operation from a beautiful part of the country - you can read his stories and see his photos here. Thanks for the contact, Jim.

Soon after getting on the air, the clouds that made for a good-looking sunrise opened up and expelled their H2O. The rain was intermittent over the next 90 minutes, but when it did fall, it came down in buckets.

There no lightning so I wasn't worried about meeting my Maker - but the intensity of the rain made it impossible to copy any but the strongest stations. I tried to time my breaks to coincide with the heaviest rain but I know I missed some callers. Apologies for that.

In addition to remembering to take the paddles next time, I'll also take headphones.

Periodically, the camera called from the back seat: "John, what about me?"

So I took a few longer radio breaks, strolled around a bit and captured some photons. It really was a quite ominous and beautiful morning to be alone on the beach. The sky looked amazing, the colors were muted and no sounds were heard except seagulls and ocean.

The results of this dual-purpose outting were very fulfilling for me and I think I'll look for ways to combine both of my hobbies as much as possible in the future:




ON5ZO said...

Great hobbies, great story, great picture!
I'm coming back for more for sure :o)

Take care & 73

John AE5X said...

GM Franki - It's always good to have a fallback hobby if the bands are in bad shape!


Dave New said...

We are camping this weekend in K-1542, Sterling State Park, MI, which is right on the west end of Lake Erie, near Monroe, MI. Seems I either bother to bring a bunch of radio gear, or photography gear, but not both. This time the radio gear won out. I've fallen to using my old IC-7000 to get a few more watts out than what my KX-2 will do. Using an Eagle One antenna clamped to the ladder on the back of the 5th wheel, and using the counter poise wires from the Elecraft AX-1 antenna for 20m and 40m. The antenna will 'tune' up for me on 10 through 60 meters, but no joy on 80, it seems. Some folks have solved that by putting a wire from the top of the Eagle One, forming an inverted L for 80m. I'll have to experiment. Did have a good time this afternoon by activating K-1542 on 20M FT8, and in short order made over 20 contacts. Sometimes I had three stations calling me, so lots of fun.

John AE5X said...

Hi Dave,

Sounds like you're having a lot of fun radioing and 5th-wheeling - I know that must be a great combination. We sold our trailer/Diesel truck and have a deposit on a Class C with a tentative delivery date of "late September". With Covid shortages of parts, I don't know if that's still a valid date and neither does the dealer. POTA has put a lot of RVers on the air and it's a lot of fun to look at their QRZ pages and see what they have, where they are, etc. We have friends from MI who live here in the winter but are up there now, escaping the TX heat in their RV.

It was good to work you this morning. I was working parks on CW and SSB when I saw your callsign pop up with an FT8 frequency. I quickly started the laptop, hooked up the USB cable and gave you a call. Rig was the IC-705.

Have fun on your trip - maybe I'll work you P2P RV2RV one of these days!


Dave New said...

Nice to QSO you on FT8, John. Since then, I've 'upgraded' my RV rig, by obtaining a slightly used Elecraft KXPA100 amp with tuner. I also got a like-new Yaesu FT-818ND in the deal, that came with the Elecraft cable for the amp. Since I already have an FT-817 (non-ND), with all the trimmings (Collins filters, LDG Z11 tuner, Mountain Ops Velcro 'wraps' and SuperAntenna, maybe I'll transfer all the goodies to the 818 and keep the 817 for use as an IF for microwave transverters (although lack of a TXCO may be an issue).

John AE5X said...

Sounds like an RF rig to me! Our September delivery time has now been extended to December...