Sunday, February 20, 2022

K-4417 POTA activation - horse and Morse

 

Beautiful weather and cool temps gave me all the excuse I needed to break away from the contest and activate K-4417. Actually, dual activations of the same park - Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

Saturday was a fiasco.

Thanks to George Washington and Abe Lincoln, this is a 3-day weekend. As I mentioned, the weather is fantastic and the park was full of campers and day trippers. My activations usually begin early, but honey-do's took precedence, making for a late start so, upon my arrival, there was only one picnic table left - and no trees of any significance around it.

Without boring you with the details, my antenna (end-fed dipole) for that day was 15 feet high.

Not many stations were worked but I did have what may have been the first TR-35 to TR-35 QSO with none other than Thomas K4SWL.

Thomas was one of the few contacts I made who weren't in 9-Land. How he divined my signal out of the uptherosphere, I have no idea.

Sunday - different story. I arrived early. More horses than cars or people.

Every year in March, Houston has a big rodeo and participants ride in from towns within 150 miles or so, camping in parks and on private property of accommodating ranchers along the way.

Otherwise, the park was empty and I had my pick of locations. This time the antenna was almost completely vertical and signals filled the headphones, regardless of which band I was on.

A lot of familiar calls went into the log and it was fun to give a park to people who've given me numerous parks over the months.

One contact was with Craig WB3GCK who was activating K-1738 in Delaware. And Jim KF9VV went into the log on every band I operated on.

The TR-35 performed well. I do wish it had some indication - just an LED would work - of reflected power. I had my manual ZM-2 tuner along for 17m operation. It works by adjusting for minimum illumination of an LED. I'd gladly trade the TR-35's signal strength LED for a reflected power LED.

Whenever operating QRP with batteries, I always keep track of how much power was used. This helps me to gauge battery size required for a given length of time with any particular radio. The two day's of POTA activations (64 contacts total) used 430mAH from the battery.

I'm gonna stop lugging that big ole 12AH monster around!

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

It was fun trying to work you. One of my pursuits is hunting QRP POTA operators. It tunes me up for digging out the tough ones in contests.

The keying on that thing sounded good.

Jim KF9VV

John AE5X said...

Thanks for the contacts, Jim. I enjoy hunting POTA stations as well - it's amazing how quickly the contacts rack up if you don't look at the stats page for a while. And as you said, excellent practice. I think in these days of FT8, POTA probably accounts for at least 1/4rd of all CW on a band at any given time.

73,
John

Thomas Witherspoon said...

It was great working you TR-35 to TR-35!

You bring up so many good points here and one in particular I've been thinking about as of late. Indeed, I've had a post floating around in the drafts folder with points.

There's been a lot of discussion about CW vs. Digi modes like FT8, JS Call, and WinLink. The thing that always makes me chuckle is how folks will dig in their heels in support of one mode. Many in the radio prepper communities imply that digi modes are the mode of choice.

I think digi modes have real value for sure, but in terms of battery management? CW is really hard to beat. Much lower duty cycle, no computing device that needs to be powered, and it's just so dang simple. Less things to go wrong. The "little grey cells" are the filter. :) Mine are powered by coffee, for example.

But at the end of the day, why not do both, I say? People act like these are teams in competition with each other, but at the end of the day as a licensed operator, I've got the power to do both. And more! Ha ha!

It is funny you mention about lugging around batteries. I keep looking at my 3Ah LiFePo4 batteries and thinking that if it were possible to make a 1.5 Ah version, I think that'd still work for a few activations. 3Ah almost seems like overkill with these radios.

Cheers,
Thomas
K4SWL

John AE5X said...

Man, don't even get me started on the prepper community!

My own feelings are this: the mode and its efficiency matter less than having a pool of people with whom to communicate. And what are they communicating - does it lend itself to CW? With an op that may not be capable of sustained communications in that mode at a realistic speed? If the other guy can only copy 15 wpm (and then only callsigns, & RST's), it's gonna take a long time to say anything communications-worthy in a "prepper scenario".

Preppers do a lot of talking about the How - I'd like to hear more about the What of what traffic they expect to be communicating. Not what conditions, but what content? "Diesel is now $9 a gallon. Will Cummins run on old vegetable oil, OM? Only used once for catfish and hushpuppies." Will a one-time pad be involved? Will the phrase "Hunker down" have its own Q-Code (QHD)? I have many questions...

Maybe it's appropriate that the TR-35 looks a bit like a modern Paraset!

73 Thomas,
John