This is a little distorted (showing less activity than actual), as I do a lot of operating without CQing, which is what the RBN picks up...but interesting nonetheless.

First Parks on the Air Activation

I know I'm working on getting up big antennas and more power, but that doesn't mean I don't want to go out portable.

Years ago I was active a bit in Summits on the Air (SOTA) and was even the Georgia regional manager for SOTA for a short while.  I stopped having as much time for SOTA as I'd like, and there really aren't many SOTA peaks near me, so my SOTA participation dropped to zero.  About the same time, Parks on the Air (POTA) got going.  I never did anything with it, only occasionally giving out a random QSO every once in a while to an activator.

Within the past couple weeks, I've actually started looking at POTA a little more closely, and started actually going after some activators that were spotted at  Then a few nights ago I saw my little-used KX3 over in the corner and decided I'd do my first POTA activation this weekend.

K-2207 QSOs
I kinda went off half-cocked, just tossing a bunch of stuff in a bag Saturday morning and heading off to the nearest park, about a half-hour away.  When I got there and started putting stuff together, I realized I wasn't as well-prepared as I'd like to be!  My throw bag was missing, as was a spool of mini paracord I use for hanging antennas.  So, my antenna installation wasn't as robust as I'd like.

I started with a random-wire, hung vertically with a counterpoise.  This had always worked great on SOTA peaks, but those were better locations on tops of mountains.  A low random wire in the flatlands wasn't nearly as good an antenna.  Plus, I couldn't find my binding post / BNC adapter and used a 4:1 balun.  Let's say the tuner in the KX3 struggled.  I struggled too. 

After a half- hour, I only had 5 cw contacts in the log and decided I needed to find some SSB chasers - both for park-to-park (P2P) credit, and just to get the 10 contacts I needed for a valid activation.  I found 5 SSB contacts in 15 minutes, and went back to CW for a few more before calling it a day from my first park:  Watson Mill Bridge State Park, K-2207.

K-2205 QSOs
So I packed it all up and drove to my second park of the day, Victoria Bryant State Park, K-2205, about a 20 or 30 minute drive.  Here I decided to use a Par End Fedz antenna.  I got it hung a bit better, and after about 40 minutes, I had 18 CW contacts in the log.  It was starting to spit rain, so I bagged it and headed home.

I had plans for another two parks, but my general lack of preparation and the weather looking like it was turning south, I headed back to the house.  I'm re-grouping, and next time will be much better prepared, with a better, more well thought out game plan.  

POTA is a lot more accessible than SOTA for most people.  There are simply more POTA sites available to the average ham.  POTA activations can happen from the vehicle, while SOTA requires a certain amount of human propulsion.  Because of that, multiple activations are easier to do in a single day.  And, there is simply a lot more activity on POTA than SOTA.  POTA is also easier in inclement WX.

Maybe next spring I can combine a POTA and SOTA activity.  Keep checking the spots.

QRP no more?

Lonnnng time, no post!

Big changes are coming to AA4GA - the biggest of which is doing less QRP with small antennas, and going back to QRO with bigger antennas.  

I spent a full solar cycle operating at 5 Watts or less, and had a ton of fun.  Did fairly well in a few contests, and worked over 200 DXCC countries.  All with little wire antennas:  verticals and doublets mostly.  Not very high, usually around 40' or so.

But, my biggest complaint about wire antennas is that they're just too hard to keep up.  Even something like a simple inverted-L threaded through the branches won't stay up long.  The last one I put up for 160 only stayed up for about four months.  

I needed a more permanent antenna installation, and decided to put back up my Rohn 55G that I've had stored for about 15 years.  As of now, it looks like I'm going to end up with a tower height of 75' with a JK Mid-Tri-40 at the top.  The tower will probably be involved in 80m and 160m antennas too, so hopefully I won't sit down to operate a contest and discover that my antennas are all on the ground.  We'll see.

And, since I'm going to have (relatively) big antennas again, I figured it was time to go up to legal output, so I've added an Alpha 8410 to the mix.  Right now, just driving with 12 Watts from the K3/10, I'm getting around 500-ish watts out, but once I hit it with more drive, I'll be able to get the full 1500W out.

The new antenna location is also much better sited than the wires I've used.  I'm probably getting over 10 dB just by moving where on the property the antennas are located according to HFTA.  That, a gain antenna, and the amplifier means my signal will be going up by, oh, 35 to 40 dB compared to 5 Watts and a wire.  A noticeable change I'd say!


I'm a member of the North Georgia QRP Club - a loosely organized group based roughly out of Atlanta, GA. I've had more enjoyment being a member of this club than any other in my 40 years as a ham. Part of that is due to the wide variety of talents shown by the various members. We've got members who have won the FDIM home-brew competition, at least two past presidents of QRPARCI, some good contesters and DXers, some fine programmers, superb CW ops, and even a few woodworkers in the group. The meetings generally detail some activities from each of these groups, all of which are impressive.

Original side-by-side stand
One of the woodworkers is Paul Kelley, W4KLY. In addition to other woodworking projects, Paul has built a number of nice operating desks for Atlanta area hams. Another radio-related line he produces are wooden stands to fit a variety of QRP rigs. His latest stand is a stand designed to hold both the KX3 and matching PX3 panadapter. Early in this project, I commissioned Paul to build a side-by-side stand for my KX3/PX3. Ever since I'd gotten the PX3, I was bothered by it and the KX3 not staying in exact alignment with each other...not a real big deal, but I wanted the two connected more solidly. In talking to Paul, I also ordered a slightly more angled stand to fit my desk/chair heights and where I was planning on using the KX3. The resulting stand was awesome - just exactly what I ordered - and I was a fairly happy customer. The biggest problem I had with the side-by-side stand is that it's difficult to access the headphone jack on the KX3. My plan was to build an external amplifier/speaker and just leave that connected to the KX3 full-time with a switch to choose speakers and/or headphones. All in all, not a bad problem.

160 Meter action in the "Big Stew" about 7am local
Well, at the last NoGAQRP meeting, Paul approached me with a new stand he wanted me to try.  He's gone through a lot of iterations trying to get his combo stand dialed it.  This stand places the PX3 above the KX3, which eliminates the problem of bad headphone access.   The KX3 is held at a shallower angle than my side-by-side stand, but because the stand is narrower,  I can keep the radio right next to my keyboard, where the shallower angle works.  I find this particularly comfortable during contests - the side-by-side stand requires a reach that isn't convenient during contests, or working split for that matter.

Nicely finished, including the NoGAQRP brand
Paul is known for his craftsmanship, and it shows in these stands.  He uses two thicknesses of Baltic Birch plywood, micro-nails, and uses a CNC router to ensure consistent results in cutting out what really is a complex shape.  The stands are branded with the mark of the North Georgia QRP Club, and several coats of clear lacquer are applied.  The stands are strong, but lightweight.  I've seen other stands for the KX3, both commercial and home-made, and in my opinion, none of them hold a candle to Paul's stands.  I recommend Paul's stands whole-heartedly.

As I mentioned, I'm a member of NoGAQRP, and Paul does donate a portion of the proceeds of each stand to NoGAQRP.  Also, in the interest of full disclosure, while I paid full price for my original stand, Paul did give me the latest version to try.  None of which detracts from the fact that these are truly nice stands.

You can order your own stand from NoGAQRP Club, just follow the links on this page for pricing and ordering information.  In addition to the over/under stand pictured here, Paul will entertain custom work as well, like he did for my original stand or you have an aftermarket heat-sink or other ideas.  If you have any questions at all, I'm sure Paul would be happy to address them, as he's quite passionate about these stands.  If you have any questions for me, just drop me an email via the addy listed on QRZ.

Cows Over the World

I absolutely love this!  This is how you should do a DXpedition.  Tom, KC0W is traveling across the Pacific, with no set-in-stone agenda:  “The determining factor will be when the pileups die down it’s time to pack everything up and move along,”  Read more about it here:  ARRL

Aven Circuit Board Holder

In May, at the North Georgia QRP group meeting's show & tell, Phil, K4PQC showed a circuit board holder he'd recently purchased off Amazon.  After he passed it around, a couple of us were inspired to order one - from our phones at the meeting!

Well, a couple nights ago I started to put a 80/30 kit into an Elecraft KX1, and decided it was time to try the circuit board holder, and I've got to say, I'm really glad I had it! It was especially helpful in holding the board vertical while I applied the solder sucker to clear some PCB holes, and also for threading on the two little sub-boards onto the main PCB. I can't imagine how frustrated I'd have been without this gadget or something similar.

Here's a photo of the holder in action with the KX1:

Aven Circuit Board Holder - click below to order one for yourself!


Y'know...I really do need to post something positive here soon...but stuff like this shouldn't be passed up!

This is K8CR pretending to work VK0EK in the hopes that his call will end up in the DXpedition's log (which it apparently did) - he probably doesn't even have his volume turned up!

Friends, this is *not* the way to work DX! I had a boss one time tell me that no one is totally worthless, they can always serve as a bad example. Apparently K8CR has found his calling!