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!