Wednesday, May 18, 2022

McCormick's Creek State Park - POTA!

Last weekend Wayne AC9HP and I got up early on Sunday morning and headed to McCormick's Creek State Park to do a POTA park activation.  The day was perfect, sunny, clear, slight breeze and temperatures in the mid to upper 70's.  This park is about an hour and twenty minutes from my home QTH, and is one of the most popular state parks in Indiana.  

Founded in 1916, this is Indiana's first state park, and it is rich in geological treasures.  This part of the state was at one time part of an ancient shallow sea, and the stopping spot for glaciers that brought down granite from Canada.  There are several caves on the property, as well as sink holes, and fossils to be examined by the park visitors.  The most notable feature in the park is the waterfall on McCormick's Creek as it races toward the west fork of the White River. 

Park Entrance, Pay Here $7 for Hoosiers, $8 for out of state

We arrived at about 9AM and stopped at the Canyon Inn for breakfast.  Let me warn you in advance about the Canyon Inn.  This is the Inn  that is in the state park.  The state subcontracts the management and services of the Inn.  The Inn used to be a Sanitarium that folks would come visit and stay for the mineral waters, springs, and fresh air.  So the rooms are very small. The prices are very high. 

We had breakfast in the dining room, mainly because it was convenient.  Two eggs, one biscuit, two slices of bacon, and about a half cup of French fried potatoes (they tried to pass the fries off as potatoes O'Brien), and no coffee cost almost $13.00, being a tight fisted ham, notorious for being cheap, I was aghast...but we ate it, it was good, it was hot, and the waitress was very nice.  When the state ran things here 25 years ago, you could stay here for about $35 a night, now it's more like $170 a night. We did not stay here, we were just visiting for the day. 

I sat up my operations from the parking lot of the Deer Run shelter area.  I had enough coax with me to mount the Eagle One antenna to my SUV and then run the cabling over to a conveniently located picnic table, in the shade.  It was a very peaceful location, virtually no drive by traffic, and no other folks within earshot or eyesight.  Wayne sat up his operation about 100 yards away, he was using his IC-705 and end fed antenna.  We both operate QRP.

The bands were mostly up and down and the QSB on 20m was slow and steady.  Florida stations would be booming in and then within 10 minutes, they'd be gone...then 10 more minutes they'd be back.  It was a little frustrating.  My K2 was pushing about 10 watts to the vertical, and I was able to get my first 10 contacts in about 35 minutes.  20m was doing well at first and then it fizzled a bit so I finished up on 40m.  KC4HCH was at a park down in Alabama, so he was my only Park to Park contact on this outing. 


This is only my second park to activate, and it was great fun.  I bought an annual pass at the entrance gate. $50 a year and it gets you in to all the Indiana State Parks for the year.  I hope to get out more now that the weather is a little more predictable and hit as many of the Indiana State Parks as I can. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Brian




Sunday, April 10, 2022

Just hanging around...

This weekend has been a mixed bag of weather.  Saturday (yesterday) it was snowing and sleeting in the morning and today it was sunny and almost 65F.  I had too much to do today so I didn't get to got out and play POTA today.  I did manage to get one of my Vibrokeyers working again, I have another one sent to Vibroplex for clean up and repair currently.  A few months ago I accidentally knocked them off the desk and messed them both up.  

Here's a look at the one I have working now, pictured here with my Elecraft K1 (SN 1205), I built the K1 20 years ago after buying it from Wayne Burdick N6KR at the 2002 Dayton Hamvention. 

My Elecraft K1 and the Vibrokeyer SN 216228, made in 1960

As I had previously noted, my K1 needed some technical care beyond my ability, so I sent it to Dale Putnam WC7S of Quality Electronics in Cheyenne Wyoming.  He did a great job getting the filters set just right, the offset just right, and put a good alignment on it for me.  Very reasonable fee too.  If you have a K1 or even a K2 that needs  checked out, send it to Dale.  You can always contact Dale at this email address  daleputnam@hotmail.com 

One other thing of note, I was issued the following award from Parks on the Air this week. I got the certificate today.  This is for HUNTING 400 different Parks or references.  It took me about 2 years of very casual hunting to get that many in the log book. 

POTA Award for hunting 400 different Parks 

I am currently at 412 different parks hunted, with 533 total hunted contacts, 40 states, with 401 contacts on 40m, 28 on 30m, 102 on 20m, 9 on 17m, and one each on 15m and 12m. These are all QRP contacts from my home with the K2, or K1, or Hilltopper rigs. 

Looks like the weather is going to start getting better later this week, once Easter weekend is over I will be doing more activating from the parks in Indiana, and maybe a few in Ohio and Kentucky.  

Happy Easter to you all! 

de KB9BVN


Sunday, April 3, 2022

Stone Arch Lake - POTA

 
Seen here is the new check in booth at Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area, also known as K-4183 in POTA parlance.  Sun was out today and the temperature was a balmy 52F so I net up with Wayne AC9HP at the site and we played radio most of the afternoon.  Today my setup started out with the venerable Elecraft K1. I just got this back from Dale Putnam WC7S out in Cheyenne Wyoming. I had a issue with it not being on the frequency that was being displayed. I can't cry about it much as I built this radio 20 years ago.  Dale did a fantastic job getting tuned up for me, also replaced a bad headphone jack and thanks to the United States Postal Service, the coax jack had to be replaced as well as it had been smashed in shipping.  Good thing I bought the $8.00 shipping insurance huh?  Nope.  The insurance they sell isn't worth the paper it's written on . The repair cost for the postal damage was about $80.00, so I took pictures, lots of pictures, and filed my claim.  About 10 days later I got a letter from the guys at USPS.COM and my claim had been accepted BUT for $25 instead of the $80.  So I send it back to Dale, he fixes it. sends it back.  The day it gets back I get another letter saying I have 2 weeks to take the broken radio and all the packing to the local post office so it can be inspected, or I will get no payment.  Well it's hard to do that now that it is fixed, and I was told the pictures would be good enough.  So I'm getting stiffed.  Lesson learned.  I'll use another shipper next time. 

      


So back to POTA and having some radio fun.  So I got there about 2PM local time and started setting my station up.  Today I went with the K1 at 5W, the Eagle One hitch mounted vertical, a couple LiFePo4 batteries and my usual set of paddles.  And root beer.


Wayne AC9HP showed up with this sons and while the kids played, Wayne and I got busy trying to make some contacts from the park.  I was getting a little frustrated because I was hearing nothing...then Wayne noticed I had not connected the antenna to the tuner...which was connected to the K1.  DOHT!  So once we rectified that situation, I started making contacts.  Now I need to tell you that Wayne and I had decided to run nothing but 5w radios today to just see what we could get worked out.  I ran 10 contacts on 40 and 30 CW in about an hour. Those contacts covered Oklahoma to the Carolinas, and Michigan down to Georgia.  The band was very flaky but it started smoothing out.  QSB was ferocious at times.  Wayne had brought an assortment of cheap Chinese radios for HF, and we gave them a try on SSB.  The first one is a Chinese 8 bander capable of 5 watts maximum.  So we set it up on 7213 and I started calling CQ....you can see this on a Tik Tok video that Wayne posted. This little rig had a tiny red button on the bottom that you pushed in to talk, and you talked into the front of the radio.  I found it to be very much fun and I was amazed at how well it was working.  We were getting answered from all over the southeast and midwest, with reports from 45 to 59. I was hesitant to tell the contacts we were QRP at 5w SSB...but I did and some were amazed at the reach of 5 measly watts. 


I made 14 more contacts with the little SSB rig.  I was done, so it was Wayne's turn, he setup his IC-705 and started out on 20m CW.  He had a pile up going in no time.  The 5W and the Eagle One were doing a bang up job. One thing new this trip, Wayne brought me a set of two radials that just clip on the Eagle One.  I usually just use the SUV as my counterpoise, along with the coax on the ground.  This made a very noticeable difference in what I think I could hear. 

Wayne AC9HP working the IC-705 POTA pile up on 20m

Red is SSB and Green is CW 

All in all it was just a great day.  Good day to be outside.  POTA activation 16 is in the books. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Monday, March 14, 2022

Mink Meadow POTA activation

Daylight Savings Time has arrived, and it was sunny and 65F here in central Indiana today. Considering we woke up to 12F on Saturday morning, this is cause for celebration.  Spring is less than a week away, and this POTA guy is ready for it to get here. 

Tonight I tried a new location at K-4183 Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area.  I got there about 21:00Z and was on the air by about 21:25Z. 


I had the parking area to myself so I set up my table and chair, raised the Eagle One vertical and connected the power to the K2 and started calling CQ POTA. 

I worked my first contact on 17m, WD5AFR out in New Mexico.  Tried 17m for about 10 minutes and decided to move to 20m (14059 Khz).  I worked about 9 or 10 more there but I was getting tons and tons of QRN from the military base across the road.  So I moved to 40m (7065 Khz) and ended up with a total of 35 contacts in about 50 minutes.  The wind never let up, I had to push my vertical back up in the middle of a 40m pile up.  Then my paddles started coming apart...


I got home a little after 23:00Z and copied my paper log into N3FJP and sent the ADIF file off to the Region 9 log processing center, which is run by Sean Pyne W4BKR, and he does a fantastic job for us Region 9 activators. 

Here's what RBN looked like for me tonight: 


And here is what my QSO MAP looked like: 


Best 73 and great DX to you all

Until next time
de KB9BVN

Monday, February 28, 2022

Good to be back! POTA ON!

Here it is the last day of February, and I have been dreaming of warmer days and longer days and the arrival of Spring time in Indiana.  At about 3PM I looked down at my computer screen and saw the temperature outside was 52F, AND the sun was shining.  I get off work at 4PM, I haven't operated from a park since last November.  I was running this through my mind and wondering if I should make a run for the wilderness of Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area and make some QSO's.  I kept telling myself that I was out of practice and I would surely forget some crucial part of my portable park station gear...so I got out my handy checklist and started checking things out. 

I had purchased a 5 gallon bucket and lid from one of the big box stores last fall, and I had packed it full of most of my POTA accessories like coax cable for the Eagle One antenna, my hitch mount fit nicely in the container, along with headphones, and other items I might need (first aid kit, 2 miles of paracord for some reason, and a sock hat).  Even though I had the checklist I FORGOT my powered external speaker.  My hearing is pretty good but when outdoors that little speaker does wonders for my ability to copy weak signals. 

Here is a representation of my station setup today...the only difference is the grass is all dead, that external speaker is missing, and I am using a 20aH Miady LiFePO4 battery instead of the little 5aH battery and gel cell depicted here.  I was running the radio at 10w, and the LDG antenna tuner off the Miady battery.  No issue at all.  I think I could run this way for days. Antenna as usual is the Eagle One hitch mounted vertical.  My SUV is the radial and I use a 50 foot coaxial feed line. 


So, I got to the site and all setup by 21:40Z (4:40PM local time), spotted myself and started calling CQ. I think I CQ'd maybe three times and then the hunters were on to me.  I was only running 16 wpm this time and I was asking for QRP stations not long after starting up.   K1RO came in with a fantastic 599 signal from NH, followed by most of New England.  I worked CT, MA, MD, NY, RI, DE and GA, FL, and Dominican Republic remote station HI3AA to the east of me.  To the west I worked CA, OR, WA CO, OK and ALASKA!!!  I haven't worked Alaska in a long time...I told Paul my face was grinning ear to ear.  So I am getting REAL close to POTA WAS.  Here's a look at the Reverse Beacon Network.  I was on the site for about 30 minutes, working 20 mins.  The wind was blowing across Honker Haven Lake right into my back, so I made 18 contacts and went QRT due to fingers getting cold and the sun was starting to set at about 22:05Z (5:05PM Local). 


20m was working pretty well for me today, BIG thanks to the hunters for pulling my QRPish signal out of the ether and giving me a shout!  I now have my first activation of 2022 in the books.  My goal is to activate 5 or 6 parks this year and shooting for a total of 20 activations. 

Here's my obligatory QSO Map...



Thanks again every body, I appreciate the attention! 

best 73 de KB9BVN

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Beautiful Day in the Hinterlands!!

The last few mornings, we've seen temperatures in the upper 20's, the trees are about a week past prime autumn colors, and the bugs are just about all gone until spring. So today I had some free time and made a quick trip down to Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area, also know as K-4183 in WWFF and POTA lingo.

Today I decided to try setting up at Honker Haven, this is the parking area next to the protected game bird habitat.  

It took me about 20 minutes to get everything set up,  today I was using my Elecraft K2 at about 7-10 watts into my hitch mounted Eagle One vertical antenna.  I started out on 40m and the band was in great shape.
 
I checked the numbers and saw this:  SSN:41 SFI:88 A:8 K:1, this indicated that sunspots were present, and the SFI was coming up a bit.  We'd all love to see it over 100 any time now.  Seems like Solar Cycle 25 is well underway and things are indeed looking up.  



So at 19:28 UTC I got on the air, posted a self spot on the POTA spotting network, and started calling CQ. It was less than one minute before they, the hunters, found me. 

I stayed on the air for just a few minutes under an hour, the ARRL CW Sweeps are this weekend and 20m was packed wall to wall with contesters, so I stayed put on 40m for the duration.  At about 20:20z 40m started to fill up with contesters, and me with my QRP signals decided to call it a day, pack up, and head toward the QTH.  

I managed to work hunters as far as Maine, Rhode Island, and tons of Carolinians, out to Oklahoma and Kansas.  You can check out my QSO Map below here for the splatter layout.  Note the hunter orange sock hat....it's deer season here, archery only right now, but you can't be too careful when the hunters are itchin' to shoot a trophy buck.   I'm a deer hunter as well, I prefer gun season but it doesn't start for another week.  I need to get a nice one so I can replenish the venison jerky stash, I've been out for months.  Well that's about it for this outing, it makes my 13th activation from the same park.  Gasoline has almost doubled in price since last year so I tend to try and stay close to home.  This park is about 35 minutes from the front door my QTH.  I look forward to hitting it again this week, the weather forecast is looking very nice.  Might actually see 70 F one day this week.  Thanks for reading! 


Autumn at Atterbury is my favorite time of the year.  Lots to look at, mushrooms to forage for, this place is known to be loaded with Chicken of the Tree and Han of the Woods fungi...plus the fish seem to be hungrier too. 





Thanks for reading!  

Best 73 de KB9BVN