Sunday, December 20, 2020

POTA and QRP - Six Months In

This morning I was greeted with the fact that I now have 201 unique parks confirmed as a POTA hunter. That took me almost 260 POTA contacts.  Interestingly enough, today is exactly 6 months from my very first POTA experience at Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area back on June 20th.   Wayne AC9HP, Ivin W9ILF, and Paul W9PDC, showed me the way to POTA and I got my first activation and POTA contacts that day.  Since then I have managed 10 park activations,  hunted 201 unique parks in 33 states, handed out 221 contacts from K-4183, and had the most fun I've had in years with amateur radio.  

My primary activation setup is shown below, my beloved almost 20 year old Elecraft K2, LDG auto tuner, Parkwood paddles built for me about 20 years ago by Richard WB9LPU, a Chinese Li-Ion battery pack from Imuto Inc, AYL Brand powered speaker, and good old pencil and paper logging.  My max power has been 15w on SSB and 10w on CW.  My antenna is the Eagle One portable that I use mounted to the trailer hitch on my SUV.  The hitch mount allows my truck to be used as a counterpoise and I can tune it 10-40 with no issues.  If I add my 4:1 balun I can get a narrow match on 80m as well. 

KB9BVN typical QRP activation station

Here is a picture of my SUV with the Eagle One Antenna deployed for POTA activation. 

SUV mounted Eagle One portable vertical 

My hunting station setup is a little bit different.   Usually I hunt using my almost 20 year old Elecraft K1, it is setup for 15, 20, 30, and 40m.  If I am hunting on 17m or 30m, or using SSB, I pull out the K2 and use that.  The paddles are old Ten Tec single lever paddles (Model 607), and I use a LDG auto tuner,  cheap headphones, and a pair of 10 Amp hour SLA batteries.  The antenna from my home hunting location is a half wave 40m dipole in my attic.  With the antenna tuner I can get it to match and work on 10-40m...works best on 40m and 15m, worst on 10m and 20m.  My hunting station is shown below. 

K1 Hunting Station used by KB9BVN 

On occasion I have also used this hunting setup, swapping out the K1 for the Hilltopper 40 or Hilltopper 20 QRP CW transceivers.   The Hilltoppers make 7 watts of output and have a great receiver.  This little rig was designed by Dave Benson K1SWL and packaged and sold by the 4 States QRP Group. 

Hilltopper 40 with Nye Viking Master Key 

I have really enjoyed POTA this year and I look forward to warmer weather in the coming months.  Tomorrow is the first day of Winter...which means the days will start to get longer and summertime weather is on its way back to the Hoosier Hinterlands.  I can't wait to get out there and do more activations in 2021.  I am by no means lighting the POTA world on fire, but I have been having a lot of fun with it.  Some ops this year have over 1000 unique parks hunted, and over 1000 parks activated.  I like the fact that I can be relatively successful using QRP CW and SSB, who knows, maybe next year I'll give some of the digital modes a try! 

The Enrubio Award is issued by POTA for hunters that have contacted at least 200 unique park locations, here is what it looks like.

Enrubio Award from POTA 

If you haven't given POTA a try yet, you are really missing out on the chance for some great amateur radio fun.  Whether you like making contest style contacts, or love operating from the great outdoors, there is something in POTA for everyone! 

https://parksontheair.com  <-- Sign up here (it's free)
https://pota.us  <-- This is the spotting page for the hunters (it's free)

POTA also has a active site on Facebook, and a channel on Slack. 

Best DX es 73 - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all! 
de KB9BVN
Brian


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