Monday, September 25, 2023

The Year in far


Well here it is...summer is over, autumn has begun here in Central Indiana.  Where did the time go.  Summer and Fall are my two favorite seasons, I suppose Spring is right up there as well, let's just say my absolute dislike of Winter is a very strong emotion. I could literally do without it.  When I was a young whippersnapper I loved winter, we used to camp outside and sleep in tents, on the ground, while it was snowing, blowing, and freezing, and we loved it.  As I take more trips around the sun on spaceship Earth, I find my love of winter has waned and ebbed to the point of no return.  Give me the sun on my face, 80 degrees, and a slight breeze and I am about as happy as "a pig in a cool mud waller on a hot sunny day".  Now that paints a picture.

Speaking of pigs, and by pigs I do mean ham, as most of you know I am a ham radio operator.  Yes indeed, I am licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, of these United States of America,  to build, repair, operate, and otherwise twiddle with all kinds of radio stuff.  My main interest in the hobby, as most of you know, is using Morse Code on the air to communicate with other hams using the same.   It's my favorite thing to do in the hobby. 

Well a few years ago, a group popped up calling themselves Parks on the Air, or POTA for short.  I started getting involved with this group in June of the dregs of the pandemic.  We were working from home those days, and to minimize the amount of exposure to others around me, I started going to the woods to operate portable, usually by myself.  POTA has over 5000 registered national parks, state parks, and fish and wildlife areas in their database.  Lucky for me, one of the registered locations is a mere 20 minutes from my home.  The Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area is known in POTA as site K-4183.  

Atterbury FIsh and Wildlife Area - K-4183

My goal in 2023 was to try and get out to the parks and wild life areas at least 12 times, fire up my radio, pitch my antenna, and make at least 10 CW contacts.  Today, was my 12th outing of 2023.   This year I have activated 6 different parks, made over 200 CW contacts from those parks, and with any luck I hope to go out at least 3 more times before it gets too cold. 

Elecraft KX-2, Logbook, Coffee

This is my radio setup.  I bought this Elecraft KX-2 transceiver, used, a couple month ago.  It is totally self contained.  It has an internal lithium battery pack, an internal antenna tuner, can transmit CW, Voice, and a couple of digital data modes.  Just add an antenna, the CW paddles are already attached.  This radio is capable of outputting 10 watts of RF power to the antenna system.  My antenna is a 33 foot tall vertical antenna that collapses down to about 4 feet tall.  It's called an Eagle One, and I mounts to the trailer hitch on my SUV. That is all I need to carry to the field now. 

Before I got the KX-2, I had to carry all this stuff! 

Eagle One Antenna - Hitch Mount

The KX-2 is an amazing little radio from a US company called Elecraft, in northern California.  I have made contacts with this radio, that antenna, 5 watts of power to stations all over the United States, in South America, Europe, and even Russia.  It is very well designed and has become my favorite radio to use, even at home. 

So today I went to Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area and set up in what they call parking area 11A.  Atterbury is a public hunting area, and throughout the acreage they have made about a dozen crushed rock pull off areas for hunters to park and not be hanging out in the roadways.  The area was nice and shaded, I got there about 11:15AM, and by 11:45AM I had the antenna up, radio connected, coffee on the table, log book ready, and a fully charged battery in the KX-2.  Lots of dead and dying poison ivy. 

The fabled Parking Area 11A

Ham Radio Truckster, with antenna deployed

Dead and dying Poison Ivy - The only good thing about Winter coming

And of course, this is I, the happy Ham-ster getting ready to flood the world with 10 watts of radio power.  I started at 11:45AM and it took an hour and 5 minutes to make the 10th contact in the logbook.  The bands were very quiet this morning, didn't seem to have much bounce and that is how radio waves make it around the world, we have to have some atmospheric bounce for radio wave propagation to work well.  

The Happy Ham-ster KB9BVN

By about 1:45PM I had a mere 24 contacts in my logbook, but I had made contact with operators in California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, New Mexico, Vermont, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, and Canada.  So my 12th activation of 2023 was in the books and has been logged with POTA. 

Atterbury is a cool place, they have 5 or 6 fishing lakes, acres and acres of woods and prairie, great for rabbits, squirrel, coyotes, deer, raccoons, and possums.  Before the military took the area over pre-WWII, there was a small rural community here.  This is one of the old cemeteries left from those days. 

Old Cemetery at Atterbury

Another Cemetery

Old Iron Bridge Leading out of the hunting Area

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