Tag Archives: Mike (K8RAT)

Radio in the field: Two new POTA activations this weekend!

This past weekend my wife suggested that I do a Parks On The Air (POTA) activation. I think she wanted me out of the house so that she could prepare a birthday and Father’s day surprise with my daughters.

Of course, I happily obliged. My motto in French: “Profitez-en bien!” or “Make the most of it!”

Hazel (our dog) made it crystal clear she wanted to join me as well. She’s a great hiking companion and also watches out for black bears while I operate in the forest!

DuPont State Game Land (K-6902)

I decided to activate the DuPont State Game Land which was about a one hour drive from my house. Not only was it a new park for me, but it was also an ATNO (All-Time New One) for the POTA program.

I arrived onsite around 10:15 AM local and the parking lot for the forest trail heads was already packed.

It was a gorgeous day and this part of the DuPont Forest is well-known as a great mountain biking spot. I was very lucky to find a place to park.

We’re still in full social distancing mode in North Carolina due to Covid-19, so I had no desire to be anywhere near other people. Hazel and I went off-trail and hiked in about 1/4 of a mile to a nice clearing.

I set up the EFT Trail-Friendly end-fed antenna and operated with the Elecraft KX2.

I called for quite some time before I was spotted in the POTA system. After being spotted, I quickly racked up more than the required 10 contacts for the activation to be considered valid.

Although the weather was amazing and my antenna deployment was near-ideal, the bands were rough and unstable, so it was challenging.

Hazel and I packed up, moved out, and made a detour to visit a waterfall near a site I hope to activate in the near future. Here’s a short video:

Kerr Scott State Game Land (K-6918)

Since Sunday, I’ve been visiting my hometown to help my parents with a few projects.

Yesterday, I had a four hour break in the day and decided to, of course, benefit from the beautiful weather and activate another new-to-me site. (Can you tell I’m addicted to POTA?)

I picked the Kerr Scott Game Land because it was “only” a 50 minute, rather scenic, drive.

It was quite easy finding a spot to park.  Like most game lands, though, you must be prepared to go through off-road conditions. Part of the driveway into the site was incredibly muddy and definitely required at least all-wheel drive.

I set up my station in the shade and easily deployed the end-fed antenna once again.

Lesson learned

This activation of Kerr Scott Game Land taught me an invaluable lesson: if you don’t have a “spot” of your activation on the POTA site, it’s like you don’t exist.

The POTA spotting network (much like popular DX spotting networks and clusters) is simply amazing. As a POTA hunter, you open the spots page and you’ll see a list of all of the current operators, their park numbers, and frequencies where last heard.

As an activator, your number one priority when you find an available frequency and start calling CQ is to be spotted on the POTA network.

If I have good mobile phone coverage at my site, I self-spot on the network. Within a few seconds of the spot posting, I’ll typically have a pile-up of a few operators trying to reach me.

If I have cell phone service, but no data, I’ll text my good friend Mike (K8RAT) and ask him to spot me on the network.

Kerr Scott, like most game lands, however, had no mobile phone service whatsoever, so I had no way to self-spot. In fact, this particular site was a good 15 minute drive from the nearest cell phone signal.

I called CQ for 30 to 40 minutes on my announced frequency, at the announced time, but not one single op come back to me.

Since I had just driven 50 minutes to reach this site, there was no way I was going to give up so easily. I had already set up my station in the trunk/boot of my car, so I simply secured it, disconnected the antenna and tied it to a tree branch (so it wouldn’t be in the way), and drove 15 minutes to a spot where I could send a quick message to Mike.

When I got back to the Kerr Scott, I hooked up the antenna, made one call, and had a pile-up of five operators I worked in rapid succession. In fact, I had my required 10 contacts within 8 minutes.

I do wonder how some of the most adventurous POTA activators manage to post spots while in remote areas. It’s such a key component of having a successful activation, I wonder if they use a satellite phone or satellite messaging device to text a friend for help. (If you’re a POTA or SOTA activator, I’d welcome your comments here!)

At any rate, I was very pleased to hammer out an activation so effortlessly once I was spotted on the network.

The CW secret weapon

I should add here that CW activators have a secret weapon that’s incredible effective: the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN).

As a CW operator, the POTA spot system will read your callsign from the RBN as long as you have made an announcement on the POTA website in advance or have already been spotted to the POTA website. All you have to do is set up your station at the site and call CQ: the POTA system will auto-generate an accurate spot for you based on the frequency from the RBN.  It’s incredibly effective and more than enough reason for me to think I should start doing CW activations.

I can operate CW–in fact, I routinely make CW contacts in POTA and in other contests. However, I’m not quite brave enough to call CQ from a POTA site and work my way through even a modest pile-up.

I need to practice CW more, and I will!

This week, I also take delivery of my Wolf River Coils TIA antenna. I’m looking forward to having the TIA as an option when I need a self-supporting antenna that’s quick to deploy and can handle up to 100 watts when needed.

Post readers: Did you play radio in the field this weekend? I’d love your comments–especially if you simply took a receiver outdoors to enjoy some noise-free broadcast listening!


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Radio Waves: Dave Moves, IC-705 delay, High Speed Telegraphy Meet, and WWI Biplane Wireless

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Dave Zantow (N9EWO), Paul Evans (W4/VP9KF), and Mike Hangen (K8RAT) for the following tips:


Dave’s Radio Receiver Page Moves Again (N9EWO)

With all of the strange happenings and excessive “Pop-Up” issues on Angelfire (even more so of late), we have finally decided to move off of that web host and made the move to QSL.NET.

So “Dave’s Radio Receiver Page” new URL is :

https://www.qsl.net/n9ewo/

Please, for anyone who have web pages that have my web page linked (with the now old URL), I would appreciate the correction. Hopefully this will be the last time I will need to move the page.[…]

Please Note : Are still a few pages that still need to be transferred, but I expect to have that completed over the weekend. This has been quite a bit of work recoding all (again).

Icom IC-705 availability delayed due to Coronavirus

Paul Evans notes that Martin Lynch and Sons  (ML&S) has just updated the product page for the IC-705 with the following note: “RRP £1199.95 incl 20% VAT. Estimated delivery now July 2020 due to major component shortage.”

Icom America retailers (Universal Radio, Ham Radio Outlet, Gigaparts, etc.) have not published an estimate for availability.

QRQPoint – The meeting place for high speed telegraphy enthusiasts in Europe (Southgate ARC)

Dear OM and all CW lovers,
I will you proudly inform, that our website http://www.qrqpoint.com is now online.

The idea of this meeting place for CW enthusiasts was born by me and the webmaster, Fabian, DJ1YFK, brought it very nice to the web. Thank you Fabian!

Everybody is very kindly invited to be there QRV.

The frequency is 3567 khz. To make a sked or just to say Hello we have a little Shoutbox on the site.

I hope to see you there!

Kindest regards,

Olaf, DL1OP

In World War I, British Biplanes Had Wireless Phones in the Cockpit (IEEE Spectrum)

Pilots on reconnaissance missions could immediately call in their findings

As soon as the first humans went up in hot air balloons in the late 1700s, military strategists saw the tantalizing possibilities of aerial reconnaissance. Imagine being able to spot enemy movements and artillery from on high—even better if you could instantly communicate those findings to colleagues on the ground. But the technology of the day didn’t offer an elegant way to do that.

By the early 20th century, all of the necessary elements were in place to finally make aerial reconnaissance a reality: the telegraph, the telephone, and the airplane. The challenge was bringing them together. Wireless enthusiasts faced reluctant government bureaucrats, who were parsimonious in funding an unproven technology.

[…]One early attempt involved wireless telegraphy—sending telegraph signals by radio. Its main drawback was size. The battery pack and transmitter weighed up to 45 kilograms and took up an entire seat on a plane, sometimes overflowing into the pilot’s area. The wire antenna trailed behind the plane and had to be reeled in before landing. There was no room for a dedicated radio operator, and so the pilot would have to do everything: observe the enemy, consult the map, and tap out coordinates in Morse code, all while flying the plane under enemy fire.

Despite the complicated setup, some pioneers managed to make it work.[]


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“BBC’s secret World War Two activities revealed”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Fred Waterer and Mike Hansgen who share the following article from the BBC:

A new archive has revealed the BBC’s role in secret activities during World War Two, including sending coded messages to European resistance groups.

Documents and interviews, released by BBC History, include plans to replace Big Ben’s chimes with a recorded version in the event of an air attack.

This would ensure the Germans did not know their planes were over Westminster.

BBC programmers would also play music to contact Polish freedom fighters.

Using the codename “Peter Peterkin”, a government representative would provide staff with a particular piece that would be broadcast following the Polish news service.

Historian David Hendy said: “The bulletins broadcast to Poland would be deliberately short by a minute or so and then a secret messenger from the exiled Polish government would deliver a record to be played.

“The choice of music would send the message to fighters.”[…]

Click here to read the full article at the BBC.

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Historic Trans-Atlantic VHF Contact Made

(Source: Southgate ARC via Mike Hansgen)

Historic trans-Atlantic contact made on 144 MHz

A historic contact was made on Sunday the 16th June 2019 when the Atlantic was spanned for the first time on 144 MHz.

D41CV on Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa managed to work FG8OJ in Guadeloupe on 144.174 MHz using the FT8 digital mode.
The distance was an incredible 3,867 kms.

To put that into context, the distance from the west coast of Ireland to Newfoundland is 3,000 kms.

Tropo prediction maps show a path right across the Atlantic and suggest that even more incredble contacts may be possible.

More info here… 
https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/2019/06/historic-trans-atlantic-contact-made-on.html

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Radio World: Koode Radio Aims to Reduce Conflict in Africa

(Source: Radio World via Mike Hansgen)

ABUJA, Nigeria — Koode Radio International, a new shortwave program with considerable goals, has begun broadcasting to much of Western Africa.

With programs in the Fulani (or Fula) language, KRI aims to “educate, enlighten and entertain” its listeners, the Fulbe people. This predominantly Muslim, nomadic herder and farmer group is spread across Africa from Senegal in the west to Lake Chad in the east. Dialects of the language are spoken in some 20 countries and the station chose the name “Koode” because it means “star” in all of the dialects.

Usman Shehu in the KRI studio in Abuja. Photos courtesy of KRI.
While some Fulbe are able to communicate via the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook, others cannot. Because a number of Fulbe are herders, they are not only beyond the range of the internet, but beyond the range of electricity.[…]

Click here to read the full article t Radio World online.

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