Paul Butzi |||

An Exciting activation of Lake Sammamish State Park (US-3216)

Today I did a very exciting (well, exciting to me) POTA activation at Lake Sammamish State Park (US-3216).

This activation was exciting for several reasons:

  • I did not set up a station in the back seat of the car, and work from the car, but instead set up on a picnic table.
  • For the first time, I used the Chelegance MC-750 antenna for an activation, along with a new ABR coax with protective brightly colored hi-vis jacket.
  • For the first time, I did CW during an activation without anyone to help me copy.
  • For the first time, I used my new Elecraft KX2.
  • For the first time, I used my relatively new Begali Traveler Light key in an activation.

Picnic Table

picnic table!

One of my goals for this activation was to move away from operating out of the car and get experience with setting up some distance away.

Lake Sammamish State Park features about 12 million picnic areas with picnic tables, and while some parts of the park have crummy cell service I just drove around with an eye on the cell service on my phone and an eye out for tables that weren’t part of a reserved area.

I’m slowly developing an eye for promising spots to set up. Moving away from the car was a new challenge but I was pleased with the spot I picked, which featured a view of the lake and a Bigleaf maple for shade.

activation view

Chelegance MC-750

Chelgance MC-750 setup

I really like the Chelegance MC-750 antenna now that I’ve replaced the stock 4 radials with the radials I made from BnTechGo silicone wire. The stock radials are too stiff, and the banana plugs failed the first time I set it up. Setup takes just a couple of minutes. I used the ground spike, spread the 4 radials, extended the whip to the 14MHz mark, and made a quick check of SWR, which read at 1.09:1, first try. No muss, no fuss.

Anyway, it’s light, pretty compact, and doesn’t require putting a line in a tree (forbidden in many parks in WA) nor require a telescoping mast. I do have the Chelegance tripod to use when I can’t drive the ground spike, whether it’s because it’s on pavement or an area where spikes are not allowed. I’m super happy with it.

SSB

I started the activation using the Xeigu G90, running 20W SSB. I was using the Heil BM-17 headset and PTT switch, which I really like a lot - very comfortable and just the right amount of acoustic isolation to make it easy to hear without making me anxious about awareness of what’s happening around me.

Conditions were good and 15 minutes of calling CQ netted me 10 contacts to validate the activation. After a few more contacts, I took a break to go hunting, then went back and took just a few more SSB calls while I screwed up my courage to switch to CW.

I took a deep breath, packed away the G90, and set up the KX2, the paddles, got started with CW.

CW setup

CW

As a warmup, I tried for a park to park contact first. It didn’t take long before AF0E, activating US-9591, was in my log.

At that point, I found a clear frequency on 20m, screwed my courage to the sticking place, spotted myself, and started calling CQ.

It took some time before I got a response, but I got KK7EHJ into the log although I stumbled badly on the H in his callsign. Amazingly, the CW police didn’t show up to arrest me, and I had my first solo CW activation QSO in the log.

Two more callers simply faded as I tried to get their callsign, and I was growing frustrated.

Just as I was about to call it quits, I got another caller and proceeded to test his patience with a lot of question marks as I worked out his callsign. Heavy QRM from the landscaping crew with a lawnmower was not helping matters. Finally I got the entire callsign in HAMRS, looked at it, and realized with considerable glee that it was Mike AL7KC from North Pole, AK. Mike is already in my activation logs many many times on SSB (including in this activation!), and now on CW. Such a prize - a 1500 mile QSO with a POTA friend, CW on 5W. I was thrilled.

I did a little dance to celebrate, checked the time, looked at the clouds, and figured I’d call CQ for one more minute and then call it quits. One minute later, with rain clouds threatening, I packed it all up and started back to the car.

just before striking gear

On the way to the car, I stopped to snap a photo of two deer wandering through the parking lot, and when I picked up the stuff I’d put down to take the photo, there were rain drops on the cases. 30 seconds later I had the gear in the car and was in the driver’s seat when the rain started falling in earnest.

deer

Box Score

fun-o-meter

Total QSOs: 22 with one dupe
Total CW QSOs: 3 (Yay!)
Time spent operating: 80 minutes
Times Paul’s brain exploded trying to copy callsigns: 4
Νew equipment bonus points: 3
Solo CW bonus points: 3

Things lost: 0
Things broken: 0

Final fun-o-metertm reading: 10

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