POTA Activation #27: A DC 2-fer at the Washington Monument National Memorial and the National Mall Park (DC) (9/3/2022)

The first day of Labor Day weekend was looking to be delightful, if a bit cloudy. My family had plans on Saturday, so I decided to get an activation in. Looking at the POTA map, I noticed that although I had two DC parks in the books, I had not yet activated anything on the North side of the Potomac River. I had been thinking about doing a RaDAR run, with a bunch of parks in the monumental core of the city, but as I was getting ready to head into DC I decided that I would activate the Washington Monument (and by extension the National Mall) and focus on spending my time in that one spot. The RaDAR run would wait for another day.

I decided to have a bit of hybrid transportation for this activation. I drove into my office in downtown DC and then used Capital Bikeshare to bike to the activation site. I found a delightful grove of trees in the shadow of the monument which kept me out of he sun and also away from the throngs of tourists that had descended upon the monument and the mall. There was a large concert, the Capital House Music Festival, that was at the nearby amphitheatre. Under my grove of trees I was well shaded and out of the way, so I decided to setup my MFJ 1984-MP End-Fed Half-Wave in a nearby tree and started to get on the air.

Before I left the house I had checked band conditions, and the forecast for 40m wasn't good. So I decided to get on 20 CW to see if I could make my 10, not sure if I would be able to make it. Thankfully, my worries were unfounded and quickly I was able to get several contacts. The first contact came from Florida, then Indiana, Wisconsin, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas. Next, I had some trouble copying a call, but after a resend I realized it was a a DL call -- from Germany. Dead bands? I think not. Next came Florida and Virginia, and then a bit of silence. I tried switching to SSB, but got no calls, so I decided to give 40m a try. On CW I got calls back from Ohio, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, Indiana, Illinois, and South Carolina.

After another slow down I decided to give SSB a go on 40m and worked Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Maryland, Michigan, Virginia, Ontario (Canada), Michigan, New York, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. With that great run I thought I'd give 20 SSB another go and got Minnesota, Florida, and a final Minnesota before things slowed down again, so I decided to use the frequency agility of the end-fed half-wave and moved to 30m CW. Right away I worked Michigan and Indiana before things once again went silent. So I got another band on the log with 17m working two Texas stations and a weak one in Wisconsin.

I noticed on the spots that a station really wanted to work me on 20m, so I decided to make the switch as 17 was quite quiet. Immediately I was able to work the station in Wisconsin, and then after a lot of quiet a station in Florida before I decided to move back to 40m on CW this time. Contacts came in from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ontario (Canada), Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, another Ontario station, Maryland, New York, Tennessee, Ohio, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and another New York. Then as I was getting another call in, I was approached by a Park Ranger who asked me to take down my antenna, since it was in a tree. I quickly complied and asked if my vertical antenna which was free-standing and not in a tree was okay to use, and she indicated I could use that and continue operating. I explained what I was doing and thanked her, and set up the Buddistick Pro.

Since 40 was working so well just minutes before, I decided to continue on it and got calls from New York, California (although I suspect they may have been operating elsewhere based on the band), Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maine, New Jersey, Ontario (Canada), Massachusetts, and a couple of Virginia stations. I was getting ready to call it an activation and had already crossed 100 QSOs, so I decided to give SSB another try and worked Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, and New Jersey again before calling QRT. One last look at the spots and I saw W2AEW activating a park in New Jersey -- I'm a fan of the videos he puts out on his YouTube channel (great educational content on amateur radio and electronics), so I decided to try for a park to park with him on CW, I was successful, and thanked him for his great videos before packing up the station.

I headed for the nearest Capital Bikeshare station, loaded up the basket with my gear (the radio was on my back) and biked my way up the hill to my office. It was a very successful activation with 113 contacts, 75 on CW and 38 on SSB in two parks. I also was excited to have contacts with my friends KK4WDP (who was activating his own park -- we worked on CW and SSB) and K3WD who was looking out for me on the spots after he found out I was activating on the Cherry Tree Net earlier in the morning. Also, I was delighted to work Thomas, K4SWL, who hunted me from NC on this activation. Hearing familiar calls put a big smile on my face. So many of the hunters were excited to get DC parks -- I guess they're a bit hard for people to get in the logs, so it was like I had an extra 6db of gain being in DC with all the hunters seeking me out. I can't wait to activate some more DC parks soon.

Complete Activation QSO Map: Red Pins = SSB, Green Pins = CW / Green Lines = 40m, Orange Lines = 30m, Blue Lines = 20m, Purple Lines = 17m

Gear used in this activation
  • Icom IC-705
  • MFJ 1984 MP End-Fed Half Wave Antenna
  • Buddipole Buddistick Pro Antenna
  • LDG Z100 Plus
  • CW Morse Pocket Double Paddle Morse Code Key with Magnets
  • CW Morse Steel Base for Pocket Paddles
  • RigExpert Stick Pro Antenna Analyzer
  • Icom LC-192
  • Bioenno 12V 6Ah LiFePO4 Battery
  • Sony Headphones
  • Dell XPS 13 Laptop
  • Rite in the Rain Notebook
  • Zebra DelGuard Mechanical Pencil
  • Cascade Mountain Tech Ultralight Highback Chair