POTA Activation #33: QRM Heavy Just Passing Through POTA at Buck Lake Conservation Area (FL) (12/23/2022)

Fresh off my successful and quick activation of Lake Monroe State Conservation Area, I was excited to make our next brief stop at nearby Buck Lake Conservation Area just a few miles down the road. Google Maps had me overshooting my route to my final destination a bit, but as I was driving down route 46, I noticed there was a trailhead on the West side of the area that was right on the way. I decided to give it a go, and as I pulled in to park I noticed that the parking lot was right underneath some high voltage transmission lines. In the spirit of keeping things moving along I decided to give activating at the site a try and was curious what the power lines would do to the noise level on HF

Spoiler alert: a lot.

I decided to set up camp on the same 20m frequency I was on at the last park, re-spotted myself, and started calling CQ. I noticed that I now had an S5 noise floor (up from the essentially S0 noise floor I enjoyed at Lake Monroe) but with the numerous S9+ signals I was getting before I figured it might still work out and ease the pile-ups a bit. As I got some calls back from my CQ, I noticed that the power lines were making things almost unintelligible. I cranked the noise blanker up to the maximum and although it was incredibly distorted, I was able to discern the code buzzing in at that setting. Pretty it wasn't, but it was able to work. The first intelligible call back was from Mississippi, followed by a pair in Texas, a Virginia station who worked me just minutes before at the previous park, Connecticut, Tennessee, Mississippi again, North Carolina, Texas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, and finally Oklahoma. The going was slow, the copy was challenging, and seeing that I comfortably passed the threshold for activation, I called QRT with a sigh of relief.

All in all I made 13 contacts in 21 minutes more or less all in a straight line between the western edge of Texas to New Hampshire. Definitely some of the most difficult noise I've had to contend with in an activation. I had one more park on the list for this mini-rove, and I set its coordinates into my navigation software and headed on my way hoping the next park would be a return to the silky silence of the parks I have enjoyed so often.

Activation QSO Map: Green Pins = CW / Blue Lines = 20m

Gear used in this activation
  • Yaesu FT-891
  • Yaesu ATAS 120A Antenna
  • CW Morse SP4 POTA/SOTA Mini Morse Code Magnetic Paddle (N0SA Designed)
  • 2006 Honda Accord EX V6
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
  • HAMRS Logging App