POTA Activation #42: A CW Activation on 4 Bands and in 2 Parks Before Work at Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT and Star-Spangled Banner NHT (DC) (1/26/2023)

Parks on the Air has a way of motivating you. There are dozens of awards to chase, personal statistics to grow, the fun of activating a park, and interacting with people around the globe. So, I decided to see how early I could get up and see if I could get some Early Shift contacts in and work toward a new award. I set the alarm early and got out to the park as the sun was rising. As I drove to my operating position the sun was shimmering over the Washington channel and dozens of cyclists and runners were taking the loop around Hains Point. There was even a peloton of Metropolitan Police Department officers doing a group ride that came around several times. DC was showing off, and I loved every minute of it.

The previous day had been decidedly dreary and wet, so with a clear morning in the 40s, people were making sure to get out and savor the sunshine. I was no exception to this, and was enjoying feeling the warmth of the early morning sunlight stream through my car window. This was the kind of morning that makes up for the ones that are cold, wet, and gray. On the way in I had heard several QSOs on 40m CW, so I decided to start there. I didn't have a lot of time until the Early Shift ended (8AM local), so I thought starting on the "easy" band would give me the best success.

I did have an ace up my sleeve, though. I had much more time to linger this morning, due to my earlier departure. So I was in it to spend some time and savor my moments in the sun along the banks of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. I also had another ace up my sleeve. I had recently joined a text group with some friends from the Long Island CW Club that is particularly active, even in the early hours of the morning. So, in addition to posting a spot on the POTA spotting page, I dropped a note to my friends in the club that I was starting an activation on 40m.

Mike, N2PPI, the leader of the text group and an avid POTA activator himself, came back to my CQ with a 599 both ways from New York and said hello. It was nice to have him be the first contact in the log. Next up I got calls from Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, and Kansas. Next up, I heard from Ed, N2GSL, another club member from New York, who gave me a cordial greeting and a 599 both ways. I was also pleased to hear that this was his first time getting one of the parks I was activating. Glad I could get him in the log, too. After that I got a call from WD4DAN, Dan, in Georgia. He would end up working me on all 4 bands I activated this time, a lot of fun. He also is the developer of a script that allows you to put live POTA data on your QRZ page, which is a very helpful tool. Thanks to Dan for hunting and all his hard work! One more call from North Carolina would close out the Early Shift on 40m, but I kept going, making contact with Ohio, a pair of New York stations, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, and finally a station on Ohio.

The calls slowed down a bit, so I decided to hop up to the 30m band and see what I could do there. After a few CQs I got contacts from Tennessee and from Brian from QRPARCI in Indiana who was working QRP, as usual (72!). Always fun to get him in the log. I also got my second contact from WD4DAN in Georgia (Thanks Dan!), as well as a pair from Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and Oklahoma. Once again the calls slowed down, so I decided to move on up to the 20m band and started calling CQ. I had a bit of a false start when after calling QRL? a few times and then calling CQ, a really weak QSO came out of the noise. I had been spotted by the RBN, but I didn't want to interfere, so I moved up 2 kHz and started calling again. After a minute or so, the RBN caught up with me and I got responses from Arkansas, and then New York. Next I got a very fast call from a station in Poland who was coming in 599 both ways -- nothing like some morning DX! He was followed by New York and Indiana and then another DX station, this time from England! All from the lid of my trunk on a "compromised" antenna. Yeah, I love this thing. Next we got back stateside with Oklahoma, the third call from Dan in Georgia, and one last call from Missouri.

The time was getting late and the calls on 20m slowed, so I wondered ... could I get in another band before going to the office? Well, there was only one way to find out. I changed the band to 17m, spun the VFO to a clear frequency, spotted myself, and gave it a go. I called for a few minutes and thought I was going to get nothing. After all, this was a bit early for 17m ... but I had heard some SSB stations on the top end of the band just moments before and the MUF was well above 18 MHz for me ... so there had to be a chance. Who came the rescue, well, none other than Dan WD4DAN, of course! Fourth band of the day! I gave him sincere thanks, and his contact was followed by a station in Florida. I called a few times, to no avail, and after looking at the clock, realized it was time to head to the office. I called QRT, snapped a few photos, and called it an activation.

What an amazing way to start the day. Savoring the sunrise over the Potomac, talking to friends around the world, and challenging what you think is possible. All-in-all I made 35 contacts on 4 bands in 3 countries from 2 parks in just under 1 hour. Thanks to everyone who hunted, this one was a whole lot of fun.

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

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

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