POTA Activation #60: A Before Work 2-Park 3-Band Activation With A New Begali Key (DC) (5/30/2023)

After a great trip to Dayton Hamvention, I had some new gear to get out into the field. Specifically, I had picked up a Begali Magnetic Traveler Light with an eye toward using it for my POTA activations. It was a significant investment, so I was glad I could give it a test at Hamvention to make sure I liked how it felt. Of course I loved it, so I purchased it from them and dreamed of many activations to come. I actually had my last activation after I purchased the paddle, but unfortunately, it was packed up with all my gear in the trunk since originally I wasn't expecting to do any CW for that one, so I used my CW Morse Pocket Paddle which was in my 705 backpack and easily accessible.

This morning I got up bright and early and today was the day for me to get some QSOs in the log for my beautiful blue Italian racer. Since I was activating mobile, I used the leg strap to attach it to my leg. I actually did this before I left the house so I could see how comfortable it would be and how stable the strap was. It was solid as a rock and quite comfortable with enough friction from the strap that I didn't have to tighten the strap too much. I also liked that the movable paddle guards acted as a "safety" of sorts so that while I was listening to CW on the way into work (this morning a weather net on 40m) I didn't have to worry about accidentally bumping an errant dit or dah onto the air.

Traffic was moderate, but I had gotten up with plenty of time to spare, so I enjoyed hearing weather from around the country on the way in and enjoyed how it made the traffic seem to go by faster. Finally I made it to my activation site, sent a note to some LICW friends, got myself spotted, and got on the air on 40m.

It took a few CQ calls, but eventually I heard back from Illinois with a 559 both ways. From there I had to call from a really fun call in Massachusetts that showed me there might be magic yet in the ionosphere, WI1ZRD. Next up the pace quickened and I heard from North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Then I heard my buddy Ed, N2GSL, just off frequency with a distinct pitch from LICW in New York. In the clear he was a good 559 and he later told me that he was working his Heathkit HW-9. I noticed a hint of drift in his tone, so he must have turned it on recently, but he was loud and clear running QRP and sounding great. Always a good start to the day when I get Ed in the log.

Next up I heard from Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Ontario, Virginia, North Carolina, North Carolina again, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and finally Ohio. Then things got quiet and I decided to move on up to the 30m band. The band seemed a bit noisy, but I still wanted to give it a go. I had to call CQ for a few minutes, but eventually heard back from Missouri and Georgia with some weak signal reports, then I was heard more strongly in Massachusetts and Michigan. Then I was delighted to hear a familiar call, K5KHK, who I met briefly at Four Days in May. Great to get Karl in the log again. Then I heard another familiar, LICW member, YouTuber, and Cootie enthusiast K9NUD. Great to get him in the log as well. After that contact things died off on 30 so I decided to make one more band change to 20m and give the band a try before I had to head in to work.

My first contact was with Georgia where I wasn't coming in too strongly, but we got it done. Then was Michigan where I was coming in a bit stronger for a repeat hunter -- thanks N8BB for finding me on another band! Next I contacted a pair of stations in NY, followed by KJ7DT in Idaho giving me my longest contact of the day. I always love when I get to work Paul - he's a great hunter and I always get a kick out of working Idaho. Finally I got one last contact with Missouri and I noticed some QRN was building on the frequency I was on. I moved to another frequency 6 KHz up, but got no takers after an RBN re-spot. Looking at the clock I realized it was time to go QRT and make my way into the office.

At the end of the activation I had 36 QSOs in the log in 51 minutes on the air on 40m, 30m, and 20m. The Begali Magnetic Traveler Light performed valiantly, and it was nice to have it strapped to my leg so I didn't have to hand hold the key as I have done for many previous mobile activations. I had a few mis-keys as I was getting used to the feel, but for the most part it went smoothly. The keying was pleasingly tight as adjusted from the factory and I can't wait to get some more QSOs in the log with it soon.

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

Gear used in this activation
  • Yaesu FT-891
  • Yaesu ATAS 120A Antenna
  • Begali Magnetic Traveler Light Iambic Key
  • 2006 Honda Accord EX V6
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
  • HAMRS Logging App