POTA Activation #60: A Club 4-fer Activation and my first Kilo with Friends Old and New (VA) (6/3/2023)

Photo taken by Corey Law, KN4YZY

Saturday, June 3, was a busy day in the world of Amateur Radio. Locally the Ole Virginia Hams club had their Manassas Hamfest which was attended by several MVARC members and across the airwaves the Parks on the Air Plaque Event was underway. It was also the day when the Mount Vernon Amateur Radio Club would have its very first activation for Parks on the Air. For the first time in several weeks, the weather was looking to be cooperative, so a message was sent out on the MVARC reflector inviting all interested in joining to Belle Haven Park in Alexandria to learn how to get antennas in trees and how to get on the air with Parks on the Air.

Photo taken by Greg Josephs, AJ4QZ

I wasn't sure how many people would join in the fun, but I was hopeful that the great weather and close-in location would get members out into the park. Gersohn, KO4IUK, was the first to commit to joining me, so after getting home from the Manassas hamfest, I made my way to Belle Haven Park. As it turns out, I wasn't the first person there. I was joined by Greg KC5QCN, the president of the Arlington Amateur Radio Club, who had already arrived and had set up his well appointed QRP station on a well shaded area along the banks of the Potomac. He had an FT-818 and a Chameleon Delta Loop already up and operational and gave me a hearty welcome as I arrived. He assisted me in moving some tables together so we could accommodate anyone else who joined us and helped me haul some gear I had brought, including my electric cooler with some cold sparkling water to enjoy.
Photo taken by Corey Law, KN4YZY

I set up my Icom IC-705 and we were soon joined by Gersohn, KO4IUK, who set up his Lab599 Discovery along with his Chelegance MC-750 and AlexLoop Magnetic Loop Antenna. In short order we were joined by MVARC members Brian KQ4GWB, Corey KN4YZY, Greg AJ4QZ, and Bob KT4KS. Also joining us was friend, author, and fellow POTA enthusiast Larry KN4XW and Alexandria Radio Club President Don KI4D. Brian had also brought some gear, and with 10 of us at the park, the outing was already a big success.

Photo taken by Corey Law, KN4YZY

Gersohn and I showed how to use an arborist throw line to get a wire antenna into a tree, both by swinging it with your arm and by using Gersohn's air cannon to launch it into the next county. Once we had an antenna up in the trees we took a look at the spots and saw that we were not alone on the bands, with over 160 other activators in parks around the globe. We decided to start on SSB, but were met with some surprisingly challenging conditions. We started on 40m and the going was slow. Our first contact was with North Carolina, followed by Ohio. Then we had radio silence. After a long time of calling and hearing nothing back I decided to move over to CW and see if we could get some more contacts in the log.

Photo taken by Corey Law, KN4YZY

In short order we got contacts with Pennsylvania, Virginia, another Pennsylvania station, another station in Virginia, New Jersey, Virginia again, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Things quieted down, so I went to do some hunting on 20m and got YouTuber Kyle AA0Z in the log, and then I saw the big prize: KL7AC on 15m CW. I have gotten several calls while in a park from Alaska, but being able to hit a park in Alaska is quite rare. I tuned to his frequency and deep in the noise I could hear him with some fading, but definitely readable. I called him using the club call K4US and after a few calls, I got him. Then I switched to my own call and after a few fade-outs I was able to make the QSO and get into his log. It never ceases to amaze me what is possible with a few watts and a wire in a tree.

Photo taken by Corey Law, KN4YZY

While I had been making contacts on my 705, Gersohn had also been making contacts on his Lab599 Discovery using his AlexLoop Magnetic Loop Antenna and his Chelegance MC-750 Vertical Antenna and had made contact with stations in Massachusetts, Colorado, Slovenia, Nova Scotia (Canada), Florida (twice), Ontario (Canada), Nova Scotia (Canada) again, all on 20m. For the last contact of the day, he made a local contact on 2m simplex. All in all, we made 36 contacts while in the park and had a blast with club members and friends from other clubs as well. We'll definitely look to get out in the field as a club again soon.

Photo taken by Corey Law, KN4YZY

One last thing of note personally -- my contacts in the park this day took me past my 1,000th contact in the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, so Parks on the Air awarded me my first Kilo award for the achievement. Lots of fun. Thanks to everyone who joined us -- I look forward to our next time out together.

International Activation QSO Map: Green Pins = CW, Red Pins = SSB / Green Lines = 40m, Blue Lines = 20m

Domestic Activation QSO Map: Green Pins = CW, Red Pins = SSB / Green Lines = 40m, Blue Lines = 20m

Gear used in this activation
  • Icom IC-705
  • Laboratory599 Discovery TX-500
  • MFJ 1984-MP End Fed Half Wave Antenna
  • Chelegance MC-750 Vertical Antenna
  • AlexLoop Magnetic Loop Antenna
  • RigExpert Stick Pro Antenna Analyzer
  • Begali Magnetic Traveler Light Iambic Key
  • Icom LC-192
  • Bioenno 12V 6Ah LiFePO4 Battery
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Lite Tablet
  • Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard
  • HAMRS Logging App