POTA Activation Ft Mountain State Park and the Begali Traveler Light

This past weekend I activated Fort Mountain State park in North Georgia. The park is on top of the mountain and I was at just over 2,500 ASL. One of the things I wanted to accomplish was make a few contacts on 160 meters. This can be a difficult band because one wavelength is about 540 feet. Which means most portable antennas will not work. I dug into my Frankentenna bag and came up with my Chameleon Micro Matching Unit and two 65 foot Chameleon Wires.

I strung this as an inverted vee dipole and fed it with RG-8x into the cabin. Yes, I was was in comfort and luxury for this activation. The apex of the vee was about 15 foot above the ground. I put the antenna analyzer on it and at 160 meters my SWR was abour 6:1, close enough for my antenna tuner to match.

Inside the cabin, the setup was pretty simple. I had my trusty IC-7300 with an LDG Z-11 Pro. I used a K1EL winkeyer and a Begali Traveler Light Key. Logging and digital modes were handled by my Microsoft Surface Go2.

How did it play, most of my contacts were CW and the keyer and key worked as advertised. I used FT-8 for some bands and especially 160 meters as there was a CW contest going on. A nice thing about the newer ICOM radios is to work digital modes, all you need is a USB cable between your computer and the radio. I was running about 35 watts and made at least 10 contacts on 7 bands and 5 on one (11 on 160). I was satisfied that everything worked as advertised and made about 130 contacts.

The paddles I used were the Begali Traveler Light. The weigh in at about 15 oz and are a delight to use. When portable operations allow, this is the key I bring. They may not work lugging a backpack, but for activations like this, they are great. Begali fit and finish is excellent and the design is reminiscent of Italian Sports cars.

Looking at the side, the paddles are not that big. Near the bottom-center is a place to attach a thigh strap. You can also get these in black.

Open up, there is plenty of move for even my big hands.

Even the bottom of the paddles are wonderfully executed. The Traveler Light is magnetically dampened and I am becoming a fan. The action is smooth and consistent, and a joy to use. This is my second Begali Key, my first a Begali Simplex Basic. I believe there will be a third under the tree this year.

Everything worked well. the keyer takes some of the load off of the opertator and AC Log helps mind the frequency and the Date/Time. I tried to use the AC Log Winkeyer interface, but I don’t think the Surface Go2 wasn’t quite up to the task. It seemed to lag more than I wanted it to. Plus, it was nice to have the Winkeyer buttons close at hand. All in all I had a lot of fun, even though on the first day I was a little more fumble fingered than usual. Thanks to all the Hunters/Activators who worked me. Here is a short video of the activation.

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