I decided to try a park in SW Georgia and Kolomoki Mounds State Park looked interesting. It was about a 3 hour drive traveling back highways and byways. I spent two nights there with my wife and it was a very nice experience. The campground was quiet and the restrooms were clean.
Hot! it was hot and very humid while we were there. My little camper has AC but everything got damp in that kind of humidity. Ambient temperature was in the low 90’s and the high humidity made it feel hotter. I plan on going back there but maybe in the fall or winter.
The propagation gods were angry. While there, I suffered from R1 radio blackouts mainly due to flare activity. The bands were mighty quiet; however, I was still able to make 100 contacts over the weekend.
Testing! Test,test. I brought a couple of antenna projects with me to do some field testing with. These included some of the 9:1 transformers I wound. I will report on the results in a separate post.
Setup. This weekend, I brought my IC-7300. I brought it for a couple of reasons. I hadn’t used it in a while so it deserved an outing. Plus, I had foreknowledge of the possibility of poor propagation so I brought it to run FT8 and have a little more power. I ran it in the 25-35 watt range and the 7300 can run like that all day long. However, the antenna I used is happiest when the power stays 25 watts or less on digital. This was fortuitous, CW, my preferred mode, was non existent at my location. I made one CW contact on 60 meters. The antenna I used was my POTA standby, my Frankentenna.
I ran one 50 foot counterpoise off into the woods. In the photo, you can see the lower 2 Buddipole extensions, the blue is pretty easy to see. I ordered 2 black ones to better allow the antenna to blend in. The antenna was fed with about 31 feet of RG-316. The shack looked like this.
I used a LDG Z-11 Pro to match the antenna. To sync time for FT8 I use a GPS dongle I got from Amazon https://tinyurl.com/2p9595sz. I sync the time to WSJT using GPS2Time. I used N3FJP for logging. The set up worked well. Since my little camper has an awning, I stayed in the shade all day and drank plenty of fluids. I lost a pound of weight over the weekend. A side note. When I operate in a campground, I wear ear buds and run either CW or FT8. I do not make “radio” noise. Out of sight, out of mind.
How did I do? Pretty good actually considering the poor band conditions. I am attempting a N1CC award so I was trying to work 10 bands while at the park. Here is a QSO Map from the activation.
It was work. Sometimes I was just banging away and no one responding. The few pileups I had were never more than 3 or 4. QSB would rear its ugly head and I lost a few contacts as they faded away. In the end I made 100 QSO with 20 minutes to spare on my last Zulu Day. I managed 10 bands with my one CW contact on 60 meters which does not have FT8. What was interesting was I worked a couple of stations in Brazil and one in Europe on 10 meters. It was fun while being a challenge. It’s always good to have a plan B. FT8 was my backup, but quickly became my primary mode. In upcoming post, I will spend time going over my antenna results, and a few other kinks I am working on. That’s all for now. 73 Scott.