This past weekend was a busy one. Saturday morning The West Georgia Amateur Radio Society provided communications for the Semper Fi Century Bike Ride. We covered routes from 33 to 100 miles on hard surface and gravel roads. It was a good opportunity to get out. This weekend was also one of the POTA Support your Parks on the Air weekend so after the bike ride, many of us headed out to Choccolocco for an overnight activation.
I enjoy these weekends. Yes, sometimes it’s a little less activating and a little more kibbitzing, but we need that in our lives, don’t we? We all set up in one of the primitive campgrounds. Everyone pitched in and brought some food for the group. My donation was chips and my wife’s fabulous Graham Cracker Cookies. They are liked so much, I no longer ask what I should bring.
Operating. This weekend I was working on finishing up my N1CC award which is working from 10 different parks on 10 different bands at each park. For this park, I needed 3 bands. My weapon of choice was FT8. FT8 does a good job of reaching out and there are plenty of folks on it so getting the numbers is a little easier. I will say that over 90-95% of my contacts are either Park to Park or from me calling CQ POTA. I want hunters to get the opportunity to get points as much as possible.
Equipment. For this trip, I brought my IC-7300. It does a great job and I can bump the power up if need be. I normally run it a about 35 watts. My antenna was my 29′ Random wire with a 17′ counterpoise. The antenna was configured as vertical using an MFJ pushup pole. I used a homebrew 9:1 UnUn and a 1:1 current balun to keep the RF where it should be. With this antenna, I can tune from160-6 meters though 160 is a little sketchy. My computer was my Thinkpad T14. Since we were at a primitive campsite which meant no power or water. I ran everything off of battery and in the end, had to crank up the generator for a little while. Digital Mode really uses power.
How did I do? Not too bad. I started Saturday afternoon and operated on and off until about 0100 Eastern Sunday morning. I made 100 contacts from 23 states and 18 countries. Here’s a map.
Unfortunately, later Sunday morning I got rather ill and had to leave early and head for the house. The rest of the group hung around until Sunday afternoon. There are already plans for a Spring campout. I am excited. Camping out is always good, camping out with friends is even better.
What’s left. I have one band at one park to complete my N1CC. Of course, I will have to make 9 other contacts but hey, that’s what we do. After the N1CC I will probably go back to QRP CW. I feel there is more community there. It’s like Cheers, “Where everybody knows your name.”
Final. Here’s a short video of the activation.