Wednesday January 21 dawned as a cool sunny morning, with forecast for a warm afternoon. Loading up my QRP gear and my best buddy Charli, a 2 year old beagle/jack russell mix, I headed down Hwy 24 across the White Oak River into Swansboro and on to the Hammocks Beach State Park. The park sits at the confluence of the mouth of the Queens Creek and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, a very pretty spot to spend some time outdoors and practicing my very modest CW skills.
Charli and I went into the park office and informed the Park Ranger that I wanted to activate the park as part of the Amateur Radio Parks on the Air program (POTA). He was familiar with the program even though I was the last ham to activate the park on April 25, 2019. I let him know that I would set up out of the way of any walkways and keep my antenna wires visable so as not to create a tripping hazard.
I chose a picnic table on the side of a sunny meadow and unloaded my POTA gear which is contained in a single Harbor Freight Apache hard case, the medium sized case. My gear for this activation consists of: Yaesu FT-817nd, LDG Z-817 tuner, a 40-10m linked dipole, old Ham Key paddle, a light weight 23ft ‘squid pole’ extendable mast, pad and pen, and my POTA banner. For power I would be using my Harbor Frieght Viking jump starter/battery pack. It has a 12v output jack that provides hours of power for a QRP rig.
The linked dipole is made of 26g wire and lightweigth RG174 coax. I unrolled the wires and unplugged the last links making the dipole a 30m antenna. The mast supports the center and I wedged it between the legs of the table so that the inverted V shape is around 15 feet high. Now on to the really important task: spotting myself on the POTA spotting page, This will give the POTA hunters my callsign, site number (K-2734) and frequency. I chose a clear frequency of 10,122 and started sending my CQs (CQ POTA CQ POTA DE N4PIR N4PIR K). A passing park visitor stops by and watches and we talk about ham radio and POTA as I send my first calls. Quickly I receive a return call from VE2LDT in Ontario, giving him/her an RST of 449. As usual a POTA QSO is short and to the point. The first call is followed up by K8RAT in Ohio, a frequent visitor to my POTA sessions. Bill is sounding good at RST of 569 but is followed up with a long period of silence. I continue discussing the finer points of morse code with my admirer.
After a good 10 to 15 minutes without a QSO I relinked the end dipole links to change the antenna to a 40m dipole. I repspotted my frequency on the POTA site and started another series of CQ calls on 40 meters at 7.060 which is a good spot for portable operations. Quickly I hear a nice sound, multiple stations calling N4PIR. And I’m off! The calls come quick and strong. My visitor says goodbye and I work my pileup. Hams from NY, OH, PA, NC, SC, KY, and GA check in. All are easy to copy and I continue through about 15 QSOs before things slow down. I work Bill K8RAT again for a QSO on another band. I do a quick search on the surrounding frequencies and find KU8T, Tom in Indiana, who is activating POTA site K-4178. I am familiar with Tom as he is a frequent activator that I find on the air on an almost daily basis. We trade Park numbers as this will give us credit for a Park to Park QSO. Charli is getting restless so I decide this is a good time to sign off the spotting page with a QRT and take my buddy for her daily walk.
A successful POTA Activation requires a minimum of 10 QSOs. I have 17 which is nothing to brag on but it makes for a nice way to spend a warm NC winter day. CW QRP and POTA plus a nice trail walk. You can’t beat it.
73 Gary, N4PIR