For this POTA (Parks on the air) activation, coordination was needed with an already planned trip that my wife was making to the area. It was agreed that I would drop her off and then drive another 45 minutes to arrive at this park, this time with our dog, Bonnie along for the ride and walks. (at the end in total, it was 5 separate walks that the dog got during the whole trip and loved the opportunity of being in so many different places).
There are no rules forbidding motorised transport or operating from a parked car, so for this activation, like the last one, I decided to do just that. I wouldn’t even put up the mast and linked dipole, rather I would use the Komunica HF-PRO2 on a three-magnet mount on the car roof and operate from within the car. The temperatures were expected to be just above freezing and indeed the first of this year’s snow arrived at the location the night before the activation.
This would be an early start and so all radio gear was loaded into the car, the Tuesday afternoon before the Wednesday activation.
After dropping my wife off, the road south was VERY curvey and took the best part of the 45 minutes that Google maps told me it would. Part of the way, I stopped and gave the dog another walk as she wasn’t so happy with the road conditions. Upon arriving at the location, the first task was again to take the dog on a 15-minute walk so that she could “take care of business” before I could start to set up the radio. After being put back into the back of the car she settled down and just listened to my attempts of making radio contacts.
Little did I know that this was not to be as easy an activation as I had expected!
I set up the Komunica HF-Pro antenna on the roof of the car using my 3-Magnet base as I had done on the previous activation, running the coax in through the rubber at the top of the rear door. The radio (the Xiegu G90) was set up on the passenger’s seat, propped up a little to make viewing the display easier but sun reflection was not going to be an issue this time.
After tuning around on 20m, I spotted myself and called CQ. After a while Ron, G0RQL came back to me and we had a short QSO. The whole radio seemed a little quiet though. To start with I put this down to the location being very quiet. In fact, soon after that, I lost power to the radio while moving it around on the seat. Previously this had been a bad connection in the inline fuse holder but as I was pressed for time – I only had a maximum of 90 minutes of operation time before I would have to return to collect my wife, I decided to change from the LifePO4 4AH battery using the Xiegu supplied power lead to my LiHV 4Ah battery which uses a lead that I made up. That worked and I was off again trying to find stations but I was getting no calls. At this point, I saw the SWR which was high. I had not seen it earlier as before losing power, the automatic tuner had been enabled and that ATU will literally match a wet piece of spaghetti to the radio! So I got out and checked that I had the coil set correctly on the antenna – it was correct according to my list. I checked the connectors but all looked OK and the SWR stayed high. I changed the antenna setting and the radio to 40 metres hoping that would bring me more contacts (in POTA ten contacts are needed and my time was running out quickly). Still no luck as the SWR was high on 40m as well.
It was time to change the antenna. Rather than put up the fibreglass mast and linked dipole, I decided to switch to my other HF-PRO2 antenna which I mount on a small tripod with radial wires. My streak of bad luck was still with me as the connecting wire on the tripod, where I normally clip the radials onto had gone AWOL. I managed to clip to bare metal which worked. This took more valuable time however it got the needed result. Once I was using that antenna, the SWR was normal and I started making contacts and attracting some deliberate QRM from some idiot dumping a carrier on the frequency I was on for minutes at a time. Time was running short and moving frequency and re-spotting as well as calling another POTA operator for a “Park-to-Park” contact got me to 11 contacts in the log and I was only 10 minutes over my planned departure time.
Of course, before setting off down that winding road again, it was best to take Bonnie, the dog, for a quick walk which I did after literally throwing the antennas, tripod, magnetic mount and cables onto the back seat of the car. I texted my wife to say I would be 15 minutes late but in fact, it was only 5 minutes as I was able to reduce that Google travel time by 10 minutes by applying a little heavier right foot on the way back.
- Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
- Xiegu G90 radio & Xiegu G-106 radio (not used).
- Komunica Power HF-Pro2 loaded vertical antenna with a three-magnet car roof mount base.
- Komunica Power HF-Pro2-Plus-T loaded vertical antenna with a tripod and radial wires.
- Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast (not used).
- SotaBeams linked dipole (not used).
- 4 Ah and (not used) 2Ah Eremit LifePO4 batteries.
- 4 Ah LiHV battery.
- Painter’s thick plastic sheet (not used).
- Gardener’s kneeling pad (not used).
- Lightweight headphones (not used).
- Smartphone for spotting.
DA-0277 Karwendel und Karwendelvorgebirge National Park
- Never expect an activation to go without problems. This time I was particularly unlucky with 3 different faults but taking alternatives along when you are car-based, only costs time rather than adding carry weight.
- After checking both the magnetic mount and cable and power lead, I was unable to find any faults. In the case of the bad SWR, it is possible that the data, that I have from the non-telescopic HF-PRO2 is from when I calibrated it on the top of my previous car and hence I will need to recalibrate it. The power lead problem, I can only think is caused by the strange power connector that Xiegu use on the G90.
73 ’til the next activation!