April 10, 2022, Vernon, BC

Mike VE7KPZ with his YL/logger/photographer Jane VE7WWJ took a break from errands to play a bit of radio this Sunday afternoon. The Parks On The Air program is quite popular these days and a new park happened to be close to downtown Vernon at the Swan Lake Nature Reserve aka VE-5546.

David VA7SZ has operated portable from this park many times before, but this was the first official activation of the park under the POTA programme. Big thanks to David for pushing to have this park added as it is a truly gorgeous location and 20m has an S1 noise level (preamp on). Having a new park also means that we have another potential multiplier for the RAC Portable Operations Challenge award.

Mike and Jane chose not to operate from the parking lot but instead walk approximately 750 meters (half a mile) into the park to the nature observation tower.

This tower allowed the EFHW antenna to be run as a reverse sloper from approximately 7 meters (23 feet) at the feed point to 5 meters (17 feet) at the far end (on a SOTABEAMS Tactical Mini pole). The usual 2.1 meters of coax, 1:1 common mode choke and then 4.2 meters of coax was run to the radio on the top floor of the tower. The far end of the antenna was pointed in a Northeasterly direction.

It turned out that operating from the top of the tower was a bit colder than on the ground. Temperatures ranged from 10 C (50 F) when the sun was out to 0 C (32 F) when the clouds stormed in threatening snow. The wind was very cold so large puffy coats and toques were used to stay warm for the 40 minutes required to make 20 contacts.

A good amount of solar activity had been shaking up the 20m band.

Looking at the HAMRS QSO map, the skip was long. Signals were either 59+ or 43, with not much range in between.

Congrats to Mike AL7KC for getting in the log once again. Also, nice to work David VE3LDT, the Canadian who is currently the #1 hunter in the POTA programme. And it was nice to do a park-to-park with Bob VE7EZI on ground wave just a couple of kms North at park VE-5547.

Gear used for this activation:

  • Radio: Icom IC-705 (1.5 watt output to excite amp)
  • Amplifier: DIY599 PA500 (approximately 30 watts output) (running automatic band select with manual keying this time instead of RF-VOX)
  • Protection: Peovi cage + SIDE KX polycarbonate cover + theqrpstore.com frame for IC-705/PA500
  • Feedline: Messi & Paoloni Hyperflex 5
  • Common Mode Choke/Line Isolator: HyEndFed Portable
  • Antenna: HyEndFed Portable Mini (40,20,10m EFHW)
  • Antenna Pole: SOTABEAMS Tactical Mini
  • Power: Mike's DIY 10Ah LiFePO4 pack, Victron Smart BatteryProtect 65, generic power meter (1.7 Ah used for this activation)
  • Solar: battery pack charged up before activation (by various solar panels) via a Genasun GV-5 MPPT controller
  • Logging: HAMRS on Microsoft Surface Go 2 tablet, ADIFmaster for log review before submission to POTA
  • Table: Uniflame Bonfire table

As always, big thanks to all the hunters, and to Jane for her contributions to Mike's POTA activation efforts.

Mike VE7KPZ with Jane VE7WWJ