July 15, 2023 - North Okanagan, BC

This Saturday David VA7SZ, Peter VE7PAE and Mike VE7KPZ decided to escape the hot Okanagan valley and Shuswap temperatures to find refuge and play radio up at the higher elevation of Silver Star Provincial Park (VE-4089) just outside of Vernon, BC, Canada.

A site was chosen just inside the park boundary, three pullouts up past the park entrance sign. Yes, we were right next to the road, but the view, and better, clear takeoff for RF waves was perfect. As well, 1400 meters (4593 feet) ASL elevation is a couple of degrees cooler than lower levels so everyone could sit comfortably in the shade and enjoy a bit of radio.

This weekend was the Support Your Parks summer event for the POTA programme. Park hunters making a successful QSO with just one park would get a special certificate as a SYP hunter. Activators with a successful activation could earn a special certificate as a SYP activator. Our goal was to each earn both certificates. We would each get a minimum 10 activator QSOs from the park and then at least 1 park-to-park contact. Doing so would qualify us for both certificates.

Our base was Mike's Unimog camper. We erected 6 meters of military fiberglass pole sections to hoist the feed end of Mike's 10,20,40m EFHW about 7 meters in the air from the camper corner. The other end of the antenna would be held 5m high via Mike's SOTAbeams tactical mini pole. Coax was run from the antenna match to the 1:1 common mode choke and then down to the radio position under the camper's awning. DC power would be Mike's DIY 10Ah LiFePO4 battery pack. The radio would be Mike's IC-705 with DIY599 PA500 amplifier (outputting around 50 watts PEP) to overcome the tricky QSB. The mode of operation would be SSB phone on the 20m band.

David was first up on the station with a slow start (as we did not spot ourselves in the POTA system) but soon had 17 contacts in the log, including a handful of P2P contacts.

Mike was on next and worked for a bit to handle the pile-up that David had fostered. Then over to Peter for 18 quick contacts including a bunch of P2Ps as well. Mike jumped back on again to get his QSO count up to 38 with five P2P contacts.

All three activations were a success. All three operators scored some P2P contacts qualifying each for both certificates.

The 20m band was a little up and down (although QRN was S0 on the IC-705's meter with the preamp off). Calling was definitely the way to go once a clear frequency (14.260 MHz) was found. Once or twice the PA500 amp got a bit of sun and reports suggested that it was cutting back the output RF. Moving it back into the shade brought it back to it's usual output level. In the future Mike may attach a fan to the normally passively-cooled amplifier to ensure it never cuts back due to thermal limits being exceeded in the summer.

Jane VE7WWJ joined us at the end of the activation to help with tear down.

It was a very nice way to spend the afternoon,