A recent job role change, and the opportunity to enjoy paid travel should see my activator score start to climb. The bug has well and truly bitten again after an enforced SOTA absence due to a family tragedy. Fitness levels are improving already this year, and hopefully should be back at 2017 levels by summer if I can keep up the training.
To celebrate getting on with life again, I bit the bullet and bought a KX2. Not the easiest radio to get on with so far, but very compact, and airline friendly.
This weeks trip to Ohio, and passing near enough to Apple Tree Orchards, the highest place in the state around lunch time was worth the detour. The orchard is a cider and apple farm run by the family who live there. They also have a cafe on site. Coffee and donuts for lunch, and a chat with the owners about the area was interesting. I asked permission to set up between the rows of apple trees which was instantly agreed to, on the promise that I would read an article in the paper aloud in my best English voice, trade agreed, and after walking into the orchard to get away from the car and the road the station was set up.
Mine is the small mast unfortunately.
HF is pretty dire just now, I opted for spot frequencies on 40m and 20m, set the KX2 up on an apple box, and the end fed random wire on a 5m travel pole, sent the spots and called, then called some more, and called some more. The wind was picking up and getting quite cold after 30 minutes of unsuccessful calling/trying to break conversations. Note to self, find a portable KW if I go here again and want to break into a rag chew…
Resigned to not qualifying, a last spot and call were put out on 20m, immediately K4MF came back from Florida with 57, 1 down , 3 to go. More calls produced a murmur in the noise, but not strong enough to copy. QSY to 40m and an instant call from AC1Z in New Hampshire. QRZ followed by W2SE in New Jersey, on a roll now and with fresh enthusiasm I called for another 10 minutes with only white noise and a flattening battery for company. I had three in the bag and not about to give up qualifying OH as a new call area, I decided to go hunting. a little further up the band KB3WAV was calling parks on the air from K1425 Susquehannock state park in PA (https://parksontheair.com/). Answered first call, in less than 30 seconds the QSO complete, and my first NA qualifying SOTA summit was in the bag. The wave of euphoria made the cold and blowing dust worthwhile. The face says it all!
Thanks to the the four who made it happen, I would have liked to stay longer and fire up data modes to try out the PSK-NUE, but the battery was low, and I still had 120 miles to drive to the next hotel.
Lessons learned for International SOTA activation’s:
Buy a second battery for the KX2
If activating in March in Ohio, bring a jumper (Sweater)
Resonant aerials dont need the inbuilt tuner and associated current drain.
Learn how to drive the radio and turn off the display backlight
Work on the CW practice daily to get back to a reasonable standard - SSB is hard work with 5w
Go hunting earlier if the spot has not produced.
More to follow from the North America travels.