My #POTA Pickle, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the ARRL #DX Contest

Sunday March 4th was a beautiful and slightly cool (mid-seventies) day in Jupiter, Florida and was the day I selected for my first #POTA activation (parksontheair.com).  I picked the 11,000 acre Jonathan Dickinson State Park, KFF-1887, just six m20180304_103921.jpgiles from my Florida QTH.  I scouted out locations a few days earlier and chose the picnic area near the river, with cooperating pine trees with handy limbs.  Using my unique antenna launch tool (see pic) on only the second try I hit my target limb and hoisted the “high” end of an EndFedz antenna cut for 20 meters.  My battery was charged, I had my sandwich, I even had a cushion for the hard picnic table bench seat.  Right on time I was ready to spot myself, all settled and happy.  Do you hear a “but” coming? This was 20180304_112008.jpgalso the weekend ARRL chose, without checking with me, for their hugely popular annual DX Contest.  There were a few thousand hams on 20m, most, it seemed, with a kilowatt and a pretty good beam competing with me barefoot with a dipole up all of fifteen feet.   I spotted myself on DXSummit.fi but apparently nobody cared.  I raised my friend Rick on the local repeater and got him to listen for me at 14.244 a few miles away and we could barely hear one another on ground wave.  We were in a wall of sound (and I was learning the value of a filter for sideband.) So there’s my POTA Pickle; I’m in the right place and all set to operate POTA but cannot compete with a thousand big gun stations.  Well  golly, let’s join in on the fun then. First I took down the End Fedz that just doesn’t work that well for me and put up my link dipole made from lamp cord and began to hunt and pounce.  Worked a dozen international stations in an hour and called it, after all, a good non-POTA day. This is Wayne,  K4WK, http://www.hamdom.com. Thanks for listening; you’re in the log.  
Wayne Robertson, K4WK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Georgia, USA.

3 Responses to “My #POTA Pickle, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the ARRL #DX Contest”

  • Forest K4FTP:

    I had the same issue on Saturday, except at KFF-3913 I couldn’t even self-spot because of lack of cell reception. My 10W on my KX2 just couldn’t reach chasers. I did rack some (4-5) contest Qs and they were confused by the kff numver, but I was going to rack up contacts for this activation no matter what. I didn’t complete the activation so I’ll be back later to finish it up and give chasers the chance to get the park in the log. I think I’ll be working 17m and 12m then.

  • Glenn W9IQ:

    Nice article, Wayne. If I could make one friendly suggestion, it would be that breaking this into a few paragraphs would make it much more readable.

    Keep up the good work! I hope to work you on one of your activations.

    – Glenn W9IQ

  • Forest K4FTP:

    Wayne, I saw your comment sent to my e-mail, but some reason it’s not showing up in the post for me. So, I’ll respond this way. With regard to modes I’m mainly using SSB, but I do have my KX2 set up for PSK31/63 and RTTY as well. I have made PSK31 QSOs while activating. The tough part is very few chasing parks are doing digital modes, so mainly I’m getting just random QSOs on that mode. It’s a good way to rack up contact though, especially when running QRP. I’m working on getting my CW back, so the hope is that I will be on that mode by the summer.

    73,
    Forest, K4FTP

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