AAR — Shelvin Rock Access SCA POTA, K-10221, 10 March 2024

I really despise the change to/from Daylight Saving Time. It interrupts my circadian rhythm for no good (to me) reason. Yesterday morning was the date to change to DST. So, my routine was AFU from the beginning.

Nonetheless, I had a couple of things on my list and got to them after I was sufficiently caffeinated, which required substantial caffeine. Older Son was busy with other things, so I went outside and retrieved some materials from the camper. I began rebuilding my end-fed random wire antenna.

I have a substantial amount of the copper-clad steel antenna wire that is quite small (maybe 26ga). It never releases its memory and will twist itself up readily. Witness the number of times I mentioned that in my travels when attempting to deploy that antenna.

I made new elements from the DX10 wire that Callum McCormick uses to build the DX Commander antennas. I bought and took delivery of 200m of the stuff late last week. So, I cut three 34ft pieces of wire and used one to make a sloping EFRW, the second to be the counterpoise (wire on the ground), and the third to be an extension to make the antenna work on the 80m band.

I setup a test antenna using the SOTAbeams Carbon 6 mast and the Elecraft KX2 would match it connected to a cobrahead adapter (direct connection to the radio) on all of the bands but the 12m band. I put a 9:1 Unun (matching transformer) between the wire and the radio and it matched all of the bands from 10m to 40m.

I then added the extension to make an inverted vee shape and then the radio with the 9:1 Unun would match all the bands from 10m to 80m. So, I have a working EFRW.

Then Older Son and I blew out the sunroof drains that were stopped up. I know they were blocked because I had water in the floormats of the 4Runner after a rainy night last week. Indeed, water was blown out of the passenger side drain when compressed air was applied.

I put away all the tools and went indoors to have a bite and take a break. Older Son and I decided to get The Girl out for a walk and a play and so we did.

She loves her ball. We have a lot of good plays with her ball and the thrower.

After walkies, Older Son decided to get in a workout so I elected to take The Girl and go activate a park. I wanted to play with the Elecraft KH1 a bit more as I am still learning the radio.

We drove out to Shelvin Rock Access SCA (K-10221) and I found a place to park. I got out the little radio, the small antenna bag (houses the Elecraft AX1 and AXE antenna plus some support materials), and a pilot’s kneeboard on which to keep my log. I sat on a rock, affixed the AXE to the antenna port and added the 4ft whip. I threw out the 33ft counterpoise and turned on the radio.

I set the rig to the 40m band and listened around 7.060MHz. There were stations either side of the frequency, but none heard there. I called a couple of times for usage but heard nothing. So I started the little radio calling CQ CQ POTA DE AG7TX K (calling any station for a Parks on the Air activation) while I spotted myself on the POTA website.

The little radio had tuned the AXE/whip combination to a very usable SWR (Standing Wave Ratio, a measure of the match of the radio to the antenna with 1:1 being perfect) of 1.2 or 1.3. It was putting out about four watts of power. In only a couple of minutes I started taking calls.

I worked several stations before no more callers appeared, so I changed to 10.111MHz on the 30m band and started calling, again letting the radio work while I respotted myself. I worked more stations.

I then rinsed and repeated the process at 14.059MHz on the 20m band. I finally called QRT (I am done and off the frequency) a few minutes before 0000Z (when the day changes), closed out my log, and put away the radio. I made 19 contacts in about 45 minutes — not a bad day.

I have a few notes from the outing.

  • I still have a bit of trouble with the paddles. They are small and need a bit more adjustment after my initial setup.
  • The AXE works perfectly with the KH1 and its whip antenna. The 40m and 30m bands are quite usable with the AXE screwed to the antenna port and the long counterpoise (33ft).
  • The Elecraft reflector correspondent who told me that the AXE would not work that way did not know what he was talking about. That is what I thought when I read his response and now I have proved it (again).
  • There is a bit of art to manual logging and managing this radio. I will need a few more repetitions, I think.
  • I am thinking that I really like this little radio. It is very handy, quick to deploy and recover, light in a pocket or pack, and has a very good receiver and very good audio (with headphones or earbuds). It is very easy to get it out and have a little radio fun without a big ordeal.
  • Wayne Burdick and Elecraft have once again outdone themselves with this little rig. It is a field operators friend and will be a lot of fun for POTA, SOTA, or quick operations.
  • I have activated a couple of parks by sticking the radiator out the window of my 4Runner with the counterpoise thrown on the ground/pavement.
  • A better application is to use Pro Audio Engineering’s (Howie Hoyt’s) bracket clamp to affix the AX1/AXE to something outside and run a short length of coaxial cable through the vehicle’s door seal if the weather is bad. That keeps rain out of the rig.

I had a good day and a fun, short POTA activation to boot. It was a good day. Life is good. I am grateful.