New Forest POTA G-0112

With a second bank holiday in quick succession and the WX predictions for the bank holiday being ‘traditional’ I made a impromptu POTA activation in the New Forest. Whilst its not my nearest POTA, there are plenty of nice quite places to go, so I headed off for a evening of radio fun !

As is norm for me, I started out with FT8 – or should I say after some reacquainted got started with FT8 ! As I wanted to do SSTV I used my old laptop and USB cable. This has been running at home nicely for months for WSPR via the IC705/Laptop combo, sure enough, go out in the field and it starts playing up ! Firstly experienced disconnects on WSJTX on anything above 5W, and remembered that I had setup the 705 to be a 7300 to allow MMSSTV to use the same ‘hex codes’ – once I got the power and connection sorted, was soon on the air and the QSO’s started coming in. 17M was very busy but propagation good, the magloop and 5W was getting me all over the world, was very glad to see several contacts into the states from POTA hunters.

5W into magloop on 18 and 20m (FT8 / FT4)

I was soon getting drowned out on FT8 on 17m, so switched to 20M and FT4, whereby i was able to get the 10 QSO’s needed to activate the park. I then switched to SSTV. Receiving was fine, and the absence ‘noise’ produced fantastic RX. I thought I would give it a go, even tho I was ‘limited’ to 10W.

A very good signal came in from OK1DNT and was reward with a 595 signal report on 10W ! I was overjoyed that the magloop, low power and noise floor worked so effectively. It really was a highlight for me and I think I shall work out how to the webcam on the laptop to capture some ‘live’ PoTA pictures, each time I’ve tried SSTV on PoTA, I’ve made a QSO, so it is most defineatly a viable mode with QRP power. Thanks to OK1DNT for the QSO as well !

I headed home with the Retevis RT73 working nicely doing its APRS positioning beaconing. Whilst the RT73 doesn’t have the TNC/Packet capabiilities of the THD7, it nethertheless does a great job of position reporting. I did struggle with updating the message, but I got it to read ‘POTA G’ I struggled to get numbers and symbols, so will investigate that next time. The RT73 is a ‘neater’ solution for 2m/70cm operation, tho admittedly I’ve not a QSO on it yet !

APRS via Retevis RT73 working well

En route i encountered the lovely horses/ponies of the new forest. I do love the nature and animals in the beautiful scenery.

Once home and unloaded from the Bongo I set about logging. I always use a manual log, even for digitial modes, incase something should happen to the computer/device I used. I was pleased to see some very cool new features on the POTA website, in that its possible to create a manual log via the PoTA page for submission.

I watched a video on how to do the manual log, shown below and it was easy to follow and create my own log submission.

POTA Manual Log Entry

Sure enough my log submission was done, it was so easy ! Also I could export the ADIF file and upload to QRZ

POTA ADIF to QRZ

Whilst the frequency and signal reports were not the ones from the event, it did at least have the time, band mode and contact, not bad at all and acertainly allot easier than when I first started POTA last year.

Overall, despite the early technical frustrations I really enjoyed this activation, it has made me think about a PoTA strategy for digital modes, i.e. use the mac ipad for FT8/FT4 and laptop for SSTV, if the ipad app had SSTV capabilitiy, that would be amazing, but its a great app as is being totally ‘wireless’. Still, I look forward to more PoTA as the year go on !

Thanks for reading and 73

QTH – Digital Modes

Whilst no POTA Activations myself I did enjoy making some POTA Hunter contacts this weekend, albeit on FT8.

Its nice to be part of something, even when I cant get out the shack to do PoTA activations, I appreciate those guys who do go out and operate from the parks !

G7WKX@G-0620 – Wirral and Thurstaston Country Park

I noticed I was having some issues with the IC7300, i.e. it kept on rebooting ! With some analysis I was able to find I had somehow knocked the power supply output voltage to 9v ! It was quite something to be making contacts at all, but rest assured 13.8V was soon restored and the 50W available to me soon back in use.

Having been playing/monitoring with QSSTV on Linux, I rebooted my Ham PC and went into Windows to use MSSTV – its been a while since I used it, but I must say I find the interface much more ‘friendly’ than QSSTV. I made really good QSO’s via SSTV.

EA3AUW SSTV QSO

First EA3AUW, a very nice QSO into Spain, with great signal reports. Looks like a slight typo in my callsign, but I was glad to make the contact and have the QSO on 14.2300. SSTV gets very busy on weekends, so getting clear images and completing was great.

IU5KZF – SSTV on 20M (14.2300)

I had another great QSO with IU5KZF on 20M – I was really getting thu with my 50W from the QTH, the RX pics was a true P5/595 for the best part. I think the USB Audio codec drivers under Windows are slightly better than under Linux/Ubuntu – I’ve not really looked under the hood, but I seem to get better pictures from MMSSTV than I do from QSSTV. Still, I was glad to make two really great SSTV QSO’s from the QTH.

Elsewhere I was prepping for my next PoTA – Whilst I find the iPad and SDR Control to be amazingly easy to use and setup, I have used my laptop and IC705 out in the field before, having made a SSTV contact for PoTA (Upton Heath Park), so I thought it a good time to check the laptop and IC705 again. My main ‘niggle’ with the laptop was having to the USB Cable. I installed WFView on the laptop, along with VBAudio Cable and the Serial Com Port emulator – whilst I could connected and hear audio from the laptop, the laptop is just old I think it cannot do all the things I need it to do via WFView – I reinstated the USB Cable and went ‘native’ and everything (SSTV, FT8, FT4) started working perfectly again.

IC705 and Laptop running WSJTX for WSPR via 6BTV on 40M

I have now setup my IC705 to hang off my 6BTV doing WSPR on the laptop, I’m running 1W into 40M to do the propergation reports, and its working really well, so I know for my next PoTA I can use the laptop and do/try SSTV again !

1W WSPR Reports – DX into VK on 1W!

I twasn’to be disappointed with how well the IC705 and WSJT~X was doing on 40M and 1W of power, in no less than 12 hours the 6BTV and IC705 had reached all over the planet, needless to say, I was very happy with that the IC705 and 6BTV was working correctly and getting some action, rather than being sat in a bag !

I’m now looking forward to G5TM’s 145 Alive Event on 2M – a way to have simplex contacts via 2M. G5TM has put allot of work coordinating the event and G5STU “should” be within my reach from IO90BS. I’m sure many of us know G5TM excellent youtube channel, but incase you’ve not been introduced, hers the 145 Alive Event posting.

G5TM 2M 145 Alive Event

So I’m almost making the postings back on a weekly basis and there is enough in the shack at least to make something interesting to talk about, hopefully I can keep new blog postings going reguarly.

Until then 73

G-0112 New Forest – First POTA of 2023

Happy New year to you all who follow the blog ! Apologies for the absence of postings, hopefully I’ll keep them a little more regular, at least with doing a PoTA once a month.

Having watched several of my youtube hamradio favourites I was really inspired to get out with my radio and enjoy it. With amazingly good weather, I headed out to the New Forest, specifically to Bratley View.

Bongo at Bratley View, New Forest

I was quick to get the Alexloop Hampack antenna setup quickly and the IC705 tuned into 17m quickly. Using the excellent SDR Control on the IPad it wasn’t long before the contacts on FT8 started coming in.

In under 30 minutes I had made 13 FT8 QSO’s on 17M. I then tried FT4 on 20M, I could pick up the signals ok, but wasn’t haven’t much luck in making contacts.

20M FT4

I headed down the band to FT8 which was busy as ever ! I had no problem getting out and making contacts there.

20M FT8

With well in excess of my required 10 contacts for me to activate the park and with my lunch finished, I headed back to home to enjoy the rest of the day with XYL.

Lunch was boiled egg and sausages – but I had forgotten my pen !

I wasn’t able to locate my pen, so couldn’t log manually, which I usually do just incase something happens to the IPad.

As I was totally dependent on the IPad for logging, I exported and ADIF file. Since I last done POTA there is now an option to upload your own log files, so I set about checking out how to do that. A great video really helped me along.

Tutorial on how to use the POTA upload

The log export from SDR Control is great, but requires a bit of ‘munging’ to get into PoTA format. I found a script ruby-pota-csv-to-adif available here which made getting the file uploaded right first time.

With the upload complete, the following morning most of the processing was complete, I was pleased to see other PoTA Hunters in the log.

EC7AKV & SP8QC contacts amongst many others!

It was great to get back out on the radio and enjoy the simplicity of FT8 – I’m hoping to get some practice and try out using Telephony QSO’s via SDR Control, or just using the microphone, it felt great to be back out with the radio and enjoying it again!

Hopefully I’l have more progress on other radio fronts as well, but until next time, 73!

G-0407 Lodmoor Country Park POTA

After a few weeks break of regular PoTA Activations, I was very excited to go out for my planned activation at Lodmoor Country Park near Weymouth.

I had completed my prep the evening before, checking that my batteries and accessories were all packed into the Alex loopham pack bag. In the morning I found that XYL Monica had even made me a pack lunch for my day out, which was much needed later in the day. An early start got me out with walking my dog Sweety at 5AM just as the sun came up, I then headed off to Weymouth, APRS beacon sending out packets as I did so, my full route wasnt covered today which seemed unusual, I did hear APRS packets on arrival in Weymouth.

APRS Recetion dropped off around Bere Regus

I chose to go to Beach Car Park, as this was situated conveniently near to the park facilities, its always useful to have a WC available, also the park itself look great and venturing beyond the comfort of the Bongo to get into the park would be nice.

The Beach Car Park is open 24/7, and even free between 18:00 and 08:00, although the signage says ‘no overnight sleeping’. Interestingly I noticed that Motorhomes are banned outright (probably for this reason), and where as my Mazda Bongo is classified as a Campervan would still be limited to a ‘4 hour’ max visit – noticed this of course after I had paid £10 for the full day, and whilst I think during the less busy seasons its unlikely to be enforced, I can imagine during peak times its something to be of mindful of.

Before settling into the Bongo and setting up, I popped to the WC, even at this early hour the facilities are open and clean and tidy, nice to see. The park had great maps to help navigate around. There is alot to do here for a family, such as Sealife centre, gokarts, mini-golf, pitch and putt and Sandwolrd – maybe its the kind of place where the youngsters could be enjoy the activities whilst allowing others to be operating the radio, win all round !

Once back in the Bongo I was quickly on the air thanks to the fantastic Alex Loop Antenna – whilst I have other antennas, the ease and speed in which I can get this setup really makes it hard to use the alternatives. Using the bikestand as a support which I can drive the bongo onto ensures that the wind doesnt get the better of it as well !

With the magloop just out the door and feedline thru the front window, I could get the SWR pretty much always under 1.5 to 1:1 – 20m was alive with contesters – even FT8 was super busy – the excellent SDR Control really helped – I cant say how good this application is, I am getting more out of it every single time I use it, the ease of logging and connection to the IC705 via Wifi is excellent. FT8 got very busy, so remembering I had FT4 available also, headed up the band slightly and enjoyed a rapid sucsession of QSO’s. Within one hour I was very close to having enough QSOs to activate the park.

Digital Mode QSOs logged manually

I also log manually just to ensure I have a backup, I found today that jumping between bands was getting easier – I tuned 1:1 on 17m in just one go, and by now with a great collection of data mode QSO’s under my belt, felt it was time for some telephony/SSB action.

I piggy backed on the back of the contest, it was great running QRP portable and even the contesters were happy to receive a mobile station, some even going beyond the usual contest rubber stamp asking my about my setup ! I really enjoyed that and a method I will use in the future (I actually was inspired to do this by VK3YE talk on how to get more HF contacts!)

excellent video by VK3YE on getting contacts on HF

After a great lunch in the Bongo, I decided to head out to the park for /P action !

I really enjoyed the walk around the park, I wore the Alexloop hampack bag without any problem. It was quite weighty and at first a little nervous of the straps – thinking about how much equipment and how much it costs tends to make one a little trepidatious in trusting it all to a couple of straps!

Whilst having a table/chair is my preferred ‘comfort’ of operation – and I even passed one picnic table, I liked this location, it was in the shade and the bench long enough to get everything on it without worrying about it falling off. A good bungee allowed me to strap the alexloop onto the bench, only once wobbling over when a big gust of wind came in.

It was nice that there was people interested in what I was doing, even a few comments by the passing runners on what a nice setup, as ever people where amazed with being able to make contacts around Europe – I think peoples perception of Amateur radio is that of huge Yagis and long wires, when they see the little loop and the SDR display with foreign voices booming from the IC705 they are interested to see it in action, I’m always happy to show the log book and talk about it.

I was able to make one more QSO from the bench and really enjoyed that, even on 5W of power the noise floor in the park was so good that I didnt need lots of power or a huge antenna to have a SSB contact. The fact that I had spotted on PoTA app meant other amateurs were looking for me helped for sure.

It was as easy to pack away as it was to setup from the bench, proving how versatile a well organised radio can be.

Heading back to the bongo I enjoyed seeing blackberrys growing and a giganttic overlflow carpark – it looked closed and judging by the meters had been for quite some time. I dare say this could be an excellent place to put a bigger mast and wire-type antenna up. I admired the view from the carpark once more before heading back to the QTH having had a really excellent time out with the radio. I will be back for sure and would like to investigate the bird reserve next time, it really is a big PoTA area to cover !

20 Unique calls today !

3 PoTA hunters
activation video

G-0202 Garston Wood RSPB Reserve – POTA – QRP – Take 2 !

Following last weeks attempt, I headed back to Garston Park to attempt activating the park again. Armed with two lots of battery packs, mains charger and the iPad with SDR-Control loaded onto it I was determined to activate the park.

Having quickly setup, I was approached by two friendly chaps asking what I was doing with the equipment I had setup. Their initial assumption was bat watching ! (Makes senses with an antenna I guess !) We had a great conversation about parks on the air and also bat watching. Its something I’ve never heard of and with this park being quite near without a lock on it, something I wouldn’t mind trying – an overnight PoTA and bat watching. I’ve looked up some equipment and the bat watching website, so I’ll be looking into that later on in the year, probably when dusk/evening comes in a bit sooner.

Bat detectors – yes they exist !

With that I setup the IC705 to the IPad and SDR-Control – have to say that this application is fantastic – other than having to adjust the connectors in the IC-705 if I want to use the radio independent of the app, its as close to getting to 0 touch to getting on the air in FT4/FT8 modes.

Having experimented with FT4 at home and also updated my version of WSJT-X on the QTH windows machine, I was amazed at the rate QSO’s are completed. For me with a QRP radio and wanting to try battery usage where possible (I don’t always operate from the Bongo) this was great. At the QTH FT4 contacts where made in rapid succession, likewise in the field, when an opening came, the FT4 contacts came flying in ! within several minutes had equalled my previous weeks telephony contact ! I then went over to FT8 to try my luck there, sure enough, the QSO started to come in. The one problem with Garston Wood is the really weak mobile phone signal – for PoTA you really want to self-spot to get that first log on the page, then more will follow, sure enough I was determined to ‘self-spot’ and was rewarded with more FT8 QSO’s.

The SDR Control app made logging and contacting as easy as it could be, I was amazed at how well thought out this application is. It can be configured to automatically log, which I tested for the first time today and confirm works wonderfully. Essentially this means you could run FT8 & FT4 completely hands free.

I exported the log from my ipad to my icloud storage, with a bit of simple ‘grep’ and redirection I had the file in the format ready to submission to the POTA Administrator.

cat alanpota.adi | grep 20220529 > 2E0FWE@G-0202-20220529.adi

I tried SSTV with the black cat app, but it wouldn’t integrate with SDR Control, so I tried the old fashioned method of picking up a microphone, but whilst I could pick up SSTV from the IC705 with my own ears, the ipad app was pretty much deaf out in the field. As I am great fan of SSTV this is the one thing the SDR Control App is missing – if a way could be found to integrate either the black-cat app into SDR Control so they can run both the same time, or SDR Control had its own native SSTV app, that would be amazing !

I tried a few more SSB contacts on 20m, but to no avail. With the weak phone coverage self-spotting was tricky and when I could self-spot it would take another ‘strong’ station to come in over the the top of me to make that frequency out of use to me. I tried 2M and although hearing some activity (always glad just to hear something!) couldn’t complete a QSO.

So today turned into all about Data, and how important to activate a park SDR Control is, being my 2nd visit, I was determined to get the 10 contacts to activate, and I wasn’t let down by the application. Being restricted in self-spotting also meant that when I could get onto the POTA website, I was consistent, and I was rewarded with a FT8 contact from K3VAT in the US.

I’ve had a fantastic time of late travelling around to various PoTA locations and this was by far the most challenging one so far, with limited mobile coverage, varying conditions and generally being a bit busy, it was great to get the 10 QSO’s needed to activate the park.

My next ‘planned’ PoTA is quite a few weeks off, and its getting further afield to find ‘unactivaetd’ parks, but I’m really excited about it, until then I’m going to be utilizing my season ticket for Upton Country Park, with lovely weather and long evenings, I can head over after work and set up for a fun evening of ‘parks on the air’ close to home.

Until then 73 and hope to catch you in the log book !

Fulll QRZ log

POTA – QRP – G-0202 Garston Wood RSPB Reserve

Finding unactivated parks around IO90 is becoming hard, thankfully there are stil a few, one of them is G-0202 Garston Wood. With only a short drive and beautiful weather I headed off to the park.

The drive in the early morning (approx 7:30AM) gave stunning views and morning mist, I was glad to have sat-nav as the lane leading to the park was very narrow and with all the trees having all their leafs was very green ! I found a nice spot to park and setup my mag-loop antenna on the bike stand. The gates to the park were near to hand as well. There was plenty of parking space at this hour, and it didn’t get much busier in the time I was there (2-3 more cars parking max)

Unfourtantly when I arrived I noticed I had left my iPad behind ! Not a disaster, but that meant no digital modes such as FT8 or SSTV, and I was looking forward to SSTV, still undettered I tried for making 10 Telephony QSO’s! I started out ok, making contacts into Spain on 10W. Having learned last time that repeating calling CQ is tiring after a while (thats when I usually switch to FT8 now) I used the 705 in-built voice recorder to play back my CQ POTA call.

This got me another contacting in Poland, and my first ever Park to Park ! I found this really satisfying not only on the DX but reaching another park and getting a good signal report both ways (mutual 59) with SQ5MPG – Maciej in Poland at SP-0643 – Los Nature Reserve. What is more tricky with a park to park is getting the callsign and park locator correct, as this is required for logging later on.

I tried staying on 20m, but it was soon filling up with contest and people with far stronger signals than my own, I’d like to think they just could hear me being only on 10W and that goes with being /QRP that you’ll get more powerful stations boom over you higher up the band. I tried 40m and 17m – with 17m being a non-contest band, but to no luck on either, so headed back to 20m.

I made one more contact, another park to park with EC2AG (Antonio) into EA-0837 (Rio Agüera EU Natura 2000 Protection Area). Again, great DX and made the full Park-to-Park contact. I thought my battery had become disconnected, but it turns out for the first time ever I had drained the LiFo battery completely ! I guess this is what using the voice-record repeat for serveral hours will do, and I was reduced to 5W of power.

I returned home as my battery and power wasnt helping, and with so much contest traffic on, it was getting harder not easier to even make any initial contact. I made notes on my log book of the things I had missed today to remind myself of what to add when I got home, so as you can see this time I have added the USB cable and cigar-lighter mains adapter for the IC705 into the alex-loop hampack accessories bag. Of course I have put the Ipad in there as well 🙂

4 contacts

Whilst I didnt get 10 contacts to activate the park, its will mean I can make a return trip and be better prepared. I had a great time and the two park to parks were extra great, so am looking forward to returning, iPad and mains-power in hand !

https://youtu.be/UzOhyJXscxs
Garston Park

POTA – QRP – G-0183 – Chesil Car Park for Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Site Provincial Park (Jurassic coastline)

After a while away from PoTA and a previous experimentation locally with the AlexLoop only bag, it was time for my next PoTA activation. Based on my QTH location (IO90BS) I used the POTA site to find near but inactivate sites. This is becoming harder as PoTA becomes more popular (a good thing) but its always great to go out and activate a site, as the ‘hunters’ will be on the look out for a new location.

I carefully planned my trip, starting with the day before. I relinquished my beloved IC-705 purpose built bag (LC-192) for going fully Alex-Loop ham pack native. The main drawback of this bag is the lack of padding and overall robustness compared to the alex-loop bag, but I was determined to minimise what I was taking.

everything for HF ops fitted nicely in the Alexloop bag

Not withstanding the mount itself (I used a bike repair stand) everything fitted nicely in the Alex Loop Hampack bag. This includes in the ‘accessories’ my LiFo battery to keep the IC-705 running for extended time over the internal battery, which as shown in my previous ‘test’ is only good for about 2-3 hours on 5W SSB. The observant will also notice I have my iPad in there, rather than my WinTel based laptop.

I had setup and tested SDR Control back at the QTH, so it should be no surprise that it works well out in the field. What I did notice is that (to its credit) it sets the ‘connectors’ all to WLAN in the app, thus when using the IC-705 microphone (which I currently still prefer), this needs to be set back, else no telephony contacts can be made without the iPad.

Whilst the WX (Weather) wasn’t the best to be operating outside, I got setup in the Bongo quite well, at least I was warm and dry, and the IC-705 was at no risk for rain damage (one of the main issues for SoTA, its just not that rugged compared to the KX series of radios). I set about going across the different FT8 frequency/bands. At least this would be a decent propagation test and also make some contacts. I was able to tune in 40M and get the SWR down to 2:1, which resulted in 2 FT8 contacts on 40M. For a magloop I am happy with those results and on a Data mode where the key-time is longer than that for a typical HF QSO. 17M gave excellent SWR readings and resulted in 3 DX contacts. I returned to 20M and worked a further 4 DX stations via FT8, all on 10W of power into a mag loop in pretty grim WX (rain, thunderstorms)

FT8 via pskreporter – into .JP and East Coast America on 10W

Whilst not the activation I was expecting due to the weather, being able to diversify and setup in the Bongo resulted in plenty of contacts and being able to (TBC) activate the park. I was really glad to start out on telephony contacts and people thanking me to activate the park, it really makes it worth the time and travel to enjoy PoTA.

Logged contacts

PoTA QRP Experiment – G-0362

Unusually for a bank-holiday (National holiday / day off work) the weather was quite nice, I had already planned my trip to my nearest PoTA park, namely G-0362 Avon Heath, and headed out. I wanted to take a minimal setup to see how I would do !

QRP & Minimal Portable Setup

  • IC705
  • Alex Loop Hampack antenna
  • Laptop
  • Trolly for bags

I didn’t bring an external battery or even a chair to sit on, opting to just use the bench/seat at the location I was familiar with at Avon Heath. I was interested to see if I could make any contacts and for how long on only 5W and the Internal IC-705 battery. This made getting setup and on-air really easy, using a bungee to attach the loop antenna to the seat.

Telephony QSOs

I’m now starting to start-with telephony QSO’s over FT8 to get started, as such I started out on 20M as this band has plenty of activity and easy to slighty tune the Alexloop between FT8, SSTV and the Phone section of the band.

I was quickly rewarded with QSO’s into Italy and Spain, with my furthest QSO being with EA4GJP with an amazing 860 miles ! Using the MPW calculator I was getting 172 miles per watt for a 595 QSO !

Once re-spotted on the PoTA app I had a flurry of QSOs into Spain – I was rapidly getting used to telephony contacts and logging with pen and paper !

I turned my hand to FT8 but faced computer difficulties again and not having a table/chair didn’t fancy fiddling about with a cable/computer on a bench, reverted to Telephony on 20M again. I did go searching for other PoTA activations, but no chance of a park-to-park today.

With around 2 hours of operating on 5W the battery on the IC705 was almost entirely drained, but with a good set of contacts I felt happy to pack up and head home, whilst I didn’t get 10 this time out, i was glad to see just how good the IC705 and Alexloop antenna is, making it a viable QRP setup which can be easily setup and transported.

I did learn that having a battery will not only extend the life of my operation, as to be expected, but I can operate with only 5W on SSB outside the noise of QTH, which makes doing PoTA all the worth while. My next planned activation is in a very exciting/interesting place and am really looking forward to that !

Activation log
QRZ

Bongo Broke and Sudden Local PoTA

So I planned my trip to Wales carefully, ensure that I had packed all that I needed for my weekend in Wales. I booked a campsite, only to find when I got there they don’t open the main gates until 8AM, so that would mean being late for lectures ! Instead I stayed at the lovely Bangor Business School Hotel – not as cheap as camping, but very much getting me there on time and a good nights sleep.

Sadly on the way up the Bongo’s breaks made the awful noise of metal on metal, so on Thursday I booked it in for a Saturday ‘break check’ – low and behold, new disc, pads and caliper required ! With that my planned PoTA activation for Snowden was off, and I headed back to Bournemouth via Train whilst my Bongo is repaired in Bangor.

I unloaded my radio, alexloop and computer along with my suitcase from the Bongo, a total of 4 bags. The train required no less than 3 changes and the underground – but in all this travelling the alexloop and Icom bags really proved how good they are. The Alex loop is incredibly light and was easy to carry, whilst the IC705 and the radials was slightly more weighty, choosing to carry that one on my back it was easy to carry around. My other bag continued 2*Battery so weighed a fair bit, but wasn’t to bad.

It took about 9 hours to get from Bangor back to the QTH in Bournemouth, but I had done it ! Only thing which I had ‘lost’ is the antenna of the THD7, on the scale of things, I wasnt going to complain ! (it must of slipped out the bag at some point)

With that doing PoTA from the Bongo is on hold until I get it back, hopefully this week if the caliper arrives in time ! (which means a return train trip to Bangor, luckly I love trains 🙂

POTA 22/3/22 – Upton Park

The weather in Bournemouth is being fantastic, not wanting to bury myself in over 40 research papers the whole day, decided to go out and do a local activation at Upton Park – I have been there to visit before, but not for PoTA. As it was so nice, I really wanted my XYL Monica to come along as well, as there is plenty of facilities there, i.e. tea/coffee/light snacks and decent clean toilets, all within a short walking distance from the car park.

xk8 – faster than the bongo, but not quite so good for radio within it !

With the Bongo still being in Bangor, the XK8 is getting plenty of action, whilst I cant easily operate, it got all that I needed and XYL to Upton Park without problem.

To activate a park, you only need to be within the boundary, and as the tea room is within the boundary of the park, was a perfect place to setup. There was some curiosity as to what I was doing, but no problems with putting my alex-loop in the table and then running my laptop into the IC705, we bought some nice tea and cake, plus a bottle of water as the temperature was really getting up at midday !

Even with the antenna in a compromised location, I was getting out just fine on both 17m and 20m.

PSK Reporter report from Upton Park

As soon as I self-spotted on the PoTA app, i was getting more calls, amazingly 2 from the USA ! Albeit FT8, it was really satisfying to get so many DX contacts on 10W.

For the first 30 minutes, the contacts came in very quickly, but after 12:30 there was a real slow down – i said to XYL Monica that if it was only 2-3 contacts made, I would of come back the next day (you can do activations over multiple days) but I was on 9 and need just one more ! I tuned to 20M and sure enough made my last contact there quite quickly once I had re-tuned the alex loop and found a clear part of the FT8 bandwidth to operate in.

With the 10 contacts made which are required for a park activation, I packed up and we headed out for a lovely drive around the Dorset countryside. At home I processed my manual log thru the excellent Excel spreadsheet to produce the ADIF file and sent that off to the regional POTA administrator, hopefully my results will be processed in the next day or two..

POTA G-0443 Activation contacts

QRP POTA – G-0258 Martin Down

Having originally planned to go out PoTA the week before and found that the IC-705 had developed a fault with its SQL/RF/AF Gain knob, that had to be repaired, was fixed and turned around very quickly by Icom UK !

After Sales Service is important

So I lost a weekend of PoTA activation, I did make good use of the time tidying my Mazda Bongo up and enjoying time out with it still around the gorgeous Dorset/Hampshire countryside.

Having got the IC-705 back in re-instated my visit to Martin Down. Having not been there I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent video on Martin Down and more, which gave me enough information about the location without having to visit there.

Lovely video about Martin

I put my planned action on the PoTA website and headed out on the 12th of March, it was a lovely drive up and the location was fantastic. I set about setting up my IC-705 and Alexloop Hampack antenna. When I went to transmit via WSJTX on FT8, the radio and transceiver kept disconnecting ! I went back and checked over the basics, but couldn’t find anything out in the field as to what the issue was. Having not packed an external table/chair and feeling a little despondent headed back home.,

Portable Problems !

After having a nice afternoon out with XYL Monica, I got the 705 and out the bag and started working through the problems I had encountered. In the video above you’ll see how i switch out the antenna, computer and cables finally identifying the issue with the Alex Loop antenna.

Alex loop antenna ‘fix’

Upon closer inspection I was able to find that there was a considerable ‘cut’ in the coax, wether this all three (outer, braid and feeder) hitting each other wasn’t clear, but restoring the shielding by way of some strong tape and its proximity to the inner loop resulted in the transmit issues being resolved

I re-registered my planned activation on the PoTA Website for the 13th and headed back out, full of determination not only to make FT8 contacts, but also SSTV and Telephony.

Come the 13th I headed out early to ensure I got a space suitable for my Bongo where I could park in a good position to the antenna, this was easily setup and getting on everything in position is becoming very routine now. Operating from the Bongo in cold/not warm conditions is really brilliant, and means I don’t need to carry tents,etc to do an activation and keep warm/risk my IC-705 getting damaged by rain/weather,etc.

Once setup the issue with the radio disconnecting happened again ! This time knowing where to look I reapplied the ‘fix’ in the field, and was back on the air in no time. I achieved the 10 QSO on FT8 to activate the park in just over 1 hour and 10 minutes, they ranged around to the world to right here in England. I was very satisfied with how the 705 and the magloop antenna was performing.

FT8 RX/TX Report via PSK Reporter

Using the PoTA app from my phone I could see numerous people re-spotting me which undoubtedly helped in the succession of FT8 qsos.

Having gotten the 10 QSO’s needed to activate the park, I then turned my attention to SSTV on 20m (14.230) – reception was amazing, I got the IC-705 and Magloop tuned in no problem, another technique I have ‘developed’ since going portable of tuning the antenna to the frequency to get the best S.W.R and signal output (where as at home I use multi band verticals and Endfeds). I tried for an hour to have a QSO, but sadly I couldn’t make a contact this time, but did receive some great pictures. For the full gallery of RX, see here

Upon arrival at home I did receive a very nice email that my SSTV picture had been picked up my a KiwiSDR in Germany ! ( Thank you Tommy/ LB6DI )

CQ POTA BW Mode on 10W

After an hour of SSTV I turned to Telephony – I’m not the most confident HF Telephony person, but doing PoTA gives me a real opportunity to improve my HF QSO style. I do find that that with PoTA people do tend to do the ‘rubber stamp’ contest style of QSO, but are nevertheless very enthusiastic to make the contact and really patient in getting call signs out to ‘activators’ (operators in the park).

In the end I managed 6 Telephony contacts all over the globe with a good mixture of reports, I was really really excited to do so well with such relative low power and portable.

2E0FWE – QRP – POTA Martin Down National Park

Once home I had the challenge of getting the log book fully into ADIF format. This is the one thing that some non-technical people may find a challenge, but I have been able to find this excellent page on how to create a mixed log using Excel (on Windows). I was able to complete the spreadsheet and run the macro to produce the ADIF file for submission to PoTA Administrators easily, so now I just need to wait for the file to be processed for my activation to be complete !

I can say that operating mobile and doing PoTA is by far the best part of amateur radio for me now, it is incredibly satisfying to go out with such lower power and in lovely locations to operate from.

POTA log book uploaded into QRZ