My last trip into the field was to activate Tinker’s Creek State Park [K-1997] and it ended in a cold, wet mess with only 4 contacts in the log. This Saturday, I wanted to settle the score and get my activation. This time around, it was clear, sunny, and in the 30F range. So sure, it was a bit chilly and breezy to be sitting out in the open, but it was a lot better than wet snow and sleet and whatever else might fall from the sky this time of year.
My wife and her puppy decided to join me so that they could get a good walk in. To be fair, the trail is pretty short and a bit dull, but to tire out a Rottie pup, anything that can be walked is good. It was nice to have them along as it certainly makes the drive out more fun.
This time out, I decided that I would take the Chameleon whip with extension. In my front yard tests, it did really well on most bands. That is to say, it hit just under 2:1 on 20m and 40m. It also did really well on 80m and 10m with the tuner. 12m and 15m were pretty good too. Given that I now knew the park and had a sense for where I would have access to a shelter if need be, a vertical that I could just stick in the ground seemed like a better idea than putting a wire in a tree.
The deployment was fast. Things were up and running in just over 5 minutes. Aside from the antenna, the ICOM VS-3 was tossed into the mix as something new to one of my field trips. I left the hand mic in an ammo can in the Jeep and put the VS-3 in my pack. Having the wireless headset was pretty cool as I do keep the speaker on just enough to hear the timing of FT8 signals and so I can process what’s going on and detect any equipment issues. I have used the VS-3 for Nets and chatting on 2m with really great reports. The lesson learned from last week was that if the setup can be reduced to the antenna wire being the only thing hitting the radio, then it’s for the better! And honestly? Getting the hand mic with its cable out of the way kept things tidy without sacrificing functionality.
FT8 was the mode of the day and I got 4 hits pretty quickly on 40m. I moved around a bit and settled on 20m when I decided that I just wasn’t getting out on other bands. As usual, Europe, Alaska, and South America were hearing me (according to PSKReporter.info) but they didn’t come back – or I didn’t hear them. After settling in to 20m it was only a little while before I’d hit contact 11. And it was just in time for my wife to be done with tiring out the puppy.
What did I learn from this activation? A few things. The Chameleon is a great antenna. The setup was clean and quick. The performance in the field was solid. I will definitely do more park work with this one as it does attach nicely to the Jeep and takes out a few of my complaints I had with the MP1 for Jeep work. More on that when I do a Jeep-based activation attempt in the near future.
Another lesson was to keep the right USB adapter with the GPS unit. Last week, my Bluetooth GPS unit failed me so it is going to sit at home until I figure out why. The cabled GPS puck I have has always been reliable…when I could plug it into the computer. Which I couldn’t. Because I forgot the adapter. So yeah. Lesson learned there.
Again, the mAT-705 was great. I’m still surprised by how quickly it tunes. It’s also great that it’s so compact. I wouldn’t hesitate to backpack with that thing in my bag just in case.
Finally, the IC-705 is just amazing. The more time I spend with this radio the more impressed I am with that it can do. As my dad says, the biggest downside to this thing is how great the receiver is because it tricks you into thinking more people should be able to hear you because you can hear all of them. Kinda silly, but not wrong when I’m sitting in the field trying to make a contact and hearing Asia when I know there’s no shot they’ll hear me. It’s also easy to operate and the myriad of wireless features make it impossible to imagine spending too much time with another rig. In fact, every time I catch myself looking at the TX-599, I have to take a step back and re-read the features list. Sure, they have different audiences (maybe) but the IC-705 is going to win out for me every time.
That’s three parks in the log and some new gear tested. I’m thinking about adding “10 park activations before June” to my Stupid Arbitrary Goals list. Truth is, I might just pull it off if I stick to my current pace of getting out to the parks. More soon!
And here’s the log…
KD4TTP FM18 FT8 40m
KD9RNA EN53 FT8 40m
W9VFO EM29 FT8 40m
KA2LAC FN30 FT8 40m
KF0AIT EN14 FT8 20m
WM8Q DN61 FT8 20m
KI5NTC EM30 FT8 20m
KY0R DM78 FT8 20m
K7WTA DM34 FT8 20m
N0VFJ EL87 FT8 20m
KE5FAR EM36 FT8 20m