There was a lot of bouncing around the week before with work travel, so when Saturday hit, I was ready to unwind. My family, naturally, had Scouting activities that were going to keep them wrapped up for most of Saturday. By now it’s quite clear that when I’m left to my own devices and the weather isn’t absolutely awful, getting to a park bubbles to the top of the list of things to do for the day. After my trip down to Texas, I was ready to get back to something very familiar and West Branch SP – K-1999 was the right call.
The weather wasn’t awful. It was warm enough and the wind was low. It’s still hunting season so there was the occasional crack of a rifle in the distance. The sky was grey and typical for NE Ohio in November. Of course, it had rained cats and dogs the day before so the table was wet, but aside from that, it was a great day to be outside.
I put my canvas tarp on the table and my foam cushion on the seat. Everything – including me – would stay nice and dry.
This trip out would be the IC-705 and the AX1. And…well…something new. More on that in a minute.
I’ve used the AX1 for a bit now and I still can’t get past the feeling that it should be a backup antenna. It’s not. I have only every used it for CW though I have plans to test it out with digital modes. Honestly, the desire to head out to the field with a computer hasn’t been there lately and it’s not like I review products for a living. This does limit my experience with different modes, but the fact is I’m getting plenty of contacts and being heard with this tiny antenna. It’s faster to deploy than any other antenna in my collection and it’s small. Very. Small. It is, by my measure, a very successful antenna. Compromises? Sure! There are plenty! But it more than makes up for them providing a balance that is quite impressive.
In thinking about the AX1, something that has become apparent to me is that I’ve not really given it much of a workout other than on 20m with a few 40m contacts. That is largely the result of when my activations occur. Saturday or Sunday afternoon are pretty good on 20m for POTA activators. Doing more of a workout on other bands might be fun, but again, I’m out there to enjoy the park and play radio, so I go where the contacts are.
And the contacts were all over the place. One was even out in California – though it faded out quickly.
Here’s what the QSO Map looked like:
Now to talk about that little blue thing in the picture. I decided to get myself a Christmas/Birthday gift this year in the form of a Begali Traveler Paddle. I saw them at Hamvention and thought, “If I ever get serious about CW operations, I’m gonna get one of those!” So I did. It is the absolute definition of a luxury purchase for myself, but it’s cool! Really, really cool! It arrived while I was out of town so the first chance I really got to play with it was at the park. It’s incredible. I don’t have to work hard at all to send clean code and the stabilizer legs in conjunction with the sheer weight of the unit keep it in place. It just feels so good to use! I’m sure I’ll talk about it more.
I expect that I will get out to the field a few more times before the end of the year. I’m pretty close to a Repeat Offender at West Branch and another level at Cuyahoga Valley National Park – K-0020 as well. Not that the paper pulls me outside, but it’ll be fun to check off for the year.
Thanks for reading along and 72!