Thursday, September 22, 2022

My Very First Dx-Pedition (2017)

 Every summer my family took a sailing trip to the Gulf Islands in British Columbia, Canada. The Gulf Islands seem less crowded than the San Juan Islands of Washington state. The islands are beautiful, and the anchorages are peaceful. Also, my daughter really loves Thetis Island, and every year we made it a point to spend at least 3 -5 days at Telegraph Harbor Marina

I was first licensed in 2016 and jumped into the hobby headfirst. By early 2017 I made my first portable Parks On The Air (POTA) activation from Blake Island (K-3161), and now I was heading up to Canada for summer vacation with the family. It would be the perfect opportunity to put my newly acquired CW skills to the test, give my portable kit another trial staging my portable setup from the sailboat, and most importantly operate a DX station instead of chasing DX from the home shack!

Our route to Telegraph harbor always had us sailing past the Sandstone Rocks islets just off the southern tip of Tent Island. These 2 islets are very small sandstone rocks (hence the name) that rise about 3 meters above the high-water line. The larger of the 2 islets has a small beach to land a dinghy, some scrub brush, and a very small Cyprus tree that is barely clinging to life. This I thought would be a perfect location to once again test deploying my kit from the sailboat into a dinghy, and landing on a beach and setting up a portable station in some remote spot. This was all a precursor for my planned 2019 departure to sail across the Pacific Ocean and activate various islands. 

So, in August of 2017 we arrived in Telegraph Harbor and got settled in for the evening. The next morning, I loaded my complete kit into my Northface XL Base Camp Duffle bag, put the bag into the dinghy and headed out of the harbor towards the islets. About 30 minutes later I arrived at the islets and slowly approached the beach on the southeastern side of the larger islet. Landing was a bit delayed because I didn't want to startle the seals which had taken up slumber positions on the rocky ledges. Some slipped back into the water and raised their heads in curiosity, others just lifted their heads momentarily and laid back down and closed their eyes. 

Once on the beach, I secured the dinghy and strapped the duffle bag on my back to begin the short climb to the top of the rock. Fortunately, the top of the islet was reasonably flat. How grass and trees grew there was beyond me as the soil was not more than 2-3 cm deep. I erected my Buddipole dipole antenna and secured the guy lines to the small Cyprus tree, a rock, and a piece of driftwood that I recovered from the beach area. Next, I setup my Helinox Table One Hard Top Camping Table  and Helinox One chair (which I love because they pack up small and are extremely light weight), then setup my Elecraft K2 and KAT 100 tuner, got out my Vibroplex Vibrokeyer and RadioSport headset and settled back in the chair and began calling "CQ de WA7WJR/VE7/P."

I made 20 QSOs from those islets during 3 hours of operation. I took a break to walk around the islet a bit, stare back at the seals, and watch a myriad of boats pass by on their way to Telegraph Harbor or points further north. I operated a few more times but this was certainly a high point.

For Americans operating in Canada is very easy since the US and Canada have automatic reciprocal license privileges. This means a US citizen only needs his/her FCC license, passport (or government issued ID), and append the Canadian call area to his/her call sign. However, the band plan in Canada is slightly different than the US band plan. See Radio Amateurs of Canada Band Plan for details.

POTA REPORT - Fort Worden State Park, WA (K-3194)

Late September is really a beautiful time here in the Pacific Northwest. Days tend to be in the 70's, mostly sunny, and the leaves on the tree are just starting to turn to welcome the autumn season to western Washington. So, to celebrate my 23rd anniversary the wife and I drove over to Port Townsend for a few days. And because my wife understands my passion for ham radio and has infinite patience, she agreed to let me play radio at nearby Fort Worden State Park

So, on our second day we drove out to the park and found a nice shady spot at Point Wilson near the lighthouse where I setup my Buddipole, a table, 2 chairs, and my POTA kit. I almost always work 20M and this outing would be no different. I started with FT8 and made 16 QSOs, then switched to phone and made 5 QSOs, tried CW for about 5 minutes with no takers, then back to FT8 for 2 more contacts. The band conditions weren't the best on this day, and I didn't want to press my luck, so after an hour I called it a day and packed things up so we could spend some time exploring the park. 

WA7WJR working a phone near Fort Warden's Point Wilson Lighthouse (K-3194)

After an hour playing radio, it was time to explore the park to enjoy the beautiful day, the natural surroundings, and...
Caution signs are synonymous with FUN!!! 

Let's go in here!
Fort Worden is a HUGE park. Lots of open space, lots of trails, lots of sandy beaches (don't go swimming...the water is damn cold), lots of historic buildings (some of which you can rent), campgrounds, a lighthouse at Point Wilson, and of course the old gun batteries that protected the US from crazed hordes of marauding Canadians. 😂

There aren't a lot of picnic tables (other than at the campgrounds), but there are plenty of places to setup a portable rig and start POTA'ing.  Also, if you stay at the campground or in one of the available residences for rent, you can operate throughout the night. This being an old Army base the park is massive. I was quite impressed with the beauty of looking out over the Strait of Juan De Fuca and Admiralty Inlet of Puget Sound, the historic significance of the park and its well-preserved buildings, and the natural beauty. And exploring the battery magazines was fun!

                         I've got this...                              Honey, we have a problem!

Oh...if you're planning on exploring the battery magazines you should take a headlamp or a flashlight. There are some interesting passageways in the main battery to explore! 

Friday, September 16, 2022

POTA REPORT - Blake island, WA (K-3161)

It was February 2017, I just finished building my Elecraft K2 and KAT-100 kits, the Buddipole antenna arrived via UPS, and the weather was looking unusually good for February in Seattle. I did a dry run of setting up my first portable kit in the back yard. Made a checklist, then carefully repacked my kit. Everything was a go! 

My portable kit at the time was rather simple. An Elecraft K2 & KAT-100 combination, the Buddipole antenna, a 12 VDC 12Ah SLA battery, and a small Heliox table and chair which all fit nicely in a North Face duffle. Friday morning, I departed Elliott Bay Marina for the roughly 10-mile trip to the "back side" (western side) of Blake Island to grab a mooring ball. I have sailed over to Blake Island many times with my family. I knew the island very well, but once secured on the mooring, I took the dinghy ashore to do a bit of reconnaissance to find a spot to setup on Saturday. After locating an ideal spot on the "spit" on the northwest part of the island I went back to the boat to relax for the evening.

Saturday morning was beautiful but pretty darn cold. I really didn't want to leave the warmth of the Dickenson diesel heater warming the cabin of the sailboat. But, after a couple cups of hot black coffee and a hearty breakfast I layered up and ventured out into the cockpit, carefully loaded my kit into the dinghy, and made my way to the island. This time of year, I pretty much had the island to myself except for the ranger who lived on the other side of the island, a gaze of racoons, and the occasional sighting of a deer. There was no wind, and the sun was warming things up rather nicely...well, as nice as you can expect for February in Seattle. At least it wasn't raining!

I found my spot, setup my Buddipole antenna, setup the table and chair, sat down and went to work. In the span of 2 hours, I had made 10 QSOs. It was my first time to operate portable. It was my first time to operate QRP. And, although I didn't realize it until later, it was my very first Parks On The Air (POTA) activation! (In all honesty I didn't know I was activating a POTA site at the time, and later found out that past activities could be logged with POTA.)  I was pretty darn excited, but despite the sunshine the cold got the better part of me, so I called it a day. But a very good day indeed!

Getting to Blake Island is not easy. because the island is only accessible by private boat. (Pre-pandemic Argosy Cruises in Seattle would take visitors out to the island to visit Tillicum Village, but Argosy has opted out of that agreement in 2022.) On the east side of the island is a small marina (which fills quickly in the summer), a ranger station, Tillicum Village (which is closed), 2 pavilions, lots of picnic tables, plenty of open space and a campground nearby. On the west and southwest side of the island are mooring balls, campgrounds, sandy beaches (not for swimming unless you like bathing in 52 F water year-round), and a few picnic tables. It is possible to anchor boats, but the bottom profile has a steep drop off, and the currents and winds can sometimes cause poorly set anchors to drag. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

POTA REPORT - Rooster Rock State Park (a 5-fer)


This past month (August 2022) I travelled to Oregon for a few days to help my daughter get moved into her apartment for her junior year at Reed College. Most of my time was spent putting together IKEA furniture, but I did manage to squeeze out a 4-hour chunk of time to go play POTA. So, after studying the POTA map page I decided that I'd drive out to activate Rooster Rock State Park (K-2850) along the Columbia River. 

The Columbia River area is an activator's "dream spot." In Washington I have activated a "2-fer" (a state park within the boundaries of a national forest) a few times. But this was my first "5-fer" primarily due to the confluence of 3 national historic trails. The park references are: 

  • K-2850 - Rooster Rock State Park
  • K-0731 - Columbia River Gorge National Forest
  • K-4576 - Oregon National Historic Trail
  • K-4572 - Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
  • K-3424 - Ice Age Floods National Scenic Trail 

After a brief 2-hour activation I had 42 QSOs in the log, but since it's a 5-fer it counted as 210! It was a nice break in the day. I wish I could have spent longer, but I wanted to get back to Reed before Rush hour.

Rooster Rock State Park is about 20 miles east of Portland on Interstate 84 at Exit 25. It is a day use only park, so you have to check the website for times. The parking area is massive, and numerous picnic tables that line the bank of the Columbia River. It's very easy to simply park, setup your kit on one of the many picnic tables and get on the air while watching eagles soar, large white herons stalk for prey in the tidelands, an occasional river barge pass by as the mighty Columbia River flows towards the Pacific Ocean. 

The trees along the bank are not tall, so a wire antenna is probably not the best choice here. I almost always use a Buddipole dipole antenna for my POTA activations, and there is ample space for a dipole or vertical antenna. There are also picnic tables and pavilions (available to rent) in areas away from the river with trees of sufficient height if you need a tree to raise your wire antenna.

Visitors will need a day pass ($5 USD) or an annual Oregon Park Day Use Parking Permit. There are numerous (flush) toilet facilities in the park, a ranger station, lots of trails, and for anyone who feels the need to operate a ham radio and activate a park in the nude there is a special section of the park where clothes are optional. 

I was there on a weekday, and the park was relatively empty. I suspect with the park's close proximity to Portland, the beautiful setting, a popular place for windsurfing/kite boarding, boating, fishing, hiking, etc., this place is probably pretty busy on weekends. 

Monday, April 4, 2022

Operating POTA / DX In Guam

Rainbow over Guam
Rainbow over Guam

In Late February I flew back to Guam to do some much-needed work on my sailboat, and while here I definitely wanted to activate the 2 parks (K-0762 and K-0110) identified by the Parks On The Air team. The park activations in Washington and Texas were precursors to my 1-man holiday style DX / POTA activations.

The work on the boat took up more time than expected. Also, unusually strong trade winds made putting up the Buddipole antenna rather precarious and presented an almost constant risk of breaking or bending something. And to be completely honest, I did in fact break one extension arm and bend one of the extension shock-cord whips while setting up and a gust came from the opposite direction from the prevailing winds! Finally, although we are not yet in the rainy season, there were numerous rain showers that soaked various the island periodically throughout the day. The short story is that I didn't get on the air and play radio as much as I wanted, but I'm not finished yet and there will be more to come!

War In The Pacific National Historical Park 
(POTA K-0762)

Asan Beach Park

The War in the Pacific National Historical Park is actually 6 separate parks on the island of Guam. The largest of the 2 parks is Asan Beach in the village of Asan. This was the site of one of 2 main landing sites when the US Marines stormed Guam in 1944 to defeat the Japanese. However, very little remains of the fortifications and the area has been transformed into a popular beach park on the island. 

6 Units of War In the Pacific National Park in Guam

Working POTA/DX in Guam

On March 7, 2022, I activated the War in the Pacific National Historical Park (POTA K-0762). There are few picnic tables and no pavilions that would provide shade or protection from the weather. After spending a day to reconnoiter the vast park I finally decided on an area next to the parking lot at Asan Point to setup next to some bushes that would provide necessary shade. But the shade didn't appear until around 3 pm local time, and the park closed the gates at 6 pm. So, that gave me a 3-hour window to operate.

Asan Beach ops
I parked next to the grassy area where I setup my POTA shack. The POTA / 1-man holiday style DX shack that travels with me on my sailboat consists of a Helinox Table One Hard Top collapsible table, and a Helinox Chair One XL collapsible chair, a Honda EU2000i portable generator (very quiet), a Buddipole dipole on a Mastwerks 23' mast, a Powerwerx 30 amp switching power supply, an Elecraft KX3 transceiver, an Elecraft KXPA100 amplifier, and a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet for running WSJTX for FT8 operations and ACLog for logging, and a Begali Adventure key for CW ops. The entire setup takes about 20 minutes. Tear down goes a little faster.

The first activation of this park was highly successful with 87 FT8 QSOs on 20M in about 3 hours of operation. Most of the QSOs were Japanese stations, but also include Indonesia, China, Brazil, Austria, Italy, Hawaii, Republic of Korea, North Macedonia, Texas, France, Spain, England, European Russia, Asiatic Russia, Australia, Denmark, and Canary Islands. I would say the propagation was great!

Based on my results from March 7, I returned to the same exact location in the park and setup on March 8. On day 2 of POTA operations at K-0110 I only made 74 FT8 QSOs on 20M. Hunters and DX'ers were from Republic of Korea, Japan, Texas, Hawaii, Uruguay, New Zealand, France, Asiatic Russia, China, England, Argentina, and Taiwan. Unfortunately, I had to stop transmitting and take 3 short breaks because the amplifier overheated. The average temperature in Guam is about 86F (30C) degrees. I only operated at about 50 watts and thought the almost constant winds would keep the amplifier cool. But for some reason on this day, I encountered an overheating problem. 

Ga'an Point Park

20cm Cannon
After a long break, on March 27 I activated the War in the Pacific National Historical Park at Ga'an Point in Agat village. 
This was the second primary landing beach for US Marines in 1944. This park is much smaller than Asan Beach but has the remains of a Japanese 20cm coastal defense gun, an anti-aircraft gun, a pillbox, and small caves where Japanese soldiers slept. There is no gate on this park, and it is open 24 hours a day. There are 2 picnic tables and a public restroom, but no pavilions for protection from the weather. As a big plus, it is a mere 3 minutes from the Agat Marina where I keep my boat.

Ga'an Point Ops
After finding a nice shady location to setup my portable "shack" and the antenna I started operations once again. This time along with the usual over-abundance of Japanese stations, I also had a total of 122 FT8 QSOs with Alaska, China, Republic of Korea, Texas, Washington, Hong Kong, Indianna, Canada, California, Indonesia, Oregon, Taiwan, Brazil, Asiatic Russia, Fiji, Australia, Hong Kong, Scotland, and the Republic of Korea.

All in all, with a little over 280 QSOs logged, March was not such a bad month.

Guam National Wildlife Refuge
(POTA K-0110)

Star Sand Beach
The second identified POTA park on the island of is the Guam National Wildlife Refuge. This is on the very north end of the island past Anderson Air Force Base which occupies much of the northern part of the island. The refuge is open Wednesday through Sunday from 07:30 am until 4:00 pm. Gates close at 4 pm! I drove up to the refuge and was introduced to the superintendent. Fortunately, she was familiar with amateur radio and showing her the POTA website helped explain my intent. She required that I submit a special use permit (something I wish I would have looked into earlier). Once submitted it only took about 1 week for approval. There were lots of restrictions; however, I was able to setup my POTA shack in 'disturbed' areas adjacent to parking areas. Not the most scenic area of the refuge, but I was able to operate inside the park boundaries!

Map of wildlife refuge on Guam
Finally, on the afternoon of April 2nd, I drove up to the refuge, setup the POTA shack and started FT8 operations on 20M and made 68 QSOs. Since I had to shut down at 3:45 PM I knew that I wasn't going to get as many European stations as I got at the War In The Pacific parks since most of those QSOs occurred after 4:00 pm local time. However, along with the Japanese stations I had contacts with New Caldonia, Republic of Korea, China, Asiatic Russia, Australia, Taiwan, Hawaii, Indonesia, and Washington. 

Moved ops for passing squall.
I decided to go back Sunday morning April 3rd and try again. I arrived at around 8 am, setup and started transmitting again. I wasn't getting pounced on by POTA hunters and DX'ers as in previous activations, to I switched to 15 meters and things started piling up. Unfortunately, around 11 am my amplifier stopped working. The KX3 was putting out a signal, but there was only a small trickle of power coming out of the amplifier. There were no over-heat indications. I tried shutting down and restarting. Taking a break to let it cool down. But nothing seemed to revive the amp. So, I shut things down and packed the kit back up. Fortunately, I was still able to make 50 QSOs, so the POTA activation still counted. 



  • When setting up a tripod hang a bag of sand or rocks from the bottom of the mast. This is an old photographer's trick to steady camera tripods. The additional weight is useful during assembly, while raising and lowering, and adds overall stability to the antenna rig.
  • Attach the guy lines to the mast, raise the mast, and secure the guy lines prior to attaching the antenna elements. This will prevent the mast from falling over with the antenna elements attached before the guy lines are secured. (Don't ask how I know this.)
  • If the park is a wildlife refuge, make sure you contact the park superintendent and inquire about special use permits well in advance of your planned operations. Also, check with staff as to operating locations within the refuge.
  • Find a shady spot to operate preferably with a good breeze. Don't forget water, sunscreen, and a good hat!
  • Carry spare Buddipole extension arms and whips, or an alternate antenna (e.g., wire antenna).
  • Pavilions are not always available. I'm going to look for a small 2-person tent to setup on days that have some probability of rain. 
  • When you go to a park to activate it for Parks on the Air talk to staff/rangers first to let them know what you're doing. Spend some time to identify operating locations that don't disturb the environment or other park visitors. And most importantly...spend some time enjoying the park and its beauty! Walk the trails, take a tour if available, and learn about the park's significance. 

Saturday, February 5, 2022

POTA Report 3 - Portable in Texas

 January 29 and February 4, I spent the week visiting family in Texas. Before I departed for the trip, I scoped out parks that were close to my mother's home. The closest park within reasonable driving distance was W. Goodson Jones State Forest. So, needless to say I was pretty excited about getting the opportunity to travel with my "shack in a box" kit, activate a park in Texas, and of course visit with my mother!

Flying with my "shack in a box" kit was super easy and hassle-free. It probably helps that I have TSA Pre-Check and seem to experience less scrutiny in US airports. The outside of the case is plastered with all sorts of amateur radio related stickers, which may also help the TSA inspectors get an idea of what's inside. The Apache 4300 case fits perfectly inside the overhead compartments on most airplanes and I was not even questioned about the size. I did check the Buddipole antenna because I decided to take the 18' mast package with a tripod instead of the 12' mast kit which is small enough to carry-on even with the tripod. The only change I think I will make is to add some sort of shoulder strap for the case.

In addition to the Surface Go 2 as my logging device, I took my Boogie Board Jot Writing Tablet that I usually keep on my home station desk to keep notes on during a rag-chew QSO. It is now a permanent accessory in my "shack in a box" kit, and I intend to purchase another for my home station. The Boogie Board is way better than a notebook or scraps of paper for taking "perishable" notes. It takes no batteries, lasts forever, and easily seen in bright sunlight. 

My previous activations were primarily using FT-8 mode so I simply exported the ADI file from WSJT-X. But for CW and SSB in the field I use N3FJP Amateur Contact (AC) Log. It's not free, but it is intuitive to use, and the user interface is highly customizable for different types of operations. It also has a free downloadable AC Log Calldata lookup database when operating off-grid without internet connection. I'll publish instructions and include a video demonstrating how to customize AC Log for logging CW and SSB POTA activations to make it easier to log QSOs, and to submit logs to the Parks on the Air coordinators. Although AC Log can interface with WSJT-X, it is simply not possible on a Surface Go 2 (or at least I haven't figured out how to do it easily yet) due to the lack of USB ports, but it may be possible with LP Bridge software.

Unfortunately, traveling on airplanes with LifePo4 lithium batteries is still not allowed so instead of just taking my POTA kit, I took my entire "shack in a box" kit. My "shack in a box" kit is setup for operations where there is AC power available.  Along with the POTA activations, I planned to setup my portable "shack in a box" at my mother home, but due to rain I didn't get around to that on this trip. So, in order to activate the park, the first thing I had to do was go out and buy an SLA battery. Conveniently there was a Batteries Plus Bulb store in town to purchase a battery to power my activations. Now I was ready to go!

W. Goodson Jones State Forest (POTA K-4422)

I am old, but my mother is older, and she likes to take naps. So, during one of her afternoon naps I took the car, drove the 18 miles to the park and setup operations on one of the few picnic tables beside the small lake. There were 2 other cars in the lot, but I didn't see another person while I was there. The park's parking lot is just off the highway. It's a nice park with lots of trees, but it is not "dense forest" by any means. There are numerous trails throughout the park which provide easy walks on the very flat terrain. I suspect that during better (warmer) weather the park is bustling. I did not find any covered pavilions, so this park is for fair-weather activations only. 

POTA K-4422 QSOs

I operated for an hour on the 30th of January and an hour and half on February 2nd. For some reason, I was not getting out on FT-8 as all. This really bugged me because I didn't change any of the settings since leaving Seattle. The rig was receiving and decoding, and the rig was sending out a signal, but there were no spots on HamAlert or PSKReporter. Later I discovered the volume in the Sound Settings on the Surface Go 2 were max'd out and I was transmitting a bunch of splatter. Anyway, I switched over to SSB and started calling CQ POTA and made 25 QSO on the first day and 37 QSOs on the second day of activating this park. My first QSO on day one was with Puerto Rico, and on day 2 I had my first Park-to-Park QSO. 


Make a checklist of transceiver and ALL software settings for the POTA kit. 

Customize software (if possible) for easier logging, and reporting. 

The nearby freeway generated some periodic ambient noise from passing trucks, so headphones are a must. I also suspect the weather was greatly affecting propagation. The noise floor on the 2nd activation was S3 and increased to S5 by the time I made my last QSO. Despite the cold weather in Texas and the rain I was glad I got to activate this park and test out my "shack in a box" kit and operate in a different part of the country. And, of course, I was also happy I got to spend some quality time with my mother. 

Monday, January 24, 2022

More Lessons from 2nd Parks on the Air Activation

One of the great things about amateur radio is the constant learning and skill improvement that is an inherent aspect of this hobby. Setting up a shack in a home is one thing but operating in the field is quite another adventure and requires new skills and sometimes even a different frame of mind, a liberal sprinkle of patience, and a high tolerance for cold weather (if you're out this time of year in the more northern latitudes.)

On January 22 I activated my second park for the Parks on the Air (POTA) program. The temperature outside was a cool 37F/2.7C, but at least the sun was out making it feel like a rather balmy 37F day. And, with no rain in the forecast and sunshine what more reason do I need to go outside and play? So, I packed my POTA kit and drove the 13 miles to Saltwater State Park in Des Moines, Washington. This was my first time to this park in the 24 years I lived in Washington. That is pretty sad now that I think about it because it is really a beautiful little park. 

When I arrived around 12:30 pm there really weren't that many people, and most were walking on the tidal flats or with their kids playing at the playground in a different section of the park.  I grabbed a parking spot right next to the beach and unloaded my kit onto a picnic table on the small grassy field overlooking the log strewn beach. I chose a spot close to the edge of the grassy area next to some logs because I thought it would be out of the way despite being front and center.

Once again, I setup my Buddipole dipole antenna for 20 meters on the edge of the grassy area. Two of the guy lines were secured along roughly the same parallel as the mast, and away from foot traffic.  The 3rd guy line I ran back to the picnic table and secured it so the guy line would mostly be above head height just in case someone felt compelled to walk across the 10 feet of grass between me and the antenna.

In my first POTA activation I operated QRP, but this time I setup my Elecraft KX3 with the KXPA100 amplifier. I wanted to evaluate how the 2 Dakota Lithium batteries (20Ah total) would hold up while running the amp at nominal 50W in FT-8 mode. Unfortunately, I only operated for 3 hours before my I couldn't feel my fingers and called it a day. Three hours was really not enough time to adequately evaluate QRV duration while running the amp with 2 10Ah batteries in parallel. But during the 3 hours of operation I made 66 QSOs, including 3 Japanese stations, 3 Canadian stations, and 1 Mexican station. 

POTA QSOs from K-3236

By 3 pm there were a lot more people enjoying the park. A few came over to chat usually starting the conversation by asking, "What are you measuring?" I am thinking that CW is probably a little easier to explain than FT-8 mode; especially since there is zero sound coming from my rig or Surface Go 2 and I'm operating in silence. Most would walk around the antenna and the picnic table, but a few decided to walk directly under the single guy line between the antenna mast and the picnic table most carefully stepping over the antenna cable. Only one 'Karen' approached the antenna mast, looked up at it for a few seconds, then looked at me and started walking underneath the guy and say, "why would the let someone put that up there?" She made sure I heard her complaint because she turned around and looked at me. I smiled and waved. (But secretly I thought to myself they allow it because they think most people are smart enough to walk around it.)

Saltwater State Park is a great place to operate and activate a park despite the almost constant aircraft traffic landing and taking off from SeaTac airport. 

I am still learning about portable and POTA activations, so here are some additional lesson's learned:

  • If you're throwing wires into trees, make sure you get permission from the park authorities first!
  • If you're putting up a mast of any sort it might be a good idea to attach 1' long 1" wide hi-vis yellow, green, or orange ribbons at the 4-5 foot height above ground level on all guy lines. This is low enough for most children to see, and high enough for most adults to notice; especially if there is the slightest breeze. (HOWEVER, it doesn't matter the number or color of ribbons you use, there will almost always be at least 1 'Karen' who will go out of her/his way just so she/he can complain.)
  • Also, it might be a good idea to get some small hi-viz 6" cones to place at the end of each guy, and also every 3-5 feet on the ground along your coax between the rig and the antenna if you plan to work anywhere near other people. (I ordered 6 of these.)
  • I saw this on idea from WD9EWK posted on Twitter, and I made up a few signs for myself to setup beside my kit.
  • In your POTA kit don't forget to include a pocketknife or Leatherman tool.
  • Also include a small first aid kit (for those times you cut yourself with your pocketknife or Leatherman tool).

My Very First Dx-Pedition (2017)

  Every summer my family took a sailing trip to the Gulf Islands in British Columbia, Canada. The Gulf Islands seem less crowded than the Sa...