Category Archives: POTA

Big Changes Coming – No POTA or any Ham Radio for me

I have put this post off for a week as I wasn’t sure what to say or how much detail to include. I also wasn’t 100% sure how my future ham radio activities will play out.

Some Background

For 60 years or so I have wanted to live in the North Carolina mountains. As a kid growing up my Dad would take us on vacation each summer to the area around Asheville NC. I grew up loving the area. Fast forward to modern times and after I got married my wife and I took our kids to the mountains every year or so and they have grown up with the mountains in their DNA.

Not that we are both retired my wife and I have been looking for a place in the mountains to call home. I won’t bore you with the details but I will say that in mid July my dream will finally come true. We have leased a condo in Laurel Park NC for the next year. Laurel Park is a small town just 2 miles out of downtown Hendersonville and about 30 miles south of Asheville. Laurel Park has a lot of green space and there’s even a lake and a park across the street from our condo that has walking trails along with a fitness/exercise trail.

There is a very active ham radio community in Hendersonville as well as just across the state line which is about 8-10 miles from our new home. I will have the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Club in Hendersonville and the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Society in South Carolina. I have already made friends in both clubs and have joined their Nets when I have visited the area.

The Problems

There are really only two problems we will be downsizing from 2400+ sq. ft. to about 1,000 sq.ft. and the condo is up stairs. This means my ham shack will have to be downsized too and I’m not sure what my antenna options are. I will probably have to set up my station on a small table in the closed in balcony area and throw a wire out the window for an HF antenna. Luckily the Hendersonville repeater can be easily activated by an HT but I will be using my Yaesu FT1900 as a base station so VHF/UHF shouldn’t be a problem.

I have thought about selling most of my radios and getting a IC-705 to pair with y IC-7300 in order to make my footprint as small as possible. But my current plan is to take all of my rados and see what I can do once I get there then make the decision whether to sell or not. Either way I will be off the air for a few weeks as I tear down, make the move and setup the new station.

The Benefits

I am really looking forward to the cooler weather and getting out into the outdoors. The area has a plethora of hiking trails and waterfalls. Along with The Pisgah National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest, there are lots of state parks for POTA. The Dupont State Recreational Forest is about 11 miles from our location and the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site is about 4 miles away.

As, you can probably imagine there are no SOTA opportunities near my current Florida QTH but at the new home there will be plenty of SOTA opportunities.

The maps below show the active hams around our new home along with the POTA and SOTA opportunities. The Magenta circles shows a 5 mile radius around the new QTH and the Red circle is a 25 mile radius.

POTA Parks
SOTA Summits
Hams in the Laurel Park Area


For the next several weeks I will be tearing down my shack and boxing things up so I will be pretty much off the air. But in the long run I will be much better off with considerable opportunities to live a more active lifestyle and pursue my hobby.

Home Sweet Home.

You may have noticed that I have been a little absent from my blog. We took a three week trip to the mountains of western North Carolina leaving on May 1st and returning home on the 23rd.

Great views but bad location to play radio

My planned activations didn’t go according to my dreams or plans. I had planned to do some POTA hunting during our first week from the place we were staying at north of Mars Hill NC. It had an elevation of 4500 feet but the ground was so sloped that there was no place to set up. I tried using my speaker wire antenna from the 2nd story deck but it was 30′ off the ground and I couldn’t get a good SWR so that was a bust.

After we relocated to Black Mountain I had planned to activate at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is a site that Thomas Witherspoon (K4SWL) has activated numerous times but on the morning f the activation it started raining before we even got out of bed. Another POTA opportunity lost; this time to the rain gods (or Mother Nature). Though, looking back I really didn’t want to get me or my equipment wet so I guess that also contributed to the failure.

Carl Sandburg House

After relocating to the Hendersonville NC area for our final week, I tried an activation at the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site. That was ultimately a failure mostly due to band conditions. I tried hunting after no one was responding to my CQs. I could hear an activator in Florida who said he was using 100 watts. He was a strong 59 but not even calling “Park to Park” could get a response to my 10 watts out of the Xiegu X6100. I did make contact with a MA activator but I dropped down into his noise floor so we never completed that Park to Park. This failure was due to bad conditions and QRP power levels.

High Falls

The next day we planned on hiking to the waterfalls in Dupont State Recreation Area and I was going to try activating there too. But after hiking to two waterfalls and doing a total of 3.5 miles I was just two hot and tired to do an activation. My bad knee was also bitching at me about all the abuse I had put it through.. It kept reminding me that it was used to flat land in Florida and not changes in elevation going up and down the mountain trails I had abused it with. So when we got back to the trailhead we jumped into the car to cool off in the AC and went back to town for lunch. Another failure but this time it was all on me.

We are back home now and I am slowly unpacking the radio gear and bringing the home shack back online. I downed all the antennas before I left and took the shack computer with me. But as of this morning the shack is fully operational.

I was able to spend some time on vacation thinking about my field setup and what I took with me. This resulted in several planned changes and enhancements that I will be making over the next few weeks. I will try to blog about those as I do them. Once I complete them I will activate a park near me (there are only two) and blog that as well.

POTA Hunting With The Xiegu X6100

My working station for the X6100 and the speaker wire antenna

One of the things I love to do is hunt for POTA activators from my backyard. I do this for a couple of reasons but mainly because it is fun to do it outside rather than in the shack and it allows me test my field setup. It also allows me to make sure that my GoBag has all the necessary components for activating a park. If I discover that I have forgotten to include the correct coax connector for a new antenna it is easier to go back into the house and get it than it is if you discover it mising 30 miles from home when you are setting up in a park. Best to work the kinks out of your equipment before hand.

I have two new antennas that I am experimenting with to make sure they work okay for me. One is the Elecraft AX1 with the AXE1 extension for 40 meters and the other is the Spark Plug EFHW.

I set up the Xiegu X6100 in my front yard today for the first time to chase some parks and I used three different antennas. I started with the AX1 then moved to the Spark Plug EFHW and closed out with my speaker wire antenna hooked directly to the radio.

My Speaker Wire Antenna

The speaker wire antenna outperformed the more expensive antennas and I ended up with contacts from RI, PA, and NJ to my north. Running westward (I am on the east coast of Florida) I worked MO and AR plus Mike, K8MRD in Texas at K-3019 – Huntsville State Park.

The speaker wire antenna was set up as a vertical using my 21′ telescoping fishing pole leaning up against my privacy fence and it was about 15 feet to my right and slightly behind me.

To be honest it kind of sucks that my homemade speaker wire antenna out performed the other two which combined set me back well over $300. But it is also very cool and satisfying to make contacts on something I built for less than $15. But to be fair, the AX1 is somewhat of a compromise as it is such a small footprint highly portable type of antenna. I am still working on tuning the Spark Plug antenna which is still resonant above the amateur bands. I’m sure both antennas will work fine once I get them properly setup.

All of my contacts today were on 20 meters as 40 meters was just too short for any of the activators to hear my little 10W signal. I could hear the activators and the hunters and the hunters were all within a few hundred miles of the parks indicating that 40 meters was short. Too short for me. If this speaker wire antenna works this well when hunting and trying to bust through the pile ups I can only imagine how well it will work when I am the activator.

Thanks to Thomas K4SWL for the inspiration for the speaker wire antenna.