by William Eric McFadden

From the park website:

As one of Ohio's resort parks, Burr Oak State Park blends modern convenience with Ohio's wilderness spirit. Miles of forested ridges and hollows can be found here. The park offers a rustic full-service lodge with family suites and a cozy campground with easy access to the lake. A substantial trail system ranges from moderate to difficult with portions intersecting the statewide Buckeye Trail.



The Burr Oak Lodge -- click to enlarge On Sunday, February 21, 2021, one member of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team performed a successful activation of Burr Oak State Park Ohio as part of the Parks on the Air (POTA; link) program.

Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, performed the activation of Burr Oak State Park in the parking lot of the Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center during the ARRL International DX CW Contest. Eric was accompanied by his little dog, Theo.

With an elevated solar A-Index (greater than 18), HF propagation had been less than spectacular all weekend. Eric had managed to make only two POTA contacts as a hunter at home Sunday morning before finally deciding he could risk going afield to perform an activation, and he only decided to do so because he wanted to see if he could complete a valid POTA activation by working only DX stations participating in the ARRL International DX CW Contest. Tuning around the bottom of the 20m band at home prior to making this decision, Eric had heard enough strong DX signals to give him confidence that he could easily make ten QSOs with DX stations despite the poor solar numbers.

Eric's station -- click to enlarge Eric and Theo arrived at the Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center at about 1830 UTC and Eric quickly found an out-of-the-way parking spot in which to set up his station. Little Theo spent about fifteen seconds walking around outside the car before demanding to be allowed back into the car despite the outside temperature being about 38°, warmer than it had been in several weeks, and a sign that perhaps the ice and snow that had been hanging around far too long would soon be disappearing. Eric deployed his 28½' wire antenna on his 31' Jackite telescoping fiberglass mast and drive-on base. Choosing to set up his station in his car, Eric deployed his KX3 on the mobile-mount on the car's dashboard and was on the air at 1849 UTC.

Eric operated only on 20m, and he quickly noticed the S5-level noise floor on the band. Eric initially thought something at or near the Lodge was generating RFI but his friend K8RAT confirmed via text that he was hearing the same noise level in central Ohio. Eric also found that the density of strong DX signals on the band was far lower than that he had seen at home. Whether this was a symptom of changing propagation or of the compromise field antenna, Eric is unsure.

Eric made four passes from the bottom of the 20m band to about 14.060MHz before finishing his operation with eleven successful QSOs in thirty-seven minutes. Eric found that his 5-watts and compromise field antenna were sufficient to enable him to work almost every station he tried to work.

Eric worked a station in Croatia; three stations in Spain; a station in the Cayman Islands; two stations in the U.S. Virgin Islands; a station in Curacao; a station in Saskatchewan, Canada; a station in Slovenia; and a station in the Dominican Republic. Seven of the stations Eric worked reported they were running a kilowatt and three reported they were running 100 watts.

All of Eric's QSOs were CW and were made at the 5-watt level.

Eric also submitted his log to the World Wide Flora and Fauna in Amateur Radio (WWFF; link) program.