by William Eric McFadden

From the park's website:

Located in southeastern Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park has received national and international acclaim as a top park to visit. Stunning in every season, visitors can look forward to views of wildflowers adorning the forest floor in springtime and vivid foliage in the fall. The park features towering cliffs, waterfalls and deep, hemlock-shaded gorges for hikers and nature lovers to enjoy and serve as a backdrop to popular facilities and accommodations.



One member of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team succeeded in performing a valid activation of Hocking Hills State Park, K-1958, in Ohio as part of the the Parks on the Air (POTA; link) program. Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, and his small dog, Theo, visited Hocking Hills State Park on an intermittently rainy Saturday afternoon in late May.

Arriving at the Old Man's Cave parking lot about 1900 UTC, Eric lost probably twenty minutes to the crush of cars attempting to park at the visitor center and trailhead. Finally extricating himself from the mad crush of cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs, Eric continued north on State Route 374 and eventually found himself at the Hemlock Bridge Trail and Whispering Cave parking area about 1945 UTC. Eric surveyed the parking lot and chose one of the few spots available that offered any sort of shade. Because Eric didn't plan to operate in his car and because the available grass near the shady area wasn't flat, Eric chose to deploy his N2CX-inspired 20/30/40m wire vertical supported by a 20' fiberglass pole instead of his usual 28½' wire vertical and 33' fiberglass mast. Setting up his KX3 on the table of his folding camp-chair, Eric was on the air by 1903 UTC.

For a different experience, Eric chose to operate exclusively hunt-and-pounce, and to work stations participating in the ongoing Worked All Prefixes (WPX) CW contest, hoping to work many DX stations. This plan started well, with DK3WW in Germany being the first station logged almost immediately, at 1904 UTC. Just a few minutes into the activation, however, the skies darkened and rain began falling, forcing Eric, Theo, and Eric's KX3 to evacuate to the shelter of the car. Continuing to operate, Eric managed eleven QSOs in just under an hour, five of which were stations located outside the continental US, and all of which were on 20m.

During this activation, Eric was startled to discover that he could quite clearly hear stations on both CW sidebands, just as if he were running his venerable direct-conversion Heathkit HW-8 transceiver. Back at home that evening, Eric checked his KX3's Opposite Sideband Null calibration and found that it was way, way off. Using his Elecraft XG1 Signal Generator, Eric was able to quickly restore proper Opposite Sideband Null calibration, finding the proper settings to be identical to those found when he initially installed the KXFL3 Roofing Filter module in 2013. How had the settings been lost? Eric suspects either the tech at Elecraft somehow lost the settings or a firmware update overwrote the settings.

All 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 although he didn't make enough QSOs to to achieve a valid activation within the program which requires 44 QSOs be made. However, the WWFF program allows these 44 QSOs be made over any number of visits so a valid activation within WWFF is still possible if subsequent visits to the park are made.