by William Eric McFadden

From the Strouds Run State Park website:

Located outside of the city of Athens and within easy driving distance of Ohio University, Strouds Run State Park surrounds Dow Lake and draws a mix of trail and lake users. Miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding provide scenic views from rugged trails. The lake offers boating, paddling, swimming and a shaded campground.



On Saturday, June 3, 2023, one member of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team performed a successful activation of Strouds Run State Park (K-1994) as part of the Parks on the Air (POTA; link) program.

Although he couldn't make a real effort to win a plaque during this POTA Plaque Event (info), Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, wanted to perform at least one activation during the event, he wanted to test his new method of carrying his station on the bicycle, and he wanted to pull the dogs in the dog-trailer somewhere, so he chose to bicycle from West State Street Park in Athens to Bulldog Shelter in Strouds Run State Park, carefully selecting his route to minimize the steep hill climbs and heavy traffic. Eric was accompanied by the two dogs Theo and Ginny, who rode in the trailer.

Being unhappy with how his KX3 Mini Travel Kit had traveled on his bicycle during his recent bicycle-portable two-fer activation of Lake Hope State Park and Zaleski State Forest (link) via Moonville Rail Trail, Eric had found a way to package his KX3 Mini Travel Kit in a small nylon case originally used with the US military's KL-43 cypher device; all the bits of the station except the mast and clipboard fit nicely in the case, and the case fit nicely in the pannier that Eric already owned. The clipboard was to be carried in a second pannier, on the other side of the bicycle, and the Goture Red Fox Super Hard 720 carbon-fiber mast was to be bungied to his bicyle's top-tube exactly as it had been for previous bicycle-portable operations.

Eric began his ride from West State Street Park at about 1500 UTC. Theo-dog was content and (mostly) quiet in the trailer, but Ginny-dog barked nearly the entire trip to Bulldog Shelter. Since the trailer dogs together weigh about fifty pounds, and since he was also carrying a complete QRP station on the steel-frame bicycle, Eric had anticipated the need to walk the bicycle up the 2nd Street hill, but he found that he was able to ride the bicycle all the way up without stopping. The subsequent, shorter hills, were also climbed without too much difficulty.

Eric's station Eric and the dogs safely arrived at Bulldog Shelter at 1530 UTC and, pleased to find it entirely unoccupied and available as shelter against the intense sun, Eric set up his Elecraft KX3 transceiver on a conveniently-located picnic table. He bungied the Goture Red Fox Super Hard 720 carbon-fiber mast vertically to his bicycle and sloped the Tufteln 35' EFRW antenna from the KX3 up to top the mast. Having also walked the dogs and cleaned up their messes, Eric was on the air at about 1545 UTC.

As he had expected, Eric found he had good cell-signal at this location and would be able to spot himself on the POTA Spots website and to use POTA Spots to identify possible Park-to-Park (P2P) QSOs.

The Tulfteln 35' EFRW supported on the bicycle Eric began his operation on 20m by finding himself a frequency to run and calling "CQ POTA", and was pleased to be auto-spotted on POTA Spots. However, after a few minutes of calling "CQ", Eric realized a station he couldn't hear was also running the frequency, so he moved slightly up in frequency, began calling "CQ POTA", and updated his spot. Eric's first QSO came at 1554 UTC with N1XV in New Jersey. QSOs came steadily, with Eric's thirteenth QSO coming at 1615 UTC with W4HXH in Florida. This run included a P2P QSO with WA5PQL at Waco Mammoth National Monument (K-0975) in Texas and QSOs with operators located in New Jersey (2), Maryland, Texas (4), Ontario, Massachusetts, Arizona, Georgia, and Florida. Eric had started this run without wearing earbuds, but Ginny's persistent barking at who-knows-what was so loud he was forced to grab his earbuds. (Eric eventually picked her up and placed her next to him on the bench, and this did quiet her down somewhat.)

Eric finished his activation by consulting POTA Spots for P2P QSO opportunities and at 1623 UTC he made a P2P QSO on 20m with KI5LKS at Fannin Battleground State Historic Site (K-6555) in Texas. This was followed at 1628 UTC by a P2P QSO on 20m with N3RT at Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail (K-4582) in Delaware.

In all, Eric logged fourteen QSOs, with three P2P QSOs, all on 20m, in about forty-five minutes of on-air time. All of Eric's QSOs were CW and were made at five watts output.

After packing up his station and loading up the bicycle and trailer, Eric essentially retraced his route back to West State Street Park. Interestingly, Ginny-dog was quiet during this ride.

Eric was pleased with how well his redesigned KX3 Mini Travel Kit traveled on the bicycle, but the real test will come when he subjects it to the badly corrugated gravel forestry road in Zaleski State Forest. He was also pleased that he was able to pull the trailer and dogs up the substantial hills between West State Street Park and Bulldog Shelter.

Eric also submitted his log to the World Wide Flora and Fauna in Amateur Radio (WWFF; link) program for an activation of Strouds Run State Park, KFF-1994.