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 17, 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.

June 17 was International QRP Day, and Eric wanted to perform an activation with his new KX2 Mini Travel Kit, before attempting a bicycle-portable or foot-portable activation, to verify that the bag contained everything necessary to complete an activation. Eric chose to visit the nearby Strouds Run State Park for this activation, and he was joined by his wife Vickie and their dogs Theo and Ginny.

Eric's station After finding both Bulldog Shelter and Lakeview Shelter to be occupied, and the swim-beach/boat-ramp area to be a madhouse of activity on this beautiful June afternoon, Eric finally found a pair of lonely and unoccupied picnic tables under a lovely shade tree, arriving at the site at 2100 UTC. Eric deployed his 28½' wire vertical on his Jackite 31' telescoping fiberglass mast which he simply leaned into the tree, and set up his KX2 on the picnic table, connecting the 28½' radiator and the three 17' counterpoise wires to the KX2 using a BNC-to-binding-post adapter. Eric was on the air at 2115 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.

Eric's station 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. HF conditions were poor and Eric had to call CQ for many minutes before his first QSO came at 2123 UTC with K1WAT in Florida. This was followed at 2124 UTC by a QSO with KI5DYI in Texas, and at 2127 UTC by a QSO with WB4MED in Florida. Eric's report to all three of these operators was 539, an indication of how poor propagation on 20m was. Following his QSO with KI5DYI, Eric noticed that his initially low SWR had climbed unacceptably and that the KX2's internal ATU couldn't improve it much. Eric walked to his car to retrieve the 4:1 unun from his (Enhanced KX3 Travel Kit), and placing this at the antenna feedpoint allowed the KX2 to quickly and easily find a stable 1:1 match on 20m. (Eric had previously noticed this sort of behavior with his KX3— a situation in which the KX3's internal ATU couldn't find a nice match on one or another of the HF bands without a 4:1 transformer in the circuit, and he wasn't much this sort of behavior with the KX2 and its internal ATU.)

After several unproductive minutes of calling CQ, Eric checked POTA Spots for P2P QSO opportunities and at 2140 UTC he completed a P2P QSO on 17m with K0TTW at Sawhill Ponds State Wildlife Area (K-9669) in Colorado.

Finding himself a frequency to run on 17m, Eric called CQ there for several entirely unproductive minutes.

Finding himself a frequency to run on 40m, Eric's first QSO in this run came at 2151 UTC with N5FY in Georgia. Conditions on 40m were better than on 20m or 17m—at least initially—and Eric's fifth QSO in this run came just five minutes later at 2156 UTC with K2YIY in Pennsylvania. At this point, 40m appeared to just die, leaving Eric with only nine QSOs in his log.

Eric's station Again checking POTA Spots for P2P QSO opportunities, Eric found that he could not even hear most of the stations that were spotted, but at 2200 UTC he managed to complete a P2P QSO on 20m with K5JSC at Eleven Mile State Park (K-1217) in Colorado, giving him his tenth QSO and a valid activation.

Not wanting to finish his activation with only ten QSOs, Eric continued to hunt for P2P QSOs and at 2215 UTC he completed a second P2P QSO with K0TTW at Sawhill Ponds State Wildlife Area (K-9669) in Colorado, this time on 20m.

In all, Eric logged eleven QSOs, with three P2P QSOs, in an hour of on-air time. All of Eric's QSOs were CW and were made at five watts output.

Eric was pleased that his KX2 Mini Travel Kit contained everything necessary to complete an activation except for the 4:1 unun to use with the 28½' wire vertical, and he plans to make one of these for the kit. The new-to-him KX2 itself performed admirably, especially given the poor HF conditions.

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.