by William Eric McFadden

Seven Days in Florida Sunshine!

From the park website:

The Okaloacoochee Slough, the forest's namesake, is a 32,370-acre pristine slough that is oriented north-south through the forest. The natural systems of the Fakahatchee Strand and Big Cypress Preserve are dependent on the water supplied by the Okaloacoochee Slough. The Okaloacoochee Slough is one of the few places in South Florida north of the Everglades or Big Cypress National Preserve where the pre-Columbian landscape can still be observed.

This unique natural system provides a large roaming area of contiguous habitat for a variety of wildlife species. The forest is home to listed, threatened and endangered species, including the Florida panther, Florida black bear, sandhill crane, wood stork and gopher tortoise.



One member of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team succeeded in performing a valid activation on November 15, 2018 of Okaloacoochee Slough State Park, K-4633, in Florida as part of the the Parks on the Air (POTA; link) program. Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, visited the park on weekday afternoon while traveling from Florida's Gulf to the Space Coast.

Eric arrived arrived at the park about 1545 UTC and found a pull-off on Patterson Road. Eric chose to set up his station in his rental car in order to avoid sitting in too much direct Florida Sun and exposure to biting insects. Eric's station consisted of his Enhanced KX3 Travel Kit and an N2CX-inspired 20/30/40m wire vertical supported on a Black Widow 20' telescoping pole and fed through 25' of RG-58 coax. Eric found the ground to be too hard for him to drive his mast-support spike into but he was able to lean his mast against a nearby tree. Eric was on the air by 1604 UTC.

Eric began operations on 20m and found that his N2CX-inspired vertical presented a high SWR on 20m and he was forced to use his KX3's internal ATU to tame the SWR. Thanks to spotting-support by fellow SEORAT-member K8RAT, Eric managed ten QSOs in just about thirty minutes. Eric switched to 40m and was not surprised to see that his antenna presented high SWR on that band, too, and he again resorted to using his KX3's internal ATU. Eric called CQ on 40m but no QSOs resulted. Because of the need to get to a second park, Eric shut down his station after only a few minutes on 40m.

Highlights of the activation were seeing a bald eagle near the entrance to the park. Eric was pleased to work his friend K8RAT; WT8E in Athens, Ohio; and fellow POTA participants N4EX, W9AV, and VE3ZN.

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