This past weekend I did my first NPOTA activation. I was at the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe, Ohio. I had texted my friend Denny (KC8RPV) to find me a nice quiet frequency on 40m while I got setup. When everything was ready, I called and he replied. He had used the local repeater to line up a few others to work me, and he spotted me on the DX cluster. After my third contact the pile-up started and never let up. I ran that frequency for 70 minutes, with a 6 minute break and wound up with 121 contacts. Not too shabby!
My equipment was a KX3 with a KXPA100 amplifier, a Plantronics headset for hands-free VOX operation, a laptop with N3FJP for logging, and my vehicle for power. I had run power lines from the battery terminals through the firewall and into the cab. I left the car running to have a higher voltage (alternator voltage was 14.3v versus the battery voltage of 12.2v). The antenna was a 35ft wire soldered to the center of a PL-259, taped to the side of a 40ft fiberglass mast from Spiderbeam. The shield of the PL-259 had a wire soldered and I attached that to a jumper connected to the frame of my car for a counterpoise. The mast was supported by zip-ties attached to the wheel of my car. It beat lugging around some sort of drive-on support!
Now for the embarrassing part… I had left my coax at home. So what I did was place my amp on the hood of my car, plug my 1:1 balun (unun?) into the amp and plug the antenna straight into the balun. It was very efficient, I had zero feed line losses, because I had no feedline! But seriously, the antenna proved to be excellent. Signal reports were good from everyone who worked me and I worked at least twenty different states plus Ontario. It was a tight fit getting the connections from the amp to the KX3 into the operating position (driver’s seat) but it just barely made it. It had a very good time. Setup was about ten minutes and teardown was even less!
I was flying high after the activation all day, and the next (Monday). I decided then that I was going to activate as many NPS units as I can in 2016. I want to be #1 for activations for this event. I will be tracking my activation progress and recording results here: http://www.wn8u.net/npota-activations/
Pictures from all of the activations will be hosted on Google Photos: https://goo.gl/photos/MCc9RHeKNSgQpys6A
There will be some stiff competition and I know I’m behind the curve against some more experienced activators. I’m not daunted. This is now one of my goals for 2016.