A Day Off Work
I decided to take Monday off after a long weekend, usually I would engage in some Parks On The Air (POTA), pick a park or SC entity to go sit in and warm up my ham radio operating skills, this particular day I decided I was going to use the digital modes FT8 and FT4 along with the Icom 7300 HF rig and my new platinum Wolf River Coil (WRC) mounted on the trunk of my car allowing me to transmit using 100W on digital mode.
My thought was heading toward Edisto Beach State Park, it is a great place for longer distance contacts, I’m pretty sure being surrounded by water helps the propagation, but as I was heading that direction at approximately 7:00am I decided to take a detour and stop by Edisto River wildlife management area, I have been there a couple times before but it has been a while, although I had the coordinates of the parking spot in the WMA, for some reason the GPS had me exit the paved road farther away than usual, forcing me to drive down a dirt road for approximately 1-1/4 mile before deciding there must be a better way, this road was impassable in my Ford Fusion, so I turned around and headed back for the pavement and a different way into the WMA.
While I was setting up my radio and antenna, I heard an animal noise from a little way away, maybe low in a tree or on the ground, I haven’t heard this particular noise after all the times spent in WMA’s, but after scanning my memory it brought me back to the movie Jurassic Park, I was able to recall the noise, I’m pretty sure it was a Velociraptor, at this point I’m hoping it is finding it’s prey elsewhere and decided to stay and complete the task at hand.
Once set up, it didn’t take long to make the 10 contacts needed to activate the WMA, I ended up spending 40 minutes on the air making 22 contacts at this location, it made me think of how much I enjoy the peacefulness of the WMA’s and this morning was no different, the sound of silence in the foreground and animals making their natural sounds in the background is very relaxing for me.
It was still early so after packing up I decided to visit another park to make some more contacts so I headed toward Givhans Ferry State Park where the animal population is under more strict control and I’m pretty sure that, unlike WMA’s, State Parks don’t let dinosaurs run free.
Givhans proved to be a fast activation as well, taking 50 minutes to make 24 contacts, which are typically a little slower on the digital modes than on voice, as an activator you can work a ½ hour pile-up of POTA hunters trying to answer your CQ on voice and get between 35 and 45 contacts in the log, the digital mode FT8 may take between 30 seconds and 2 minutes to make a successful contact and get it into the log taking an hour to make 25-30 contacts if the band is busy, FT4 is about twice as fast as FT8.
Since I had two entities activated at this time, I decided three would be better so I’m headed toward Colleton State Park, having a yearly pass to the state parks is really paying off this morning. I parked and set-up by the welcome center, mostly under tree cover, hoping it wouldn’t bother the radio noise floor being this close to the building/electrical supply. It only took a couple minutes for someone to answer my CQ POTA call and it was off to the races, it took about 40 minutes to make 20 contacts and I was happy for another successful activation, and I really appreciate the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) for keeping my information fresh along with sending a signal report on my behalf and re-spotting me on the POTA spotter page, this is a great tool for the ham radio folks using digital mode. Colleton SP was virtually desolate, I didn’t see a single sole there from the time I arrived until departure, and not even then.
After activating Colleton State Park, I headed towards colonial Dorchester State Historic Site, one of my favorite places to activate and the closest POTA entity in relationship to my home which makes it easy for me to get in and out of. This is also one of the most used sites for hams to test and tune antennas, typically followed by a POTA activation to make sure whatever you tested and tuned is truly operating correctly. I have previously activated this entity 70 times logging just over 3,200 contacts through the POTA program. Spending 40 minutes here proved successful achieving my 4th activation of the day with 19 more contacts and giving me the desire to hit one more park in the last couple hours I had to spend this day, so I decided to turn my car in the direction of Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site.
I am currently working on a kilo award for making 1000 contacts from Charles Towne Landing SHS having just over 700 previous contacts, so I thought it would be nice to stop by and add a few more to the tally. It took about 1-1/2 hours to log 52 contacts here, what made this activation very special is the quality of the contacts, I made several contacts with POTA hunters, a bunch from all over the USA and also made some exciting DX contacts including Croatia, 4 contacts into Italy, 3 into France, also contacting Romania, Serbia, Russia, Ukraine, Greece, and 4 contacts into Canada making this a very successful and exciting activation.
The weather was beautiful, It turned out to be a wonderful day for activating, making 137 contacts all on digital mode using 20m and 30m on FT8 and FT4, earning the Cheetah Rapid Deployment RaDAR Award for activating 5 POTA entities in 24 hours, it was a peaceful and relaxing, enjoyable day off work.
73, John KK4JS