Saturday April 23, 2022
The Presidio of San Francisco National Historic Site (K-7889) is a five minute drive from my home QTH so it’s the easy choice for a spur of the moment POTA activation attempt. Since I had some free time, good weather, and the itch to play radio I went for it today.
The Presidio is undergoing a multi-year transformation from an old overgrown Army post to a very well manicured National Park. It’s actually becoming a challenge to find some out of the way spot to raise an antenna and do some POTA where you will not be swarmed with cyclists or trampled by hordes of joggers. Add to that, the fact that the Presidio really doesn’t want your car in their park, future activation attempts might have to be walk-in only.
Even though it was a Saturday, I got in early enough to park at the WW2 Memorial Monument which overlooks Sharks Beach and westward to the Pacific. But this was far enough from the picnic tables I intended to setup at that I began looking closer in. I don’t want the car to be out of sight.
Just south of the memorial wall is a part of the park that the terraformers haven’t gotten to yet and an old fence offered convenient posts to which I could bungee my 7 meter Spiderbeam mast. The EFHW wire draped over the top in an inverted-V configuration pointing roughly east-west. A well placed tree stump provided a spot to setup the station and try to perch my own self on. Note to self: in the future bring a camp chair if there’s any possibility of not having a picnic table to operate from.
Over the last few months I’ve been assembling my K4SWL inspired portable radio kit. Today featured the QCX-Mini on 20 meters, 3AH Bioenno LiFePo4 pack, and my CW Morse paddles all tucked into a Maxpedition fatty bag. This was the first time in the field for the QCX-Mini and the ZM-2 ATU, both did good job.
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I got the antenna match down to 1-to-1, spotted myself on the pota.app web site and set to calling CQ with the QCX-Mini’s built in message beacon. However, I am out of practice on CW which was plainly evident as I tried to respond to the first call. I had the sending speed too high for what I was able to do with the paddles and I think paddle contacts were a little dirty, we’ll go with that, but I am sure those that chased me must have been thinking I was quite a LID. It was a real trainwreck at first, but I set the keyer speed down to 13 WPM and really smacked the paddles with authority, which seemed to help.
I got a few contacts in fairly short order after spotting myself, but then the calls stopped coming and I wasn’t getting any more comfortable sitting on the edge of the stump, so I ended well short of the 10 QSOs needed for a valid activation.
Many thanks to the four stations that called me and put up with my sketchy CW, I’ll do better next time! Even though the POTA activation was a failed attempt, I consider any outing where I actually get on the air and work some stations to be a success.