COLD weather, HOT bands @ POTA GISP

What a great day for portable ops @ Galveston Island State Park (GISP).  This earmark’s the club’s 9th POTA activation.

The intrepid JSCARC members, N5LOW, AB5SS, K5RG, and myself (W5OC) had a blast working multiple pileups with hot HF band activity on CW, SSB and FT8.

With a weary cold and windy forecast the day before, we were all dreading this planned outing to some degree, but as W5OC and N5LOW first arrived around 0700, it was already apparent that the winds were chilly but not a show stopper from what turned out to be a cool but sunny day by afternoon.

For this event, I wanted to see what the beach side of the park looked like, so I entered the south entrance and found an semi-covered outdoor picnic table just a few hundred feet from the water. 

 My telescoping fiberglass mast was conveniently tied onto an adjacent water facet and I hoisted up my Sotabeams Bandhopper (a 20/40m dipole) up 20′. 

Test driving my newly built QCX-mini 20m CW radio, I quickly logged 20 QSOs (including Vermont and Ontario) in about 1 hour, with about 3W QRP output.  I was also test driving my newly acquired UMPP-1 micro minature paddle, which worked great, except as my hands got colder, my fist got sloppier. 

As a future note, the larger enclosed shelters had AC outlets!  So in our future POTA trips, those without batteries can plug into the facilities on the beach side.

My situation ended quickly thereafter, as I hoisted up a homebrew random length balanced doublet and tried to excite it at 100W my FT897.  I quickly had that sickening feeling in one’s stomach by smelling the distinct odor of burning components.  My Dentron Jr tuner became an EZBake oven instead of a matching device.  Wisdom told me to pack everything back up and head back inland to see how the guys were doing.  On my way out, Ken K5RG had just drove up.  He decided to survey the beach side, too, but ultimately come inland as well.  Note:  inland was simply the northern side of the park, but it was just as cold and windy.

John AB5SS had already arrived and was setting up at the “regular” spot beside a kayak launch lagoon.  He was test driving his new trailer hitch mast mount with a Spiderbeam Mast and 40m home-brew end fed antenna. 

John played it smart and setup inside his SUV to keep warm.   With his 100W from an IC7300 on the passenger seat, he worked strings of pileups on 20m. 

A passing ham-to-be chatted with John for an hour, to learn about ham radio.  John graciously gave him lots of information and guidance.  John’s setup with the large telescoping mast on the trailer hitch is a visual fly trap for any curious passerbys for sure.

Terry N5LOW, has already preplanned his POTA objectives, but deploying his homebrew 20m folded dipole. He cleverely calculated that the folded dipole design is of enough shortened length to fit perfectly between the back of his Casita trailer and the front of his truck. 

Terry had installed a mast mount on both positions of his vehicles (truck and Casita), and hoisted the wire antenna up using telescoping painter’s poles.  It worked *great*.  By the time I arrived after ditching my own efforts by the beach, he was starting his own pileup on CW. 

I helped log, and after he made over 20 QSOs + on CW, he decided to continue experimenting…. with a Kite Antenna!  He brought 2 large kites, unfurled each,  and deployed them using fishing line and a fishing rod and reel.  Using my Par End Fed 20m antenna, we attached one end about 1/3 from the bottom of the kite and let it hover above the trailer. 

Terry switched to SSB on his IC7300, and the pileup began.  Many folks were delighted to hear that the QSO was being done via a kite antenna.  In spite of the shifting winds which moved the antenna around, we didn’t notice any fading or performance changes throughout the operations until we called it quits at noon.

Back by John’s location… Ken had decided to also operate on the inland side and parked a few spots away from John; and operated also within his car (initially).  

Ken setup a Buddie Pole and portable tripod for 12m FT8. 

With the winds capable of pushing over the antenna, Ken secured the tripod with 3 solid guys

It was quite a cool sight to see his sleek corvette with coax running into it for portable radio ops. 

Ken has his IC705 sitting in the passenger’s seat for his configuration.  As the day progressed, Ken popped out of his car and operated at the picnic table in spite of some of the still chilly wind, but emerging sunlight.  But, as most of you know, Ken has trekked Nepal 7 (or is it 8?) times in the past, so his mounteering blood was already preconditioned to handle this balmy temperature by his standards.  Ken, too, reported a pile up on 12m.

Today’s POTA outing was perhaps one of the most enjoyable, with lots of experimentating with new equipment, testing ideas, new mobile operations in-the-car, and red hot propagation.  It was like a *great* day fishin’ and everybody was catchin’.

A special shout out to KG5URA, AD5CQ and KG5LJZ, as they tried to make it out, but hopefully will catch our next club outing.  KG5URA and KG5LJZ did power up their home QTH stations and made contact with us, while also helping to spot us on the POTA cluster.

1 thought on “COLD weather, HOT bands @ POTA GISP”

  1. It was a GREAT POTA outing! Temperature starting out was in the 40’s but that 20-25 mph wind was bone chilling, especially when setting up the antenna. After getting setup, and talking to a prospective ham for almost an hour, I finally got down to making contacts. Chased other POTA stations, then started calling CQ on 20m, and had a pileup for another hour or so. Finally took a break to go visit with Ken & Dave, then back for a few more Q’s on 15m. Thanks to Terry, N5LOW, for the pointer to the trailer hitch mast support on Amazon. It was the perfect support for the 40′ Spyderbeam mast & my homebrew 40m EFHW. Only made 82 contacts this trip, down from 93 in the January POTA outing to K-3013. I’ll try to bust 100 next time.

    Thanks Dave, W5OC, for organizing this POTA event for the club.



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