Lone Wolf JSCARC POTA #19 @ GISP

Due to sketchy weather and not much advance promotion/notice, the JSCARC POTA #19 was a one-person show by myself, W5OC.

However, the weather behaved in spite of the harrowing thunderstorms earlier in the morning at my home in League City around 5-6AM.  The thunderstorms kept me in bed, while I was thinking, “this event will be cancelled for sure”.

But around 7:00, the weather improved to overcast and sprinkles- a good sign that the storm front passed and Galvestion Island State Park (GISP) was waiting for a POTA activator!

I arrive a bit late around 0830 to a mostly deserted GISP.  Clearly, the weather dulled the usual onslaught of Spring Breakers who would have been expending their last weekend before heading back to the slave labor camps called “school”.

My objectives were several:

  1. Test drive my new (used) FT-991A radio and an matching ATAS-120 screwdriver antenna mounted on the van’s hatchback top.Last month I took a road trip up to Tusla OK to pick this up along with a few other radios due to a “good deal”.  I needed more radios, of course…
  2. Test drive my newly repaired Carbon 6 fiberglas 6m collapsible mast.At the last POTA event, I accidently smashed one of the elements by stepping on it while trying to set it up.  Fiberglas tube crunches funny.  While it was definitely damaged, it still kinda worked as long as there wasn’t too much tangential stress on it.  Otherwise it would collapse like a ragged doll.

The results:

  1. The ATAS-120 failed with high SWR!Well, it worked in the driveway a few weeks ago, but not now.  I just tried it out last night on the bench and it worked.  I think my groundplane is inadequate, so need to ponder this one.
  2. Carbon 6 ultralightweight mast repair worked great.I ultimately used this as my main antenna mast along with my trusty Sotabeams Bandmaster linked dipole hanging it’s center at the apex of the mast.

The setup was at the main location JSCARC usually uses at GISP- the lagoon area with segregated picnic benches. 

Initially I propped open my QRP mini-backpack containing the Elecraft KX2, and hooked it up to the linked dipole.  Operating 5W CW on 20m (14065 MHz), I quickly made 19 contacts using my W5OC callsign within 20 minutes.  Conditions were GREAT.  I hardly had to call CQ so the propagation was good and the POTA spotting app was obviously working well to alert the hungry hunters.  I made a comment in the spotting app that I was 5W, which probably garnered some special effort by hunters who bond with QRPers.

Then I decided to use the FT-991A at 100W CW (still on 20m) while using the W5RRR callsign.  Note:  both callsigns were pre-activated on the POTA app the night before.

Confirming my observation that propagation (and the peformance of the linked dipole) were working well, once I got an initial contact on CW with W5RRR callsign, a pileup started.  I easily worked 31 CW QSOs in a row all within 30 minutes on 20m.  I was worried that the pileup would never end but when it did, I decided not to promote myself any more and salvage the day.  Actually, by this time, a large family with very enthusiastic kids parked right beside me, so it was an opportune time to depart and let the kids have more ground to play.

A few takeaways:

–  20m is still a sweet band for operations

–  5W CW works great

–  100W CW works even better

–  the W5RRR callsign command lots of attention like a DX station

–  operating in a pileup is fun on CW, but is tough using a mini-paddle.  Next time I will bring my favorite portable key- Begali Traveler. Oooh what a great key!

–  The lagoon site is great for POTA ops.

–  The FT-991a is a nice compact and versatile radio (160m-70cm), but on CW the digital filtering was not sharp enough in a pileup. Or perhaps I’m still not adept with the menu controls to shift filters and adjust contouring, etc.   But, boy, do I miss my FT-1000mp in a CW pileup!

I had considered operating SSB, but I knew the pileup would have been sheer chaos esp using the W5RRR callsign, so I opted to stick with CW. 


-Dave  W5OC


1 thought on “Lone Wolf JSCARC POTA #19 @ GISP”

Leave a Comment