Friday 29th April was a mild, sunny day in southern Ontario and I was eager to get outside and play radio. My wife suggested one of our favourite places, Black Creek Provincial Park in Northern Bruce Peninsula and I readily agreed.
Most Ontario Provincial Parks are well signposted to make them easy to find. But that is not always the case with what Ontario Parks describes as “non-operating parks”. These are parks that have little or no facilities and are always open.
A Hard to Find Gem
Black Creek is a non-operating park and is especially hard to find for those who are unfamiliar with the area. Once you do find it though, you will want to return often. It has a beautiful sandy beach, shallow warm water good for wading or swimming and hiking trails through the bush. Northern Bruce Peninsula is the home to a small community of black bears but we haven’t been lucky enough to see one yet.
We arrived a little late in the day after the 45-minute drive up from Owen Sound and I hastily set up my station using our truck hitch mount for my home-made vertical antenna. The antenna comprises a 30-inch lower section of aluminum tube, a home-made adjustable coil and a Buddipole 9ft telescopic whip on top. The radio was my Yaesu FT-891 putting out 35 watts CW, powered by a Bioenno 12Ah LifePO4 battery.
This was my second activation of Black Creek, POTA reference number VE-0155. I have actually made four attempts to activate the park. Two attempts failed. One failed because I had not scheduled the activation on the pota.app website beforehand and I didn’t get the required 10 contacts. Another attempt failed when I arrived only to find I hadn’t brought the right power connector for my radio!
Spots and Spots
At first the contacts started coming in slowly. I had to call CQ about ten times before I got my first contact. The POTA website monitors the Reverse Beacon Net (RBN) website and matches RBN spots with pre-scheduled POTA activations. Any matches are posted as spots on pota.app and then the contacts start rolling in. I ended up with 12 contacts before it became a struggle to find callers again.
I learned a lesson about my equipment when my home-made Bulldog clip paddle started misbehaving. I discovered the contact material I had chosen was too soft and the “dit” side was sporadically failing to make contact. I’ll write another post about that. Bulldog clip paddles are easy to make and usually perform very well.
Unexpected DX Reception!
When I got home from the activation I checked the Reverse Beacon Net to see what other stations had received my signal. I was very pleasantly surprised to see spots from places such as the US Virgin Islands, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, France and the UK. Not at all bad for 35 watts into a simple coil-loaded vertical that I had built myself.