QSO with North Pole Alaska

I was out on another Parks On The Air activation on Monday 1st August. It was a holiday in most of Canada so the XYL and I set out early to avoid the anticipated crowds in the park. Our destination was the popular Sauble Falls Provincial Park (VE-0378) near Wiarton, Ontario.

Sauble Falls is a cascade waterfall. In the spring the flow of water is very high; it would be impossible to cross the Sauble River at this point. It’s a different story at the height of summer though. The flow of water was very low and people were enjoying standing in the river to cool off.

I found an unoccupied picnic table away from the crowds and setup my portable vertical antenna. It is a centre-loaded antenna with a lower section 30 inches long, a tapped loading coil and a 9ft Buddipole whip on top.

I deployed my four radials wires on the ground. I described these in a previous post. They are held in place by small, sand-filled balloons on the end of each of the four 10ft wires. Deployment is super fast and the resulting ground plane is both effective and stealthy.

Sauble Falls Provincial Park is right alongside the road to Wiarton and there is a big cell tower in the village so I was able to spot myself on the POTA website.

I started calling CQ on 20m at 19wpm CW with 35 watts of power. It was only a minute or so before the hunters piled in and the logbook started filling up. I logged 9 hunters in the first few minutes before the responses stalled.

It takes 10 QSOs for a valid activation so I hit the red button on my DIY remote keypad several times in search of more contacts. The red button sends out my stored CQ POTA message.

I didn’t have to wait long before the hunters came calling again. With 10 QSOs in the log I knew I had a valid activation. Then another lull. I was monitoring the POTA spots web page and saw that my signal hadn’t been heard for a few minutes. The band must have been unstable.

After 18 QSOs there was another lull so I called QRT and packed up my kit. The log showed that I had made some good contacts into the west coast, but one log entry stood out. The station was in a place called North Pole, Alaska – near Fairbanks, over 4500km away. His report gave me a 419 RST; he must have really had to dig my signal out of the noise, but we made the contact!

So, another successful POTA activation was in the log; 18 QSOs in only 24 minutes. I could have stayed longer and made more contacts but the park was beginning to get busy and rain was in the forecast so it was time to call it a day and go home to plan the next activation.

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