For the past couple of days we have been exploring Exmoor National Park around our new home. Being right in the middle of it we don‘t have to go far but Exmoor covers almost 700 square kilometres or 300 square miles, for England thats quite a big area. Not all of it is accessible by road but a decent amount of it is.
While we were doing that I thought why not try a POTA (Parks On The Air) activation? And for a change I decided to use voice modes instead of my usual digital mode – JS8Call. We set off just before 11am and headed south to see some of the views we had not yet experienced, picture above, nice isn’t it? The photo doesn’t do it justice I can assure you.
The view was from a hill on the south of the park, so after taking Cosmo for a walk I tried a few CQ calls using my FT3D with no response but I did get spotted on APRS.fi from the APRS packets the radio automatically sent.
We decided to move a bit further north to a spot we had already been to and once there set up my IC-705 and a new portable 2m antenna I purchased a few weeks ago – a collapsible HB9CV antenna.
To support the antenna I had a 2m tall painters pole with an attachment that had a clamp of a paintbrush that proved to be the perfect size for the HB9CV one my arrow yagi antenna. The HB9CV is quicker and easier to assemble which is why I picked it today.
The site we picked wasn’t the best for FM with hills on 3 sides (the other parking spots at the top of the hill were all taken) but with a clear view to the north and north east. My first QSO was to Dan who was a SOTA station on Pen Y Fan in Wales to the North, we had a decent chat before I returned to the calling channel to call CQ a couple of times and QSY to 145.475 where I had a further 6 QSOs before trying SSB on 144.300 with both vertical and horizontal polarisation – horizontal working best as thats the configuration the far station was using.
The last two QSOs were with 2 stations in Wales. By this time it was about 4pm so time to pack up and find something to eat.
I got great signal reports from all contacts using the IC705 with 10W into the HB9CV antenna so it proved to be a good combination for a 2m rapid deploy station, I’m going to have to find something a bit more lightweight to mount the antenna on if I’m going to use this setup on a hill or long walk in the countryside, but for a short walk from the car its not too heavy at all, and the 3 guy lines I used held it up fine in a few gusts of wind we had.
All in all a great day out with perfect weather and choosing to do the POTA activation gave me a sense of purpose which meant I didn’t give up and do something else instead.
I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to do it again tomorrow from a different spot. But tomorrow I’m taking sandwiches and brew kit 🙂