Friday, February 26, 2016

Same Parking Spot, Different Frequency! NPOTA, Crater Lake National Park, Take 2!

Crater Lake National Park, 02/25/2016

It was a beautiful day this past Thursday and I decided to take a long lunch and operate from Crater Lake National Park. As it turned out, it was a pretty good idea. I decided to park in almost the same spot that I parked during my last operation (see photo at top). 

Bed Mounted Buddipole
I put my Buddipole vertical antenna up in the bed of my pickup truck as seen in the photo to the left. I toss the counterpoise up onto the snow and run the feedline into the truck were I operate from the passenger seat. I drag my laptop computer with me and log using N3FJP software. I operate on battery power, utilizing my A123 batteries I purchased from Buddipole. During this outing, my output power was 60 watts and after an hour of operating, I still had life left in the battery. 

I concentrated on CW (Morse Code) during my last operation so I opted to work some SSB this time around. I'm not a huge fan of SSB, but once in a great while I'll find the microphone and hook it up to the rig. I'm not entirely sure but this operation may be the first time I've used SSB with my Yaesu FT-857D. A first for everything I suppose. And truth be told, I did break out my key and did make one contact before having to shut things down and head back to the office. It took me awhile to make my first contact but once he spotted me, it was not long before I began to have a few stations call.

Operating Station
The propagation was somewhat interesting and almost what I would call pin point propagation. I was plagued by lots of QSB but for the most part, signals were pretty darn good. I made contacts from coast to coast including one in Canada. I did experience the normal, those who tune up on your frequency and others who don't listen closely to your instructions. I will often times try to work some weaker stations so I'll tune an ear for them. This is where timing is key! And I refuse to acknowledge stations who jump out of turn when I'm attempting to log a weaker station. But things went rather smoothly and I only wished I had a bit more time to play. More extended lunch breaks will be in my future, when time allows of course. I enjoyed the mid day propagation.

Our Internal Weather Report

In case you were wondering about all the snow you see in my photos and videos, the weather report at left will update you on the winter so far at Crater Lake National Park. Since October 1st, as of this past Thursday, we have received 343" of snow. With any luck, we will stay on track of a normal year, as the winter snow pack is needed for this drought effected area. It's been a first for me, experiencing all this snow.  And to think that Crater Lake is still a little bit behind normal. So, with the break in the weather and a little more snow in the forecast for the weekend, I thought it would be a great time to get some fresh air and head to the RIM to catch some rays and waves! 

By the time I ended my operation, I logged 44 QSO's, all but one were Single Side Band (SSB). Not shabby for an hour or so lunch break. I know a few folks will think they are in my log, but if they did not confirm my information, they did not make it, period.  

My Dated Evidence of my NPOTA Operation for 2/25/2016
Once I got back to the office, I walked across the street to the Steel Visitor Center and picked up our park visitor guide. I stamped it with the passport stamp showing the date of my operation at Crater Lake. I'm there almost daily, which has me thinking of just leaving my portable equipment at my office. This way, if my work schedule supports it, I could sneak away for what I like to call a "Lakepedition" or "Rimpedition" to work any stations that can hear me during an extended lunch. Plus it's nice to get some fresh air from time to time. 

My log has been uploaded to Log Book Of The World (LOTW) and any hard copy QSL request I receive will be answered directly as time allows. I will also eQSL any contacts if I receive a request, but I only log in to eQSL once every 30-60 days as I'm not extremely active. I did shoot some video on this last operation so please checkout the video HERE. Thanks to those who called, sorry to those I missed but I'll be at it again. I normally post any possible activation on Twitter or the NPOTA Facebook page.  


  1. This is excellent, I plan on using almost the exact same setup this weekend at Sleeping Bear Dunes. I was curious about the counterpoise from your YouTube video and this blog post actually cleared it up.

  2. Andrew, good luck! It worked out really well for me and yes, running the vertical configuration the counterpoise is crucial. I have a small piece of masking tape that I mark the length for 20 meters. Makes it easy to deploy and quicker to get tuned in. Good luck, have fun and hope to catch you on the bands!! 73!