SKCC 5123T----- FISTS 14979----- Flying Pigs 2331----- NAQCC 3610-----QRP ARCI 14176-----Polar Bear 257

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

POTA and RaDAR on the Florida Gulf Coast

Chris VA3ECO, Dennis WA6QKN, and I had a fun adventure Saturday, February 15th operating Parks On The Air and riding our bikes. We met at Grayton Beach State Park and set up at a pavilion next to the lake. I had all my gear, including an Icom 7100 and a battery in my bike trailer. Dennis and I unpacked the tuner and poles and set up a 39-foot antenna wire. My 25-foot pole supported the far end. The rig end had a six-foot pole to raise the wire above the ground.  The radiator came down the short pole and was terminated at the tuner. We spread out a couple of 30-foot counterpoise wires on the sand. I put a spot on the POTA site. The contacts on 40 SSB came quickly. We stopped at 22 since we wanted to start our bike ride to the next park. Chris had a 17-foot telescoping whip mounted to his bike and his Yaesu 857 in the basket. It did not fair very well on PSK due to RF feedback problems. Chris did get an SSB contact on 20 meters. 

Our modest 39-foot wire antenna faired well.
We discovered that Highway 30-A toward Top Sail Hill State Park was closed. Therefore we rode seven miles East to Deer Lake State Park. The hour journey took us through the Watercolor seaside community. At lunchtime, there were throngs of pedestrians and other bikes on the path. The bell on my bike came in handy to part the crowd.

Staging our bikes at Grayton Beach
Deer Lake State Park has a boardwalk out to the beach. Dennis and I set up at a bench stop along the way. We strapped the 25-foot mast to the railing. Once again, we spotted ourselves on the POTA site for 40 meters SSB. We had a flood of 66 contacts in that many minutes. Chris set up his bike station further along the boardwalk. He moved the whip to the bike handlebars and got eighteen contacts on 20 meters SSB.

Chris VA3ECO operating his RaDAR equipped bike 

We all felt good that we took advantage of some beautiful blue sky weather, played with radios, and got some exercise. We made almost one hundred Parks On The Air contacts altogether. I believe the bike, trailer, and Icom 7100 are viable for the RaDAR Challenge. Our ride between parks would take up two of the four hours. However, doing multiple parks also fits into the Florida State Parks on the Air Contest on the same weekend. We have a month to mull over the options. The RaDAR Challenge is April 4th of this year.

The beach scene at Deer Lake State Park

The bike ride between Grayton Beach and Deer Lake State Parks