Failed POTA activation at Wolf Creek State Park (US-1033)

It has been over six months since I’ve attempted a POTA activation. The weather has started warming up a bit and I was well overdue to try another POTA activation. On April 6, 2024, the wife and I visited Wolf Creek State Park (US-1033) near Shelbyville, IL. On our way to the park, we stopped for lunch at the Broomtown Cafe in Arcola, IL. Sadly we arrived too late for breakfast so we tried the grilled cheese sandwich. I got mine with bacon which was pretty good.

We continued on our journey and arrived at the park around 3pm. I drove around looking for a decent spot to setup and eventually parked near the area marked overlook. There was no one there when we got there, so we setup amongst the trees with a nice view of the lake. It was in the 50s and sunny, but a darn wind off the lake was keeping us chilled. I had a sweater on but didn’t want to go back to the car to get my coat. The wife was smart and had a nice blanket to keep her fairly warm.

I setup the OM0ET MC-20 magnetic loop antenna and connected it to the Icom 705. My first thought was to try to work some FT8 to hopefully get the park activated. Well that went nowhere fast. I used my iPhone’s hotspot to create a mini network between the 705 and my iPad. The 705 connected just fine but my iPad was having nothing to do with my phone.

I then decided to try the access point mode on the 705 and connect the iPad directly to it. That worked for a few seconds and then either the iPad or the SDR Control software disconnected leaving me out of luck on the digital modes. I’ve never had much luck connecting directly and this time was no different. I don’t know why I didn’t bring my laptop but I digress.

My next idea was to find a spot on 10 meter SSB and call CQ. I found an empty frequency on 28.475 and started calling CQ POTA. I spotted myself on the POTA website but never heard anyone come back to me. No worries, there were several QSO parties going on the bands so I tried my hand at those. I managed to work two folks in the Mississippi QSO party and one in the Louisiana QSO party on 20m. I switched to 17m and worked CT9/UR9IDX in Portugal which was pretty cool. I was only running 5 watts off the Icom 705 battery pack.

Sadly it was getting closer to sunset and the cool wind was a bit too much discomfort for us so I had to cut the activation short before getting my ten contacts. I packed up the ham gear along with our tables and chairs and headed back to the car. We then made our way back to Champaign as darkness fell.

After I thought about the connection issues more, I remembered we had switched cell phone providers since the last POTA activation. I discovered the new carrier only allows one device to be connected to the hotspot at a time. That explains why I was unable to connect both the iPad and the 705 to my phone. I probably should get a portable router that both devices can connect to when I’m out and about. Or just bring a laptop and connect via USB which would probably be the easier and cheapest option. Despite the chilly weather and failed activation, it was nice to get spend a few hours playing radio outside.

Log

DateTime (UTC)CallsignBandModeNotesAudio
2024-04-0621:30K5M20MSSBLouisiana QSO Party
2024-04-0621:32W5SGL20MSSBMississippi QSO Party
2024-04-0622:12CT9/UR9IDX17MSSBMadeira Island
2024-04-0622:21W5NO20MSSBMississippi QSO Party

Gear

Here is the list of gear I used for this outing. Some of these links are affiliate links that support my website and content creation.

  • Icom IC-705 QRP HF/VHF/UHF portable radio: DXE | GigaParts | HRO | MTC | R&L
  • OM0ET MC-20 Magnetic Loop Antenna: OM0ET Website
  • Insignia 6-ft light stand (NS-DLS75SBK): Amazon
  • JJC Deluxe Lens Case Pouch for Icom 705 (XXL size): Amazon
  • SHANGRI-LA Tactical Range Bag: Amazon
  • GCI 20 Outdoor folding table: Amazon

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