Catoctin, Gettysburg and Eisenhower NPOTA Activations

ARRL National Parks on the Air logoSince the XYL was planning to do some Christmas shopping today, I decided to activate three NPOTA sites.  It was a busy day but a lot of fun.

I started off at Catoctin Mountain National Park (DZ01) near Thurmont,  Maryland.  Brian, N3VN, had emailed me to let me know that he would be there at the same time.  On arrival, I headed to their location in the Chestnut Picnic Area.  I chatted with Brian and Mike W3MBC for a while before heading to the Hog Rock trailhead to set up.  I used my KX3 at 5 watts and my trusty 29.5-ft vertical wire and 9:1 unun.

Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor's Center
Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor’s Center

For some reason, the “dit” side of my Palm mini paddles wasn’t working.  Fortunately, I brought my old NorCal paddles along as a backup.

Once I got my paddle issues under control, I worked a steady stream of stations on 40 meters and a few on 20 meters.  After about 45 minutes things slowed down.  I decided to cut my visit short and move on to Gettysburg National Military Park (MP03) to make up some time.

Gettysburg National Military Park
Gettysburg National Military Park

Brian N3VN recommended a spot at Gettysburg but I never did find it.  I ended up pulling off the road near the New Jersey Brigade monument.  I set up the 29.5-foot vertical and got to work.  Here I again made most of my contacts on 40 meters.  There weren’t many takers on 20 meters so I again left early and headed over to  the Eisenhower National Historical Site (NS13).

At the Eisenhower site, I operated outside the fence along the side of the road.  Many folks have activated NS13 from this spot.  Since there are some overhead utility wires, my 31-foot Jackite posed a bit of a risk.  So, for this site, I went with a 19-foot vertical that I had cobbled together the day before.  I also cranked up the KX3 to 10 watts for good measure.  Because of the shorter antenna, I only worked 20 meters from this location.

Activating the Eisenhower National Historic site. My 20-foot antenna is a bit closer to the utility lines than I would have liked.
Activating the Eisenhower National Historic site. My 20-foot antenna is a bit closer to the utility lines than I would have liked.

Things got off to a very slow start.  I was a little nervous but eventually got the required 10 contacts and then some.  Despite my kludged-together antenna, I worked several stations in western Canada plus one in Alaska.

While I was operating at Eisenhower, I noticed that my SWR was changing a lot.  I had to frequently re-tune the KX3’s internal tuner to get it back down.  As I was taking down the antenna, I found a loose connection on my 9:1 unun.  So, in addition to dealing with the Palm paddles, I have an unun to repair.

Things didn’t always go smoothly but I was happy to successfully activate three sites today.  That made the 2-hour drive home a lot more bearable.

72, Craig WB3GCK

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