Kicking Off 2023

My (far) better half and I spent the holiday weekend visiting family in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area and ringing in the new year with our grand-kids. While everyone else was sleeping in on New Year’s Day, I headed out to activate a park.

After doing some online research, I picked Memorial Lake State Park (K-1384) in Lebanon County as the site for my first activation of the year. After a quick stop for some breakfast and coffee, I made the easy 30-minute drive to the park. 

I rolled into one of the three parking areas around 9AM (local time). There were quite a few walkers and mountain bikers already making use of the park. I set up my usual setup: Penntek TR-35 (5 watts) and my homebrew vertical

WB3GCK at Memorial Lake State Park in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania
WB3GCK at Memorial Lake State Park in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania

I fired up the TR-35 and got ready to start, but my Elecraft T1 tuner struggled to find a match on 40M. This is highly unusual, since the antenna is resonant on that band. I immediately recognized the symptoms of a faulty ground connection between the antenna and the body of the truck. Last week, I made an “improved” ground strap that I was using for the first time. Apparently, my soldering job on an alligator clip left something to be desired. I switched back to my old ground strap, and all was right with the world after that.

Memorial Lake. There was a thin layer of ice in this area.
Memorial Lake. There was a thin layer of ice in this area.

After spotting myself on the POTA website, I soon had my first contact of the year. Thanks to NC4RT in North Carolina for starting things off. One of my contacts on 40M was with VE3WMB in Ontario. Michael is a fellow Polar Bear QRPer who greeted me with our traditional “GRRR.” A few contacts later, I also received a “GRRR” from VE3DN. Later on, I heard from Eric again on 30M. It’s always fun to hear from my fellow Polar Bears.

My POTA certificate for activating a park during the first week of the year.
My POTA certificate for activating a park during the first week of the year.

After an hour, I had 37 contacts, including three park-to-park contacts and two Polar Bears. I packed up, took a few pictures, and was back at the house just as the rest of the family was crawling out of bed. 

So far, 2023 is off to a good start. Let’s hope we all have a happy and healthy year ahead of us!

72, Craig WB3GCK

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