Parks on the Air: First Run at K-1452, Governor Nelson State Park

It was a great day out, we had gone scouting the park the day before, and I was on vacation to use up my remaining balance before my time resets next month. Wasn't quite above freezing, but my experience with Winter Field Day said that I had enough of a setup to definitely get on the air.

It was off to Governor Nelson State Park (wiki), K-1452 in Waunakee, WI (Dane county) at EN53gd.

I was hoping that there would be park staff to exchange our kiosk receipt for a real window sticker, but it was too late in the day when I got there, it seems. Easy enough to put the ticket on the dash and head to the parking nearest the lake.

Wire for 20m on fiberglass pole set up in the dying light at Governor Nelson picnic bench just before getting started.

The orange wire spilling from my backpack was a thought at trying 10m, but with less than two hours before Late Shift started, it was my priority to get the 14th activated rather than playing around with new wire configurations.

Equipment:

  • Yaesu FT-818nd
  • CHA FT-817 BRACKET 2.0 (new! to me)
  • LDG Z-817 tuner with BNC adapters
  • Bienno 4.5 AH LiFePO4 battery and custom APP jumpers
  • 30' RG-316 SMA extension cable with BNC adapters
  • 16' windsock pole, 2" PVC pipe segment, and speaker tripod
  • Wire for 20m with counterpoise on BNC-F to banana/binding posts adapter
  • Thule backpack from a warranty adventure (will have to check model)
  • Misc: wire for 10m, VX-2 with RH77CA, nanoVNA, Bienno 3 AH battery

With full cell service at this park, I started with park-to-park attempts, but only the first got through. Probably not the best technique for a time-constrained activation. Listening to pileups that I couldn't break took 20 minutes of my limited daylight.

Reflected sunset (east-facing) over Lake Mendota during operation

After giving up on that approach, I turned to the usual running a frequency for a park activator, choosing 14.330 MHz. From there, I worked 18 more stations including two parks calling me. 10 minutes in advance of the new UTC day, I called it QRT and tried hunting some more park-to-park contacts with no success. By this time it was solidly twilight and I was thoroughly chilled. A wisely retained flashlight helped get me packed up. A quick attempt on my VX-2 for a 2m contact resulted in it protesting the below-freezing chill and resetting from memory mode on TX. Good thing the Bioenno batteries don't mind the cold as much. Next time: better insulation (particularly socks, oops, didn't change those from my hanging-around-the-house socks) for the operator and potentially more antenna options.

Getting home was a matter of warming up, then getting back around the lake. I looked into logging options again and found some RUMlogNG instructions, but also found HAMRS shortly after. A much more event-specific logging program? Exactly what I needed! Logs are off to the K1 POTA manager and LOTW already.

Wasn't quite the pleasantness of hunting from a climate controlled area when I was hunting from Maine, but that's the whole point of the experience. Time to watch the weather and schedule, then decide on the next park visit!

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