Parks on the Air: Oops, RaDAR, K-1459 Lake Kegonsa State Park and K-4250 Capital Spring State Recreation Area

It was a nice day in Wisconsin and, having taken Friday the 25th off for video gaming, it was a nice change of pace to throw in some POTA in a new location on Sunday the 28th. The actual intention was getting to K-1459 Lake Kegonsa State Park (wiki), which I definitely managed to do. I'll get to the RaDAR in a bit.

On the way out of town, I stopped by Bagels Forever, a local bagel factory with walk-in service counter serving a full selection of options. I chose my standard sausage-egg-and-cheese, gouda, on sesame with two additional cold plain bagels since they were out of chocolate chip and bagel sticks. These are key to getting set up!

Getting setup on a picnic table at the snowy Williams Knoll as the bench dries out

Setup was easy. I promptly soaked my gloves scraping the melting ice off of the table and benches, making me very glad to have extra gloves and a water resistant blanket. Lesson: operating from a table with snow in recent history that may not have fully melted, bring a small ice scraper to preserve the glove dryness. Before wiring everything up, it was time to eat.

Coax, antenna wire, fiberglass pole, radio, logbook, and the important bits: a can of root beer and a still-warm breakfast bagel sandwich.

After eating, it was time to finalize my operating position. A little organization on the table and getting the reliable, no-extra-supports-required antenna for 20m up.

Shuffling everything around a little to get the operating position on the table finalized.

View across the other side of the table with my drying gloves and the antenna in the background. Not a day for using the picnic knoll grill.

Getting on to operating, I got 27 QSOs between 20m and 2m (someone headed back into Madison mobile). Of those, 15 have been confirmed P2P in my POTA activation log. Good success for SSB/FM.

On the way out, I realized why I was having noise floor problems: this side of the park runs parallel to a large power line!

Power poles (not from Anderson) just east of my operating position at the picnic knoll. Probably want to try the other side of the park next time!

Then for the next adventure. As I was packing up, I realized that K-4250 Capital Springs State Recreation Area (wiki) was almost on the way back into the city, if I wanted. (n.b. despite it being just outside Wisconsin's capitol, it's still Capital Springs) At a solid car trip to the operating position of the next park, hitting the 6 km motor vehicle redeployment distance was obviously already done. As it started cooling, it was time to get there and assess getting on the air.

Antenna setup for operating from the car to stay shielded from the evening chill.

Quick and self-supporting were mandatory for this site! Despite being planned for numerous park upgrades back in 2010, the development plan hasn't been implemented and access is a parking lot and some mowed trails for hiking and hunting. No convenient picnic tables near trees, here.

Sunset over the park next to the solar-charged LED light for the parking lot

Operating position inside the car after night had fallen

It ended up being two activities crossing 0000Z with 6 QSOs on the early side and another 26 into the night. Some social hikers stealthily donated a portion of brownies to me since they had too many and I was fine refusing. They were left on the roof over the driver seat when my back was turned putting up wires.

Antenna system in the dark before teardown by the light of my headlamp

Out operating late? An LED headlamp is crucial. I probably wouldn't have gotten a successful activation in after the day rolled over if I had to work in full dark logging contacts. More lessons in portable operation!

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