3 October 2021
I was planning on helping a friend with a car but he canceled last minute so I did some late night planning of another potential activation. Looking at the Missouri list on pota.app I noticed that there are several parks that were completely un-activated. I made a list and decided to start with one of the ones that was the furthest away.
K-6491 is Peck Ranch Conservation Area and inside of that is Stegall Mountain. The area is part of Missouri’s Ozark’s and is huge and beautiful. The main areas of the park has a ton of options for activities but I chose to activate from the mountain which requires you to enter through the NW area of the park. The road leading to the top is really just a trail and there are a couple of lite water feature that might make the path impassible depending on the weather conditions. Lots of deep ditches on the side, loose rock, and a reasonable incline to drive up. I spent most of my time driving up in 4wd in my Ford Ranger. I might consider skipping this one in the winter time.
You can’t drive all the way to the top but the parking area is only a quarter of a mile from the top where you’ll find a fire tower and a communications tower. Behind them is a giant boulder that I wasn’t about to try and climb on, but while I was there some more adventurous visitors give it a shot. I went past the boulder onto the rock formation and found a good one to setup on.
I scouted the area and found this good size chunk of rock to setup on. Not shown is the almost perfect seating area next to where the club board is. Rock is only comfortable for so long, but it was better than sitting on the damp ground.
Again I went with the Buddistick PRO Deluxe. I got the Buddistick just for setups like this. There was a lot of brush and a few sad looking trees but nothing that was going to be tall enough to throw the 41′ random wire onto. This was the first time I used the Buddistick as intended with the coil and without the AH-705 tuner. I did use my shock cord whip though to get a little more metal in the air. The antenna setup very quickly and was surprisingly stable on the rock in the wind. I did choose to attach the hook on the bottom of the antenna to my backpack just to give it a little more stability.
I decided to start with 40M so I extended the radial all the way and hooked it on some brush that kept the wire about 3 feet off the ground most of the way. I tapped the coil and hooked up the RigExpert Stick 230. I moved the tap a couple of times and quickly found my sweet spot. I set the center for 7.040 to focus on the CW portion of the band.
1.34 is plenty low enough and the bandwidth covered the entire portion of the CW band that I was planning on operating.
Depending on what you wanted to do, you could probably center this in the 40M band and switch between modes and keep it under 3:1.
I jumped on the radio and quickly worked W9AV and then… nothing. 40 wasn’t working for me that early in the morning so I decided to give 20 a try and this is where things got interesting with the Buddistick. I tapped and re-tapped a dozen times, adjusted the counterpoise back and forth, and I even put on the included telescopic mast. Nothing I did could get the SWR on 20M below 5:1. I don’t know if there was interference from the giant rock I was on, or the tower nearby, or what but I just couldn’t get it any lower. After half an hour of messing around I decided to switch back to using the two extensions and the longer shock cord whip without the coil and just use the AH-705. This worked great again. It’s just so easy to switch from band to band to keep up with quickly changing band conditions. We’re just getting out of the bottom of the solar cycle and getting close to fall time, so you will get sporadic bursts of great openings on the higher frequencies that won’t last very long. Being able to just hit the band and let it quickly tune saves a ton of time.
I worked through my 10 to activate fairly quickly after that. I even worked EC7AKV in Spain. I also worked KG2RG for a P2P in NY. A good distribution of calls except for the South West and California. They were too busy with the CA QSO party.
It was still early in the day so I decided it was time to pack it up and head onto the next park. Onward to K-6498 and the Current River Conservation Area!
73 – KK9U