Big Lake North State Rec. Site K-7208

Activated: 2022-01-02

This was the second of two activations planned for the long new year’s weekend. While the previous day had been successful, I learned two very important lessons:
In the Alaskan winter you can get an early start if you want, but that doesn’t mean the bands will be open.

Big Lake North State Recreation Area, early in the morning
Believe it or not, the time of this photo was 0930. The sun doesn’t rise until about 1000 this time of year.

Being able to work local VHF-UHF contacts can save your bacon if the HF bands are not cooperating.

I planned the start of the activation to be just a little earlier than when I got my first HF contacts on the previous day, assuming that the band conditions would be similar ( predicted more of the same ionospheric conditions).

I was also bringing the full HF-VHF-UHF kit from the previous day:

  • MFJ telescoping vertical antenna with 20 meter ground wires
  • Homemade copper J-pole antenna
  • Yaesu 891 for HF
  • Yaesu 817 for VHF and UHF
  • Microsoft Surface laptop for digital modes
Sledge keeping the truck steady
Trusty radio dog Sledge (SK) hanging out on the tailgate

When everything is assembled in the back of the truck it makes for a very nice portable station. I can work all modes, all bands, and even log as I go so that I don’t have to shuffle paper later.

MFJ loaded vertical antenna
I’ve gotten more mileage out of this antenna than any other so far. It simply works.
J-Pole antenna
This j-pole is actually the first antenna I ever built, and used to be my base station antenna.

By starting the activation at a time when the bands were opening I was much more efficient with my battery power. I ran FT8 until I had a good bunch of contacts in the log, and interspersed a few local voice contacts at the same time.

Ham radio operating station in Alaska
My portable station setup was pretty standardized by this point, with the addition of the Yaesu 817 for VHF/UHF
Brandon Clark, KL7BSC, and Sledge
Staying warm and making contacts in Alaska

My trusty radio dog, Sledge (SK), accompanied me as usual.

Operating PSK31
I made sure I had at least ten contacts in log via FT8, and then switched over to PSK31. Some real conversation was nice.

With battery power holding out and the activation assured I decided to switch things up a bit, and ran some PSK31 for a while. In all my time spent on FT8 over the last year I had nearly forgotten how nice it was to have a real QSO on digital modes.

View of Big Lake North State Recreation SIte boat launch in winter
In winter the boat launch is actually the start of an ice road network that goes across the lake.

All that was left was to pack it up and go for a sunny ride on a mile long lake.

Life in Alaska . . . .

Updated 2022-11-28