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Successfully Operating a Portable Amateur Radio Station:
Reactions of NPOTA Activators

I recently completed a research study that examined the best practices of ham radio operators who have extensive experience operating a portable station.  A sample of the most active NPOTA activators was used for the research.  Some of the findings of the study include:


* Greatest concern was focused on the antenna.

* Most popular antenna was a vehicle mounted vertical that could be easily deployed.

* Having enough power available for a portable operation was mentioned over and over again.

* The Yaesu FT-857 and the Elecraft KX3 were the most popular transceivers for portable operation.

* Good  planning/logistics was highlighted as was the need to practice before leaving home.

* Using computers for logging was seen both positively and negatively.

* Social media can greatly boost the productivity of portable operations.  


The full write-up of the study with all data can be found at:



June 2017




Here are my last 20 QSOs.  You can also check to see if you're in the log and/or request a QSL.

A bit of background on W8JRK


The good old days...

I was first licensed in 1958 in Connecticut as a Novice with the call KN1GMR. Being a teenager (with little "disposable income") I turned to Heathkit for my first station. It consisted of the kit built DX 20 transmitter (crystal controlled, 50 watts),the AR-3 communications receiver, and the QF-1 Q multiplier. I can still remember my mother asking, each morning as I was about to leave for school,"Is everything in your room shutoff?". I think she lived in fear of the house blowing up due to my ham radio hobby!


In 1959 I upgraded to a Technician class license, dropped the "N" from my call, and got serious with a 6 Meter AM station. Thanks to a summer job I was able to purchase the Heathkit Seneca 6 meter transmitter, the Hammarlund HQ110C receiver, and a 3 element 6 Meter beam.



Not able to bring the equipment to college, I built a Heathkit Sixer ("Benton Harbor Lunchbox") which was my only on-air equipment for the next few years.



Upon becoming a permanent resident of Michigan (1966) the FCC issued me the call W8JRK. However, I was not very active on ham radio for the next few years as career and family took precedence.



Finally, in the 1980s, I again became active in ham radio. I upgraded to General (1984), Advanced (1985), and Amateur Extra Class (1985).


W8JRK - Winter 2011W8JRK - Summer 2012


I joined the faculty at Michigan State University in 1967 focusing on adult learning, nonformal education, out-of-school education, and instructional technology/distance education. I taught in the College of Education for 20 years and the College of Agriculture for 17 years. I had long term assignments in Mexico and Indonesia. I retired in 2004.



Ever since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by DX and being able to communicate across large distances. For years I was a "casual" DX chaser but since retiring I have gotten a lot more serious about DXing. I enjoy both SSB & CW (I'm still working to improve my code speed). In the summer of 2011 I put up a Carolina Windom (off-center fed dipole) antenna and was, for the first time, able to start working the WARC bands. It has been great fun!

My current station consists of:

I was finally able to get my 5BDXCC in March 2011 after 30 years of working DX. And, thanks to a rotatable dipole on the WARC bands (and the phenomenol suite of logging programs - DXLab - thanks to Dave AA6YQ), I was able to quickly finish DXCC on 12, 17, and 30 meters (September 2012).  I've got 329 entities now confirmed and hope to get one more for the Honor Role in the next few years.  I also am active seeking IOTAs (currently have +/- 479 as of February 2017) and keep adding to my USA-CA (county) count (currently have just over 1,000 as of April 2016).  The other Internet-based system I use all the time is ClubLog (thanks to Michael G7VJR!)  Having spent a year and a half in Indonesia (1976-77), I enjoy working YB stations and have confirmations from 20 different Indonesian islands for the Nusantara Award.  I really enjoyed working the pileups from my station as W1AW/8 during the ARRL Centennial year and spent way too many hours chasing down the W1AW/portables in the other States (1035 W1AW/p QSOs).  The 2016 NPOTA activity kept me busy chasing National Park units achieving the Honor Role (53 National Parks) and a total of 443 units confirmed via LOTW.



W8JRK Antennas - Spring 2012



See you at Dayton!

The Dayton HamVention has become a regular trip for a number of us from central Michigan (it's only a 3 1/2 hour drive). Thanks to Paul (W8PBS), and his Airstream trailer, you can easily find us in the flea market close to the rear ramp into the building (spaces 2301 - 2306).  Please stop by and say hello.

The Dayton Hamvention Crew (2003)

K2BET Bruce, W8DBH Don, N8GRY Jerry, W8PBS Paul, K8OWT Holly, W8JUZ Laura, K8OWS Hillary, KT8X Dennis, KA8BOG Jack W8JRK Joe

The Dayton Hamvention Crew (2007)

W8DBH Don, W8JRK Joe, KT8X Dennis (kneeling), K2BET Bruce, KA8BOG Jack, W8JDR Dave, KB8MBK Pam, W8PBS Paul

Dayton Hamvention (2009)

W8PBS Paul, K2BET Bruce, KA8BOG Jack, W8JRK Joe, W4OKW Tom, KT8X Dennis

Dayton Hamvention (2012)

K9BOJ Paul, W8JRK Joe, Shannon, KB9DSD Kenny, W8DBH Don, KB8MBK Pam, W8JDR Dave, W8PBS Paul, KA8BOG Jack, K2BET Bruce, K8HTP Jon (missing KT8X Dennis)


Dayton Hamvention (2013)












A Dayton HamVention tradition - the Annual Button.

Starting in 2011 we've designed a unique button to commemorate the annual pilgrimmage to Dayton.  "Deer camp" was the first one.  Stop by at our flea market space to see the entire set and/or to pick up the latest one.












8125653 Last modified: 2017-05-29 18:53:04, 27173 bytes

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