Saturday, October 3, 2009

Portable HF Operation

I know, it's been a little while since I've posted anything. Just to let you all know though, I have been playing radio in this stretch. A little here and a little there at least anyway. I've been working a good bit of DX on 20 and 40 via PSK31. Some of the most notable was Greenland and Switzerland, two new DXCC entities for moi.

This past week, I was on vacation and we decided to go camping. You can read more on the camping end of the trip on the outdoor blog that Robin(AJ4IJ) and I keep. So with the idea of camping and thinking that I might not get to play any HAM Radio for a week, I thought what better way to test out our capabilities than to bring Ham Radio with us. This part of the camping trip was left up to yours truly to plan out. Let's just say I didn't do a very good job in planing as I not a big planner and usually like to wait until the last minute. It was then that we decided on how we would set up our operation.

For our power supply, we decided that we would just connect to the Jeep battery. Of course to do that, we had to splice some alligator clips to the power cable that connects to the Yaesu FT-450 so that we could clip them to either the battery itself (provided it would reach) or to jumper cables that would then connect to the jeep. We also had to connect the power cable for the tuner to the same power cable so that we could tune the homebrew ZS6BKV dipole that we ran in the trees at camp about 10 - 15 ft off the ground.

With that accomplished, we had everything else ready to go in order to operate HF portable while at camp. So we finally headed off to camp on Sunday and it wasn't until Tuesday before we had time to even hook up the radio. We did manage to put up the antenna on Monday. I tell you what, camping for 4 and a half days is hard work. Everyday you have to gather wood for the fire, cooking all the time, entertaining the kids, running from the raccoons and more.

Well by Tuesday I finally got to hook up the radio, and it found that I was only able to tune 20 meters and put out about 25 watts. I found out later that I didn't have the jumper cables connected to the alligator clips on the power cable. I never did make contact with anyone and after a couple of hours it was time to unplug and run the jeep in order for the battery to charge back up.

On Wednesday, it was a different story. I had the cables hooked up correctly but still was only able to tune 20 meters. I believe this was a direct result of the antenna only being 15 feet off the ground. As I said early, we used the ZS6BKV multiband dipole and it is feed with twin-lead. With the twin lead nearly horizontal, It was having a hard time tuning 40 and 80. Normally it will tune those bands when it's up higher and the twin-lead is nearly vertical.

It took me a couple of hours and I tried several stations until I was finally able to land a contact with EA8CCQ an OM from the Canary Islands. Talk about getting giddy with excitement. This was the first time I've operated HF portable with a power supply other than a generator and an antenna lower than 30 feet not to mention only 50 watts out. After that contact I was done. That was the last camp radioing I did during the trip. We ended up packing everything up on Thursday as there was a threat for rain. It was a good thing too as it did rain Friday morning and we were already home.

Well that's all I have for this edition. The Saturday prior to camping we did attend the TenTec Hamfest. Not much to report there. We did get some eyeball QSO with some of our local buddies, but then it decided to rain so we were outta there with out a single buy.

Oh yeah I forgot to mention I did some other radioing while camping. I had both Ashby's (KJ4EGJ) and my HT out there and spoke to Tyler(WX4TX) and Dad (KU4ME) a bit on the Frozen Head/Petros repeater 147.255. So that's it. Here are the pictures for you viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

73 and Happy DX de AJ4JD,

Part of the Antenna hidden by a stump.

Jeep Powered Radio

The Yaesu FT-450 and the LDG AT-200Pro tuner

AJ4JD at the Control Point.

AJ4JD on my VX170 HT

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