QRP POTA G-0362

So today was my first Parks on the Air. Armed with the IC705, THD7 and a variety of antennas I set out early from the QTH. The morning walk with Sweety told me it was a cold day, but mild for January, I still wrapped up warm tho.

I had 3 bags of equipment, but the trolley handled it really well, making it quite easy to get to the location I had planned. I started setting up the end-fed antenna, but sadly my enthusiasm got the better of me and ended up snapping the mast when pulling it up ! I quickly setup on the loop and the THD7 on 2M and was pulling in signals from both. It wasn’t a long wait before I had a great QSO with M7PBT on 2M, so was happy to start with that.

When trying HF I could pull in the signals ok. I got a helpful text from G1TEX who was actively listening to me on the HF bands, but sadly I couldnt make a contact. On Tex’s advice, i packed up and moved location away from the Trees. Again the trolly really helped in moving.

Location #2, which was just around the corner, whilst missing a table did have a decent sized bench to sit on and get the equipment on. I could even get me flask out and have a much needed coffee ! Before long G1AJH (Andy) made contact, first on 2M then we coordinated across 17m and 15m, with a weak, but sucssful QSO on 15M. It was just the injection of encouragement I needed to keep going and I continued to persist with calling on 15M, by mid afternoon 15m and 17m had really opened up, I was easily receiving Canada, France and Scotland, trying to break into the pile-ups was really hard work thou, but I kept trying ! Thankfully IT9YAO was amazingly patient and got my callsign and report, I was really made up with making a DX contact on 10W and the loop !

After all the coffee it was time for ‘BoTA’ maybe 🙂 anyhow, I could only giggle at the suggestion made on the G4PRS net last week and felt compelled to take a picture 😀 (Actually it shows how well the facilities are maintained at the Park, its clean and tidy for sure)

Conclusion

I got back home and transferred my paper log to ‘Hamlog’ on my phone, so i could create the ADIF file for submission. Whilst I wont activate the park this time, i will at least show the attempt, where currently there are none.

I really learned allot from today and had huge amounts of fun doing it, yes there was some times of frustration, especially the mast and end-fed not going to plan, but that didn’t deter me from keep trying with what I had.

I think for future activations or any kind of testing, its best to go with the whip and one other antenna, I think taking the whip (attached to the bag) and 2 others was to much, as is, I only stuck with the loop in the end, and not even testing the whip, the time went very quickly !

The most important for me today was that I tried and got out with my radio and I can only get better and learn more by keep going out and trying, which is exactly what I will be doing !

Thanks again and 73 !

2E0FWE / Alan

QRP Portable + 2M SSTV !

Its been a busy time with radio activities, so much so I’ve barely had time to write up, so today I’m doing two for one !

QRP Portable

So having been inspired by numerous youtube videos to ‘get out the shack’ and being well equipped, I was determined to go out in my Mazda bongo with my QRP setup. The first thing I wanted to do was see if I could use my under-used Alexloop hampack in the Bongo, eliminating the need for any need to be outside of my Bongo.

I tested at home first in my drive way and getting the bongo roof up, IC705 and Alexloop in the Bongo worked well. Receiving signals was not a problem at all !

QRP Bongo QTH

So I asked my fellow G4PRS members a good high location to also do some UHF/VHF operation. I was not be disappointed when Whiteways Viewpoint was recommend by several members. Not only was it stunningly beautiful, and very windy, there was plenty of space to park and setup. I wasn’t alone in operation !

I setup my Bongo, IC705 and Alexloop. Whilst in the bongo I could get the SWR readings down low, but couldnt get my signal out but when putting the loop in the roof, there was some inductance from the small amount of metal in the roof and the SWR would go high.

QRP Operation Day 2 – Whiteways

I had a great time, and was glad that I had brought along my 2m/70cm Kenwood TH-D7, which I was able to put into the external antenna. I was quickly able to have a QSO via GB3IW repeater on 70cm, an impressive distance of 41 miles (approx)

GB3IW (approx) and Whiteways

I then tried out 2M and calling CQ, I was glad to be received by G3TOI in Christchurch who was monitoring during his HF / 80m activites. We have had QSO’s before, and its always good to catch up, but it was great to be so clear and a good report whilst mobile.

I really added to my portable QRP operation experience by this one trip out, I know now that for my antennas they will have to be outside the Bongo. As such I have got a pop-up tent to sit either myself or the antenna in the tent. I’m hoping to do more /M operation on the 17/18th of January – so keep a look out for me on the airwaves !

SSTV 2M

Whislt I still enjoy SSTV on HF (Mostly 20m and 80m) I really enjoy it on 2M also. Being able to use FM and upto 50W from my QTH with the Diamond x7000 antenna means I have the challenge of the terrain but the hope that I will also make contacts.

The SSTV calling frequency (144.500Mhz) is very quite in IO90BS, but I advertised the times I am almost always on via my QRZ page, i.e. 8-9AM on Sunday mornings. Whilst I didn’t get anyone during this specific period, I did leave my 9700 and MSSTV running, sure enough whilst walking in from the garden I heard a signal !

I sat down and had a fantastic 2M SSTV QSO with M0UVM, whose location is not geographically far, but still the other side of a large hill I have between me and Bournemouth Town Centre. I was really happy that someone had taken the time to setup MMSTV and put really good pictures in. We are planning more transmission on Sunday mornings with different SSTV modes and power. M0UVM is using an IC705 and only 10W, so doing really well !

Here are the excellent pictures we sent each other

Received Pictures (by 2E0FWE)

Received pictures by M0UVM

Here is hoping that there is more SSTV on 2M !

Until next time, 73

2E0FWE / Alan

All steam ahead!

So aside amateur radio, my other ‘interests’ is model railways. My fellow rail enthusiast are building this small layout.

Shillingstone prototype

Whilst that hasn’t been taking all of my time, it has taken a fair chunk in trying to find all my N-Gauge track and equipment. I have how ever been very busy in and around the shack !

SSTV

I have got the VC-H1 working. Getting all the cables from around the world (Korea, Portugal, USA) was quite an adventure and took a fair amount of ‘google-fu’ to source. I have a number of videos, but this one is probably of the most interest where I done a field test and the results.

VC-H1 Field Test

The broadcasts from the park resulted in complete susses of received images from my QTH about 1 mile away.

VC-H1 field test results (approx 1 mile max)

I was using a Baofeng with 5W and other tests around IO90BS really showed how the height/hills in the town effected the reception. I think my best chances for long-distance are away from the SE direction where I am behind a steep hill. I will spend some time and do some VHF reception modelling in the coming weeks.

Shack Tidy

So with the 2nd year of my Part-Time MSc coming up time was limited to get the ‘shack’ (aka Home office) into some semblance of tidy. Getting a Radio Shack tidy isn’t just making it ‘look’ tidy, its about getting RF right, every thing that requires ferrietes to have them and good cable management, all whilst be useable, manageable and allowing for further development of other projects.

I started outside and installed good coax, as well as a general tidy up around the antennas. I then installed a thru-window panel, allowing the feed lines to be tidy into the shack. From there I took out all the transceivers, receivers and other radio devices. The bulk of the work was done over the weekend as it took a fair amount of time.

Shack Tidy Day 1

As you can see from ‘Day 1’ there was allot to do just to things in place.

I’m now have installed the transceivers onto the bonding and am looking forward to test out the bonding/grounding results.

Bonding

My next step will be to get my Windows computer re-installed with the necessary chokes and filters to operate well with the computer with no effects from RFI. When that is installed I should have a good idea of how to tidy the cables best as described in the Grounding and Bonding book.

Events

With re-opening of the Poole Amateur Radio Society and enjoying regular on Thursday evenings, I’m getting more out of my radio and understand them than ever. Its great to have good and productive conversations with fellow hams, although the conversation sometimes does drift to non-radio activities, I have been grateful to receive several courgettes which XYL Monica made into a lovely meal for me !

The club is having a field day event away from the QRM of the urban environment. I’ve very excited to be going with my IC-705 and Alexloop ham-pack. I got a new ‘mast’ for the antenna, as you can see here.

Bike Repair Stand as Antenna Mast

Results are really encouraging !

With all the equipment that will be required for the field day I got a hand cart. Sweetly and I had a great time testing it out.

Testing the trolley cart with Sweety.

So I’ve been super busy, but very happy with all with all the amateur radio activities. It will be harder after September to spend weekends like this as I start my MSc Computing Research year in earnest, but undoubtedly the model trains and amateur radio will make a welcome break when time allows me to do so.

Mobile at last ! New Forest Trip

Having owned the IC-705 for quite some months this was my first time to take it portable. With the weather looking slightly dodgy our group of friends headed to Boulderwood in the New Forest.

Our risk taking with the weather was rewarded with a fantastic, albeit slightly cooler than of late, evening in the New Forest.

Portable in the New Forest in Boulderwood

It was great to go with a friend as although the setup was minimal a helping hand was greatly appreciated. I attached my Alexloop Ham Pack antenna to my Buddipole mast with a bungee which done an excellent job of keeping it secure

bungee, buddipole tripod/mast and ALexloop hampack = nice secure setup

I brought along a couple of fold up tables, one for the ladies ot have their pic-nic on the other for me to setup my radio. I started with just the IC-705 first and tuned to 20m. The quality of the signals away from the QRM of my QTH was simply amazing.

Receive singals where really strong and clear – absence of background noise (QRM)

I did try to reply to the CQ calls, but couldnt get a response this time, but was nethertheless glad to just be trying.

Operating the the Alexloop Ham pack was everything it should be, really easy to tune into the frequency. I was getting SWR of 1.3 to 2 on all the frequencies i tuned. I dare say I could get better as I get more expericned with it, but the gauge on it is fantastic.

Resonence LED in full effect on 20m

As seen in the picture above the LED on the tuning unit shows the power/matching of the antenna to the transceiver. I also used the SWR meter on the IC705. I did bring along my rigexpert (HF) but didnt need it in the end.

Having run 5W on the internal batttery, i then switched to a Lifo battery and got the full 10W portable. My connections to the battery need improvement, but are functional.

I was able to test FT8, and received plenty of signals from around the world. I explained to my friend how FT8 works and our signals on PSKReporter. It was amazing how far we was getting out on 10W and the Alexloop !

2E0fwe portable from the new forest reaches far !

I was unable to make a contact, but I was still gald to be getting out. I need to learn how to adjust the volume control on my linux laptop, as the signal was overloading, i suspect i missed some DX/RX opputnities.

Next we tried WSPR – with the portable battery it was no problem to keep going. I checked the database and my own site and could see that we was getting out nicely, albeit with 10W which is probably the most power I have ever used on WSPR.

WSPR mobile

I must rememer to update my callsign for Mobile operation next time as I only changed it later in WSJT-X.

After digital modes and with the sun / grey line coming in I made one more try on telephony just calling CQ, but alas no responses. I dont feel disappointed, i had limited time and wanted to make sure we got back home all feeling well and having an enjoyable evening, so packed up. Again having a friend help was great, everything was put away with no damage and easily into my camper van.

This was a great first experience of being portable. I really enjoyed it and am sure to keep on trying and will probably make Boudlerwood my goto place. If you ever see me there, dont be shy and am always happy to talk to people who are interested.

Having a great time in Boudlerwood, New Forest with the IC705 and Alex Hampack

This has really added so much more to this already amazing hobby. I can thorougly recommend portable operation !

More vidoes next time, but until then 73

Alan / 2E0FWE

AlexLoop hampack !

Just a quick one really ! I’ve got an AlexLoop here, and cant wait to try it out.

I saw this excellent video from Waters and Staton

Alexloop Hampack

I was just wow, got to have one, but the price, eek, thats scary, but look at the performance in video i was conviinced this is the right portalable/QRP antenna for me. Ironically W&S didnt have any in stock (step in Nevada) who did, and wow, it was here quick !

The eagle eyed of you would see a number of books on my desk as I’m currently very busy with my AI&Game Design module of my MSc, i’m hoping that I will get enough time to have a play with it over the weekend. I’m super excited thats for sure !