First state-side SSTV contact (5/5/22)

Being up and about in the small hours in the UK I was tuned into 20M SSTV frequency of 14.230, thinking just to let it monitor and pull in the overnight SSTV pics only to find a clear as a bell TX start from W2PTH.

For those who are new to SSTV, W2PTH has been doing SSTV for quite some time, his QRZ Page states 1976 ! Those familiar with SSTV would be familiar with the call sign and the ‘Cherry hill’ location appearing in his pictures.

Having heard the call, I thought to give it a try – I’ve never had much luck in reaching the states being limited to 50W but the signals where coming in exceptionally clear tonight, so thought to give it a try!

SSTV QSO with W2PTH

As you can see the stream of pictures came in just wonderfully and I was really happy to have W2PTH in my log book with my first DX contact into the USA.

Propergation differences just minutes later

As can be seen from the picture received just minutes later, the conditions had changed. It was fantastic to have such a great SSTV QSO with a great operator!

Equipment Used :- IC7300 50W power, Multi-band End Fed Antenna, MMSSTV on Windows 10 with KE5RS FTP Widget for uploads

PoTA Prep – Holt Heath G-0157

With the weather arriving as predicted, a productive day was had in the shack tidying away whilst the rain poured down on Bournemouth.

It has been a wet day as forecast

With another park activation completed for G-0079 with my 10 FT8 QSO’s recorded, I set about looking for the next park to attempt another activation. It was also good to be spotted by a fellow PoTA operating from Germany (DK8MT).

G-0079 confirmed activated by 2E0FWE on 12/2/2022

Even with the bad weather and apart from the early morning walk with Sweety being the only time I had been out, a nice drive survey Holt Heath looked a good way to enjoy a local ride out.

With some online investigation, I was able to determine a position still within the park boundary and a good place to park the bongo.

Bongo parking location

With the location found, Station Manager and I headed out to investigate first hand. Despite the rain, we enjoyed the lovely ride out and finding a new area we hadn’t previously explored. This is a great benefit of PoTA in exploring and finding these new places, and something we can enjoy doing together irrespective of the weather conditions thanks to the trusty Bongo.

With the rain coming down I didn’t want to venture too far from the Bongo, it was enough to see the heath land with the gauzy bushes which would be a challenge to operate in, but also the decent paths that could provide a good place to setup if the conditions are good enough. There is plenty of space to setup the End-fed antenna as an inverted V or a sloper configuration for sure. Whilst visibly there was no ‘height’ to give any take-off there was also no obstructions nearby, in the distance some pylons could be seen around a mile away.

The drive was short, and interesting, the location viable for both mag-loop from the bongo and also the end-fed antenna depending on the conditions come the day. I am looking forward to see how well the IC705 and either antenna will do in this beautiful location.

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

Parks on the Air (POTA) prep – Avon Heath Park ( G-0362 )

I was originally planning my first Parks on the Air (POTA) this weekend, but circumstances changed and I’ve had to postpone the actual activation. Nethertheless I made good use of the time I did have by going to the park and checking it over. Sweety came along and we had a brilliant walk together.

Arriving at Avon Heath Park my Mazda Bongo will not fit into the regular car park due to height restrictions. There is a large parking area for HGV and PSV’s which other campervan/van type had parked in, so I went there. They should really raise the height of the barrier to 2m10cm like elsewhere in Bournemouth & Poole.

Carrying on from the visitors centre and amenities, there is a nice table/chair next to the reptile and bird lookout. If anything its a great place to sit and enjoy a rest, the pictorial ‘map’ is quite useful as well, but for a full map you can get one in the visitors centre with all the routes. I chose to do the “Viewpoint Trail” which is 3km long.

Sweety and I didn’t need to go far to find a lovely set of table/chairs, not only surrounded by lovely trees, but also a really nice passage to the next section of the park. The area around the benches has well spaced trees, allowing for either using the trees as a place to hook and end fed antenna up, or to put a pole up between them.

The route was easy to follow with well sign-posted arrows to follow, as well as nice posters of the inhabitants of the park. Sweety really enjoyed discovering the woods as well, making plenty of new friends on our walk around.

We had reached the furthest side of the planned walk, although not the park which extends further East from where the photos above where taken. Being the ‘Viewpoint Trail’ small diversions away from the trial give places to sit and enjoy the vistas across the heathland. Even on a cold Janurary day, it was a lovely view, and worth to come here just for relaxing and enjoying the scenery.

Continuing on the pathway I encountered the first real potential problem to operating, that being overhead powerlines. I am unsure if they would interfere with the radio signal by being in the proximity, but of course there is the very real risk to life should the mast fall onto the overhead cables, so that makes setting up in this part of the park a no-go area. We also encountered some very sedate English White Cows, I put sweaty back on his lead right away. Hes pretty good around other animals, but its best to play it safe, we walked by without problem and made it back to the car-park without issue.

In conclusion to the visit I now have a good idea of what I need, or more importantly what i don’t need, to bring with me and the quickest way to go there. Needless to say I’m really excited about coming out and doing PoTA for the first time !

POTA Pre at Avon Heath Park

I then came back home and as time allowed I could test the Sotabeams travel mast I had never setup before, even the ropes had to be cut to length for guying. This was quickly done in the space of my back garden and was really please to get the mast up so quickly and easily.

Testing Sotabeams Travelmast at QTH

Whilst today should of been about going out and operating, I have made the most out of the time I did have, which I think will make my actual activation a really good experience.

Enjoying 80 meters

With a busy work and study schedule as well as being slightly under the weather due to a rather nasty cold, which thankfully seems to be in remission, I’ve not had a whole lot of time for doing anything external to the shack.

In the shack I’ve been working on improving the antenna switching and coax routing. I’ve come up with this novel switching mechanism to go between the 6btv and UK Antenna 80M multiband end fed.

early days – but this will switch between 6btv / end fed and the TS690S and IC-7300

The IC7300 has a pretty decent internal ATU and the TS690 will be routed via the MFJ-993B intellituner. This will allow me to switch easily between antennas and see the difference in operation between them. I’ve not been able to resume my work on the 6BTV lately due to other commitments, but I am aiming to resume my work on increasing the performance of it. It will be good to do direct comparisons between the end-fed and 6btv on two very interesting radios (Superhet Vs SDR).

Operation on 80m has been fantastic lately. I do admit to enjoying listening to the QSOs on 80m as they tend to be very good length exchanges, sometimes comical, but mostly interesting and relevant to the hobby. With 80m being quite ‘local’ I can clearly hear both ends of the QSO across operators in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and Germany (but my Dutch and German fails me in being able to listen for any more than 5 minutes !)

80m is proving to be an excellent listed and operation in the evening

I will continue to tidy the shack and hoping to stay in good health for more external work over the weekend. I am looking forward to contrasting the 6btv with the Endfed.

Hope you are all keeping well – take care and stay safe !

Alan / 2E0FWE

Getting back on 80m !

Having got some much needed help in the evening after work, my friend and I erected the 40ft mast. This went pretty well between the two of us, and resulted in a nice vertical mast.

A nice vertical mast

As this was done after work on a Friday evening, we headed in for a lovely meal prepared by XYL Monica.

The next day the weather was unusually good and a day of productive antenna erection could commence ! Having guyed the mast the previous evening, my intention was to get the 80/40m dipole attached to the top with the feedline going up the mast. However, after several attempts I was getting this result.

more like a catapult than a mast !

The tilt base from Barenco really came into its own, doing this any other way would of been difficult, not to say incredibly frustrating boarding on insanity.

After several breaks to contemplate a solution I figured on using the hardware I had but changing the antenna. Thankfully I have a UK Antenna 80m end fed in storage, so I lowered the bent mast to a more sturdy but decent height and used another of the fibreglass poles I had. Feeding the end fed thru this I was able to get it a good height and not as intrusive as when i had two fibre glass poles going into the front garden. I ended up with a ‘sloping L’ configuration rotated 90 degrees from the feed point.

back on 80m

The above video makes this much clearer and you can see the height of the initial mast and fibreglass pole which support the 80m wire.

The SWR results across 80m are impressive and I attached to my IC-705 to test, the reception was fantastic.

The multi band was resonant on every frequency stated, so I will be really looking forward to trying this antenna out on a more frequent basis

40m gave impressive S.W.R. readings as well, I am only planning to use QRP levels, with the occasionally 50W from the TS620S. I am very excited to get this antenna into the Kenwood Ts690S as its a super-het receiver with many filters in it. Thats not to say the IC-7300 wont be the main transceiver any more, but will be fun to see the difference between the two.

Until next time.

73

Alan / 2E0FWE