POTA – QRP – G-0183 – Chesil Car Park for Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Site Provincial Park (Jurassic coastline)

After a while away from PoTA and a previous experimentation locally with the AlexLoop only bag, it was time for my next PoTA activation. Based on my QTH location (IO90BS) I used the POTA site to find near but inactivate sites. This is becoming harder as PoTA becomes more popular (a good thing) but its always great to go out and activate a site, as the ‘hunters’ will be on the look out for a new location.

I carefully planned my trip, starting with the day before. I relinquished my beloved IC-705 purpose built bag (LC-192) for going fully Alex-Loop ham pack native. The main drawback of this bag is the lack of padding and overall robustness compared to the alex-loop bag, but I was determined to minimise what I was taking.

everything for HF ops fitted nicely in the Alexloop bag

Not withstanding the mount itself (I used a bike repair stand) everything fitted nicely in the Alex Loop Hampack bag. This includes in the ‘accessories’ my LiFo battery to keep the IC-705 running for extended time over the internal battery, which as shown in my previous ‘test’ is only good for about 2-3 hours on 5W SSB. The observant will also notice I have my iPad in there, rather than my WinTel based laptop.

I had setup and tested SDR Control back at the QTH, so it should be no surprise that it works well out in the field. What I did notice is that (to its credit) it sets the ‘connectors’ all to WLAN in the app, thus when using the IC-705 microphone (which I currently still prefer), this needs to be set back, else no telephony contacts can be made without the iPad.

Whilst the WX (Weather) wasn’t the best to be operating outside, I got setup in the Bongo quite well, at least I was warm and dry, and the IC-705 was at no risk for rain damage (one of the main issues for SoTA, its just not that rugged compared to the KX series of radios). I set about going across the different FT8 frequency/bands. At least this would be a decent propagation test and also make some contacts. I was able to tune in 40M and get the SWR down to 2:1, which resulted in 2 FT8 contacts on 40M. For a magloop I am happy with those results and on a Data mode where the key-time is longer than that for a typical HF QSO. 17M gave excellent SWR readings and resulted in 3 DX contacts. I returned to 20M and worked a further 4 DX stations via FT8, all on 10W of power into a mag loop in pretty grim WX (rain, thunderstorms)

FT8 via pskreporter – into .JP and East Coast America on 10W

Whilst not the activation I was expecting due to the weather, being able to diversify and setup in the Bongo resulted in plenty of contacts and being able to (TBC) activate the park. I was really glad to start out on telephony contacts and people thanking me to activate the park, it really makes it worth the time and travel to enjoy PoTA.

Logged contacts

PoTA QRP Experiment – G-0362

Unusually for a bank-holiday (National holiday / day off work) the weather was quite nice, I had already planned my trip to my nearest PoTA park, namely G-0362 Avon Heath, and headed out. I wanted to take a minimal setup to see how I would do !

QRP & Minimal Portable Setup

  • IC705
  • Alex Loop Hampack antenna
  • Laptop
  • Trolly for bags

I didn’t bring an external battery or even a chair to sit on, opting to just use the bench/seat at the location I was familiar with at Avon Heath. I was interested to see if I could make any contacts and for how long on only 5W and the Internal IC-705 battery. This made getting setup and on-air really easy, using a bungee to attach the loop antenna to the seat.

Telephony QSOs

I’m now starting to start-with telephony QSO’s over FT8 to get started, as such I started out on 20M as this band has plenty of activity and easy to slighty tune the Alexloop between FT8, SSTV and the Phone section of the band.

I was quickly rewarded with QSO’s into Italy and Spain, with my furthest QSO being with EA4GJP with an amazing 860 miles ! Using the MPW calculator I was getting 172 miles per watt for a 595 QSO !

Once re-spotted on the PoTA app I had a flurry of QSOs into Spain – I was rapidly getting used to telephony contacts and logging with pen and paper !

I turned my hand to FT8 but faced computer difficulties again and not having a table/chair didn’t fancy fiddling about with a cable/computer on a bench, reverted to Telephony on 20M again. I did go searching for other PoTA activations, but no chance of a park-to-park today.

With around 2 hours of operating on 5W the battery on the IC705 was almost entirely drained, but with a good set of contacts I felt happy to pack up and head home, whilst I didn’t get 10 this time out, i was glad to see just how good the IC705 and Alexloop antenna is, making it a viable QRP setup which can be easily setup and transported.

I did learn that having a battery will not only extend the life of my operation, as to be expected, but I can operate with only 5W on SSB outside the noise of QTH, which makes doing PoTA all the worth while. My next planned activation is in a very exciting/interesting place and am really looking forward to that !

Activation log
QRZ

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

QRP – POTA – G-0211 – Upton Heath

With the weather being so lovely and time allowing day time operation, I headed out to Upton Heath – this is just opposite Upton Park but separated by the busy A35. Although once in either, you wouldn’t notice that it is there !

Upton Heath (G-0211) and Upton Country Park (G-0443)

I brought my wagon along to help transport the radio and accessories from the car to the heathland, with just a short walk to find a good bench to operate from it was no problem at all.

I was able to be on the air quickly with the excellent Alex Loop ham-pack antenna, I used a bungee to attach it to a direction post as my bike stand is still in the back of the bongo in North Wales, but the bungee was excellent to use and changing frequency across the 20M band was very easy to get low S.W.R. across the operating frequencies.

I wanted to get better at Telephony contacts so started with Phone on 14.241 and used the PoTA App to self-spot, within minutes I was trying to manage a pile up ! I was getting so many call signs at once, it was hard to distinguish them and get back, thankfully I got most, but some I couldn’t complete, but that’s what experience and patience will teach me ! I managed 6 Phone contacts, whilst I appreciate all of them, it was great to get a fantastic signal report from K1RO in New Hampshire ! I was so glad to have a break and a drink of water with me.

I then moved onto FT8 and completed enough QSO’s to active the park, with reports coming in from all over Europe.

FT8 – 20m

Whilst I had been operating for just over an hour, I wanted to give SSTV a try, my previous attempt was thwarted by a very busy 20m band, but today I was able to get thru a fantastic signal from HA1AD

With my water supply fast running out and time getting on, i packed up having had a fantastic time at Upton Heath. It is definitely a park I will come to again, its nearby, really accessible and lovely location to work from.

Youtube – QRP POTA Upton Heath

QRP POTA Bongo G-0079 12th Feb 22

Having originally intending to go out on the 13th, the adverse weather and changes on planning on the home front made the 12th a better day to go. Whilst cold it was a great day to go out and try another park activation.

Weather at QTH and around IO90

The park being activated today was G-0079 New Forest – Kingston Great Common National Nature Reserve. Another nice close park and after researching found a nice place to park up to operate from the Bongo.

Research position to operate from within the park boundary

For this activation attempt I wanted to use the Alex Loop Ham Pack antenna, as I had already used Toy Box antenna the previous week, and with the cold operating from the Bongo would be a good way to get on the air.

The Alexloop and Bike stand was really easy to setup, maybe even easier than the whip and radials, but it was quick to get on air. The bike stand held the alexloop no problem at all.

To start with I used the MAT-Tuner on 20M as I planned to do FT8 then SSTV, so I wanted to see if I can move about the band without re-dialling the magloop, in the end, I removed the MAT tuner and went to 30m. My SWR went up to 1.5 but was making more and more contacts.

By lunch time the QSO’s on 30m where coming in rapid succession, not quite a pile up, but enough to get the park activated. I also enjoyed a ‘rag-chew’ on 70cm via GB3IW, not for PoTA, but it was good to make a /M to /M contact whilst doing FT8 on HF. I also done a SSTV test from the my mobile location to back to the QTH, that came out quite well for 5W

SSTV on 2M received back home from G-0079

With it just being over midday and enough FT8 qso to activate the park, I tided up and headed back for a fantastic afternoon out with the station manager. We really enjoyed the afternoon out and the lovely views across to the IoW

In conclusion i can say that the Alexloop Ham pack antenna is amazing, its incredibly light and very easy to setup. The sensitivity of the dial is incredible, getting the SWR down low to 1.5 on 20M and 17M was no problem. I don’t think I will need an ATU with it, its better to dial it in and get the power into the antenna and a very small increase in reflected power back.

I really enjoyed doing PoTA, just getting out with the transceivers and making contacts is great fun, be it FT8, SSTV or Telephony, every time I go out, I am getting more experience and enjoy operating away from home more and more.

I am looking forward to my next PoTA activation and trying another antenna, hopefully the 40M end fed which I think will return the best results yet in terms of RF performance, but lets see…

POTA G-0079 12Feb22 QRP Bongo

A summary mini-update

Hello there ! Well its been a while since i sat at the desk to do a blog-posting rather than a video and of antenna related results, so this evening I thought I would return to the blog and give a summary mini-update of what I have been upton !

How do I approach this.. hmm, well, lets go for by bands of operation and then methods as a subtext !

HF Operations (80m to 10m)

Well I have mostly been busy on improving the performance of my main 6BTV antenna, this is following a fantastic field trip with G4PRS (Poole Radio Society) to have a great day out and with so much learning about antennas.

As an outcome of that, I decided to improve my 6BTV and understand more about the tools that I have. I’ve made several fundamental changes to my 6BTV and initial results, well, are seeming promising. I have yet to take the X&Y measurements I wanted to take due to the inclement weather, but I think that will be this week.

I have been doing more and more telephony work on 40 and 80m. 40m via the IC-7300 and 80m via the Kenwood TS-690 into the excellent UK Antenna 80m multi band end-fed. Although its below its optimal height, it is functioning brilliantly.

Specific Modes – FT8

You would of seen from my QRZ page I used to spend allot of time on FT8. It is an interesting and exciting mode to start making contacts with. I found myself wanting more thou, so I found another digital mode to move onto. I am still doing occasional FT8, but really for what it was designed for in my opinion, getting signal reports and checking propergation/antennas, rather than solid FT8 only.

Specific Modes – SSTV (HF to start with)

I have been enjoying SSTV massively on 20m (14.230USB) – you will see on this site my most recent received images uploaded to the SSTV section. I use SSTV early and the early evening (grey line times) during mon-fri and where i can during the weekends. I have had some fantastic contacts and enjoying the pictures / QSOs massively. It is very rewarding to get a good 595 / P5 report from another operator well into DX terrority.

I continue to enjoy SSTV in making great contacts, I hope you could be my next one !

Specific Modes – Telephony on HF(voice)

Whilst on UHF/VHF I tend to be more comfortable with the longer QSOs via repeaters and even simplex on 2M, I still find HF QSO’s challenging, but very rewarding. At home I’m limited to 50 Watts, and when up against even legal full licence holders who can typically run 100W+ making a QSO and getting a good report, is really rewarding – lets not start about the Italians who are doing a great job of warming the atmosphere in what seems like an almost unlimited use of power of the HF airwaves.

I am doing more telephony on 40m and 80m recently (Sep/Oct 21) and really enjoying it. I’m using N1MM as a logging tool, which really helps me get the call sign down – i still don’t mind asking multiple times for a call sign until i get it right thou ! I have had great contacts with the ‘secret nuclear bunker’ and also Germany – I’m hoping the solar cycle continues to improve propagation on 40m

Specific Modes – Telephony on VHF & UHF

I use my IC705 on occasion from home on 2m and 70cm. I am very lucky to get into Southampton and the Isle of White very easily from my QTH in IO90BS. This gives me the opportunity to what must be one of the best repeaters on the south coast, namely, GB3IW. This repeater has excellent coverage with people connecting to as far west as Somerset and as far east as Brighton, inland I have heard people from Uckfield, Haywards Heath and also closer to my QTH in Bournemouth. I can take one of my handhelds out with 5W of power and get into it, with varying signal reports. From home with the X50 and 10W I am always 5/9+10 without problem.

I am working on a packet radio project for 2M based on the excellent Kenwood TH-D7 and the raspberry Pis I have. I am also into setting up a local ‘SSTV’ night,so if you in/around IO90BS and hear SSTV on 2m, it can well be me !

QRP / M / P

I continue to use my IC-705 both at home and mobile as a QRP transceiver. I have no interest in adding an amplifier to this fantastic and amazing transevier. For me QRP is almost becoming a sub-hobby in its own right. I have several very exciting antennas to use /M and /P and (/PP)

I’m hoping in the autumn and winter months to get out more with the IC-705 and my other UHF/VHF handhelds for some exciting and interesting field experiments.

Conclusion

Well I am keeping incredibly busy, its my final year of my MSc and am enjoying a new contract with a fantastic team who keep me wholly engaged thruout the day. I do hope to return to my local club when i can safely, until then i am keeping in touch with several of the members via email and hopefully when the weather gets better, back on the 2M net !

I have probably gone on for too long due to absence of recent postings, but thanks for reading and staying with me. I am hoping to do more frequent updates, no matter how busy i get, even if its just a short write up with some theory and application.

Until then take care, stay safe, and enjoy your radio.

Alan / 2E0FWE

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

15m DX at night ?!

Was just playing about on my radio with FT8, having had one phone QSO on 20m to Italy, then a number of FT8 on 20m as well, thought, lets give 15 meters a try. Having never really persisted at using 15m, it was an ideal time as I could keep an eye on WSJT-X and tidy/file stuff at the same time.

The band looked completely empty when I started, but as the CQ’s keep transmiting, lo and behold I was rewarded with a contact !

FT8 15m contact

There was even some reports to see on PSKReporter !

Reaching far on 15m with 50W of power

I was really suprised, and impressed, with how well the 6BTV is doing, its such a great antenna and I’m getting more out of it every time I have time to use it on the frequencys I previously didnt really use.

Moral of the story is, if the band looks dead, still give it a go ! you never know who you might contact !

10m skip FT8

Having kept an eye on the Kiwi WebSDR I could see plenty of activity on the 10m band, a sure sign that the ‘skip’ from the ‘E Layer’ had picked up. For those ‘new’ to skip, there is an excellent write up here by VK3FS on the behaviour of this ionospheric band.

Here I’ll be showing over the course of just a few short hours how the E-layer built up, the collapsed.

10m skip at 18:04 UTC in IO90BS

Tuning to the 10M frequency for FT8, 28.074, there was allot of activity, transmissions from Europe where coming in the strongest, and even as far as Brazil in South America. It was incredble to see the band so ‘alive’

pskreporter on 10m transmitting 40w

I started transmitting on what had now become a very noisy channel, with plenty of DX around Europe coming in very strong. My own signal from the Hustler 6BTV and 40 watts of power resulted in the QSO’s started to roll in, with little to no reties.

Racking up the QSO’s on FT8

Grid Tracker really came into its own here, making logging to QRZ effortless so I was able to focus on QSO’s rather than uploading ADIF files. This resulted in 2 confirmed QSO’s almost immediately, with an impressive the furthest being 950 miles to IS0SLM in Dolianova.

Band conditions at 19:22 UTC showing the changed in the ‘E Layer’ propagation

Just as quickly the band and opened up, the conditions returned back to the regular behaviour for the E-layer, as seen in the 19:22 and 19:39 signal spectrum from WSJTX.

Band conditions at 19:39 – signals were getting much weaker in WSJTX Wide Graph

By 20:30 I could still be heard but the 6BTV, a vertical and with that being non-directional, wasn’t pulling in the weaker signals for a QSO to be completed.

10m reach at 20:33 with 40W

My reception reports via Pskreporter showed a big difference. I’d be interested to know if this was a phenomenon of the grey-line as the sun set or just the charge in the E-layer collapsing and limiting propagation again.

9 10m QSOs with some great reports and distances

I was still really happy in this ‘short’ time to get so many FT8 QSO’s via 10m. It really is a fascinating band, and one I will do more research with as I continue to improve the performance of the 6BTV and also work 6m with my Yagi antenna

The ‘coolest’ FT8 contact yet ?

Was one of those nights when I couldn’t get my head down after a great Easter bank holiday weekend, so had a little play on FT8 in the small hours. Having used WSJT-X for quite some time I wanted to experiment with other FT8 software, and gave JTDX a try. I followed the setup documents and was soon transmitting and receiving. Some say JTDX has better decode than WSJT-X – I think time will tell.

Tonight (Or is that very early this morning) I had what must be the coolest FT8 contact yet tho

DT8A – 8482 mi on the South Shetland Islands

I have never heard of the “South Shetland Islands” until they appeared in the JTDX log – I was quick to click and respond, then patiently wait in the hope my call got responded to. Sure enough, with a few minutes and on 20 watts of power DT8A responded and my signal report was received. What I do with all FT8 contacts is to check the QRZ page and read up to add a little more ‘this is more than just a signal report’ to the QSO, I was amazed at DT8A’s page and the fantastic photos !

In particular as my good lady is South Korean, I found it very interesting that Mr Lee was stationed in such a remote part of the world !

So glad to have reached Mr Lee and I hope his work/research in the South Shetlands goes really well !