POTA – FT8, FT4, SSTV, SSB – UPDATE – 18/3/24 –

After a very busy week, I had Sunday and getting out with my radio to look forward to. Thankfully the weather was being kind to me, whilst not warm, it wasnt raining as we had plenty of that over night !

Plenty of overnight rain at the QTH

I headed out to Boulderwood with the magloop and 705 and was on the air very quickly. Setup is quick and easy with the magloop and I actually learned a good wait to tune the antenna and get the SWR down quicker.

place hand UNDER feedline when tuning = better and quicker matching

I did run into issues starting out with WSJTX and FT8, the time on my computer was just ever so slightly out, but enough for a time sensitive decode of FT8 not to work correctly. I tried updating the time using the windows time server, to no avail ! I had to manually set the NTP server to rolex.ripe.net, sync the time and I was back in action !

I had 10 QSO’s in digital modes done in under 40 minutes, shifting between FT8 and FT4 on 20m, with POTA hunters chasing me thanks to the POTA app and RBN.

pskreport – 10W, FT8, 20M
PSK Report – 10W, FT4, 20m

Having completed enough contacts to activate the park, I was straight into Telephony and SSB. I went onto 17m, not that was any contests on, but I found it a good band for QRP operation, and sure enough I made two contacts, with EA1EC being a POTA Hunter, proving how using PoTA makes getting contacts that bit easier – when running QRP it all helps !

I jumped onto 20M, which was quite calm for a Sunday, and was able to tune around the band, making a contact with IK0VSY, with a good signal report. 20 meters really was the place to be today, so jumped onto SSTV and the pictures started rolling in from other SSTV users.

I waited my time and started to transmit and I made my first SSTV PoTA contact for 2024 ! I was really chuffed and excited, so big thanks to IK2QIN for the excellent QSO.

SSTV QSO received and uploaded to MAX SSTV by other SSTV receivers (Thanks MAX SSTV website!)

I then span the dial on 20m once more, and made 3 more SSB contacts, it was really great to make the contacts, with IU3EDQ being Portable !, but thanks again to EA2DT and EA4TL for hunting me and making the contact with excellent signal reports, with a 59 from me and a 5-5 for my reception report.

The IC-705 really done me a great service today, and being able to use the the voice repeat mode in conjunction with the ‘massive’ battery power of the ‘ultra max’ battery ensured I wasnt going to run out of power for the radio.

Sadly some massive QRM came in on frequency, but I was able to shift up and continue making contacts, that is the advantage of 20m over 17m, that it has more space in the band, so shifting isnt a problem. I quickly posted my frequency change on the POTA app and was able to continue making contacts !

QRM on frequency, maybe a new mode I’m not aware of !
the sun did try to come out

As the time approached for me to head to the supermarket to get my essential shopping, i packed up in no time, leaving the bunch and the park as I found it. Bolderwood is such a lovely place to come, its relaxing and gets me ready for the busy week ahead. I had a fantastic time getting out on the radio today.

Big thanks to all the people that made a contact with me today, it really is much appreciated and I really enjoy the amazing hobby that is amateur radio !

thanks for all the contacts !!!

*update 18/3/24*

Would like to say BIG thanks to Alessandro who contacted me with his QSL card, little did I know at the time that IU3EDK/P was up a mountain ! I received a lovely QSL card via email and a link to the activation – how amazing that it was a park-to-mountain activation all on 10W of power !!

Thank you Alessandro ! Please check out the activation from Alessandro here

QSL Card from IE3EDK up a mountain in Italy !

G-0112 4th Feb 2024 + Webtechnology site updates !

had spring come early ? The sun was out today!

Some lovely sun kept the chills off today with flowers blooming and when it reach mid afternoon looked like turning into a great afternoon evening, I thought it would be great to make an impromptu visit to Bolderwood to try a PoTA activation.

compare to Janurary temptures, I was basking in the winter sunshin at a 12 celsisus !

I had everything packed away, i did one quick check for the power beiing packed, which it was, but had no idea on the battery level of the laptop, I knew I had used it recently so it shouldnt be too low. I headed off and it was great to to Bolderwood which whilst still pleasently busy, didnt feel over crowded. I’m sure this will change even by the end of the month !

I was on the air in no time, with the Alexloop attached to the bench with a bungie and hooked into the IC705, it was easy to tune into 30m to start with for FT8. I chose 30m as I had alot of contacts at home and its not a band I used /P for POTA before, I made 4 contacts within 10 minutes, so wasnt disappointed. I then moved to FT4 on 20M – it was *busy* even finding a gap in FT4 was getting tricky, but I was glad to find a gap and get out. The laptop was down to 40% power by now, so I stuck it in energy efficent mode, which kept the battery going without issue and no adverse effect on the radio/USB connection.

using the laptop energy efficeint mode to extend the life the laptop

I was pleased with a series of rapid FT4 QSOs on 20m, i later learned these where all PoTA Hunters – whilst I’m amazed by them all in the distance, ranging from Austria and Spain in Europe, it was the DX contact with KC1MMC that blew me away – 3217 miles on 10W of power on a mag loop, I was really happy to say the least.

Sun went down and 20M opened up more

As the sun went down the volume of QSO’s on 20M just kept rolling in, from 17:17 to 17:25 I was having a QSO on FT8 every 2 minutes ! I had to call it a day as it was getting dark and wanted to get my equipment put away safely, but I think I enjoy coming out at dusk – maybe a small lamp or pen-light will be worth bringing next time.

14 contacts, 5 POTA hunters made happy !

This was a really enjoyable PoTA outing with minimal planning, I was really impressed how well the antenna done and the PSK Reporter picture shows, it can really reach the entire planet !

Digital modes doing really on 10W of power

I have seen videos of great QRP Contacts and am wondering how well I would do, I really think I should give it a try the next time I am out as the setup really impresses me and think it should be good to make some telephony contacts.

Making contact with KC1MMC on 20m FT8

Webtechnologies website update – WSPR Bands added !

I’ve been making monthly updates to my webtechnologies site, which last month I got back up and running so the code would scrape the data from the ‘updated’ WSPR old-db. I’ve now added sections that allow filtering by band. This is all transmitted via the 6BTV which is doing an excellent job of getting out on all 6 bands it is setup for.

Webtechnologies site – now with spots per band functionality.

I’m aiming to keep building more features for the website each month, just small incremental changes, but I’m sure will keep adding making for a feature-rich site. There is so much that can be done with WSPR data, I really enjoy using this mode and its great ot use my programming skills for amateur radio also. Check it out at the webtechnologies site.

G-0112 – Bolderwood New Forest, Alex Loop to the rescue

With another bright but cold day, it was a good time to get out and get on the air. This time I was packing my trust Alexloop Ham pack antenna along with the IC705, determined to make an activation on my 3rd attempt from Bolderwood.

WX – I caught the ‘warmer’ part of the day at round 9 to 7 celsius

I was no sooner out the car and onto one of the many available benches and quickly setup. The alex loop was out the bag and with a bungee hook strapped pretty tightly to the bench. I tuned for 20m and got a great SWR of between 1.3 and 1.4 but no more than 1.5 and 10W of power. The FT8 contacts came rolling in, and with a busy 20m FT8 was then onto FT4, for even quicker overs.

It was great to get a mobile phone signal as I tethered my laptop to the phone wifi and could upload my contacts directly to QRZ via the excellent grid tracker application, I still kept a manual log so it would be easy to confirm the order and QSO’s I had today. The Reverse Beacon Network and POTA app was doing me a great service, as quite a few of my contact were POTA hunters. Getting 10 contacts in under an hour was great given just how cold it was, it was nice to see 5 of the contacts are POTA hunters.

I gave SSTV a go, but the signal where coming in thick and fast, I started to see a response to my transmission, but another station came in over the top. I try to use Robot72 and BW12 to keep my over time on 14.2300 short, but most people dont QSY on SSTV, and even then we tend to get other people talking over the SSTV CoA on 20m as well..

Still, having uploaded my ADIF file from WSJTX to POTA I was soon awarded my 2024 activation. Just in the nick of time ! A good start to POTA in 2024 !

POTA 2024 Award – a good start to the year

I am really excited about getting out and do more POTA – its a great start to the year !

73, Alan 2E0FWE

POTA from G-0112, cold but worth the effor

First POTA of 2024 – G-0112 New Forest (again)

So with new choke packed away and bringing the battery pack, i headed out to Bolderwood in the New Forest, arriving at around 10:15, it was still pretty quiet and I had pick of parking spaces and benches.

bolderwood on New Years Day 2024

I then setup the IC705 with the Toybox antenna and radials, which I found getting the radials out much easier this time. I was able to get the SWR down on 17m to a 1.6~1.7.

With the antenna setup I then connected the 705 without the MAT Tuner to start with, having the large battery with me was really good as it support the LC IC705 bag nicely keeping the antenna and bag vertical. I then went about attachign the choke-wound usb cable to the laptop.

Uh oh.. this doesnt look good

As soon as the USB cable was attached, the QRM returned ! I could hear the FT8 stations coming into WSJTX without problem, but again when hitting transmit, the audio disconnected. Whilst the QRM was much reduced, there was no doubt it USB cable and laptop was still effecting the radio. I went ahead and the MAT autotuner, to see if that improve the situation, i.e. would it act as any kind of choke between the radio and antenna.

The introduction of the MAT Tuner had no effect on the QRM, although I could see that with the longer coax between the tuner and antenna, I could potentially try putting chokes on here also. I disconnected the radio and just tried calling CQ on 17m QRP frequency, but to no avail. I could pull in signals and I tried jumping on the back on other QSO’s but think I wasnt getting out at all with the little whip antenna.

So I think whilst I have other options, I will explore those as well, I have always done well with the magloop, and its a great antenna, but the one I really want to try is the UK Antenna 40M EFHW, but currently my SOTA Beams mast is damaged from its first and only outing. I explored the website and was able to order the 3 replacement broken parts, which only cost £17.28 with 1st class postage.

The 40M EFHW UK Antenna – the next one to try when the replacement mast parts arrive…

I will continue experimenting with chokes and the Toybox antenna at the QTH before going back out with it again, I think with enough power, it would work well as a portable antenna, with QRP/10W,its giong to be hard work to get on the air with it…

Until the next time, 73s !

2E0FWE

POTA Prep

Its been quite some time since I’ve been out and done a Parks On the Air (POTA) activation, but with the year coming to an end and a bank holiday for a day off, it as good a time as any to get outside and get on the air !

The IC705, when used, has mostly be used in the shack. I tend to use it on the 6BTV antenna and keep the 7300 on the End-fed Half-Wave (EFHW) for SSTV and other digimodes.

At the moment my Mazda Bongo is awaiting a garage visit due to a poorly alternator (its 27 years old…) so I will be in the Hyundai i10 (to be my son’s car once he passes his test), hence I will be working /P !

Hyundai i10, compact and cheap to run!

I will be taking the IC705 in its LC192 bag, some may say that this is a branding gimmick, but this bag suits the 705 so well, its brilliant! I’m going to the extreme on portable option of using the Comet Toybox antenna. This antenna tends to get pretty slated, but when I’ve taken the time to set it up myself, found it works really well, even with QRP operation.

Toybox antenna

I’ve previously made a video of me using this from the QTH, showing how I tune and make a contact with it, but this will be my first time using it for a POTA activation.

IC705 and Toybox antenna in use

I’m getting all the parts together again, making sure that batterys and the mat705 ATU are good for operation.

WX for around IO90

I’ll probably be heading for the New Forest, as there is plenty of places to park up and get the radio out, i’ll be logging old school pen and paper and using the upload feature once completed.

Hopefully the weather is kind to me and I get out, I have work to do on the eggbeaters still, and thats going well, but will put that in another post, for now, determined to get out with the radio and make some contacts!

A review of the Alexloop hampack

Its been quite some time since I’ve had the Alexloop Hampack, and with my QRP, /M and /P work becoming more ‘regular’ (at least one per month) – thought it time to share my views of this antenna system.

Alexloop hampack

Its hard to imaging, but its been just shy (April 2021) that I have had this antenna in my collection. This has given me plenty of opportunity to use it out in the field and for experimentation at home.

I bought this antenna to pair with the Icom IC705, which is undoubtedly an excellent transceiver in its own right – with excellent selectivity and filtering, its a question of putting the right antenna onto it.

The Alexloop Hampack – the good

Lets start what is good about the Alexloop Hampack. All these observations are based on my own usage, so whilst not scientific, they are at least practical and proven.

  • Its easy to setup

The Alexloop HamPack is very easy to setup. I can arrive at my operating destination and be on the air in minutes. There is no setting up a mast and throwing a wire, there is no tuning a vertical and getting the SWR 1:1 – i can get this antenna out the bag, onto a stand and tuned into the frequency I want to use very quickly. The LED showing the output might look a gimmick, but I can assure you I use this as a visual reference and then checking the radio’s SWR every time I setup or need to retune the antenna.

  • Its very selective

Now for some this might be a negative, but so far for me its been a positive. When I’m working /M or /P, I am limited to 10W. What I don’t want is to pick up every other station just slightlyoff frequency, and for sure, the AlexLoop gives me that. I can match my IC705 filters to the AlexLoop and get excellent input.

  • Its designed for and good at portable use

The AlexLoop Hampack bag is very well thought out. It comes with a excellent way of storing the main loop and then the tuner and other parts of the transceiver. I also own ICOM’s LC-192, which is an exemplary piece of portable radio design, however, even thou when I operate /M, I want to reduce the amount of baggage that I take, therefore I stick to using the Alexloop Hampack bag on its own, and regretfully the LC-192 is left at home ! With that, you can be sure if you *dont* have an LC-192 and are considering getting the Alexloop Hampack, the bag will suffice. It is not as good as the LC-192, in terms of access ports, padding and having a full functional HF/VHF/UHF transceiver system on your back, but for HF bands, the Alexloop Hampack bag *will get you on the air*

The bad

  • The price tag

It almost goes without saying, the biggest ‘bad’ of the Alexloop Hampack is the price tag. When I bought mine in April of 2021 it was £505, now an Alexloop Hampack will cost you up of £600. That is allot of money for an antenna and it really needs to justify its cost.

  • Using in the field

As I’ve said above, I found using the antenna in the field for QRP /P and /M incredibly good. However, not everyone is running an IC705, there are many /P or /M operators that have good transceivers that can push out 100W. The Alexloop is not designed for, and should never be used for values above 20W on SSB and 10W on Digital modes. If you have perfectly good transceiver already capable of powers above these, then is the AlexLoop Hampack the right antenna for you – I would say probably not, especially if you already own the transceiver, however, if you are designing a /P or /M solution from scratch, my answer would differ…

  • The Ugly

So is there anything ugly about a so well designed antenna. Well, I for one can say there is. When I received this antenna I found assembling it ‘awkward’ – that is getting the loop over the centre pole. This resulted in a nasty ‘nic’ getting into the loop coax.

I could easily accept this on a ‘cheap’ antenna with no instruction, but of an antenna, that at the time cost me £500+, I really was perturbed why a decent instructional video or document was available on how to set this antenna up. Furthermore, show how the selectivity worked would of been a benefit to a first time ‘loop’ user. Hindsite is 20/20, but when you pay allot you should really get that level of service included, not as an add-on.

Being an IC705 user, I found the Transceiver bag in the Alexoop Hampack to be oversized, compared to the afore mentioned LC-192, its padding/packaging for carrying a transceiver was really not as good as Icom’s own product. To me, this was scrimping on cost, rather than any other reason (i.e. a transceiver would fit in the bag) – and at the price-tag, was a little disappointing.

  • Summary / Recommendations

So its been nearly 2 years since I’ve had this antenna, I have at least 2 other antennas I can use with the IC-705 when working portable or mobile, and have the actual ICOM bag for the IC705, so what are my personal oonionsf the Alex Loop Ham Pack.

I am person that is time-poor, that is for me to go /P or /M requires planning and organisation, its not like I can just grab my radio and go out when I like, I’m busy. With that the Alex Loop Ham Pack always ensures that when I go out, I will get on the air – its easy to setup and I can make contacts as soon as the antenna and transceiver are matched. I don’t need to setup a mast, wire and ATU for an antenna, the Alex Loop Ham Pack does that for me with its simple and effective compact solution.

The biggest issue to me is the price, today (Jan 2023) it would cost me £600+ to get this antenna. That is a serious amount of money and given it is only capable of 20W maximum, is it the best antenna for the price ? I would say not, that a good dipole, end fed or vertical will outperform this antenna, but would it be as compact, easy and portable ? Probably not.

If you today you don’t have a QRP solution, you really cant go wrong with an IC705 and the Alexloop Hampack antenna, but then you are looking at a solution that is going to cost upward of £2000, to which you can get on the air with a QRP rig and antenna for £100-150 using a ubitx and simple dipole/end fed solution.

There is going to be a big difference in performance of the radios and antennas, and cost might be your personal motivation, where as quality/time maybe the secondary consideration.

Eitherway, the most important thing is to find the best solution you can afford, starting with the antennas as part of the solution, not the secondary, and getting outdoors and on the air.

A relaxing walk along the river Stour with 2M SSTV Testing

With the recent wind and rain, with the rain being very much needed given the recent near-tropical climate, the good weather presented a nice opportunity to take a stroll along the River Stour.

Its been raining alot this week!

I’ve recently received another VC-H1 via ebay – this one complete with its cable and in very good condition. The cable fits a Baofeng UV5R and with the THD7 not having a battery suitable for mobile operation, seemed a perfect time to combine a nice walk and testing out the THD7 with the UV5R.

The River Stour near the QTH

I started off on my usual walk to the local park, which has a nice path to take me to the Stour, there is a bit of road involved, but it was a good place to start testing the UV5R. I had setup FTP auto upload to the 2M SSTV section, so was able to see via the Website – of course I did wait a little just incase someone replied !

First transmission received back at the QTH

The UV5R max power is 5W, so I left it at that. I used normal FM (there is a narrow option) but I believe SSTV is fine as FM. The 9700 receives and sends in FM-Digital mode.

I could at least see the UV5R was working fine, as it should be at this relative short distance (less than 1 mile), but nether the less it was good to see al the systems working well together, i.e. RX via Radio, MMSSTV decode, FTP Upload and available via the website.

I headed a little further down towards where I would usually turn right and start the leg ward journey back home, in this case I carried on towards the Stour River via the Kingfisher Barn visitor centre, which has lovely wood carvings all along the path towards the river.

Having my mobile phone with me and it being a little less busy I was able to generate the tone to test the RX of the UV-5R, I sent the tone and transmitted, the received picture worked really well, with a nice carving of an owl received, which was then re-transmitted back and well received my the UV5R. I’m running 50W into a Diamond X50 back home, so it should come as no suprise that I could receive the picture is relatively short distance, but still glad all the systems worked well.

I kept walking towards the river, its slightly lower and certianly well below the height of the base of my antenna, but with being 30ft up, is still within line of sight. My pictures were well recived by the replay SSTV station and Sweety was having an equally good time, playing with other dogs and enjoying the cooler air.

Given the VC-H1 is quite old and transmits in Robot72 mode, I was quite impressed with the colour quality of the camera. I will need to do some research as to what CCD, or other device, it is using for the capture, the colours in the kingfisher memorial seat are quite true to life and with only Robot72 mode being used is a pretty good rendition. We can see the difference between a modern camera on an Iphone compared to the VC-H1 Robot72, but again being able to go mobile and do SSTV is still quite a novelty for me and am just glad it works!

Having neared Cherry Tree park it was time to head back home, we had walk quite a distance and the walk back home was along the busy roads, so no chance to take pictures there whilst walking Sweety. I was happy that the UV5R at over a mile way gave P5/595 picture results on 5W of power, so I could have a true portable SSTV experience and I felt really great from the lovely walk along the river.

I shall be sure to head back again as with autumn approaching, the scenery will get ever so radiant.

G-0407 Lodmoor Country Park POTA

After a few weeks break of regular PoTA Activations, I was very excited to go out for my planned activation at Lodmoor Country Park near Weymouth.

I had completed my prep the evening before, checking that my batteries and accessories were all packed into the Alex loopham pack bag. In the morning I found that XYL Monica had even made me a pack lunch for my day out, which was much needed later in the day. An early start got me out with walking my dog Sweety at 5AM just as the sun came up, I then headed off to Weymouth, APRS beacon sending out packets as I did so, my full route wasnt covered today which seemed unusual, I did hear APRS packets on arrival in Weymouth.

APRS Recetion dropped off around Bere Regus

I chose to go to Beach Car Park, as this was situated conveniently near to the park facilities, its always useful to have a WC available, also the park itself look great and venturing beyond the comfort of the Bongo to get into the park would be nice.

The Beach Car Park is open 24/7, and even free between 18:00 and 08:00, although the signage says ‘no overnight sleeping’. Interestingly I noticed that Motorhomes are banned outright (probably for this reason), and where as my Mazda Bongo is classified as a Campervan would still be limited to a ‘4 hour’ max visit – noticed this of course after I had paid £10 for the full day, and whilst I think during the less busy seasons its unlikely to be enforced, I can imagine during peak times its something to be of mindful of.

Before settling into the Bongo and setting up, I popped to the WC, even at this early hour the facilities are open and clean and tidy, nice to see. The park had great maps to help navigate around. There is alot to do here for a family, such as Sealife centre, gokarts, mini-golf, pitch and putt and Sandwolrd – maybe its the kind of place where the youngsters could be enjoy the activities whilst allowing others to be operating the radio, win all round !

Once back in the Bongo I was quickly on the air thanks to the fantastic Alex Loop Antenna – whilst I have other antennas, the ease and speed in which I can get this setup really makes it hard to use the alternatives. Using the bikestand as a support which I can drive the bongo onto ensures that the wind doesnt get the better of it as well !

With the magloop just out the door and feedline thru the front window, I could get the SWR pretty much always under 1.5 to 1:1 – 20m was alive with contesters – even FT8 was super busy – the excellent SDR Control really helped – I cant say how good this application is, I am getting more out of it every single time I use it, the ease of logging and connection to the IC705 via Wifi is excellent. FT8 got very busy, so remembering I had FT4 available also, headed up the band slightly and enjoyed a rapid sucsession of QSO’s. Within one hour I was very close to having enough QSOs to activate the park.

Digital Mode QSOs logged manually

I also log manually just to ensure I have a backup, I found today that jumping between bands was getting easier – I tuned 1:1 on 17m in just one go, and by now with a great collection of data mode QSO’s under my belt, felt it was time for some telephony/SSB action.

I piggy backed on the back of the contest, it was great running QRP portable and even the contesters were happy to receive a mobile station, some even going beyond the usual contest rubber stamp asking my about my setup ! I really enjoyed that and a method I will use in the future (I actually was inspired to do this by VK3YE talk on how to get more HF contacts!)

excellent video by VK3YE on getting contacts on HF

After a great lunch in the Bongo, I decided to head out to the park for /P action !

I really enjoyed the walk around the park, I wore the Alexloop hampack bag without any problem. It was quite weighty and at first a little nervous of the straps – thinking about how much equipment and how much it costs tends to make one a little trepidatious in trusting it all to a couple of straps!

Whilst having a table/chair is my preferred ‘comfort’ of operation – and I even passed one picnic table, I liked this location, it was in the shade and the bench long enough to get everything on it without worrying about it falling off. A good bungee allowed me to strap the alexloop onto the bench, only once wobbling over when a big gust of wind came in.

It was nice that there was people interested in what I was doing, even a few comments by the passing runners on what a nice setup, as ever people where amazed with being able to make contacts around Europe – I think peoples perception of Amateur radio is that of huge Yagis and long wires, when they see the little loop and the SDR display with foreign voices booming from the IC705 they are interested to see it in action, I’m always happy to show the log book and talk about it.

I was able to make one more QSO from the bench and really enjoyed that, even on 5W of power the noise floor in the park was so good that I didnt need lots of power or a huge antenna to have a SSB contact. The fact that I had spotted on PoTA app meant other amateurs were looking for me helped for sure.

It was as easy to pack away as it was to setup from the bench, proving how versatile a well organised radio can be.

Heading back to the bongo I enjoyed seeing blackberrys growing and a giganttic overlflow carpark – it looked closed and judging by the meters had been for quite some time. I dare say this could be an excellent place to put a bigger mast and wire-type antenna up. I admired the view from the carpark once more before heading back to the QTH having had a really excellent time out with the radio. I will be back for sure and would like to investigate the bird reserve next time, it really is a big PoTA area to cover !

20 Unique calls today !

3 PoTA hunters
activation video

Upton Country Park – a visit for PoTA activations

Having now purchased a season ticket for Parking at Upton Country Park (G-0443) I wanted to make a site-visit to check it out.

I first looked up the map available on-line to see what kind of walk I could have.

upton country park map

I parked up and headed off with my little Maltese / poodle cross Sweety to enjoy the survey!

Car Park (bongo in distance)

My objective is to find somewhere where I can work, ideally near the shore/sea as I’m sure even with a magloop that will help with the DX, as shown when I had a fantastic activation down on the Jurassic Coast at Weymouth (loads of Data and Telephony contacts!), I followed the red-path but with the purple de-tour across the bay.

Our route took across a specially built path that crossed a marsh/bay. It was fantastic view across to Poole and many birds could be heard. I immediatly thought how nice it would be to try out the wire-meshing as a counterpoise and right next to the sea ! One to try out for sure. Sweetys paws had no problem on the wire mesh and infact made quite a nice tempo beat as he walked across.

It really is an idealic environment, its hard to image that an massive urban environment is only minutes away, its pure escapisim coming to the country park. The park/council had installed a lovely ‘frame’ to capture the scene (full pic here) I was really in my element enjoying the weather and taking my dog for a walk. There was few but nice people around (Monday evening 19:00 approx) The Corgi pictures with info about The Queens dogs was lovely touch on the Platinium Jubilee.

As Sweety and I’s walk came to end we reached the lovely ‘picnic’ spot – which is a set of lovely wooden seat and table. Whilst its far from the sea, just thinking about operating from here made me really excited. The view was fantastic, a few pylons down the road was the only negative, not sure how much they would effect my experience. The woods was lovely.

A lovely place for anything, but especially radio !

I cannot wait to get back to Upton Park with my radio, it is so near and fantastic location to operate from. I am sure it will get me lots of contacts !

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