Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Counting - Radio #2 - Yaesu FT-817ND - Operating QRP Portable

It's now almost mid April 2014 and finally the time has come to take a break from work.
I headed for bluer skies and landed a spot in the south coast of Portugal with enough free space for playing around with some antennas.

To be honest I have/had very little prior experience while operating QRP portable. I did one SOTA activity with my good friend Pedro and while he scored quite a few CW contacts I came out empty handed on SSB. So I knew it was difficult. I just did not know how difficult it would be.
So, here's what I had available for my portable station:
So, on my first day, the 13th of April, I started out with the 12m fiberglass pole and the Widebander Antenna. Here's a shot of the 12m pole installed and ready to be pushed up:

As I was setting the Widebander I noticed, again, the great quality of the 12m Spiderbeam pole. It's quite heavy and probably not suited for the SOTA operator, but still, for a place-it-the-car-trunk mast, you probably cannot beat it for it's quality and price.
As I raised the widebander it became clear that even a 12m mast is not enough to extend all the wire in the antenna. Perhaps I should have read the antenna description:

"The G Whip wideband antenna comprises of a super efficient 9/1 un/un and 2 lengths of kevlar wire, the 22 mtr radiator and a 20 mtr counterpoise are supplied. Resonance/matching is achieved with a good trans-match from 3.6MHz to 50MHz with a maximum VSWR of under 2 to 1. (not tuned as you cannot tune an antenna with an ATU, you can only match it!). Sloping radiator length is approx 22 mtrs which can be dog legged."

So, while it's a great idea, this antenna requires a lot of space. And I just did not had that space available at the time.
I ended up by not extending all the antenna, and I am sure that affected it's performance. Nevertheless the antenna tuner was able to match the antenna from 10m to 20m with no problems whatsoever.
At the end of the first day I was quite happy as I had managed a good 20m QSO with the island of Tenerife, with EA8/I0SNY. This accounted for a distance of 1286,24 Km wich at the time sounded very good for 5 watt only.

As day one came to an end, I started thinking if the distance I had managed could be further extended. So, even before sunset I started preparing for day two, where I would be changing the widebander for a multiband delta loop. I was hoping the delta loop could give me better results. And, as it turned out, I was not mistaken.

As day two started I was able to get the delta loop up and running.
Here are some photos of the day two setup. First the QRP station:

And the *star* of the day, the multiband delta loop antenna:

As the day progressed I had no doubts that this is a superb antenna. It's actually so good that I am considering having one permanently setup at my QTH to use as a second antenna.
Propagation was not brilliant on these days but I could easly listen to DX stations on North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand. This is how good this antenna is.
Of course, when you are working with 5 watts only it's not likely that you will break pileups. Actually, you will be lucky if a DX station picks up your signal, Well, I was lucky enough: I managed a contact with PY3MN, located on the south part of Brazil, very close to Argentina, for a total distance of 8873,49 Km. I was very happy with this contact as it stands as my best effort with 5 watts only.

I have written Ben, PY3MN to thank him for the contact. In fact, if it wasn't for propagation and his mighty antennas (Hygain TH6DXX 10-15-20 “6” element triband yagi and Moonraker AV140 4 element 10m monoband) this contact would not have been possible.
Just so you can have an idea, here's what a Moonraker AV140 looks like (no, it's not a 4 element cubical quad!).

Anyway, what a great day. These are the days that for us, ham radio operators, stay in our memory for years to come.
Until other blog post, I will leave you with the sunset for that particular day.
73 and see you on the bands.

No comments:

Post a Comment