viernes, 23 de mayo de 2014

SOTA EA2/BI-055 Ganguren fast & wet activation

2 photo composition to see the antenna
Today we were going to have here at Bilbao a small window of sun from 07:00 to 10:00 UT between last two rainy days. Thus, I decided to continue my norcal doublet tests making a quick activation in our "local" SOTA summit, Ganguren, just 5 km from Bilbao, and pretty easy to hike. 

I arrived by motorbike to the zone under the rain as I did the short ascension. Then I must wait for half an hour to the rain to calm down enough to start the setup. 

It was 07:20 when finally I was able to start transmitting. 4 minutes later I heard VK2IO calling on 14 Mhz (Gerard, believe me, this time the antenna was well oriented, but the condx seemed not to be the best..) making a poor RR339-RS559 on my side. 

After some CW and SSB QSO's with the unconditional week chasers and some band changes, I caught a short SE on 24 mhz, being able to listen and work some EU stations, and listening -only- 9G5ZZ and Z21GF. 

Today odd thing was making 4 QSOs, in no more than 1 hour, with Jan OK2PDT on 10,14,24 and 28 Mhz! thanks a lot for your reports, Jan! 

BUS (Basic Underwater System)
Regarding the norcal doublet antenna, using the elecraft T1 tuner was not any trouble fitting it perfectly on all worked bands. How it performs, may be answered after some more tests. But in any case, being under the large golf umbrella I bought for these rainy days, is pretty much easier to make band changes than while using the linked dipole, reducing the risk of wetting the equipment as well.

73 de Mikel (not yet octopus but starting to develope gills)

miércoles, 21 de mayo de 2014

SOTA EA2/VI-060 Luxamendi

Beautiful sight from the summit
Here we are again! A new SOTA summit for me, and in CW for all as well. 

After the "La Vida" EA1/CT-098 early morning experience, having made 2 VK QSO with such a small antenna (just an 1.5 m telescopic one), I wanted to try another early activation, now in better conditions.

I chose Luxamendi, near Laudio in Araba, because it is relatively easy, never activated nor HF neither CW, and was a new one for me. 

Wheather predictions expected rain around 11:00 local (09:00 UT), so it would be a fast one. 

Despite going by motorcycle -around 54 km from home- I carried a new 6 meter fiber fishing pole, that later I will use as home antenna. It is about 1.45 m length, and not too easy to carry on the bike, but I managed to do it well enough.

Also, yesterday evening, I had prepared a new antenna for testing. No comparision could be made with previous activations, as propagation makes always his work introducing unexpected variables. 

It was the light norcal doublet, made with computer ribbon, as described by KI6DS at http://www.norcalqrp.org/norcaldoublet.htm It cost me no more than two hours to prepare the 4 wires ribbon , the 4:1 balun, and 2 meters RG-174 wire to connect the Elecraft T1 ant. tuner later. 
Here is the system schematics:

Equipment used

Finally, today morning, I arrived at the summit at 08:15 UT, after leaving the motorbike on a near country house, where the owner was so kind to allow me to leave it on a small shelter aside the main house. So, later, and despite of the rain, I found it pretty dry. As it was the bike jacket which I left at the same place (~2 kg less to carry up!)

At the beginning was no wind, so I could set the antenna up quite easily. Just after tuning it on 14 mhz. (pretty fast with the elecraft, which seemed to be a little surprised by the new norcal) I heard Patricio EA2EX who was activating a near one. Fine signals on both sides! It might be success! A couple of minutes later, 2 S2S QSO's more, this time with Michael GW0HIO and Klaus DF2GN. The signals were not the best, but nice enough to make a total of 7 S2S along the activation.

At 07:11 UT came my first dx, with Joao CU3AA from Azores (14 mhz CW) with 599/599 pretty strong signals. Later, at 08:00 UT, I made a new QSO with Gerard VK2IO, 559 sent, 339 received. So the antenna was making its work, at least to jump out of EU with the usual 9-10 watts. 

Around 08:15 UT, the clouds were appearing from the north, and it was clear that they were carrying rain, which could be easily be seen. So, a handful of SSB QSOs later, and with the wind becoming stronger by minutes, I decided to make a quick retreat. I phoned Patricio who was already under the rain. This put me wings and I ran mountain down (well, ran...) towards the country house,  just a 20 min descent, at my average "water-coming" emergency speed. 

So, a bit wet after arriving, I ended the activation. More tests must be made to the norcal to see if it can replace the old and reliable linked dipole. 

More to come ;-)

Download the GPX track file

73 de Mikel EA2CW

lunes, 19 de mayo de 2014

"La Vida" (Life) EA1/CT-098, an odd activation.

Today was a really odd activation. It might be a short one, as I might later go to work. I didn't know the route, as it was going to be my first EA1/CT region activation. It would be no matter with summit height (an impressive 264 m), and just about 200 m to hike, after leaving the motorbike parked. I need also to make it short as some rain was announced, and I didn't want to go back home on the bike (54 km) under the water. 

Carrying the 9m mast on the bike is quite problematic. So, I decided to use, by first time a vertical portable antenna (SPX-100) ( +- 1,5 m telescopic and coil). I want to test it as an alternative to the 20 m. length switched dipole, but I didn't expect brilliant results, being used to the "real/royal" one.

The summit name could give me some clues: "La Vida" (Life) made me expect something special. As always is with the new ones, I tried some paths, choosing at last a short one that leaved me at 10 m. from the summit. It was the access to a water depot (which later brought me some odd sounds, imagine...)

Unfortunately, the area is surrounded by a metallic fence that would act as a perfect Faraday cage for my small antenna & power. So, I chose to put the FT-817 on top of one of the posts (just 15x15cm area), cw keyer on top of the xmitter, LiFePo4 on the side (red plastic box), and the watch, pencil and notebook hanging.

On the other side, I was able to connect my three 5 m radials to the wire fence, so it made a very good counterpoise, I think. The bad side was that this position keep me standing up all the activation long.

But finally "Life" deserved!. An early start gave me QSOs not only with some well known EU chasers, but also with Rhett VK3GHZ and Gerard VK2IO, and few minutes later with John N4DSP. Not bad for so "big" antenna... I guess the activator's high performance level had something to do with it ;-)

Perhaps some of you have noticed the long lapse between calls and being answered, or the bad keying. Well,it was really tricky to (without my 8 needed hands) manage the keyer, notebook, pencil,etc. That was a bit better later on SSB.

So, final results: 41 QSO's, no S2S, 3 continents (AU, EU and NA) .
Rig: FT-817ND @ 10 watts, Vertical portable antenna SPX-100, 8 Ah LiFePo4 battery and homebrew CW keyer (need to improve it)

73 de Mikel (still needing some more arms/hands)