Portable Fun

Well another trip to the woods and it was even better. I had the new headset but I didn't want to put the foot pedal in the wet dirt so I just used them for the headphones and used the regular hand mic. That was an okay combo. Once I get the grip PTT up and running I think that'll be fine business.

Besides making a shitload of contacts the highlights were:
  • One little girl who did the whole QSO herself. I could hear dad in the background at the end, but he wasn't prompting her.
  • One guy worked me with 1 watt from MO, almost 1000 miles away. I heard him 58.
  • Spending an evening after work at a lake in the woods smelling the foggy, leafy air.
Once again, the photo doesn't do the fog justice. This was right before I left.

I had the day off so after I finished some chores I hit up a local park to play some radio. First thing: the picnic table is gone. So I used the folding tripod seat I keep in the car for such occasions, and one of those built-in park grills for a table with a piece of yoga mat for a tablecloth. It worked like a charm for my radio and laptop.

The MFJ whip I brought often seems to be a little short on 20m, so I started on 17m and I worked my way down to 10m. I could NOT get the antenna to tune on 6m for some reason. I'm thinking it becomes enough shorter than my (10') radials that weird things start to happen. There were two SWR dips near 50MHz, as I tuned to get one closer it would get worse, and if I tried for the other, it did the same, like a game of cat and mouse. I'm not trying to make a whole shitload of radials to keep track of, but maybe that would get me 6m. And maybe that's what went wrong with the copper pipe vertical I made a few weeks ago (hmm).

The headset and phallic PTT button were the real winners today. I'm really pleased with that setup.

The logging SW (HAMRS) only seems to know US/Canada calls and maybe the occasional European call. It's not showing Germany, Spain and Italy. I was *this close* to a station in Ecuador, but he faded out on me.

Sorry about the crappy picture. My other computer is my ham computer and I don't have a good way to get pictures back and forth. I wish I had a way to color code by band. It would be interesting to see which contacts were on which bands.

I braved the cold today and hit up a park. My MFJ-1979 17' whip hadn't been working well on 20m (too short) and someone suggested elevating it more, and running elevated radials (see bottom for reference). Allegedly that configuration will give you an S-unit or two (and lower the resonant frequency of the antenna). So that's what I did. The ground was frozen, so fortunately I had a tree to tie one radial to, and for the other I used two electric fence posts like a bipod (almost like shooting sticks) to hold the other radial. I setup the radials 90 degrees to each other, facing west. It's hard to say how much it favored that direction because that's where most people would be anyway, but I did work France too. There are a pile of Canadian stations that don't show up, too.

I was on the air for less than an hour and a half and tied my record at over 130 QSOs. Eventually I couldn't type or work the touch pad anymore and had to call it quits. It was about 33 degrees with a steady but increasing breeze coming off the lake. I had a hand warmer in my pocket I'd hold when I wasn't typing, but eventually that wasn't keeping up anymore. My other hand worked the PTT from inside a pocket and stayed warm.


I think next time I'll wear warmer boots instead of hikers, and maybe some of those mittens that fold back. Or cut the finger pads out of a pair of gloves so I can work the touch pad and type. I have gloves that allegedly work a touch screen and stuff, but they do not.

KJ6ER came up with the PREDator (Portable Resonant Elevated Directional) configuration.

Nice day today, had to go to the dentist and decided to blow off work for the afternoon. Packed up my FT-818 and accoutrements and headed out to the woods to play some radio. Dang, it started to rain. No worries, backup plan: I'll just sit under the hatchback.

About 3/4 of the way to my spot I realize I didn't bring the radio's power cord. No worries, backup plan #2 I'll just run off the internal battery. I'll only have 2.5w, but it's worth a try.

I pull over to check and make sure the battery is charged, nope. No worries, backup plan #3 I'll just hike in to the AT shelter to see how far it is and how long it takes to get in. Success! And I made it back out before it was too dark. Not the smartest move, but the darker it got the more careful I was.

My other goal was to see if I could reach my buddy in town on 2m simplex. Nope. I tried the repeater and I swear I was getting in, but nobody would answer my call. Fail.

All in all it was not the most successful outing. But I learned a thing or two and got in about a 2 mile hike. Not bad for a rainy afternoon in December. Better than a good day in the office.
Yes, and 98% of those other 2% too.

I had to double check when I got home because my HT has Yaesu Fusion on it and I had it set to Auto, which will Tx in the Fusion mode (digital) unless it most recently received analog, then it will Tx analog. For the repeater I was sending digital, which I think the repeater sends back out as both digital and analog. And yes, I could receive it on an analog radio at home, so that wasn't the problem.

So I guess 4:30 PM on a Friday is not a popular time for repeaters. :rolleyes: Or maybe people were keeping it clear in case someone wanted to use it. :rolleyes::rolleyes:

Next time I might bring my little 2m/70cm amplifier and a roll up jpole to mess around a bit before I get to HF.
Well, I'm blaming the horrible bands today. I went to a new to me park, setup with my 818 and made a grand total of 0 contacts. The people I could hear were S-0, so my QRP setup wasn't busting any pileups. I was hoping to give the random wire a fair shake, but nope.

Then I continued on to my super secret squirrel location and connected up to the big antenna up there (ZS6BKW) and it still sucked. Eventually the bands warmed up and I started making contacts. Somehow I even busted a pileup and the guy came back with "I was calling the QRP station". 59+ on that one. And one very weak but complete contact with central CA.

Still not a banner day, but I seem to remember that CME from earlier this week was supposed to wreck the bands this weekend.
Not to clog up the Shack thread with more about my QCX Mini, I'll put this here.

First, I embedded three magnets in the base of my portable paddles so I could use a "jewelers bench block", which is just a heavy steel disc with a rubber base. All the cool kids are using them to stick their portable paddles to so they don't move around in the wild. That worked like a charm and let me keep one hand fully gloved and warm.

Second, against my better judgement I hiked into an AT shelter in the snow. The first half is on a dirt road that someone had driven on, so that was packed. The second half is on a trail that's all rocks and roots and snow. I'd say there was about 6-8" of powder covering everything.

Third, I got the new 17m EFHW up and connected to the QCX mini, which was a real pleasure to use.

Fourth, I used a little powered speaker instead of headphones. What a pleasurable way to spend an afternoon (or hour) in a quiet snowy forest.

By the time I got there and got setup, I only had about half a hour to work before I had to pack up and head out. Dark was coming. Still, I managed 13 contacts. Not a bad spread for 5w and a wire on a cold, snowy day in January.

Today I was out in the woods on 17m with my new Spiderbeams 7m mast. I didn't have it all the way up because the 17m wire isn't that long. I had it leaned into a tree so no guy wires were needed, but my wire ended up tangled on every twig and bud. Lesson learned: steer clear of the little tiny brand new branches.

Once again something in my paddle loosened up and made it so every dit also sent a dah. I backed the set screws off so it would stop doing that, but it's annoying that I have to keep fixing this thing. To add insult to injury the magnets weren't holding the paddle fast to the little steel plate I brought, so I had to hold it with my left hand anyway.

That aside, it was such a nice day. Dead quiet and lightly falling snow. Eventually the 20 degrees got to me and I had to pack up, but I had a nice time.

It always amazes me that 5w and a wire can do this... My first contact was 559 into France.

Another banger on 17m. Kind of slow but I did alright. The BaMaKeY on a leg mount was beautiful; it is a real treat to use.

The clipboard is from BaMaTech, too. It has holes for these little elastics to hold you stuff down, and the clipboard clip can be mounted in a variety of positions. I might have to add some holes because I'd like it to hold my notebook from above where it's out of the way.

Laugh at the ACUs if you want, but those shits are comfy AF for hiking and as far as I can tell you don't have to wash them.


I can't be mad at this spread. British Colombia, Washington, Idaho, Texas, Florida, and Belgium to name a few on 5w into a EFHW. My lowest signal report came from Connecticut.

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