At last, the warmer weather has arrived, today gave me the first opportunity to operate outdoors without a coat.
It was a pleasant sunny afternoon so I decided to operate outdoors and make the most of the nice weather. Using the Icom 7100 and 65Ah leisure battery and a white stick for 145 MHz and slim jim for 70 MHz allowed me to work a number of local stations.
The 70 MHz Slim Jim is mounted on the fibreglass pole on the right.
The metal mast on the right had been given to me by Richard G4DDP and it was its first chance to try it out in the field. Its very heavy duty, and I think would have originally been designed to take a speaker at a gig, now upscaled to amateur radio.
On 145 MHz I worked M0FAQ Martin in Braintree, M0WJL Gordon in Corringham.
On 70 MHz I worked 2E0HPA/M Andy in Tadlow, G4YBI Paul Rainham, M0XTA Selim, G0ENN Southend.
Here you can see the Icom 7100 setup and operating on 70 MHz
The Icom 7100 all packed up in its travel box.
FT8 has taken the HF bands by storm, a bit like PSK did in the early 2000s. These days it seems the mode of choice for DX stations, allowing them to make a number of QSO is a short duration. If you haven’t checked out FT8 then I would suggest you head over to Joe Taylor website and have a look at some of the weak signal propagation modes available.
If you are new to FT8 you may find this operating guide helpful.
Connecting my Icom 7100 to Ham Radio Deluxe, and then WSJT-X to “Ham Radio Delux” works just fine for me. It should be possible to connect WSJT directly to the Icom radio, but a lot will depend on your operating preferences.
The agreed dial frequency is 144.174 USB and you will see activity most of the time, probably more in the evenings and weekends
Its quite common to see Germany, France, Belgium, Ireland, Wales and Scotland in a few hrs of monitoring under flat conditions.
50 MHz is also popular and works well under short sporadic E opening.
The RSGB have a series of Christmas Cumulative contests covering 50/70/144 and 433 MHz. The contest is a chance to put down that turkey sandwich and head out to play some radio in the winter sun. The contest run for 2 hrs, and activity is over 4 days. You can read the rules online, and activity is typically quite high.
This year I joined George M1GEO at our contest site above the Secret Nuclear Bunker in Kelvedon Hatch.
The setup included.
Icom 7100, 9e Portable Tona and RF power was provided by a Linear Amp 300w solid state amplifier. The mast was a Racal PU 12 at 5m as the band was wide open with tropo propagation, this provided some interested DX. Mains power was provided by a silent running 2KW Honda generator.
We managed to work 51 stations, with our best DX into Spain, EA1FDI in IN53 at 1143 KM.
The QSO map showed some great openings to the South and East.
The temperature dropped quickly once the sun set, providing a spectacular sunset and the motivation to pack away quickly. Altogether a great afternoon playing radio, with some great propagation for a change.
Thanks to everyone we worked, and all the best in 2017.
George M1GEO and myself took part in the RSGB 70 MHz trophy contest this weekend at the Kelvedon hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker contest site. The weather was ideal for alfresco operating, using the Icom 7100 and homebrew 6e beam at 10m on the Racal PU12 mast. Using 50w and a 85Ah leisure battery we operated from 11am till 4 PM.
Here you can see the PU12 and home-brew 6e 70 MHz beam. Operating from the base of the mast provided quick access to turn the beam. We managed to work 59 QSO with best DX into Scotland at 518 KM. The QSO map is shown here.
Meanwhile Rob M0VFC was operating QRP HF on 3.5, 7 and 14 MHz using a range of dipoles. Unfortunately the HF bands have been a challenge at the best of times during the day, and QRP provided to be interesting. After a few hrs operating Rob had completed 30 QSO, and under the conditions that counts as a sterling effort ! Here you can see Rob operating from the boot of his car Altogether another great weekend of alfresco operating in the sunshine.
Operating report from the Tue evening 144 MHz UKAC. This event runs from 20:00 Hrs to 22:30. Further details can be found on the RSGB VHF pages.
The idea of the event is to promote activity and club participation on the VHF and UHF bands. Anyone who is a member of the club can participate, as your club is affiliated to the RSGB. You dont need to be an RSGB member yourself to take part or enter a log.
Dave M0TAZ at the operating table.
Tuesday evenings in the summer provide an ideal chance to operate outdoors, taking in the evening sun and enjoying the fresh air. Lets not mention about getting bitten by the bugs ! (stop your not selling this)
Logging by lantern
With the assistance of John M0UKD and using the Icom 7100, 9e Tonna and 12m Racal push up mast we was set up and ready to go 20 minutes before the start of the contest. Logging was completed using the excellent and free program Minos . The mast was hand rotated, with the operating position close to the mast, it could be rotated mid QSO if needed. Over the course of the next 2.5 Hrs we managed to work 57 stations, best DX being Scotland at 507 KM
The mast and antenna
The QSO map is shown below.
John M0UKD and myself decided it would be fun to work a few in the VHF NFD from Mam Tor at 517m ASL. Using John’s FT 897d and 20w battery power and his 6e homebrew PEGTENNA.
The walk is quite short and the “summit” is not a SOTA, its a simple walk up from the National Trust Car park. The walk is well defined up a stone path, most of the way is simply steps to the top of the hill. The views to the South are quite good, but the path is not so good to the North West, North or North east.
We selected it as its a simple walk, and as we only intended to operate for 1 Hr, it would be nice to select a quick activation.
Once on site, at the top of the hill we discovered two things, it was very popular with families, dogs and children and it was also very windy. The hill top was several degrees below that of the car park, and with the wind chill it felt distinctly chilly.
Here is Dave @M0TAZ supporting the antenna.
We found a location just off the top of the hill to operate, and called CQ
Here is John @M0UKD
Best DX for the day was F4HJC/P in JN19 at 579 KM.
We worked a total of 24 stations is 60 minutes.
A map of the QSO’s can be seen below.