Portable Operations #3 – Field Weekend

At 0530 hr this morning, when the birds were giving their vocal chords a stretch it wasn’t looking too bad out there.

Strangely, in the time it took me to move from the horizontal to the vertical a few hours later it was very much a case that the days proceedings were going to be sponsored by our old friends precipitation and cloud. Having just spent the last couple of weeks having to deal with the stress and strains of weather like this –

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I was hoping for something a bit better than this –

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When it comes to the Great British weather, there’s nothing “Great” about it whatsoever. I’m assuming that it’s Brexited on a permanent basis along with our EU membership!!

Anyway, not to be defeatist I removed all my essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses and cap from my gear bag and replaced them with wet weather kit. We didn’t come all this way to quit so quickly! Somewhat annoyingly I’d been looking at offers on 2 man pop up tents online yesterday thinking “Nah, don’t need one, won’t need one, I’ll get one another day, it can wait, this weekend’s gonna be great”. Hmm, how wrong can you be?

So, with the rain clouds looming I set about deploying all my toys. Like everything first time out there was a bit of trial and error to get things just how they needed to be, but we got there.

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My 728HFA sat perfectly aloft the trigpoint mount and with 100ft of paracord attached to the dogbone insulator, I ran it back to a tent peg pushed into the ground further along the battlements of the fort, which gave a 25-33 degree declination over the run.

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The first snag arose when my feeder which was 8m in length and great for use in the garden or when you’re sat at the base of your mast, was just a bit too short to get me into the environmental safety of the club marquee. This was overcome by a bit of lateral thinking and a rummage around the boot of the car revealed the beach shelter which I set up literally at the marquee door, much to the amusement of the rest of the club. The colour scheme didn’t help matters greatly. I need something more manly and tactical!

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And there we have it, M0XXF/P up and running. The next goof was realising I’d managed to unpack my ground sheet from the car while packing, so I spent the rest of the day in the prone position on top of an old Gortex soft shell jacket which had been in the car boot.

All I can say is what a great day. It just goes to show what 100m of elevation away from the electrical noise of the urban environment can do for antenna reception! I’ve never seen so many signals and with a marked increase in reception clarity.

At home my 728HFA runs east – west hidden beneath the facia board of the house and has to contend with the proximity of a brick building and the electrical pollution of the urban environment. Today it’s orientated north – south, so in effect side on to Europe with absolutely nothing of note near it. As such I was seeing PSK31 signals from countries and areas I’ve never seen before, Indonesia being one of note. All my QSO’s during the day were made on 20W, simply because my T1 ATU isn’t happy above that level and I couldn’t be bothered to keep adjusting the power settings within the rig. That said, I had packed my LDG YT-100, so could have upped my power if I’d wanted. I managed to bag a suitable number of QSO’s to make the day worthwhile, which was the primary objective.

Eventually the sun came out to brighten up the day which was a bonus, that was promptly countered by an invasion of flying ants, motivated to take a flying lesson, by the spontaneous return of summer. Note to self, a blue and yellow beach shelter obviously looks like food to the critters and I think most of them decided to drop in to see what was going on. I’ve been picking the damn things out my kit bag for the past 2 days!

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So come BBQ time and the end of the day, what had we learnt?

  1. Operating portable is great fun
  2. Get a longer feeder for my antenna
  3. A blue and yellow beach shelter really isn’t manly!
  4. I should have bought that pop up tent!

 

 

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