Monthly Archives: July 2016

Trials and Tribulations

Nothing like trialing some new kit in the field.
I have been doing this for the past few activations. Firstly has been some new Sanyo Eneloop Pro batteries inside the KX3 and secondly a light weight and compact  5.4 metre squid pole and doublet antenna.

Not much to say about the batteries except that they do what they claim, hold their charge. After 3 years, the ones from Jaycar were not holding charge.
Purchased 8 of the Eneloop Pros via Ebay at a good price.

The new squid pole also came from Ebay. The delivery time eclipsed the quoted time by many weeks, it arriving in the mail within 7 days.
The top two sections are extremely thin and practically useless but the remainder provide an effective antenna support, albeit will bend over to be nearly horizontal.
Pole specs:
Material: Carbon fiber
Butt diameter: 24mm
Top diameter: 1mm
Sections: 16
Closed length: 43cm / 16.9in
Extended length: Approx. 5.4m / 17.72ft
Weight: Approx. 212g / 7.5oz
Package weight: 284g / 10oz

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The antenna uses light weight hook up wire from Jaycar and each 12.5 metre leg is a different colour (Red and Blue). The feeder is about 6 metres of old 300 ohm TV ribbon I had lying around. The centre insulator the inside plasticated seal of a hand cream container. I am using a single cable reel to wind it all on. This is done in stages. First one full leg, then the feeder followed by the remaining leg. A short length of builders line is attached to the end of each leg.
The different colours is to help prevent tangling. Red and blue are easier to see on the ground than black. The builders line is fluorescent yellow.

Deployment: 
1. Select a suitable central location for the pole. This should contain some structure such as a bush, tree of post to attach to. The short length of the pole may be compensated for by strapping the pole higher onto the support. I use short pull down ladder straps rather than elastic ones. Idealy, you want a relatively clear area 10 metres either side of centre and it is also nice if their happens to be something to tie the end off to.
2. Walk out the 10 metres with the whole antenna on the reel and commence to wind off whilst walking towards the centre; laying the wire on the ground.
3. At the centre pole location, wind off the feed line, then proceed to lay out the other leg in as close as possible to the opposite direction of that of the first leg, laying it too on the ground.
4. Return to centre with the now empty cable reel. Pull in a few metres of each antenna leg and try to ensure there are no snags on either leg or the feeder.
5. Attach antenna to the pole. Simply align a couple of holes in the centre support and slip the pole through them. Place a bit of tape over the pole and central support to assist in it not being pulled off when tensioning each leg.
Raise each section of the telescopic pole, giving each section an upwards twist to lock into place.
6. Strap pole to support when full length is reached.
7. Walk out to the end of one leg. It may help to run the wire through your hand in order to clear any snags. Then tie off loosely to any convenient support.
8. Proceed to the other leg in the same manner as the first. Tie this one off a bit firmer than the first leg.
9. Return to the first leg and tension up for best ground clearance without pulling the whole thing over or off the pole.
10. A hint to obtain a flatter top and more height is to attach a stick to the builders line as a weight and toss it over a tree branch within reach. Tension the line and tie off to a lower accessible branch.
11. Return to centre. Straighten out the feeder. If possible, keep as much off the ground as possible.

Now, in the field I found the tape at the top essential after pulling the wire off the pole on numerous occasions. I also found simply tying the builders line to the wire was not reliable and insulators get caught up. Instead, I soldered the end of each leg back onto itself so as to make a small eye loop and attach the builders line to that!

Another discovery was the varying connectivity of BNC connectors; having fitted a very short length of RG58 to the 300 ohm feeder to enable a BNC connection onto the KX3 to be used. Now I just use a BNC to 6mm plug adapter. I have soldered and heat shrunk short bits of figure 8 flex onto each conductor of the feeder and fitted cable lugs to each end that simply fit over the screw post terminals of the adapter.

Trial activations from:
11/Jun/2016 VK3/VC-018 (Mt Buninyong). Quite pleased with the performance but not initial deployment. Worked DX to JA, W6 and ZL1 on 15 metres cw plus regular chasers on 4o metres cw & ssb.

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Mt Warrenheip from the Buninyong Tower

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2/Jun/2016 VK3/VC-019 (Mt Warrenheip). Located very close to Mt. Buninyong using the light weight antenna and pole. Seemed better being a bit higher off the ground?
Worked ZL on 15 and 30 metres cw. Found a nice spot to operate just off the side of the access road before reaching the messy summit.

12/Jun/2016 VK3/VC-007 (Mt Macedon). Again using the regular antenna and pole. Operated from a dis used 4×4 track just north of the clearing where all the comms equipment towers are. Had reasonable phone coverage plus was out of the way.

19/Jun/2016 VK3/VC-002 (Mt Donna Buang). Used the regular antenna and pole. Looking for DX. S2S with JJ1SWI/1 but failed with Andrew VK3ARR / HL1ZIH. Did also work JS1IFKand ZL1BYZ on 15 metres cw and ZL3CC on 30 metres cw.

19/Jun/2016 VK3/VC-027 (Mt Little Joe). Light weight kit used. All fits into the back pack. First trial without a back up. BNC connector issues but otherwise OK. Regular chasers on 40 metres cw & ssb plus ZL1BYZ on 30m cw.
Note that the access track (off Little Joe Track from the Old Warburton hwy near the Back Stairs track) has been bulldozed. Just as steep and slippery if wet, just mostly clear of obstacles. The dozer has continues over the summit and obliterated my little cairn.

03/Jul/2016 VK3/VC-029 (Briarty Hill). With Nan. Bridge was out on Sunnyside Rd / Killara Rd where it crosses Wandin Yallock Creek. Had to about face and approach via Coldstream and Gruyere Rd. Subsequently was late on arrival.
Nice invigorating walk up the goat track; walking poles put to good use. Using the light weight kit. Still having BNC connector issues and first experience of the antenna pulling off the pole – probably the holes in the centre insulator are now not so tight.
Worked chasers on 80, 40 and 30 metres cw and ssb. Best DX Andrew ZL3CC on 30 metres cw. Late lunch in Lilydale. nice day out.

09/Jul/2016 VK3/VC-025 (Mt Dandenong). Light weight kit. Walked up from the CFA station. Had hurt my back during the week and wanted a bit of a walk to stretch it out.
Also a run for the Landcruiser to test out a recent radiator repair and oil leak.
Cold and overcast on the summit, not too many about. Third time lucky with the BNC connection; now using the BNC adapter. Otherwise, performed OK with regular chasers on 40 metres and one on 80 metres cw.

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Mt Strickland is a good antenna test site

6/Jul/2016 VK3/VN-030 (Mt Strickland). Using the regular antenna. This was a longer run for the Landcruiser that still has oil leak issues. WX was too good to stay at home so spent over an hour on the summit.Regular chasers on 40 metres cw and ssb plus VK5CZ/P on 15 metres cw. Surprise contact also on 15 metres with Allen VK3ARH at home. Te higher bands can be useful to compensate for lack of lower band NVIS so long as they are quiet.

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Winter activating! View is east towards Lake Mountain and Federation Range


16/Jul/2016 VK3/VN-027 (Mt Gordon).New direct route from Mt. Strickland to Marysville via Paradise Plains Rd. This road intersects the main road into Marysville from Narbethong at the first roundabout in town. The road is called Lyell Rd. Here. Good 2WD gravel. 1 hour and 10 minutes between the last contact on Mt. Strickland and first from Mt Gordon. Still sunny and warmish. Worked 20 amd 40 metres cw and SSB with the regular antenna. Set up on the east nor east side of the summit, with the antenna pole  supported on a tree down the embankment and me on the side of the road, making the feeder completely off the ground, a first. All worked ok and a full page of contacts.

Test conclusion:
Use the regular antenna and pole where access is easy, where the activation may be long or the WX extremely windy.
The light weight set up is best suited for short activations and where there is a considerable hike in. It is certainly more comfortable not lugging the heavy duty squid pole over long distances!
BNC adapter has fixed up the connectivity issues. Seems to be considerable variance in BNC connector construction.
Probably to remove the second top section of the squid pole (already done the top bit) as it can be a pain when collapsing the pole to find it has fallen into the pole. This light weight pole is more finicky to set up and pull down but its size and weight make it worth while. I will be taking it on our up-coming USA and Canada trip.

 

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