Another set of experiments and another list of lessons that were learned through experience. Part of the joy of ham radio is in the challenges that it provides. One can dial in the gear very tightly and still hit vairables like propagation and even the whims of other operators. It’s a wild ride every time the gear ends up in the field.
The last trip out was to West Branch State Park. The expectation was that the park would be nearly empty. That expectation was met and then some. I think I saw 3 cars (one of them a park ranger) the entire time I was out there.
I set out with too many objectives. I wanted to work a little more with my Jeep portable setup, send a Winlink message, experiment with the Hardrock-50 in the field, and get an activation. As it turned out, most of those objectives were not met. And I know why.
But first, the hows and whats.
The spot selected was a parking lot near the marina. There was no way to get out and operate outside of the Jeep as the temperatures were heavily influenced by a clear sky and heavy winds. This meant dipping into temperatures where being outside isn’t pleasant. The MP1 was the antenna of choice and it was put up on the Jeep mount with some radials arranged on the asphalt that was showing. After some fiddling with the feed line, a respectable SWR showed up and operations on FT8/FT4 were underway.
8 contacts. So close, yet so far.
In the middle of all of this, there was some adjusting of the coil to try and hit 40m. I got there with the aid of my tuner, but I also got tired of climbing up on the Jeep’s bumper to adjust the coil, so I broke out the tripod for the MP1. This rearrangement didn’t seem to impact operations negatively, but they certainly didn’t improve it. I never got to my 10th contact.
A quick check of pskreporter.info showed me that I was definitely being heard. I think it was a case of me not hearing others or no one coming back to me. It happens.
After struggling to hit my contact limit, I needed to pack it in. There wasn’t enough time in the day for me to spend more of it on this attempt. And that’s just how it goes sometimes. Sadly, I packed up before I thought to take any pictures. I’m out there more to operate than to document.
I did NOT get to deploying the Hardrock-50 or to the attempted Winlink transmission. Life works that way sometimes.
On my next portable trip, I will strip things down to only what I need. Fewer options make for fewer distractions. I’ll also stick to tweaking ONE THING AT A TIME. Days with multiple experiments can be kept in the sideyard where they belong.
Speaking of the sideyard…
I did spend a little time the day after on playing with different configurations of the MP1 and with my end-fed dipole. I wanted to see what I could do on different bands. As it turns out, my end-fed is great for 10m and 20m – no tuner required. 40m is a little weird and 80m is doable, but would take a tuner as the IC-705 would get grumpy. At the end of the day, I can’t imagine operating without taking a tuner along. There are simply too many variables and, hey, I might need to throw a wad of speaker wire in a tree at some point.
Lots of learning. More to do!