With the end of Winter bonus points drawing closer and at last some nicer (if still cold) weather and preparations for the EU-VK/ZL S2S event on April 6th, once I could get the car I decided to grab my bags and the newly constructed linked 40m / 20m VP2E antenna and head off to a not yet activated by me this year (actually not for a couple of years) summit – Buchberg, which is down near the town of Bad Toelz, just over an hours drive from here.
There was little preparation for this activation and as it was to be in the afternoon the DX contacts would be limited as I would be too late for short path to VK/ZL and too early for North America (even if the band conditions were good enough).
No, this would not be an activation seeking DX contacts, only to check out the physical equipment and to “tick-off” another easy summit with winter bonus.
The trip down to Buchberg was uneventful, except for the fact that the Navi wanted me to turn off the main road really early compared to where I had turned on earlier activations. Checking afterwards, it seems that it would have taken me along a restricted road as Google tried 4 years ago. I stuck to my known route in any case.
After I parked the car I loaded up with the two normal bags plus the 10 metre pole (which I need for the 40m VP2E and my surveyor’s tripod and slogged slowly across the field on a well-worn track, up the hill to the Holy Cross and (more importantly) the seating bank. Setting up the tripod was straight forward as was putting the mast into it and this time I remembered to remove my wooden plate that I have fitted to support the Antron A-99 antenna. The 10m mast is just to thick to go through the hole in the wooden plate, so ir needs to ne removed. I’m wondering about a small modification to this plate so that it can be used as a bottom stabiliser for the mast although so fat I have not needed that.
I decided to have the side with the coax feed in it, at the seat bank side of the mast so that the antenna would be “pointing” roughly in the direction of Holland, Belgium and the UK. I still haven’t been able to do conclusive tests to show how directional the antenna is. At the moment, the antenna seems to be better than my normal dipoles. Perhaps that’s because it is vertically polarised and somewhat directional or simply because it puts more wire in the air.
After setting up the antenna, with the links closed for 40m, I put the antenna analyser on the antenna and everything seemed “OK”.
So after that it was time to get at least 4 contacts in the log. I actually got nine 40m contacts in eight minutes, one of which was an S2S with Mike 2E0YYY on Walton Hill in the UK. I also decided to give 20 metres a try so I lowered the mast, took out the links and raised it again for one 5-9 contact into Russia (off the “back” of the antenna) and a 4-4 one into the UK. Band conditions on 20m were not good but at least this proved that the antenna works fine on both bands. After this “acceptable” activation, I decided to pack up and head home as I had three more summits planned for the following day (see later report on these). The drive home was uneventful and I was home in time to get the battery box on charge (it had used about 20% of the capacity of one of the two 5aH LIPO batteries in the box) and make sure all of the equipment was ready and packed for the following days activations as an early start was planned.
Battery box (2 x 5000maH hardcase LIPOs).
Linked (20m/40m) VP2E (Vertically polarised, 2 element, 20m wire antenna).
10 metre DX-Wire fibreglass portable mast.
Smartphone PocketRxTx App and USB cable.
RigExpert AA-30 antenna Analyser.
The propagation seemed variable and I was not out at the best time, but overall this was a good test of the equipment. The tripod is cumbersome to carry but it does mean one can put the mast up where you want it to be rather than be restricted to what supports are around.
The display on the X108G was of course unreadable but now using the Smart Phone to view and control the rig seems standard. With the new USB cable configuration the program didn’t hang-up and leave the rig on TX, but it still suffers from RFI from the phone raising the noise floor on the rig’s receiver. This still needs to be addressed. In the meantime once set up on a clear frequency, I can disconnect the lead to the phone and operate that way without the RFI from the phone.
The Linked VP2E antenna appears to perform well. I still don’t know if it really is directional though.
I am happy that I was able to simply “grab my gear and go” as both the terrestrial and space weather are very variable at the moment.
73 ’til the next Summit!