as I intend visiting Hamvention in the US this month, I have also planned in an activation of a summit in the US for my SOTA Mountain Explorer award. That of course comes with some restrictions and the “normal” SOTA kit is going to be too heavy and take up too much space to take on the plane.
Seven years ago I made up some very lightweight end-fed half wave antennas for a trip from Australia to Europe where I had similar space and weight restraints. At that time however I hadn’t being doing SOTA for very long, so these were some of my first antennas for SOTA.
For the transmitter, I decided it would be easier to take my 5 watt FT-817ND rather than my Xiego X108G 20 watt transmitter, given the current aversion to Chinese products by the US Government (and possible questionable FCC approval). The Yaesu will have all of the US approvals while the Chinese unit may not.
So that will be the configuration; the FT817ND and the EFHW antennas for 40m and 20m matched to the 50 ohm antenna port on the rig using a small “Miracle Antenna” ATU unit.
I checked the antennas at home on the antenna analyser and they seem fine still after so many years of no use but I needed to check the complete configuration out at a site that would be somewhat similar to what I expect at the W8O/CT-001 Campbell Hill summit in Ohio. (Please listen for me and the rest of the ICQPodcast team around 1600 UTC on Sunday May 19th).
I chose Piessenberg for this. Not my usual location at the absolute summit, alongside the church but in the car park a little further down the hill, which is still in the activation zone and with a parking arae and a few trees is similar to what I expect at Campbell Hill.
Despite the fact it was cold and drizzling from time to time, it turned out to be a magic activation! My expectations of the antennas were not great before starting and the activation didn’t start well, with me throwing the throw bag too hard and it wrapping it’s cord around two branches. Luckily I had brought the standard gear with me as backup and I took the 6m fishing pole out and used that to untangle the mess I had made. After that I threw the bag with less force and all was fine.
In a quarter of an hour I had 10 chasers call me on 40m, two of those were S2S calls. These came from pretty well most directions around Europe with (true) reports given from 3-3 to 5-9 – even the 3-3 got revised to 5-5 as the QSB came up and the QRM went down.
Taking the 40m antenna down and putting the 20m one up took about 15 minutes and once on 20m I had problems getting calls, so I tuned around and found the IOTA DXPedition station TM5FI who came back to my first call and we exchanged 5-9 reports – I don’t know if this was a true report, however the station after me only got a 5-6, so I think it might have been. A few more 20m CQs raised reliable Lars SA4BLM in Sweden who gave me a 5-3.
With just five watts and simple antennas only about 3m AGL in the lower tree branches at one end and on the bench seat at the rig end – I’m really surprised (and happy) with the results!
I had just one job to do when I returned home – I had managed to snap the 40m antenna while winding it up. I use printed circuit board patching wire (about 28 swg) for the antennas which make them REALLY compact and light to carry but one downside is that the wire breaks easily.
Home made end-fed halfwave antennas for 20m & 40m.
“Miracle Antenna” ATU.
Throw bag and cord.
I start to wonder if the bigger heavy antennas I normally use are worth the extra effort when I get such good results with the simple antennas. Conditions weren’t great either. OK but not great.
What is clear is that this ultra-small configuration still works and will be what I take to the US in a weeks time.
73 ’til the next Summit!