I was licensed back in February 2013 but although I listened and learned to many QSOs over the following weeks, I didn’t really have the guts to actually speak to anyone.
It wasn’t until the end of April that I logged any QSOs. Today, I logged my 5000th QSO with KF5WCPin Arkansas on 10m phone. It was in the middle of a pileup with Asiatic Russia, west coast USA and Japan so I didn’t take too long to consider it but now, over the next few posts I shall consider the journey that has led to this.
It’s an astonishingly complex but very simple hobby. The apparently simple can turn out to be very challenging when you start to dig – and I’ve discovered that it’s important to ignore much of the ‘depth’ otherwise I’d never get on the air at all.
One of the most attractive things I adopted is that you can have success with home made stuff. Yes, I bought my rig, the very fine TS-480 from Kenwood. It gives me 200 W to play with and it means that i can be heard (except when competing with the ‘Kilowatt Club’ with beams at 200ft – lol). All my antennas are wire – from a roll of 14 swg THHN from Home Depot or from coax of one form or another.
I’ve worked 150+ DXCC with these antennas from 2 main QTHs. One of the sites I work from is the roof of our apartment in Gozo. It’s about 500ft above sea level on the top of a hill and has a fairly clear view out over the Mediterranean in most directions. Gozo is only 6 miles by 3 miles so effectively I am surrounded by the sea. It seems this is a good QTH even although the near field is natural stone and concrete.
The other places I have been operating “beach style” and it’s here that I’ve really noticed the importance of clear takeoff and good ground. In the Bahamas, many of the islands are rough limestone – very rough and razor-sharp! I have sought out sites with unrestricted takeoff over the water to Europe where the near field is rock and to be honest it didn’t work terribly well even although it was only one or 2 wavelengths to the water. That said, it was better than working beach side with a small hill between me and Europe. To get really consistent performance, I have had to wait for the prevailing easterly wind to drop so that I can get the vertical truly vertical – then it works well for Europe.
I should say at this point that my choice of antennas has been limited by my QTH and my experience. Living on the top floor of an apartment block build on rock, there is little chance of having a good RF ground. I can’t put out radials on the roof since it is a shared area used for drying washing and it would be too hazardous to have radials – not to mention anti-social! So I made an early decision to use only balanced antenna designs and all of my antennas (with the exception of the A-99 – eBay £5) are dipoles – either horizontally or vertically polarized.
The largest wire I can get on the roof is resonant on 40m and it seems likely that will be the biggest for some time – at least until I can learn more about antenna matching. ( I have my eye on 2 palm trees across the road that might allow a full wave loop in the future 🙂
Anyway, that’s all for now – thanks for reading my prattle – you really should be on the radio calling CQ rather than reading about how not to do it!
73 till next time!