Monday, August 10, 2015

How I Worked VY0M From a Tent

In my last post I described my QSO with VK2SSI while experimenting with portable antennas in my backyard. Well the reason I was testing portable configurations is because I needed work Cezar, VY0M, from Melville Island, IOTA NA-248, located in the Canadian arctic.  I knew that the scheduled expedition would occur during the week that I was at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, NM attending a training class and I would be sleeping in a tent for the week. New IOTA's are getting rare for me, with 1,050+ confirmed so I didn't want to miss this one.

I experimented with multiple antennas as I didn't know what I would be allowed to do at the camp. Would I be allowed to put up an antenna in camp? Would I have to find a remote location somewhere else? How long would my batteries last? So my plan was to try a Buddipole vertical first. It was relatively low profile and wouldn't attract a lot of attention. So I set up the station, in my tent, for a dry run.

As luck would have it, there was a 110v plug in my tent, the power intended to power a light and possibly a fan, so exit the batteries and in with the power supply. I set up the vertical and the antenna worked fine. I was using a Yaesu FT-857, which is a very capable radio, especially for portable use.  With 70 watts I worked into Europe with good reports, so I was thinking that I might just get by with this set-up. However, the first day that VY0M came up, he was on SSB. I never heard a peep from him and decided it was time for plan B.

After erecting the vertical, a few around camp inquired about it and everyone thought the radio set-up was cool, so the next afternoon I decided to put up the bright orange Jacktite, 30 ft.  collapsible pole with an end-fed long wire through a 9 to 1 balun. After I got everything connected, I turned on the radio and tuned the antenna with an LDG tuner. Everything looked good, so I checked the spots on my iPhone and Cezar had just moved to CW. I went to 14.040 and there he was with the fluttery signal common to stations in the far northern latitudes. After two or three calls I had him in the log, Victory dance. All the planning had paid off and I had another IOTA in the log.

What a blast ham radio is. Below is video of the set-up, right after I made the QSO. I didn't have the narrow CW filter on the FT-857, so the stations you hear are actually 1 KC up, but you can still hear Cezar's fluttery signal if you listen closely.

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