Paul Butzi (W7PFB)
Thanks to all the folks who got on the air and looked for my signal!
I think I was on the air for maybe two hours. I went QRV on 20m just a bit before 2200Z. Went QRT just a bit before 0000Z.
A brief description of my setup:
All of the following is set up in an Audi Allroad - a small station wagon. The operator’s station occupies half the rear seat, and the radio gear sits on the flipped down half of the rest of the rear seat.
* Acer laptop running Win 10 (for my home station, I use a Raspberry Pi 3 computer with a HUGE monitor.) PSK31 software is fldigi.
* SignaLink USB external sound card. (same as I use for home station, and in fact stolen from home station)
* Elecraft KX3 (stolen from home station)
* Elecraft KXPA100 linear amp (also stolen from home station)
* 35AH group U1 battery for power
* Tarheel Little Tarheel II antenna with two Buddipole extension arms (22” apiece), plus a long telescoping Buddipole whip, total whip length of a little over 13 feet. The Tarheel is mounted on a huge Tram magmount with three HUGE magnets, Model 268. So my antenna is sort of a fusion betwee Buddipole bits and Tarheel bits, which I think of as the Franken-Tarheel. On top of my car the end of the whip soars to astounding heights. Passersby goggled at the antenna. One dog barked at it.
All the radio gear fits into a moderate size Lowepro bag. The longest bit of antenna is the Tarheel antenna base on the magmount, which I just put upright into the wayback of the car. Unpacking everything and setting up took me about 15 minutes. I don’t try to drive down the road with the antenna and whip on the car!
I just have the up/down switch to adjust the Tarheel, which I tune using a RigExpert analyzer. It’s less than a couple of minutes to set up or shift bands with this arrangement. Maybe in the future I’ll get a more sophisticated controller but for now this works. If I were going to change bands a lot, or even QSY within a band, some sort of antenna controller would be important, as the Tarheel has very high Q and the bandwidth is extremely narrow and even relatively small changes in frequency require changes. Even with the much longer than stock whip, it’s a very brief blip of the switch to get the antenna from, say, an SWR of 2:1 down to 1.3:1.
Things I will do differently (this section might also be titled “#$%^%$ Learning Experiences”:
* I will lay out some power routing from the battery to the flipped down seat, a rigrunner or equivalent, so that I am not twisting around in the seat trying to plug things in.
* Routing the antenna feedline and control cables thru the open rear hatch is not a very good plan if it’s windy and raining.
* routing the antenna feedline and control cables thru the popped up sunroof vent works surprisingly well even if its raining hard, but a bit of tarp to cover the gap (maybe with magnets in the corners to hold it in plae) would solve all the problems.
* Boy, it sure would be handy to have the radio in some sort of go box so that setup become attach antenna, attach power, turn it on, QRV.
* setting up the antenna in the pouring rain is a pain. I have a sudden strong desire to buy a small converted Sprinter van and install the radio and antenna permanently, and then this sort of stuff would be so much simpler (and I could brew coffee while on the air).
All that said I think things went really well. In that two hours of operation I made maybe six or twelve contacts (I haven’t looked at the log yet). PSKReporter shows spots not just on the west coast but also in Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, and up and down the East coast, and up in Alaska as well. Not too shabby a performance.
I will have to figure out how to use my phone as a wifi hotspot, so I can do QRZ lookups from the laptop to populate log entries in fldigi.
But all in all I think I am pretty much ready to go for CN98 and CN96.
Thanks again to all the folks who helped me test!
73, Don’t forget to smile and have fun!