Saturday, August 13, 2011

Activating De Hoge Veluwe - PAFF-005

Pleasant weather, beautiful parc and mediocre radio conditions

On Friday I went over to national park De Hoge Veluwe (PAFF-005). This park is the most "formal" of all parks I know in the PA region. It is fenced off and has three access gates where you have to pay an entrance fee to get into the park. If you want to take your car with you (like me) the entrance is 14 Euro.

Knowing this formal setting I was curious how my radio station would be greeted. The weather wasn't exactly great (a few showers) so I counted on a low number of visitors. However this park is popular even in bad weather - which I could have known - as it hosts a famous museum. I did find a rather quiet spot with open space stretching in all directions where I could park my car.

View from my operating position....
My setup was the familiar Spieth mast attached to the car holding a 20m end fed dipole (HyEndFed). This time I was using my FT-897 allowing for a bit more power than with the FT-817. This did cause some RFI problems that were reported to affect my modulation. I kept the power around 75 watts as that seemed to be a level at which my modulation was still easy to copy.

In the first two hours there was no time to be bored at all. My voice was coarse greeting and exchanging reports with all the OMs who took the time to work my station (I wonder how other OMs cope with that after a few hours of radio time...). The last hour the amount of contacts slowed down. QSB and QRM were getting stronger.

There were a couple of park visitors that looked quizzically at my setup but I was able to work for three hours without any problems.

All in all I think the activation was a success as I was able to hand out the park reference to 168 stations located in 35 different DXCC entities. Most of the stations that contacted me were from Europe (Russia, Ukraine and Italy taking a large share) and from Assiatic Russia. To my surprise two Israelian stations joined the list as well as one VE1, making the maximum distance covered 5000km.

View to the other side of my portable station - not a bad spot at all...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Activating Parc du Verdon - FFF-034

While in the Provence I went over to Parc du Verdon to activate another WFF location. I found a place near Peyroules that was on a hill and had generally a good view except for trees and hill top to one direction.

After calling CQ for a few times I found out my modulation was terrible. Somehow the combination FT897 and Heil microphone didn't work out. The FT897 was just repaired so all the settings were back to default.
I couldn't quickly figure out how to tweak the settings so I took my hand microphone (that I always take with me for emergencies..). With some tweaking I got this working to an acceptable level.

The next challenge was the weather. Apart from quite a bit of rain I was also visited by two thunderstorms. They brought a steady S9 level of QRN and the danger of lightning. This limited my air time to less than 90 minutes. The last challenge was the level of QSB that was very high during the activation.

During the 90 minutes I worked 64 stations from 15 DXCC entities. The maximum distance covered was 4700km into Asiatic Russia. Considering I was working with far more power than during other activations (I brought my FT897 in stead of the QRP rig FT817) I expected to work more stations.

I did not have an opportunity to go back to the Parc du Verdon during my stay in France so the next activation will be from somewhere else - probably a PA region once again.

Setup with end fed wire feed point @3m - clouds are ominously black

Activities from a camping in the Provence, France

From July 17 until August 3 I was enjoying generally pleasant weather in the very nice surroundings of the Haute Provence. Of course I took some gear with me for radio-activity from France.

After trying the AlexLoop I decided to install a fishing line in one of the trees near my tent around a branch at abt 10m (30ft) height. Using this wire I could quickly install different End Fed wire antennas to work on different bands with a bit more power than the AlexLoop allows (the loop allows only 10w PEP).

The setup was far from ideal with a high mountain to the north of my location but still I was able to work a number of new DXCC entities - including ZL4 @ 18000km - as well as a number of new US states.
In total I worked 125 different stations from 41 DXCC entities.

The antenna was rather stealth - look at the pictures below to get an idea.

Tent also know as shack of F/PH0NO/P

Now zoom in on the white towel...

End fed wire antenna by PA3EKE