Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Activating castle Kinkelenburg (PA-00130)

I was out near a castle (reference PA-00130 - part of the COTA-PA and WCA programs) yesterday, enjoying contacts and QSOs with more than 100 OMs on 20m and 40m.

A full report of the activity can be found on the COTA-PA website.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Some 10m fun on a Sunday morning

Out with the beam once again
Last week Marcel PD7YY - a 10 metre enthusiast like me - put the high SFI to my attention. When I then read the Tony 10 metre report mentioning a short 10m contest on Sunday morning I started building support with the station manager for a few hours off on Sunday morning. I was successful and went out with a whole collection of radio stuff to an empty parking lot in Arnhem, just 10 minutes from where I live.

It was from this spot that I was active in CQWW last year. The good thing about the location is that it is completely desolate in the weekends and has a clear path to all directions (from a 15 degrees take off angle point of view). 

PH0NO/P portable, beaming VK short path
I had some difficulty getting my alu mast up as there was ice between the different segments (it was kind of cold that day). In the end I managed to set up my 4 element beam again at about 12m (40 ft) high. 

This time I brought a small amplifier I bought recently through ebay. It should be capable of putting out 400w PEP but I could not get it past 250w. This increase from the 100w the radio can provide is probably not worth the hassle of bringing an extra car battery.

The DARC contest did bring quite a bit of activity on 10m. Unfortunately there was not a lot of DX amongst the stations I heard. Not surprisingly I did copy a lot of DL stations...
I handed out a couple of points and managed to contact R9, 9W2 and three VKs (VK3 and VK4).  VK3XPT commented that I was the strongest station on the band. Now that is a first.. Of course it might have helped that all beams were pointing towards DL in stead of VK.

Even taking into account the amount of time to set up and break down the station (about half of the total time I was out) it was a morning well spent. 

In the mean time the world has turned white over here. The layer of snow will probably spoil my weekly DX /P activity on Wednesday morning. Glad I took my shot of DX on Sunday.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Antenna projects in 2013

Portable beams for maximum fun

Triggered by the amount of fun I got from my 4 element 10m beam during CQWW last year and the results I now get with my portable hexbeam I am thinking about building more beams. Building a Cobweb(b) and putting together the DL1ELU folding hexbeam turned out to be feasible, so I am quite confident I can build other beams that will actually radiate.

What I am thinking about is building a 4 element 15m beam for portable use. I found a very interesting compact design by G0KSC - the OM who developed the LFA beams. Mechanically I will have to implement some changes to the design to make it into a portable version.

The reason for choosing a 15m beam is that the 10m band is closed most of the time (especially this time of the year) and I only have a few opportunities to go out and be radio-active (mainly Wednesday mornings). The chances of finding a lively 10m band at that specific moment are slim.
The same cannot be said of the 15m band. It is far more often open for DX. In that respect 20m might be an even better choice but I also have to take dimensions into account.

As we are moving towards a sun spot minimum I am also considering a Moxon for 40m. My hexbeam covers 6m down to 20m. For 40m I now have the choice of a (shortened) vertical end fed or a full size inverted V. Both are not extremely effective for DX. 
More effective is my shortened dipole by Ventenna. That recently got me across the Atlantic (RTTY contest). But it would be great to have a 2 element beam for this band.
The challenge of course is how to design it in such a way that it becomes a truly portable antenna... something to think about this year..