Sunday, March 23, 2014

A long activity from PAFF-056

Last Friday afternoon I went to PAFF-056 as planned. Weather turned out okay so I brought a couple of antennas, including my hexbeam. The plan was to activate the park and catch some DX in the process.

Long setup time
Setting up took more time than usual. This was caused by a bit of damage control I still had to do after the mast crashed down during the PACC contest.  Of course there was a new mast support to install and I brought my C-Pole for 40m for the first time.

I arrived in the reserve at 15h local time but logged the first contact only at 16h - J8 on 20m for a new band DXCC. After listening around for other DX I only encountered VU4 but the zoo was enormous - not something I was going to waste my time on.

Just before 16:30 I started calling CQ on 20m using my mono band End Fed (vertically on a fibreglass pole) and my Hexbeam pointing towards NA. After about one hour things started to quiet down and I scanned the bands for new DX to catch. I found 3B8 on 10m and added that one to the log to reach 200 DXCCs. One of the targets for this year but clearly not very a very ambitious one.

Setup with hexbeam @10m and end fed
Weather was improving during the afternoon

Tuning my new C-Pole for 40m
Then it was time to go down to 40m. This was a time consuming switch as the new C-Pole antenna I brought turned out to be a bit too short. I tried it above my roof at home one night after constructing it and there it was okay, but having it in the field and on a different height clearly has a lot of effect on the resonance frequency. I do not take any tuning devices with me when I go /P as I am careful to always take resonant antennas (I do not like the idea of wasting valuable radiation energy when /P) so I had to fix this - it was resonant around 7.4Mhz, "slightly" off.
Fortunately I brought extra wire and randomly added some lengths to both legs of the folded dipole. With some luck I got it to resonate in the relevant portion of the band.

With a resonant antenna I was ready for some serious WWFF activity again - 40m is always a popular band for WWFF chasers in EU. However it turned out the band was a terrible mess. It was crowded and QRM was S8-9 all over the band with a spiking signal (electric fence?) every second of 9+10. Great!
I logged 5 contacts before giving up and returning to a higher band - 15m this time using only the hexbeam.

15m was not particularly busy and was slowly closing while it was getting dark outside. I was planning to go back to 40m hoping the QRM would die out a bit. Before that however I packed up the hexbeam and all other stuff I was not going to use and definitely would have a hard time finding in the dark.

Trying 40m for a second time with a nice surprise
Around 20:20 local time I was back on 40m but to my disappointment it was still one big sea of QRM all over the place. However there were quite a number of strong signals (above QRM level) around so I gave it a try anyway and logged 56 contacts in the following 40 minutes.

Half way during this session on 40m a very peculiar thing happened. I got a call from a station that I heard to be something like ?K7AC. Now you have to imagine that it was a terrible QRM mess and that I had been logging EU contacts only. So I initially thought it was IK7AC - although the OM was definitely not Italian. When he repeated his call a couple of times I could only conclude that it was VK7AC - peaking S9 with me. He gave me 57.

Before this contact my ODX on 40m was TG - just a bit over half the distance - that I worked using my full size inverted V (my favourite DX antenna on 40m until this day) and more power - 300 in stead of the 90W I was using now. A nice surprise that completely wiped out my frustration about the band condition.

At 21h I called it a day - completely exhausted from pulling stations through the constant noise. I packed up the last bits and went back home.

All in all I logged 175 contacts from 40 DXCCs, including a lot of familiar call signs and some fellow FF national coordinators. Noteworthy DX included - VK7 (duh!), 3B8, 5R8, J8, ZS6 (on the side of the hexbeam) and a couple of stations in central USA. Not as much as I hoped to catch with the extra hassle of installing the hexbeam but enough highlights to travel home satisfied.

1 comment:

  1. Mooie activatie Lars, die C-pole antenne werkt blijkbaar prima. VK7 is Tasmania volgens mij! Dat is zeker een mooie DX helemaal op 40m. Je had geluk met het weer. Hier is het de hele dag slecht geweest inclusief hagel en bijna winters weer. Mooie DX verder, condities zijn erg goed volgens mij. 73, Bas