Monday, April 18, 2016

What do you Call Ham Radio Shenanigans?

Doesn't really roll off of the tongue.
Something, I don't really like that either.
Anywho, I did get up to some ham radio shenanigans recently, notably on Sunday March 12th during the WES (Weekend Sprint-a-Thon). The family went to the beach, and I brought my SW-20, and a vertical antenna I've been working on. I didn't figure I'd get much time to do radio, that's why this fits in the category of "shenanigans". I had two goals:
1. Set up in less than 10 minutes.
2. Make one QSO.

Anything else would be gravy.

Antenna is Up
Radio Deployed
I had some trouble with the first goal. I would get a wire stretched out, and then have to chase down a kid. All said, we were there about an hour before I was fully set up. I probably spent just over ten minutes of that setting up. My biggest issue came when I undid everything. I had to spend most of my time untangling the radiator from the radials. I remember this problem last time I set this pole up, and remembered that my solution was to wrap the radials up first, and then the radiator, so that the radiator could be deployed without undoing the radials.Everything should have taken under 5 minutes to set up. After setting up, I tuned around where I thought the WES would be taking place, and I was rewarded with signals! That's a plus! Throwing the antenna tuner into tune mode, and twiddling knobs for maximum noise, I quickly discovered that tuning this antenna in this configuration is not easy. I don't know if it's the twists around the pole, or interaction due to proximity to the radio, but it would not tune well at all. I've tuned this before at the house, but not with the center conductor spiralled around the support pole. Some more trimming may be needed for the wire. I tuned around until I heard the loudest signal I could, and tried to call him when I had a chance. It was Bill in TX, K8DN/5, and his fist sounded great. After two tries, I managed to get Bill to copy my call, and give me a 339, but he couldn't hear me complete the exchange. That was ALMOST a QSO. QRN was just too great, plus my transmitting situation was suboptimal. Still glad I had the practice. After tuning around a couple more minutes, I shut the station down, the kids were needing me, so time to stop being a sun baked ham, and time to start being dad at the beach.

The whole experience goes to show that perfect practice makes perfect, and I've not been practicing enough. Perhaps some mini-trips to the outdoors after school one day? IDK, Most of the time I'm too busy to bother fooling with radio, but I might start trying to set up. Maybe during lunch I can pop out to the car, set up, call CQ long enough to be heard on a reverse beacon net, then pop back in. I carry the stuff in the car now just in case.

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