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Author Topic: Off the beaten path  (Read 15795 times)
W1JKA
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« on: September 12, 2013, 05:43:44 AM »

   Most of us here are familiar with a very recent QRP topic initiated by K8AXW which lead to very refreshing and interesting discussion concerning QRP forum content. Due in part to some of the responses I've decided to go solo and test the waters. Please use the blue IGNORE button on the left side of your screen if you think I am in the wrong forum or not relating to anything QRP.
   Some of you may remember upon entering 5th grade your token " What I did this summer" written essay, well here's my updated version.
    First, experimented with a 30m wire vertical antenna from the top center canvas roof of my ungrounded metal frame screen house which is surrounded by tall trees so no problem for an overhead limb sky hook. Ground side was the metal frame itself, I had tested continuity of frame  before hand. As the wire was cut to +-  frequency I just connected the 11 ft. coax feed line direct to my 3 watt SW-30+. first contact a 449 in Ohio, second contact a 339 in Ireland. No idea what my SWR was and really don't care, although some what noisier than my bi directional 30m inverted vee the vertical gets out, makes contacts and the trade off of operating outside out of sun and rain is worth it.
     Second, as I do quite a bit of what I call mini maritime mobile from my small boats, I set up a 20m freq. cut dipole on my 18 ft. canoe using a 16 ft. collapsible Cabella's crappie pole in bow and stern at an angle resulting in the outline of a square sail without the foot, dropped ends kept steady with heavy fish line sinkers. I did the same on my small sailboat with 18 ft.mast and using same crappie poles connected end to end via a dowel then hoisted up to top of mast acting as a cross support for horizontal part of dipole again with ends dangling vertical. Needless to say not used when actually sailing or paddling but pulled up on beach or anchored close to shore I have no problems with local contacts especially when directional rotation is no problem.
    Third, semi SOTA ( I am not a member) from small mountains here in Maine, some have picnic areas half way up( drivable) just put my CUBs on the picnic table hooked up to my jumpstart auto battery with EFHW sloper to tree and enjoy other SOTA stations contacts out in Colorado or down in the Smokies.
     These are just a few of the many things I've done with QRP this summer. I'm always dreaming up wire antenna designs, the only antenna analyzer I own is home brew made with my ears and miles per watt calculations, works every time with no failures and extremely portable. If you made it this far thanks for reading.
 

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AA4GA
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2013, 09:05:53 AM »

   Third, semi SOTA ( I am not a member) from small mountains here in Maine, some have picnic areas half way up( drivable) just put my CUBs on the picnic table hooked up to my jumpstart auto battery with EFHW sloper to tree and enjoy other SOTA stations contacts out in Colorado or down in the Smokies.

Just one comment (well maybe more than one!) - no one is a "member" of SOTA - it's not a membership organization, it's an awards program.  There is a management structure, but no membership.  I've found that it provide a structure, a "reason" to operate from mountain tops.  Some people who are active in SOTA are doing it for the wallpaper, but a large number, such as myself, do it primarily for the enjoyment of operating portable...even though sometimes having some kind of additional incentive helps to motivate.  

It sounds like you've found a good way to enjoy the activity!  This past weekend was busy on the air for SOTA in North America.  While I was on my mountain, I QSOd with six other mountaintop stations and I think W4ZV worked around 45 mountaintop stations from his mountaintop!  So much for QRP ops not knowing what it's like to try to copy QRP stations!  ;-)  
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 09:31:55 AM by AA4GA » Logged

AC4RD
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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2013, 09:18:19 AM »

I'd say it sounds like you had a lot of fun so far this summer!  Smiley   Question: are your crappie poles fiberglass, or carbon fiber?  I bought 4 of them from Cabellas but got carbon fiber, and I've heard CF isn't good for antennas, so I still haven't gotten around to using them for anything.
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W1JKA
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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2013, 09:56:10 AM »

Re: AA4GA

    SOTA for QRP is the next best thing other than sea shore ops than having an Optibeam on a 60 ft. tower. I do not collect wallpaper but will brush up on SOTA activation requirements and possibly (this fall) be the first to activate Mt.Blue W1-AM/014 which is near my QTH.
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W1JKA
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2013, 10:15:45 AM »

Re: AC4RD

     Just came back in from the shop after checking my Crappie poles, no info if FG or CF (just made in China)Hi. I have also heard the same about CF and also heard if you use CF to let the wire keep off or slant away from pole a bit which they do anyway on all my home brew set ups including the same 6 Cabella spreader poles that are on my home brew hex beam. I haven't experienced any problems with them. I don't know the technical electrical properties between the two, but suspect for Qrp and portable op environments it wouldn't make much of a difference. I'll let the experts figure it out while I'm making contacts with my crappy crappie pole antennas.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2013, 07:01:39 PM »

JKA:  I've never worked QRP away from the house.  One thing I've always wondered about.....the difference in noise levels between operating in town vs. out in the boonies.  What has been your experience with this?

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NU4B
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« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2013, 04:40:11 AM »

JKA:  I've never worked QRP away from the house.  One thing I've always wondered about.....the difference in noise levels between operating in town vs. out in the boonies.  What has been your experience with this?



I used to do field day QRP with some friends back in the 80's. QRP is made for "away from the house" and you can find some very quiet spots. No streetlights, transmission lines, TV's, etc.., etc..., etc... You would be amazed.

A few years ago I had a sporadic noise that wiped out the HF bands - completely. (I live in the city) It would come and go with some regularity. Finally I pulled the switch to the whole house and ran my rig on batteries and the noise was still there. Then I noticed (since it was dusk and no lights on in the house) that when the streetlight in front of my house came on and shown through the window, the noise would come on. And when it flickered off, the noise was gone. Finally I figured it out, called the local utility, and to my surprise (and their credit) they came out the next day and replaced the light. That one was easy to find. Many times its not that easy in the city because there are many many available sources of interference available. Take a jaunt into the country with your rig, as I said, you would be amazed.

A friend of mine, N4SR, mapped and numbered the SOTAs here in east Tennessee. I know at least one I would like to do if I could get off my lazy butt. You can drive up to the very top and see everything to the east, north, and south. The ridge goes west , but you would still have a great shot at that direction. The ridge is at 3000 feet. Great topic and maybe I will get motivated. My K2 is already battery powered...
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W1JKA
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« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2013, 04:54:26 AM »

Re: K8AXW  reply #5

  Good morning: Due to my home based locations I can not give you any definitive answer on any difference noise level issues since I operate from two different locations in rural Maine (seven miles apart). One is a very small village environment on a lake and the other is  in a small town residential area. Both would be considered by out of state folks as truly the boonies or "the sticks" in the first place. No industrial or other noise producing factors within 50 mi.. As such I have never experienced any noise issue differences either at the qth or running around in the woods of Me./N.H., the only exception being the occasional QRN/QRM from my XYL resulting from me reading her the riot act after opening her latest credit card statement.
  If you are referring to strictly to antenna (type) noise I can only offer that verticals do not work out for my qrp ops. At present I only have one home brew wire vertical atop a metal frame screen house and I can accept the trade off of the inherent higher vertical noise level than is normal from my horizontals and hex beams. I consider myself fortunate that I am not exposed to the noise level issues I so often read about in these topics/posts.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2013, 05:07:29 AM by W1JKA » Logged
AA4GA
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« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2013, 08:53:41 AM »

I've never worked QRP away from the house.  One thing I've always wondered about.....the difference in noise levels between operating in town vs. out in the boonies. 
If you live if a relatively population-dense area, such as the average residential subdivision or apartment complex, you probably experience a good bit of noise.  If you go from that environment to a "wilderness" area, as NU4B says, you will be amazed.

Urban noise levels can easily be s-4...or much greater, just from the abundance of noisy electronics - largely due to dirty switching supplies most likely.  Normally, out in the woods, the man-made noise is zero.

That is actually one of the reasons I decided to start operating QRP a little over 2.5 years ago - I was staying in my fiancee's apartment most of the time and I was experiencing a lot of noise.  I reasoned that using QRP gear to go portable would be a good way to escape the noise...and it was.  There were a couple of city parks near us that I would go to and the noise level would be greatly reduced - still not zero, but we were still "in town".  We later moved out in the country onto 6 acres, and the noise level here is fairly low.  Not zero, but comfortable, and better than the city parks.  I still operate portable - primarily SOTA activations, which usually require a mile or more hike and are in the middle of USFS property.  The HF bands there are pretty much dead quiet, with no manmade noise to speak of...noticeably better than here at home.

It's worth operating QRP portable just to hear how the bands sounded years ago before all the noisy electronics came into being...really nice.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2013, 07:03:09 PM »

Thank you guys for the first-hand insight.  I have only one portable QRP transceiver, the DSW-20-II.  I'm going to have to come up with a package to pick up and take to a couple mountain tops I know of.  One is the Dolly Sods mountain top which is very primitive and controlled by the State.

The second spot I'd like to try is above 4,000ft (highest point in WV) and both can be accessed by car.

Thanks again guys.

Al - K8AXW
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2013, 09:56:04 PM »

When I lived out in the country my noise level was often around S1, and that was
in spite of the electronics that we had in the house.  If I stepped outside and knew
what to listen for I could hear the broken splice wire jingling on the power line 1/4 mile
away.  That jingling wire did cause a high noise floor when I used an antenna fed
against ground, when the noise level could be S7 and I could trace the AC wiring
through my house by sniffing out the noise on the ground wire, but it wasn't a
problem with a dipole or loop.

We'll see what the noise level is like in the new house - we're in the suburbs, but
right on the edge of the city limits.

80m in the summer time can have a lot of static even in the middle of the wilderness.


Other than Field Day, much of my portable operating has been more of a sidelight of
a trip rather than the main purpose:  I'd set up camp, put dinner on the stove, and
then set up my antenna and rig while it was cooking to make a couple contacts before
going to sleep.  Next morning I might check the bands while eating breakfast, then
pack up and be on my way to the next stop.  Occasionally I'd find a good spot (like
a picnic table by a branch hanging out over salt water) and set up the rig for lunch or
an afternoon break when I thought the band might be open.
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