Friday, April 13, 2007

HF portable radio propagation while camping

Just returned from a couple of nights camping at Coolendel near Nowra in NSW. I took along some battery operated ham radio gear and constructed two antennas. The "good" antenna was a center fed half wave dipole for the 40m band fed with TV twin lead carefully suspended between two trees, the other was simply a long wire, perhaps 25m long, thrown into a tree with sinkers on the end.

As seems to be the way for me at the moment, the simple long wire worked much much better than the carefully made dipole. My guess is that using TV twin lead is a really bad idea even though my antenna tuner has balanced antenna connections.

With just 2.5W I easily had a contact in Melbourne and could hear very strong stations in Hawaii, New Zealand and every Australian state except WA.

The most striking thing, aside from the low power needed to communicate 1,000km, is just how quiet the band is out of the city. There is so much RF interference at my home QTH that it's difficult to hear many stations.

The random/long wire tuned up really well on 40m and 20m using an Emtron tuner I picked up on eBay, I've constructed a tiny tuner of my own, in an Altoids tin, but currently it doesn't work as well as the "bought one".

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