Two more radio expeditions

This entry was posted by on Sunday, 31 July, 2011 at

Well, after successfully carrying the Buddipole on a plane to Silicon Valley and making a couple of 2000-mile contacts on 5 watts (see this blog post), I’m happy to report that I’ve had two more happy expeditions: one to Iowa, another to Oregon. I’m going to start collecting location-specific patches and sew them onto the Buddipole bag as it travels!

During a lovely family vacation to Dubuque, Iowa, I had a chance to sneak out of the hotel after dark with the antenna and Yaesu-817ND bag. I walked down to the west bank of the Mississippi river, and managed to set up a 40m horizontal dipole about 10′ high just before the sun set. Luckily, the bank sloped down 20 feet diagonally to the water, and I think the entire surface of the river acted as a gigantic reflector for my horizontally-polarized signal. Using only 5 watts, I had a lovely ragchew with a gentleman in North Carolina. Only one quick smartphone-picture was made of the antenna’s base before it got too dark:

Last week I was at a conference in Portland, Oregon (very close to the Buddipole makers!) and did a quick Google Earth inspection of the terrain. I located the highest hill in town — Council Crest is over 1000 feet high — and then took a bus up there at dawn. Here’s the equipment just before I left the hotel room, the Buddipole bag and the radiostation bag (containing radio, tuner, analyzer, and 4.8Ah nanophosphate lithium ion battery.)

Once up there, the bus informed me it wouldn’t be back till 4pm, ugh. Oh well. So I took in the great view of the whole city and valley; it was easy to see Mt. Hood on the horizon.

Setup was fairly straightforward. I spent 30 minutes building a no-compromise 20m quarter-wave vertical, with two wire radials hanging down onto the stone walls. After fooling with lengths, I could get the SWR down to about 2:1 to 2.5:1 across the whole band.

The total height was close to 10m tall.

And then I quickly set up the radio station.

During my three hours of activity, I spent an equal amount of time trying to make contacts and explaining myself to all the passers-by. Most people thought I was trying to “sample” the atmosphere or something. Another person who was an EE engineer (but not a radio ham) seemed to think that 5 watts was a ‘huge’ amount of radiation, and I couldn’t seem to talk him out of it.

I did manage to make three contacts on low power — two via voice to Alberta and B.C., and one morse-code contact to Oregon. When the other guy said my morse tone was “drifting around”, that’s when I knew the battery was dying and time to pack up!

Since I was alone up there, I had to spend an hour hiking downward through thick forest trails. My favorite part was the four-way intersection.

…but eventually I made it to the zoo, and from there was able to hop on the light rail back to the convention center!