Amateur radio away from buildings / 2015-04-04

2015-04-04 Amateur radio away from buildings
I had this Friday al to myself and decided to try some amateur radio out in the field using the new longwire antenna I recently bought.

I was pondering taking the recumbent bicycle first but the outside temperature in the morning of 5 ⁰C made me chose the car which would give me a warmer shelter to sit in. I drove to a nearby outside recreation area (De Leyen near Groenekan) and there I was shielded from the wind so I could sit outside. I decided to set up the radio on a park bench near a tree.

During the setup someone did ask me what I was doing and I explained about amateur radio. That person asked whether that wasn't normally done from a room in the attic and I explained that being away from radio noise source would be an interesting experiment. This explanation seemed to answer that person's interest.

I used some nylon rope to hang one end of my longwire antenna up in a tree and anchor the other end at the base of another tree. A filled plastic water bottle makes a nice smooth weight to throw a rope over a high branch of a tree. The antenna was sloped downwards in southern direction.

Reception was indeed better: I was able to hear a station from Morroco loud and clear and I heard someone discuss parts of New Zealand which suggested he might be from there but I didn't hear a callsign or location to confirm this. I am used to the base noise level being S7-S8 at home, it dropped to S0 (no signal) there and I heard stations that did not give a readout on my signal level meter.

Being heard was a different issue: I tried calling CQ on 10 and 20 meters SSB and heard absolutely no response. I also tried responding to CQ calls from others and only got heard once(!) but I couldn't decode the callsign on the other side easily so that was not a full contact either.

I also brought the laptop to do some PSK which got me one (1) working contact with IT9FJE. I mainly wanted to do voice contacts because the laptop has limited battery life (about 2 hours) and the radio+tuner works a lot longer on the 12V batteries I have (I was there more than 5 hours and I switched to the second battery). As I had no Internet access (the smartphone had an empty battery) I wasn't able to see on-line how my signals were doing nor use a DX cluster to announce my activity.

Conclusion: operating outside will give me better reception but I really need to work on getting actual contacts on HF voice.

Some pictures: For those who want to find that park bench, it is at locator JO22OD22ER. In my opinion operating like this, damaging nothing, leaving no trace is within the rules of the 'daytime recreation area'.

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