Today was perfect weather and perfect band conditions to be in Rotary Park in Duncanville, Texas to operate a little outdoor CW. Steve, KF5RYI, Justin, K5JTL, JD, K5HH, and I met around 1300z to set up our stations and I opted to be the antisocial one and picked a table about 100-yards away from everyone else – I’ve done this before – I am a trained professional… I also needed a location relatively devoid of trees. The drawback to this was that I was located near a main walking path where people walking their dogs were sure to ask questions while I was on the air. I don’t like to be bothered when I am in QSO, you see. Fortunately it only happened once today and I scared other people off with my contraptions and do-dads. I think in the future if I am going to be separated from the group I am going to print up an FAQ explaining what I am doing and why I am doing it.
I started by taking some measurements of my 630-meter station that was on the air with WSPR at home. I was using a small hula-hoop loop that is capacitor resonated with an isolated pick up turn driving a Jackson Harbor Press receive converter outputting a 10 MHz IF to the KX3. That’s a mouthful! This worked well and was tested in previous months but this month I had replaced the fixed capacitance with an air variable. This worked very well and signals were strong. I believe I was also hearing WG2XXM when the loop was oriented to the North.
After this test I began setting up the HF antenna to work a few stations on 20-meters. The antenna today was to be an arrangement that I have not used since a November 2014 outing. It consists of a dipole supported by a telescoping fiberglass fishing pole and fed with the dipole wires acting as high impedance open wire line down to a 9:1 balun at the output of the KX3. This design was described originally by WV0H in 2014 and really simplifies set up and operation. In the past I have had to sit on the ground to operate in this configuration but since I had brought the tripod to hold the loop I also found that it worked well to support the fishing pole. This hardware is all very light weight and low wind load. The tripod was tied to the park bench using a bungee chord and was very stable through a few wind gusts.
The dipole wires each have plug-in splice connections at each end to allow the lengthening of the elements. I originally cut enough wire for my field kit to install a 160-meter dipole knowing full well I would never use it in this capacity. This antenna was roughly erected today with the dimensions of a half-wave dipole on 80-meters. The ends are supports about four-foot off of the ground with temporary plastic fence stakes.
The feed point of the system uses a home brew 9:1 auto transformer-configured balun and connects directly to the KX3. The spacing between the wires as they elevate to the top of the fishing pole is about 10-inches which should be good for 800-1000 ohms surge impedance. With this amount of wire, the autotuner inside of the KX3 was easily able to match the impedance on 20-meters and I even had a little gain.
I was not disappointed in today’s performance. I called CQ for a bit, however, before finding a QSO but looking at the Reverse Beacon Network for my call sign during this session yielded over 100 spots of my five-watt TPO QRP signal. I had a great, long QSO with Bob, K8FN, near Dayton (Tipp City, OH, actually) which was one of the most enjoyable in recent memory. He was using a bug and had a great fist. It was during the QSO that the first and only visitor from the adjoining neighborhood stopped by. I must have looked really shady but I kept looking over at the guy who started talking to me while I was QSOing Bob. I finally said, “I’m sorry, I’m talking to someone right now. I think those guys over there could use a hand, though”, pointing to my wayward friends who where doing all sorts of crazy things to get their antennas up in the air. I actually don’t know what they were doing but Steve mentioned something about a statute of limitations so I have learned my lesson and didn’t ask any further questions. I shut down after about an hour on the air so I could get home and work on last night’s 630-meter daily report. Reverse beacon spots and a very short You Tube video follow. I can’t believe I didn’t take any still pictures!