HF Portable in VK7


For the Easter long week-end I was down in Tassie (VK7) at Dilston just outside Launceston (QE38mp). I'd planned to finally try some radio on this trip after visiting VK7 a several times in the last couple of years. No matter what I was going to take a radio on the plane with me and hope for the best. Originally I was hoping to just do 2m with a nice little 2el 2m beam I designed/built. But I didn't get it to where I wanted it in time.

However, not long before I started getting keen on the idea of HF portable – purchasing a squid pole etc. So in the end I made a decision I would attempt HF portable in VK7 at my inlaws – especially seeing they're on a few acres and thereby should be relatively quiet.

I had a few ground options with me, and also two antenna options, but in the end this is what I went with:
Antenna: End fed inverted V with 25m of wire supported in the middle with 9m squid pole
Ground: Short wire connected to a tent peg and in the nice moist physical ground; and, another wire with alligator clip atteched to a wire fence about 100m long.
Radio: FT-817ND

To my pleasant surprise, this setup provided full tuning across all HF bands I'm licensed for (80m, 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m). Therefore I was receiving strong signals from all over the world and even attempted to work a strong K7 station – but alas all they responded with was QRZ QRZ.

But I did have a nice chat with a few ZL stations – my first non-VK contacts due to my minimal HF experience – as well as VK7 and VK3. Also was hearing stations happily in VK2 and VK4.

A few logistical points of this adventure were:
– To transport the squid pole on the plane, I simply purchased two 660mm x 60m postal rolls for the post office ($5) and cut one in half and gaffer taped it to the other. I then packed each end of the squid pole with a bit of newspaper and shoved it in the tube. Used electrical tape to seal each end cap ensuring safe passage for the squid pole (no damage at all);
– I rang the airline (Virgin Blue) to check on the legalities of taking Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries on the plane. They informed me that I was definitely _not_ allowed to take SLAs on the plane in any fashion. As a result, I packed my SLA charger and then ducked into Jaycar on Brisbane street in Launceston when I got there and grabbed a new little 4Ah 12V SLA – which I've left at the in-laws for next time.
– The radio, tuner, microphone and wires pretty much all fit in one of the snap lock type containers you can grab from the super market. I wrapped the radio and tuner in a couple of tea towels each for padding. I might try and get a photo of this next time I venture out.

Other than those two points, the only other 'issue' I had was that the guide eyelet at the tip of the squid pole (that I run the antenna wire through) came off at my first attempt of standing the antenna up. Disappointed but not defeated, I pulled out my trusty roll of electrical tape and stuck it back on. There it stayed and was not an issue for the rest of the time. However, I guess I should revisit that soonish.

The photo was taken unawares to me by my XYL. She's done a great job as it shows the scale of things with the squid pole. Basically the antenna is a triangle (being an inverted V) with one anchor point being where I'm seated. The apex of the triangle is then at the top of the squid pole with the other anchor point being out of frame to the right of the squid pole an almost equal distance (the apex angle being obtuse). This setup was thanks to some guidance from Peter (VK3YE) and the nice diagram he provides here.

Well, there you have it. I'm now keen to get out for some more HF portable action and so will hopefully have some photos or video for you sometime in the next few weeks – when time finally permits.

Hope you all had a great Easter.

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