My own take into Winter Field Day

By the end of each January it is Winter Field Day time. Where HAM operators run their radios under field conditions. Some are as bold as to do this on the wild, in a tent on the snow.

Inspired by the concept, I had my own version of two days ago. No, I do not do HF yet, and it wasn’t actually winter. Over here we have a spell of spring-like sunny days on the last third of January, and that day it was 14 degrees C at 3000ft.

So I took the road to the gazebo I frequent somewhere on our mountain. I had taken most of my VHF equipment with me and a new DIY antenna pole to test. Also scheduled were cutting two new wire dipole antennas, using the RTL-SDR receiver with my phonen and maybe testing my simplex repeater too. And add some bush crafting in the process.

I spend Friday and Saturday making the pole and organizing my gear.

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  1. DIY Groundlane and Dipole Antennas & 2 sets of coax for them
  2. 4×18650 USB Powerbank
  3. Surecomm Simplex Repeater kit
  4. 7.2V DIY Powerbox for Simplex Repeater and HT radio
  5. Folding Antenna with groundlane Kit
  6. Wire Dipole Antenna for RTL-SDR
  7. RTL-SDR Dongle & kit
  8. PC & Cell phone Accessories (plus 1×18650 powerbank)
  9. Power cables for the Kenwood TH-F7 radio (various connectors)
  10. 12V powerbox for the TH-F7
  11. J-Pole antenna + Accessories

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This whole bunch of stuff,  plus my SWR meter and radios, were fitted in a copy of the Maxpedition Fatboy Versipack.

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This is my new walking stick. For real! It is 4 feet of 1-inch PVC pipe with a 20mm one in it. I taped it with a cane rubber on the bottom and a bottle cap on the top. Connected in series the two tubes will make an over 8-feet tall pole, good for VHF antennas

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Upon arrival, the reasonable thing to do was to set the HT to scan the HAM band. I used a L SMA adapter to keep the antenna vertical, it makes easy reading of the screen. But I did not like it from the start, it is neither solid or safe for the Kenwood’s SMA female jack. Lesson one.

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Then it was time for creature comforts. Music and instant coffee.

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I then connected the RTL-SDR dongle on my Android phone and delved into the apps’ settings. I use SDRoid mainly, with a touch of SDRTouch. Unfortunately it was all quiet in the bands. (BTW, I had to photoshop a cell phone in, cos I was using the same for the pics)

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By noon some bushcrafting was added in the mix. Preperaring for the fire. It was not easy to get it going, everything was shoggy by last week’s snow.

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We Greek Souvlaki everything, even the bread.

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While reaching the gazebo, I found a totally straight, still fresh, tree top. (Region has been logged in Autumn). And decided to make my antenna pole out of this.

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Making the support stake.

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And this is the antenna adapter for the pole.

It amounts to a slit PVC pipe where a SMA Female to UHF Female adapter is squeezed in place. The same wing nut screw holds the guylines’ attaching points. On the adapter I have soldered 4 female bullet crimp connectors, to attach the groundplane radials. The very same build you can find here.

But I will have to had to modify it as I had not accounted for the connector crimping length. I went right where the tightening screw was passing through, so in the end there was a distinct kink. I will be making a new one right after typing this article.

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The Antenna assembled. I attached the HT whip antenna, cos I would be raising the pole by myself, and did not want to risk damage to anything better than it.

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The pole barely standing

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Standing well.

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And what it looks like from below.

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As light was shading, it was time for a coffee.

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But time was scarce. Too much time was spend on fixing the antenna adapter and building the fire. I barely had enough to setup the SWR meter and verify the older dipole antenna. Which it didn’t…

Some more Lessons Learned.

What I needed and took from this outing was working area organization.

– In such rough surfaces it pays to have a carton or a piece of butcher paper as a tabletop. It is good to take fast notes on it too. Have a second one for your eating space.

– It is handy to have a tray, or a box, or a ziploc just for putting odd things there, like cable twist ties, Coax adapters,  etc.

– A plastic grocery bag is handy for putting loose stuff in (guylines) if you have to hurry out.

– Rob a few tape measures from IKEA. They pack small till you need to measure a wire length.

Hope you enjoyed my story. If you did, please share and follow.

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