This past weekend I tried to have a RaDAR to RaDAR (R2R) QSO with Tom G0SBW. I did some tests first on the Friday evening using my newly built 20m end fed driving it with my battery powered FT-897d
My friend Roger, ex ZS6RJ now M0ORD was on the other side. He was using a multiband end fed and running 400W. Conditions were not good but I did manage to work Andrey UB3A with pretty good signal reports both ways. Just in time before someone switched something on and I had 59 QRM!
That proved to me that my antenna was at least working. I did however have to limit my power to 80W to prevent flashovers on the tuning capacitor of the end fed. Not serious ….
All of us had communications via WhatsApp to arrange skeds, frequencies and times but if propagation isn’t suitable then no radio communications are possible!
Tom and I tried on the Saturday evening. I went down to the river hoping to be free from any possible QRM. I found the end fed’s SWR in this location a little high and I needed to modify a small penknife as a trimming tool for the capacitor. I got a few RF burns on my fingers in the process but a ham has to do what a ham has to do!
Communications with Tom were not possible. There was also the AA CW Contest taking place with little space in which to call CQ but Roger found one and we tried to make contact. I did hear him faintly around 419. He was running 400W which proved that powers any lower would simply not work.
There was a friendly Russian station taking part in the AA Contest but he replied to my call and gave me a report anyway. He was Vasily UA1AFT. So for the weekend I had two good reports on the antenna and a RBN spot from OH6BG in Finland (My friend Julian OH8STN would love to hear this!), a whole 14 dB’s!!! That proved beyond any doubt that the antenna was working well and if conditions were right I could “Work the world” with this antenna!
Somehow my friend Pierre ZS6A just 250km east of me found 20m to be rather quiet which was quite strange. Possibly the end fed held vertical with the 10m fibreglass mast is the perfect antenna orientation for DX.
I had to work in the dark down by the river but at least that was good practice for RaDAR and of course new things were learnt and new ideas generated.
The 15th of July will see the second 2017 RaDAR Challenge. As always, it’s going to be challenging but always FUN!!!
73 de Eddie ZS6BNE