NOTE: This page changes frequently, and I won't retain old descriptions. It's mainly a forum for showing off pictures of recent trips to the field, and to illustrate how much fun it is to operate QRP from new places.
For the Adventure Radio Society's "Flight of the Bumblebees" this year, we returned to one of our favorite spots off the south shore of Lake Georgetown, a small resevoir that provides water for the town of Georgetown, TX (about an hour north of Austin). The lake is an Army Corps Of Engineers lake, and access is by boat or hiking only. Trails are not well cared for in recent years, but they are pretty easy between where I park and my favorite spot, if you don't mind chiggers, and plowing througn 4 foot tall johnson grass. It's about a 2 mile hike, and took me about 45 minutes in 90+ degree heat.
Here's a picture of my favorite spot, as seen across an old abandoned cotton field (you can still spot an occasional volunteer cotton plant, though they are pretty puny and overwhelmed by the johnson grass):
Now, you can't really tell from the picture, but this is a pretty big tree by Texas standards. It stands at about 50 feet tall, and the trunk diameter is at least 3 feet. Nothing much will grow under a Live Oak tree, so once I got through the field of johnson grass, the area under the tree is pretty clear, and deeply shaded. The shade part was a prime factor, as we expected to reach temperatures just shy of 100 deg for contest day.
Here's my antenna stuff, prior to launching:
The coil at the upper left is the 50 ft vertical wire. The coil at the lower left is a radial system consisting of two 32 ft wires, two 25 ft wires, and two 16 ft wires, all soldered to a common point with a 3 ft wire that will go to the tuner ground. You can see the slingshot, and the 3 oz weight with fishing line already attached, ready to fire away. Theres a larger weight (5 or 6 oz) for hand-throwing a line (I don't always pack the slingshot). And of course, the fingernail clippers are absolutely indispensable for clipping the fishing line.
Of course, things don't always go as planned when you launch a portable antenna. Is this a "bee's nest"?
Naturally, that was suspended about ten feet in the air, well out of reach, but I finally found a stick long enough to snag it and pull it down. Got that done, and as luck would have it, Murphy saw fit to make sure the weighted end of the line came down into the crotch of the tree, about 12 feet up.
It was a little trickier to snag that, but we finally did, and got our 50 ft vertical wire up, and used the KD1JV Tenna Dipper to adjust the BLT for 1:1 SWR on 20 Meters, just in time for the contest at noon central time. Here's our setup
In the picture you can see the KD1JV AT-Sprint (in the Altoids box), a battery pack (one of three I carried), and the NorCal BLT Tuner is hanging on the vertical wire, suspended about 1-1/2 feet off the ground. The mini Bulldog paddle with mag-mount sits in the cover of the AT-Sprint. Power out is between 3 and 4-1/2 watts, depending on the battery voltage at the time. In the higher res picture, you can also see the radials spreading out under the BLT.
I hung the canteen on a small shrub nearby, and when I went to get some water about halfway into the contest, I discovered this big guy right next to it. I think he was the biggest one I've ever see - the abdomen was about an inch long and 3/4 inch wide:
We took a lot of nature pictures on the hike back to the car. This butterfly allowed me to get close enough for this picture. His wingspan was about 4 inches:
So, how did we do? Not great... band conditions on 20 were excellent for the first hour, and deteriorated steadily after that. We had more contacts in the first hour, than in all three after that. In the last half-hour, we QSY'd to 40 Meters, and made a half dozen contacts, but the vertical isn't the best antenna for 40 meters during the afternoon. We had 33 contacts, with 24 of those being BBs. All-in-all, it was a fun (if not fruitful) outing.
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