03 August 2009

QRP from Rab Island (2009)

This note will look old, since more than one month has passed since we've returned back home. But at least will report what I have done in 2009 on Rab island.

I had planned to take part to Apulia VHF QRP contest from the top of Kamenjak mountain. All I could carry was the 4 element Yagi. The day before the contest I had forgotten headlight on and the car battery went flat dead. Fortunately I could get it started for 100 HRK from the local service station.

The contest day I went up to the top, prepared the setup and called for two hours beaming Italy (organizing country) without receiving a single reply.

So I decided VHF was not the way to go and I switched to HF 20m. I moved the 9m fishing pole away from the car so it could support the 20m EFHW antenna radiator, tuner laying on the rocky ground and one counterpoise.

I did get odd looks from hikers/bikers/tourists passing by, but nobody asked a thing.

The band was crowded, signals were good, so I tried some QRP SSB contacts. I could work one station, others were having pile up (it was too hot up there for fighting). Finally I fired up the netPC and called CQ on PSK31. This mode was more productive.

The game was soon over since we were expected for lunch. PSK31 operations continued from home with 100% battery power (RTX and computer) and 20m EFHW antenna out of the balcony.

Overall I managed fewer QSOs than last year, but I did not take part in any contest. There was no pile-up on my calls even if I was from a IOTA/IOCA reference.

I missed the warmth of CW contacts but I enjoyed these operations nevertheless.

Alpe Adria VHF 2009: mission aborted

Every year I can hardly wait for Alpe Adria VHF contest, the first Sunday in August. After my best performance of year 2008, I wanted to improve the setup.

I started building a Yagi with 4m long boom: on an empty mountaintop it should still be possible to handle it. On Friday the boom was ready but not the rest (dipole, elements, ...). Moreover one battery pack is not suitable anymore for my FT817, so I had half power reserve than last year.

I decided to keep things simple and short: same antenna as 2008 (5el on 2m boom) and just one battery pack. I would not be able to beat my own A.A. record but at least to improve my operating skills.

On Sunday morning I drive up to Colle delle Finestre (2100 masl), there are some clouds in the sky but don't look too serious:

Once at Colle, I see dark clouds climbing fast from the other valley, and my target destination already covered. I change plan: I'll go to a closer peak at 2500 masl.

At the beginning of my hike I have to pass a barrier, I pull my backpack, I pull ... crash ... damn! What was that? I put the backpack down and the 2m long boom sticking out of it has broken in two. I can still build a 3 el antenna or fix it on the fly once on top. So I continue hiking.

Air gets colder. I feel something on my hand: it starts raining.

Far away I hear a couple of sounds that look like a thunder, or a motorcycle roar.

-> abort <-

I walk back to the car, take few pictures and a strong storm begins. It lasted two hours, so I am glad I decided to return home rather than wait for clouds to pass by.

See you next year, Alpe Adria!