26 May 2008

Operating QRP mobile on 6m

The 2008 sporadic-E Spring season has started, so did I with home>office and office>home 6m QRP mobile activities.

The first attempt was on Friday, May 23 between 1500 and 1545 UTC, on the way back home throughout the banlieue of Torino.

The setup consists of:
  • FT817, 5W, SSB
  • homebrew earphone-microphone adapter
  • modified CB antenna to 6m
On 6m a 1m long antenna has a minimal loss compared to a full 1/4lambda vertical. A urban environment does not help, though! The adapter includes up/down tuning buttons, as in the original 817 microphone, and a switch to use an external voice keyer for automatic CQ.

I checked the DX cluster before getting in the car, and there were no spots to/from my area, but the band was open indeed: always try a scan through the (beacon) band before giving up!

A few observations.
  • Even last year I had noticed that calling CQ when QRP mobile is not a successful way to achieve some contacts. Search&pounce has proven to be more effective with my setup when the band is open and stations are calling CQ.
  • VOX operation is cool, but noise in the car can turn into pain (open windows, horn, ...): better add a flip PTT switch, so your hands are free except when you have to change TX/RX. Moreover I suffer from some kind of VOX apnea...
  • Paper logging the contact is awfully dangerous especially in the city traffic if you are both the driver and the operator. I do prefer to record the audio with an MP3 player/recorder and then fill in the log, but this requires the audio to be broadcasted in the cabin, so VOX disabled.
This June/July 2008 look for me on 6m between 545z and 630z and after 1530z!