Portable amateur radio set up using Buddipole in Castlebay, Isle of BarraThere was a good stretch of coast opposite the hostel where we were staying in Castlebay on the Isle of Barra so I decided to take advantage of this today during our stay and to set up the Buddipole for a portable amateur radio session.

Similarly to my experience on the Isle of Benbecula and in most locations tried in Scotland it was difficult to get very close to the water but I was able to get the antenna within 5 metres or so of it. Unfortunately, by the time the antenna was set up and guyed, it was too late in the day. I also set up the antenna for 10 metres which was probably a poor band choice that late in the day.

I made several good contacts on 10 metres between 15:24 and 15:35 UTC with CU/DH2IW in the Azore Islands who I also worked during the previous session on the Isle of Benbecula and also with SV9GVY who was thundering in from Greece before packing up.

Portable amateur radio set up using Buddipole in Castlebay, Isle of Barra Portable amateur radio set up using Buddipole in Castlebay, Isle of Barra

Jonathan portable in Balivanich, Isle of BenbeculaIt was a fairly pleasant day on the afternoon of September 28 and we weren’t staying too far from the coast so decided to try a portable radio session. We didn’t have the luxury of a rental car on Benbecular so we had to haul the gear ourselves.

Unfortunately as has been the case for most of the time in Scotland, as you’ll see from the photos, I couldn’t get as close to the coast as I would have liked. We walked about 15-20 minutes through a field owned by the B&B where we were staying in Balivanich and reached the coast. We walked some distance to try and find a better vantage point, but I wanted to be up and running fairly quickly before it got dark.

We set up the Buddipole against a gate using the elastic straps and some basic guying and I was on air by about 16:00 UTC. I set up on 10 metres and only made several contacts before packing up. I also worked one of the contacts Wolf CU/DH2IW again on 10 metres later on the trip from Castlebay, on the Isle of Barra.

Jonathan portable in Balivanich, Isle of Benbecula

Jonathan portable in Balivanich, Isle of Benbecula

Jonathan portable in Balivanich, Isle of Benbecula

Jonathan portable in Balivanich, Isle of Benbecula

Kirkibost Pier Great Bernera

Kirkibost Pier Great Bernera

Having gone to the trouble of bringing my HF amateur radio gear on our Scotland Western Isles trip, my aim was to get in a portable session from each of the isles we visited. It was hard work at times hauling the Yaesu FT857, the 7Ah battery, the trickle charger and Buddipole antenna, but it was in a backpack which has wheels and an extendable handle so it wasn’t too challenging.

As has been the case with a lot of places in Scotland, I found it challenging to find waterside locations where I could get close to the water on this trip due to sea walls etc. Another frustration with my portable set ups on the trip, other than on Mull, was that I decided, in the interests of weight etc. to leave my MFJ tuner behind making changes of band difficult in the field.

On the morning of September 25, we decided to try and find a good location to set up in the morning before departing from Lewis to Harris in the afternoon after returning our rental car. The weather was drizzly and windy but we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity since we had the luxury of a car where the radio and battery could be easily kept dry.

We decided to drive out towards Great Bernera located on the West Coast of Lewis which is located beyond the

Buddipole set up at Kirkibost Pier

Buddipole set up at Kirkibost Pier

Callanish Stones. After driving around for a while trying to find somewhere we would get close to the water we came across the Kirkibost Pier. This looked a good location where we could set up the Buddipole antenna close to the water.

The antenna set up was a bit challenging due to the wind and because it was difficult to put the tent pegs into the ground for the Buddipole guying kit, but we eventually got there. We were up and running at around 10:00 UTC, which was later than intended. The antenna was set up on 20m with Europe booming in, which of course is not exactly a rare event in this part of the world. I made two contacts into Italy and Spain and then went QRT not hearing much else on the band.

Disappointing after the effort taken in finding the location etc. but the weather was poor and we had a rental car to return to Stornoway.

Wow, what an amazing March and April I’ve had on 10 metres!

Other than the Easter break where I had a good 20 metre session using the Buddipole which I’ve already posted on – Portable Operation from Lower King, Albany, I’ve been using 10 metres 95% of the time.

I’ve just looked through the log and see that I worked close to 250 DX contacts on 10 metres from March 9 to April 28. This was done over 15 sessions and the majority were using the mobile set up in the car. I did use the Buddipole a few times. For reasons I don’t know, the car set up works extremely well on 10 metres when I’m at Port Walter.

Yes, it’s by the water with obvious advantages but it seems to work particularly well on this band. I’ve generally operated between 08:00UTC and 11:00 UTC and the band regularly surprises me with strong signals when I think it’s dead. I’ve been told on a number of occasions that I’m the only VK/VK6 they are hearing on the band before congratulating me on the mobile setup. I’ve ended up in pileups during most of these sessions, working as many as 30 stations whilst sitting in my motor vehicle.

10 meters at Port Walter 10 meter operation at Port Walter

My trusty Ford Falcon at Port Walter – Click on either of the photographs for a larger view

What has surprised me most is that there are stations calling that I can hardly hear and that I receive signal reports from stations running high power with big directional antennas similar to what I give out. This is certainly not my experience on 20 metres.

I usually operate with 100 watts but today, I lowered my power to 40 watts and saw little difference other than an S point or so. I’ll be out every Saturday and Sunday in the car at Point Walter from 08:00 UTC whilst these amazing conditions prevail so if you hear me, say ‘hello’.


I’ve been staying in Albany over the Easter long weekend and I thought I’d try some portable operation today with the Buddipole antenna. I set up at Lower King by the water this afternoon just before 4:00 pm, with the rig inside the car powered by an external car battery. I set up on 20 metres because 10 sounded fairly quiet.

Initially, I thought I may not have elevated the counterpoise wire sufficiently from the ground (I had suspended it in a shrub) with my first two contacts providing weak signal reports. However, this concern quickly passed after making a number of contacts with good signal reports in countries including Italy, Germany, the UK and Indonesia.

I mainly worked British stations, including three portable operators on the South Coast of England. One of these operators was Pete M3KXZ using just 10 watts from a mobile set up in his car! I ended the afternoon’s contacts with a 5/9 report from Bill, K4VSV in South Carolina which was a good way to end the afternoon.

I took some photographs of the set up which I’ve posted here – please click on the photographs to view a larger version.

Buddipole set up at Lower King Buddipole set up at Lower King Buddipole set up at Lower King