With our great run of weather forecast to come to an end, Helen and I decided to go to Wellington National Park this afternoon to activate it for the World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF) program.

We did a walk there about a month after moving to Bunbury earlier this year when we had overseas visitors and we started from the Wellington Dam and walked to the Honeymoon Pool about 6 kilometres along the Collie River. It’s a very nice park but very basic with few facilities.

Read the rest of this entry

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.

Today at around 07:30 UTC I decided to drive down to the end of the Dawesville Channel (a peninsula of sorts with a rocky outcrop with water on both sides) and to try the Buddipole from there. I initially listened on 20 metres using my Outbacker aerial on the car and was pleased to hear Dave, G4AKC bicycle mobile coming through.

I’ve spoken with Dave on a number of occasions over the past 12 months and he always does an excellent job with his portable set ups from the beach in Blackpool. He’s also one hell of a nice guy! I was receiving Dave about 5/5 (he was only using about 50 watts output power!) with a fair amount of QSB and made contact and arranged to do a comparison test with the Buddipole. Dave was receiving me ok with the Outbacker but he had difficulties copying me on my final over before going to set up the Buddipole.

Approximately 15 minutes later after some frustrations with the tuning and counterpoise wire (I had a stake with me but had forgotten to bring anything to secure the wire to it securely) I had the Buddipole up and running. I was thrilled to receive a 5/9 signal report from Dave but sadly some technical problems brought my operation to an abrupt end.

Buddipole vertical  Buddipole vertical

The FT450 started resetting itself whilst I was talking which I’ve never had happen before and this confirmed my suspicion that I’ve got RF issues with the Buddipole, particularly when using it in a vertical configuration on 20 metres. At Dave’s suggestion, I’ll be buying a toroid on Monday and I’ll wrap a couple of turns of the coax around it to present a high impedance to the RF energy.

Fingers crossed this will do the trick and I can get the most out of this antenna system. It will also save me the expense and wait over buying a triple ratio switched balun from Buddipole in the US. Watch this space!

VK6PTU calling CQ, CQ, CQToday, I decided to take advantage of the pleasant weather conditions and set up the Buddipole by the Estuary at Dawesville. I’m still only operating on 20 metres since unfortunately 15 and 10 are always showing fair and poor propogation when I check. hamqsl.com.

I set up at around 6:30 UTC and decided to operate at the Dawesville Estuary where I was able to set up on the sand near the water. I also figured that I’m facing in an Easterly direction which would help for long path Europe. The following photographs show the setup near the Estuary.

Buddipole in horizontal vertical configuration   

I set up the antenna for 20 metres, connected the FT450 and the antenna tuned effortlessly immediately. Unfortunately I realised later that it was resonant a bit too high up the band and did not operate well below 14.200 Mhz.

I put out a CQ and was pleasantly surprised to immediately receive a call from Harry, I3KAN who announced that conditions were poor between him and VK6. I don’t think I’ve ever received a reply to a CQ call on 20 metres from a station in Europe so I was thrilled! I then spoke with Franc, F5PAU who I speak with quite often and was pleased to receive a 5/5 report which is better than the usual 5/2, 5/3 reports.

I’ll need to take greater care next time I set up this way to ensure that the antenna is resonant at a lower frequency on the band. The FT450 would not allow me to transmit below 14.200 Mhz on some occasions which was very frustrating. All in all a good test. I’m looking forward to trying the Buddipole in this location as a horizontal dipole and see how it goes.

I tried my first Buddipole portable set up near the beach today and certainly picked a good day for it. I meant to photograph the antenna but stupidly forgot!

I went to Kwinana Beach, near Rockingham and set it up in a vertical configuration about 4 metres off the ground and estimate that it was about 25-30 metres away from the ocean. It tuned up immediately with no problems and I was up and running. It was a good day with little wind blowing.

When  I switched on the radio I immediately noticed how busy 20 metres was with many strong signals from Europe coming through. I made contacts into Bulgaria, Slovenia and finally spoke with Steve MW0ZZK at length who I’ve previously worked on 20 metres and 10 metres. Steve peaked at over 5/9 at one point during the QSO.

Steve was also receiving me up to 5/8 so all working nicely. I did a comparison with my car’s vertical antenna and to my surprise there was only one signal point difference from the Buddipole (the Buddipole was slightly stronger). The same result from Slovenia. I’m going to try and get closer to the water next time but what a location and pleasant afternoon.