Another addition to the Station

On Friday I decided to go back to Princess Auto On my last trip there I picked up a Heavy Duty Camera Tripod to add to my Portable Station…

The Tripod gave me the option of using my ToyBox portable antenna or finding some trees that would work with my EFHW. The End Fed Half Wave is far the better antenna but the ToyBox has its good points especially as all I have to do is open up the Tripod and add a counterpoise to match whatever band I have decided to operate.

Liz hates it when I go there… Princess Auto has so much stuff I don’t need until I see it there on Sale….

That brings us to my latest purchase…

While walking around in their Surplus Section I found the following:

Its a heavy duty Tripod…. thats what they call it anyway

Attributes and Specifications

SKU9093949
Package (L x W x H)22.3 x 9.3 x 9.3 in.
Weight10.7 lbs
Item NameHeavy Duty Telescopic Tripod

So seeing that there was no one there to talk me out of it…. It followed me home… the $30.00 price tag will not break the bank…. and over the last couple of days I have tested it….

It easily supports my dual band VHF/UHF Arrow Ground Plane antenna at 20 feet above ground. Even though I would use Guys in the real world it was not needed for the quick test in my backyard…

I should add that for masting I was using 4 sections of Surplus Military masting at a lenght of 4.5 feet per section. Adding to the 18 feet of masting the Tripod also opens up to 3 feet bringing it to a 21 feet lenght in total

It also supported my Shakespear 20 foot wonderpole with no issues. This would be the support for my EFHW or an inverted Vee Portable antenna that I use occasionally…

I can actually see myself trying to buy one more… as of now the Kingston store has 6 left in stock… They started with 7 and I bought mine… I can’t get there again before Tuesday but I think that having two of those Tripods would be a great asset for my Planned Transportable Station… I would love to activate a POTA Park for a weekend and use the tripods to get a few antennas in the air… My Portable station fits in a backpack…

The planned Transportable station will be a bit heavier but…. will have more (and better) toys as well

More on the Dream Station later if I can swing some of the details

73bob

So I like it….

After about a week of using the Comet Toybox antenna along with my Xeigu X5105 QRP radio I can honestly say its working better than I expected.

Most of my testing has been on 20m and 40m SSB so far and I find the QRP station able to contact most of the same stations I work from the home station of course with slightly lower signal levels.

I found my best results (so far) using a single 1/4 wave (for my band of choice) elevated counterpoise (radial)… I now have a single Radial for 20m, 40m, 60m and 80m

Over the weekend contacts from my backyard to close in stations (Kemptville Ontario) to longer distance contacts (PA, MD and VA) proves it does work. I did work stations that I normally work and so their reports honestly reflected the lower antenna and the much lower power levels.

The next level of testing with the Xiegu and then comparing my 3 different QRP antennas to see which one functions the best. That should be coming in a couple of weeks…

More on that later

73bob

Second impressions

Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon I took the Xiegu and the Toy Box out to a POTA site here in Kingston Ontario. The gear and I took Kingston Transit and ended up at the POTA site VE4877 (Murney Tower) which is paired up (as a 2 fer) with the site VE4872 (Kingston Fortifications).

As stated at the beginning the X5105 and the Comet Toy Box was the gear for my second test…. This time I brought a change of counterpoises. The random lenght wires of yesterday were replaced with the 1/4 wave lenght for 20/40/60/80m. I only used a single counterpoise for each band as recommended by the “Page of words” for the antenna.

As usual the bands were pure crap (at least for a QRP signal trying to test a new antenna) but I was hearing lots. In addition I did manage to get checked into the Nickel Belt Net on 7.252 with Rolly VA3CRE being the Net Control Station in Copper Cliff Ontario (about 270 miles from Kingston – outside of Sudbury in Northern Ontario). The 5 X 1 signal report was encouraging as I had set up the audio to match up with my voice and the “1” part of the report was expected as its QRP and a compromise antenna.

It was just as hard trying to break a pile up with the Xiegu as it was to try it with my old FT817 so many years ago.

But for the second time I proved that I can make a contact across Ontario using the “Toy” and the X5105

The third test will be coming up next week when I try using an elevated counterpoise as recommended by the page of words…. After the third test I will be doing a comparision between the EFHW and the Toy.

More on this next week after I get thru the weekend.

73bob

The “New Addition” first impressions

Well…. its almost 6pm and I picked up my parcel at the Post Office at 1pm…. I brought it home and got it installed on the Tripod….

Then there was some fiddling around with the MFJ Antenna analyzer and then it was time to start playing…

Before

And after…

I had it hooked up to my Xiegu X5105 and operated from the dining room table and as you can see the antenna was placed on my deck. The location was decided by the lenght of coax I could find on short notice and the radials were decided by the available amount of white wire that I knew where to find quickly.

With careful adjustment I was able to tune the antenna but it was easier just to find the close enough spot on the bands I wanted to operate on and then just use the built in auto tuner on the 5105. The finals survived and I was hearing plenty…. Unfortunately not many were hearing me…. The problem was solved by adding a 45 foot lenght of wire to my radial pattern and then the signal reports pleased me…

Jumping back to radials the page of words for the antenna suggest that in effect you use a single counterpoise that’s a 1/4 wave lenght for each band you operate on…. I now have counterpoises for 20/40/80m and if I was able clip them together the 160m coil could be used as well…

In the short time today that I could spare for the antenna I managed to make a QRP to QRP contact with Bill VE3FI on 40m. Bill was camping at the Rideau River Provincial Park in Kemptville Ontario. My second 40m contact was with Barry VE3ISX in Hamilton Ontario. Barry was the Net Control Station for the Trans Provincial Net and was able to pull out my QRP SSB signals through his noise level.

So today it worked… and I am pleased…

Over the next few days I will re work the radials and actually set up in a Park and see what I can scare up… (Weather and Band conditions depending)

But remember this “Toy Box” is one of 3 antennas I will be using during portable ops. Its not the best one but it sure is the easiest to set up

More later

73bob

Addition to the Portable Station

I originally going to make the title “Upgrades to the Portable Station” the realized that the title could be up for debate….

So to bring you up to speed…. My portable station consists of:

XIEGU X5105 QRP Transmitter

Antenna #1 is a homebrewed 10-40m EFHW Wire Antenna with 49:1 unun

Antenna #2 is a SOTABeams Bandspringer Wire antenna (20-40-60-80m using built in tuner in the XIEGU)

Both these antennas need cooperating trees or another support device. I do have a 33 foot MFJ Telescopic pole to help support if the trees are not an asset

Realizing that there might be a (good ) chance that on an outing the trees might not be in the right places and the pole could draw unwanted attention to my Portable Operation I purchased the following gear today…

COMET HFJ-350M TOY BOX, 1.8-50 MHZ PORTABLE TELESCOPING
ANTENNA

My new “Toy”

This antenna along with a 13 Dollar Camera Tripod from Princess Auto will complete the backup antenna system.

Mike K8MRD did a great YOU TUBE review of this antenna and you can view it here

John VE3IPS did a great review of this antenna and you can read it here on his blog

These and a few other reviews from Amateurs who know what they are talking about helped me make my choice. There were some negative reviews but mostly from newer hams who have not quite figured it out yet…

Now this antenna is not designed or intended to be my primary HF antenna… Its in the backpack because it might be the only antenna that can be used in a certain situation.

Babysitting my “Grandkits” (Sassy and Mouse )when my daughter goes away in mid January comes to mind.

One of my 3 grandkits before 2 of them moved back to Ottawa with my daughter

I can put the Toybox/Tripod on her balcony in the evenings and make a few contacts. Her apartment is not high enough to lower the EFHW off her balcony so….

There will be more on this (much more) once it arrives and I get to play with my new Toy (Box). It was shipped today with Canada Post Expedited Parcel service and I hope to see it in the next couple of days…

CU Soon

73bob