Saturday July 30th 2022 was a day with a nice temperature; about 25 degrees Celsius. So we decided to go a day to the beach. Normally when going to the beach we visit Hoek van Holland, but now we went to Burgh-Haamstede in the province of Zeeland. After a drive of about one hour and fifteen minutes we arrived. We took our bags out of our car and walked to the place where we would stay for that day.
Earlier that week a bought a gel battery of 9Ah, because I wanted to start operating my 857D rig outside of the shack. So, it was quickly decided I would take the Yaesu FT-857D along with me and my HF-P1 portable antenna and try it out on another grid square than JO21EU. Everything was put in my backpack together with my Chromebook which is running Debian Linux.
When we arrived at the beach I unpacked everything and put up my outside shack. I was excited for my first BOTA (beach on the air), or to be more precise: my first xOTA all together.
This image shows the antenna I bought a few years ago. I hadn’t used for quite some time, but now I was happy I owned it. It’s a vertical with an extendable whip, four radials and a coil which is used to tune the antenna. The HF-P1 was set up for the 20 meters band. I had taken along my trusty RigExpert antenna analyzer, but it took quite some time to tune it properly. Eventually I couldn’t get the SWR any beter than 2.4:1 at 14.075 MHz. When I tried the weekend before in our backyard, it was possible to tune the antenna to around 1.2:1, but now not beter than > 2 SWR. I have no idea why this was, but I took it for granted and connected it to my rig.
The first thing to try was WSPR to see if I could get a signal out. So, the radio was set up for 5 Watts output and WSJT-X was fired up on the Chromebook which I have nicknamed LinuxBook. Happy happy, joy joy, it was great to see so much activity on 20 meters compared to my base antenna at home. As you may have read, that one doesn’t work that great at the moment… 🙁
For me it was very unusual to hear so many stations on any band and to be heard by so many stations. Conclusion: my setup worked and now for some contacts using FT8.
The mentioned mode also worked quite great, the Yaesu heard a lot of stations on 14.074 MHz and WSJT-X was able to decode them. Now it was time for some interaction and react to a couple of CQs. At first, when the rig was set up for 35 Watts, the notebook lost the connection to the 857D. Am not sure why this was, maybe some RFI because the SWR was somewhat high with 2.4:1. As a solution I set the output power to 20 Watts and now the problems were over. I made a couple of contacts, both by answering CQs and also by calling CQ myself.
In the logbook I added this day:
- EA5ET, grid square IM99, received me at -5 dB by him, received him at 9 dB by me.
- HA7TM, grid square JN97, received me at -3 dB by him, received him at 5 dB by me.
- DH2NJS, grid square JO50, received me at -19 dB by him, received him at -2 dB by me.
- CU3HN, grid square HM68, received me at -13 dB by him, received him at -11 dB by me.
My locator was JO11UQ, by the way.
What can I conclude from these experiments? The HF-P1 antenna works, but is a compromise antenna. Which is not that strange when you compare the actual lenght of the antenna with the wave length of the frequency I worked at. The antenna is usuable from 80 meters through 70 centimeters. For 80 meters, one has to add another coil to electrically lenghten the antenna. I don’t have good hopes for how the antenna performs at that band, but maybe FT8 is possible. Als for the 40 meters band I don’t have much hope, but I have to try this in the future. Just like the bands lower than 20 meters. Maybe they work quite okay and I could also try some SSB phone.
So, had quite some fun with playing radio outside of the shack. I’ll certainly will do this again in the future. The plan is now to take my rig and antenna along with me to our trip to Gran Canaria later this year.
After a couple of hours I put everything back in my backpack as the battery was quite running empty. I don’t want to unload the battery too much, because I’m not quite sure how it reacts to deep cycling. But for now I’m very happy with it and it wasn’t that expensive. The following hours we stayed at the beach, did some reading and closed the day off with a dinner at a nice restaurant in Burgh-Haamstede.