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Chasers: Show us your Station


#22

My very first SOTA chase took place in May 2012 when I still was totally unaware of the existance of the SOTA programme.
While running QRP, I contacted on 20m CW a Scottish station calling CQ and he gave me what at that time was a complete senseless reference to me. I, fortunately, wrote it down on my log and I can tell you now that the station was MM0FMF/P and the copied reference was GM/SS-049.
At that time, I was living in the central part of Spain, in Aranjuez-Madrid and this was the station I had:

RX-TX: Kenwood TS-940S (HF), Yaesu FT-817ND (HF and V-UHF) and Yaesu FT-470 (HH V-UHF)
AMP: Kenwood TL-922 (HF) and DAIWA LA-2035R (VHF)
ATU: MFJ-986 and MFJ-941B both for HF

Note that the FT-817ND and the MFJ-941B ATU were there to serve me for portable operations at that time and once I got bitten by the SOTA bug, they got into a rucksack to become my SOTA kit.

These were the antennas I had then.
Tribander yagi 10-15-20m Hy-Gain TH5-DX
Inverted V broadband folded dipole 6-160m Barker&Williamson BWD-90
Inverted V monoband Bazooka dipoles for 40 and 80m (homebrewed).

In summer of that same year 2012, we moved up North to my birth land in Navarra, where I owned a house in a small village 18Km SouthWest of the city of Pamplona. After about a year and a half or two, the shack, which consisted on the very same equipment, looked just slightly different, like this:

Regarding the antennas, this is me on top of the tower the day I finally managed to get the yagi on top of it in December 2013. In the picture I’m installing a vertical 5/8 lambda antenna for 2m band on top of the mast.

This is the tower with the Hy-Gain TH5-DX yagi (10-15-20m) and 2 home made bazooka dipoles for 40m and 80m in my house 18Km SouthWest of Pamplona.

Except for that very first one chase mentionned above, all my SOTA chases up to June 2017 were made with those rigs and antennas.

In July 2017, we moved to a 7-story building appartment in the city of Pamplona.
I decided not to dismantle my station in the house at the village because I like and use to go there from time to time to enjoy chasing and playing radio with that good station in that very low noise environment, so I bought an Icom IC-706 MKI in the 2nd hand marked, as well as a Barker&Williamson VS-300A ATU to form this little shack in our appartment QTH.

I have been posting in this reflector some pictures as well as sharing my experiences since the very begining with a 13-14m long endfed random wire antenna I have installed in the balcony of this appartment facing NorthWest. After several changes (improvements) I’ve made in its configuration, the wire is currently looking like this:

Front view from accross the street.

Bottom view from the street level.

Even in QRP in the beginning or with the currently 18 watts output of this basic station, I’m having a lot of fun chasing SOTA activators accross Europe whenever I can be QRV and even some DX ones in Northamerica when conditions play ball.

Cheers,

Guru


#23

After 14 years of QRX, I picked up the radio after discovering the SOTA program. Active for over 15 years as a dxer (334 countries, always with 100 w and a vertical). I am a hiker and…What? Hamradio during hiking? Mmm, let’see…

No more antenna on the roof, I use a longwire outside the balcony (very similar to the EA2IF setup) to hunt the activators, waiting to own an FT-817 or something like that, to activate the summits.
1200 and more unique summits from June of this year…Not bad I believe…


#24


In my shack the FT-920 for HF. HF antenna is an inverted vee 2 x 17 m from the street to my shed with a support mast in the middle. Feedline 450 ohm window line. Tuner is a balanced tuner from MFJ.
73 de geert pa7zee


#25

GW4OKT Keith, nr Chester.
Elecraft K3/100
Elecraft K2/10
Elecraft K1/5
Yaesu FL2100Z/400
6BTV +30m mod.
Upturned MA5B, to give rotary dipoles on 10/12/15/18/20m
Begali Traveller key for K3
Palm Paddle for the K1 & K2

Cheers n 73
Keith


#26

GW4OKT Keith, nr Chester.
Elecraft K3/100
Elecraft K2/10
Elecraft K1/5
Yaesu FL2100Z/400
6BTV + 17m mod.
Upturned MA5B, to give rotary dipoles on 10/12/15/18/20m
Begali Traveller key for K3
Palm Paddle for the K1 & K2

Cheers n 73
Keith


#27

I‘ve enjoyed to see once „the other side“, Don!

Vy 73 de Markus, HB9DIZ


#28

I spend far more time operating in the field than I do in the shack, hence the very tidy station. Above and to the left of the Yaesu FT-897 is an Alinco DR-235T MkIII 1.25-meter (220 MHz) mobile. The AT-597 Plus antenna tuner is there in anticipation of the day that I finally get around to putting up my end-fed HF-6m antenna.

My shack is located in a spare room, above a detached garage behind the house.
Station W6SAE Antennas

At the present time, I only have VHF/UHF antennas set up at the shack: a KB9VBR 2-Meter (144 MHz) J-Pole that also works well for 70cm, and a DBJ-220 1.25-meter (220 MHz) base station antenna, designed by Ed Fong, WB6IQN.

I do try to chase VHF/UHF activators when I’m aware of them and I am home.


#29

I just wanted to say I think it’s great to hear from an SWL chaser!


#30

Absolutely! They don’t often make themselves heard :wink:


#31

Nearly all of my chasing is done from my mobile station. When I see a spot, or I know an activator might be on soon, if I am able I go out to my office parking lot and try to make the QSO. May not be the best station but it has served me well! Currently consists of a Yaesu FT-891, screwdriver antenna on the trunk, and a Code Warrior Jr. paddle which requires frequent adjustment. If you worked me on an activation, it’s almost certain that I was sitting in my car using this rig! Exceptions are 60m QSO’s for which I use a station at home with an attic dipole.


#32

So we have talked I think three times now. All from the car?? sweet!


#33

. . . a good cat might help if the bird weight is once too much, hi! Had a ham fellow here attracting pigeons with his beam antenna, and they decorated his roof.

Vy 73 de Markus, HB9DIZ


#34

Tres messy but such is my habit.
K3 main radio
Icom 746 basically a paperweight nowadays
Heath antenna tuner for 60 meters SOTA or 160/80 DX
Rarely used amplifiers:
Heath SB-220
Alpha 76A
Antennas: Tennadyne 11 element Log Periodic
40 Vertical
160/80 inverted L
White bottle of antacids when working the ones in the noise or when QRM by contesters


#35

At last - a realistic station! It would take me all evening to tidy up enough to photograph my station and I really can’t be bothered!


#36

This one is also real(istic) but very basic!

Main radio: KX3 ( SN. 450 7/2012,) with internal ATU. I use this one also for SOTA activations (190+ so far).

UHF/VHF Radio: Yaesu FT-60E

Antenna: Horizontal delta loop, 38 m wire about 6 to 7 meters above ground. Not a great DX antenna, but very good for SOTA chasing.

KENT keyer

CQRLOG logger on Linux Mint OS

WSJTX for FT8/JT65

73,
Mirko


#37

It’s an effective station Mirko when I consider how often I hear you calling me on 30m/20m.


#38

Interesting to know, Mirko.
The front of your KX3 VFO knob seems to have gotten the same bronze color on the summits as my KX3 #0975/2012, hi.


#39

My station at KX0R is very real -

Almost all my chasing is with the K3/P3 (100W) running through a collection of homebrew tuners.

The tuners have balanced components and feed window line running outside to the antennas.

There are two loop antennas in the back yard:

  1. Vertical diamond-shaped loop, full wave for 20M, fed with window line at the bottom, horizontally polarized. This antenna covers east and west, and it’s most useful on 30M-20M-17M-15M. It hangs from a high limb up in a cottonwood tree, and elastic cords allow it to survive the high winds we have here often. I put it up almost as a joke, and it has served me amazingly well - delivering at least 2/3 of my SOTA contacts. It is almost invisible, as seen in the photo!

  2. Horizontal triangular loop, 3/2 wave for 20M, about 200 feet circumference, fed with window line from a wooden mast about 35 feet up. There is no image, as this antenna is almost invisible. The various tuners allow the larger loop to cover 160-10 meters, using both the loop and the inverted-L configurations. Its directional lobes serve most of the areas not covered well by antenna number 1. In particular, it covers NM-AZ-CA and WA-ID-MT, where the vertical loop is weak.

With the various multiband tuners, both antennas are available on various bands, and this facilitates chasing as the activators move from band to band. When chasing multiple activators on simultaneously, I rely on my tuners.

I use a home-brew tuning bridge that allows full-power tuning through an attenuator, so that little signal radiates when tuning.

This is a very compromised, low-profile station in a suburban neighborhood, but it has served me well. Hopefully this will inspire others to make the best of what’s available - use a couple of wire loops to work many bands in various directions, etc., at very low cost.

The only coax is between the K3 and the tuners…

73

George
KX0R


#40

Good point, George. Well, I dont have enough space for a permanent installation of vertical delta loop in my back garden, but I have one for SOTA activations. It is made of two 6m fishing poles in V configuration, bottom fed on 2 m pole.
My home horizontal loop is fed by 300 ohm twin lead cable (from DX-wire) terminated in 4:1 balun followed by 1,5 m coax cable to KX3. It is a good multiband antenna for 40m to 6m. SWR less then 1:2 on 40m and 20m and less then 1:3 on 15m, 10m and 6m band so there is not much loss in feeding cable. No problem for KX3 to tune on all bands from 40m to 6m.
And important point to mention - lower pickup noise compared to verticals and dipoles. I experimented with them before, and finally ended with delta loop. Indeed a highly recommended chaser antenna!
73,
Mirko


#41

I see a little section of a Halicrafters SX28 in the rack on the left of your main photo. our radio club used one of those as its station receiver in the 1960s. I operated it many times.

Thanks for the memories…

Your modern gear is nice and I like your antenna setup. As you say, effective for a small block.