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AA3II: Triple Activation in W4V - Shenandoah National Park

Review of a triple activation in the Shenandoah National Park: W4V/SH-001, SH-002, and SH-011. Plus a flop: SH-005. https://aa3ii.wordpress.com/2016/06/28/sota5/

Hi David,

Very interesting post and your advice on alerting and spotting is “spot on”. That does indeed make a huge difference to the success of an activation.

Your comments about antenna directivity are also worth noting. Generally you don’t get any directivity from a relatively low single element antenna. Measure the height in wavelengths - anything less than a wavelength is low. Reflections from the ground turn all such antennas into an omnidirectional antenna with only a few DB of directionality. This is good - it saves worrying about orientation when selecting operating sites, trees, pole mounts! Using a 7m pole I have observed minor directionality on 10m but only slightly on 20m. On 40m it is Omni or so close, it doesn’t matter. Centre or end fed, no difference in practice. End fed means short feedline but not much other difference. End fed antennas really should have a ground wire under the antenna (warning: controversial).

Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

Nice run. I’ve done triples in Shenandoah, but never a quadruple. I probably would have opted for North Marshall or Hogback instead of Robertson, but that’s just me. The only time I’ve been up Robertson was on the return leg of an Old Rag hike. I was tired and there weren’t any interesting views, plus my water bladder decided to burst on the way up. Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of that one.

If you ever do Stony Man again, I’d recommend also checking out the northern route from the lower parking area. It’s a bit longer with more of a climb, but there’s some great views over the cliffs on the north end which are also popular with rock climbers.

As for your bit on antenna directionality, I’ve never done any scientific studies, but when I lived on the east coast I usually tried to get my EFHW sloping down to the west. I figured the broadside radiation would cover the eastern seaboard, while the “direction” of the sloper would help reach out to the west coast. I regularly worked the chasers in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho so it might have worked. If I was up early enough I would try sloping to the NE to see if Europe was still awake, which also seemed to work on a couple occasions. In many cases, however, there’s just too much brush and foliage to be able to choose a direction, so just getting it in the air can be an accomplishment in itself.

Good work on those 28 points! Now do it again in January so you can get the winter bonuses as well :stuck_out_tongue:

-Doug, ND9Q

Andrew, Thanks for the antenna advice. I think part of the EF-W3EDP’s claim to effectiveness is that wire in the twinlead that is not extended with the 18AWG works as something of a counterpoise. In any event, my eyeballing of the RBN results after the fact didn’t suggest the EF-W3EDP was fundamentally weaker than the dipole as I’ve deployed it so far. Tnx and 73, David - AA3II

Thanks for the advice. I had hit Marshall and Hogback both on other hikes this year, but you’re absolutely right they are more easily (i.e., quickly) accessed from the Drive than Robertson. Thanks also for the tip on Stony Man.
As for the antenna: One European chaser, a Swede, got me at Hawksbill in the morning. Another factor is of course time of day: At my first activation (Hawksbill) no one from the US west coast responded, but at the last activation (The Pinnacle) most of the contacts were from the Mountain and Pacific time zones.
Thanks and 73,
David - AA3II