Many times people have written of equipment failures on their 1st SOTA activation or how hard it was to setup etc. With that in mind I thought I’d better check out the gear I have with me down on the beach, the Atlantic Ocean is approx. 200m from my hotel. The antenna is one I have used many times, I’d checked the 817 (my backup 817) was working FB before I left.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. First the ground here is not at all like Scotland, I’m sat on a huge extinct volcano in the Atlantic Ocean. Also I’m in Funchal on the South. The next land due South is Antarctica, I have S. America to the West, shielded by big hills, Africa to the West, shielded by hills and Europe to the Northeast, sheilded by 1600m hills. Even down on the lava beach, 5m from salt water may not overcome these barriers.
Setup was a pain, the antenna is tuned by altering the elevated counterpoise length. I never found a decent match on 20m, an issue I’ve seen before. I did manage to tune it on 17 and 15m, it needed to be considerably shorter than my setup marks. I spent some time checking I could get to a match when swapping between bands, I’m happy I can match it when on a summit.
What surprised me was how quiet the bands are when shielded from N.America and Europe! There were some quite loud stations from the med, EA7, II7. No Russians! A few loud Americans with pile ups I wasn’t going to bust on t last long!
Expected frequencies are 18.0861, 21.0611 and 14.0611CW, 18.144, 21.307 and 14.285 SSB, all +/- QRM. Operation probably will be Friday and/or Saturday.
Thanks for your indulgence those who tried a QSO, big thanks to G4ELZ for confirming I had RF going up the spout and for being my first QSO from Africa.