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CT3 tests from the beach

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.

Andy
CT9/MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:
Hi Andy,

Thanks for the update. Good to know you are up and running at sea level at least. I found the best /P place to set up for general HF contacts was up in the mountains at 1430m ASL a couple of km west on the CT3/MI-004 road from Poiso cross roads. There are some nice flat areas up there and plenty of space for an HF dipole. I have done HF radio from there quite a few times in 1992-93 and 2000, working Roy HF/p. Also there are places on the flat(ish) top of Paul da Serra at about 1500m on the new road.

You should be OK with CT3/MI-001. I got my Dad up it OK aged 78 when he had emphasemia. There’s a tourist path all the way from a high car park. A begging donkey seems to patrol it. For a bucket of hay you could press this into service for SOTA station transport if it’s still there. The top has a trig, a stone monolith and fences around.

CT3/MI-004 is a cinch - you just drive the hire car to the cafe at the top!

Everywhere in CT3 except the high plateau, is steep to say the least but follow the levadas to get around walking. Great island - the west part is possibly the nicest but allow twice as much time on the roads and prepare for a stiff neck leaning into the the many corners!! Average speed is about 22 mph. There is a new motorway through tunnels which cuts travel times by an hour but it only goes so far. Hope you enjoy CT3 and hope Roy works you OK! I’m green with envy!!!

73, John.

In reply to MM0FMF:

Hi Andy

Will keep a good listening watch for you later in the week. Hopefully you just need one contact with a chaser to get posted then we will all have a go at making the QSO.

Enjoy your holiday

73
Roy G4SSH

I am going to Madeira island at the end of october. I hope LiPo, Buddistick, LDG-Z817 and FT-817ND will pass the airport control in the hand baggage :slight_smile:

73, Milos S57D - I hope to be CT9/S57D/P :slight_smile: at the end of the month :slight_smile:

In reply to MM0FMF:

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.

Hi Andy,

That’s precisely what I found with my 10 / 14MHz version of your vertical design. The set up in Portugal was nothing like it was in England and I couldn’t get a match at all on 10MHz. Fortunately 14MHz was okay.

All the best with the activations.

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:
…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…

With a similar vertical used alongside our campervan, I found that connecting an old relic of a 500pf variable capacitor, extracted from an ancient BC RX, in series with the couterpoise, I could tune the setup to give me 50 ohms at the feedpoint with not much trouble at all regardless of ground conditions.
73 de Ken

Setup was a pain, the antenna is tuned by altering the elevated
counterpoise length. I never found a decent match on 20m, an issue

The reason why none of my antennas have on-site adjustment :o)

Carolyn

In reply to G6WRW:
But also a good reason to use the classic W3EDP!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

In reply to G6WRW:
But also a good reason to use the classic W3EDP!

73

Brian G8ADD

Another antenna that needs faffing with :o)

Carolyn

In reply to G6WRW:

No, Carolyn, I use it in recognition that the tuning of a simple low dipole will vary according with the ground that it is installed above, plus the knowledge that I have four bands (80 - 20 so five if I ever used 10 megs) that I can change to in seconds without needing to get to my feet and faffing with links over rough ground - and all for the disadvantage of carrying a tuner weighing a few ounces!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G6WRW:

none of my antennas have on-site adjustment

I can understand the logic. The more I play about the more I understand this antenna’s behavior. When above wet “Scottish” peaty soil tuning on 17/21 is repeatable without fail. I think I know understand the 20m issues, the plastic rod I use to support it is a bit weak so sometimes the elevated section dips in the middle. The height affects the tuning.

Above just rock the elevated section was far too long, as you approach 50-ish Ohms, about a 1cm change in length is about 100kHz tuning. I need about 10cms less on 17m here and about 8cms less on 15m. I probably didn’t shorten it enough for 20m and will try that again. It shows how far the ground is affecting the tuning.

I didn’t bring the LF dipoles, maybe 30m would make the trip but I doubt 40m would. I’ve not noticed any ground effects though in the UK with them. Apart from an issue with common currents on 30m cured with a chocke balun, they are setup and use antennas.

Andy
CT9/MM0FMF