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My 1st SOTA chase from my new QTH

Due to family related reasons, I have started moving to a new QTH in Pamplona, which is a 7th floor flat in a building near my kids college.

We are not permanently living there yet but we have started setting things up in preparation for the move.

One of the “important” things that I have started with is an antenna for SOTA chasing.

I’ve homebuilt this multiband endfed antenna, which is the same I currently use when activating SOTA:

http://www.earchi.org/92011endfedfiles/Endfed6_40.pdf

I provisionally installed my newly built antenna yesterday in the balcony looking to the NorthWest. The QRM on 40m is very high, as expected for such urban environment, but the first SOTA chase has come today on 20m SSB with my FT-817 at 5 watts.

Thanks to Andy @GM8OEG for this 1st SOTA QSO from my new QTH.

Let me show you some few pictures of the new home built antenna:

The recycled plastic cage is for the 9:1 un-un and it formerly was a domestic water turtles food pot.

The thin black copper wire coming out from the plastic pot goes out of the balcony to the end of an old recycled UHF TV yagi antenna boom.

And it goes horizontally along the nearly 8m long balcony to the end of another recycled UHF TV yagi antenna boom I have installed at each end of the balcony in order to keep the copper wire separated from the bulding.

I’ll still keep my current house and antennas but this will be my SOTA chasing antenna for quite several times. Next time you hear me chasing with a very tiny signal, this will be why.

Please keep your ears wide open for my tiny signals calling you.

73,

Guru

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Hi, Guru. You might try moving the antenna up a bit to one of the wooden beams (I assume it is wood!) as the concrete probably has a lot of steel reinforcing in it, running parallel to the wire.

It’s steel, Brian.
I know it would be better moving the wire upwards as far away of the steel balcony fences as possible but I don’t want to let the copper wire too visible for my XYL… :frowning:

Cheers,

Guru

Ah, well, good luck with it, Guru, sometimes the most unlikely antennas turn out to perform well!

Indeed you never know.
I went to the flat today at lunch time break, as it’s just 15 minutes from work and taking advantage of being on my own (my xyl and the kids were all out, I switched on my FT-817 while eating a sandwich.
I got delighted when I chased Ralf HB9GKR/P activating HB/NM-015 on 20m SSB at Noon utc, because the balcony I have my endfed antenna installed at is looking to the NorthWest and HB9 is to the East, which means that the whole building was between Ralf’s location and my antenna.
I’ll keep telling you how things go with this set-up.
Cheers,

Guru.

Where there is a will, there is a way!

…Maybe you’ll get access to the roof-top someday…

Richard // N2GBR

I absolutely agree.

Yeah, maybe someday, but definitely not for now.

73,

Guru

Hi all,
Let me give you a brief update on my QRP activities with the homemade endfed antenna in the balcony.
I’ve been going to the flat at lunch break for a quick sandwich yesterday and today.
There were 2 SOTAs spotted on Sotawatch during my sandwich time in the flat yesterday. One was on 30m and I could copy neither the activator nor any of the presumed chasers.
The other spot was for an activation in EA6 and it wouldn’t be possible for me to copy him due to skip. I looked up and nothing was heard, as expected.
So I called CQ on 14.060 and I got answered by a SOTA fellow. He was Hans @PA0HRM in Italy and his callsign was I6/PA0HRM. Hans was not activating but he was using his SOTA rig KX1 at 3 watts into a vertical antenna and we exchanged various comments in a very nice QSO despite the weak signals and some QSB :v: .
Again, being Italy to the East of me, the whole building was placed between each other.

Today was great, as I managed to chase John @GX0OOO/P while he was activating G/LD-004 on 20m CW at 12h35 utc. His signals were pretty weak with QSB and sometimes I was missing him completely.
The pile up passed first and I couldn’t do other than waiting up to the end of it and hope for the propagation conditions to hold a bit and the QSB to play ball for me.
It finally happened and I was copied by John at 20 WPM. He said EA2??, then I repeated my callsign 3 times in case there was some QSB making my signal vanish and John got it right.
We completed QSO and I got back to work happy with a new SOTA chase from this new location with this new set-up :v: .

Later, when I finished work, I managed to chase from my car @EA2EKA activating EA2/NV-132 on 2m FM. Thanks for the activation Adrian. He was strugglying to have the 4 minimum contacts and I don’t know if he finally made it, as I arrived to my evening destination and stopped the car + rig.

I feel well when I manage to chase at least one activator in a working day in the middle of the week. I’m feeling very well today with 2 chases in my log so far :-).

Best 73,

Guru

And the homemade endfed in the balcony with the 5 watts of my FT-817 keep doing the job.
These are the chases I’ve managed to make yesterday at lunch break time and today after finishing work at 12h utc (14h local)


I heard you very well while you were chasing yesterday on 20m, Brian @G8ADD

Some Northamerican activation spotted today on 20 and 30m while I was QRV in the flat, were not copied, as expected.

The good news is that the permanent S8 QRM I’ve had all these previous days on 40m, including today at the beginning of my time on the radio, got, at some point, reduced to and S6 and then S4, which let me copy some of the traffic in the band at that time and I almost even copied a SOTA activator. I guess there was some machines or electric device from a nearby location, which got disconnected for the weekend. Should that be the case, it’s a very good news because I should not have that QRM on the weekends and I’ll be able to chase on 40m too.
Let’s see how it goes…

I’ve been preparing for a new sloper configuration of the endfed wire and I’ll give you some feedback on how it performed with respect to the current horizontal one, when I had carried out some tests and had got some data.

Best 73,

Guru

[editted to add some more pictures]

As I anticipated in my previous post, I was preparing a sloper type set up for my endfed in order to keep the wire as much away of the balcony steel fence as possible.

Mi idea was to use a small ring I found screwed on the very corner of the balcony ceiling.
With the help of a 3 m telescopic fishing pole, in which I had removed the 2 last thin sections in order to have a more robust not so flexible tool, I managed to pass a cord through the small metal ring screwed in the balcony ceiling and I used it to hang from it the copper wire of the endfed antenna.

I also moved the feed point up to the top left part of the balcony steel fence, so the endfed wire comes out of the plastic turtle food pot and goes upwards to the metal ring screwed in the balcony ceiling corner, then it goes down gently sloping to the end of a 2.5m telescopic fishing pole placed horizontally in order to keep the endfed wire away of the building and finally hanging down about 2.5 meters vertically with a small weight tied to its end.

Unlike you will see in the attached picture, the telescopic fishing pole wasn’t finally attached perpendicular to the bulding façade. It was finally placed with an angle to the right in order to keep the hanging down part of the wire away from the balcony of my neighbour living below.

In the following image you can see the new shape of the wire.

I’ve tested this new configuration today and I had the feel that the received signals were in general notably higher than with the previous configuration. I have even copied JA on 30m with very good signals.

I’ve managed to chase 3 SOTA activations:

  • one on 30m CW - DL4CF/P activating DM/TH-066
  • one on 20m CW - HB9AXL/P activating HB/NE-007
  • one on 40m CW - DD7II/P activating DM/BW-639.

The permanent S8 QRM I had during the weekdays on 40m and seemed to disappear yesterday afternoon, was not there yet today and that’s why I managed to hear and chase DD7II/P.

Let’s see if the QRM comes back on Monday.

At the moment, I have not a counterpoise for this antenna. Despite the instructions saying that this antenna doesn’t need one, as long as a 5m long coax is used because coax braid acts as such counterpoise, I can tell you that I’ve noticed that the endfed antenna I use for my SOTA activations, which is exactly as this one in the balcony, works better with a counterpoise wire.
Next thing I want to try is connecting the whole steel balcony fence as it was a counterpoise wire. I hope it will work fine and it will very likely be connected to the whole steel structure and the ground of the whole building. I’ll let you know my findings.

Best 73,

Guru

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I made it yesterday in a rush during a quick visit to the flat, where we are not yet living in.
Just this little thin wire made a notable difference:

The endfed antenna with the balcony fence acting as a counterpoise was easily tuned on all bands from 80m to 6m. I even copied a Northamerican activator on 20m CW (but couldn’t make my 5 watts signal copied by him and he soon QSYed to 40m). I also catched a good openning on 6m and worked EI77WAW, on my first call. He gave me a real 599 report. Not bad for 5 watts and this antenna.

Before, when the counterpoise wire was not there, I was able to tune the antenna with more inductance in the antenna tuner and a quite critical position in the variable capacitors of the PI C-L-C tuner. In summary, it was possible to tune but it was more difficult to achieve.
Now, with the counterpoise wire connected to the balcony fence, the antenna got tuned with less inductance and quite a wide range for the capacitors position, so it’s easier and faster to achieve now.

See it in this picture:

I’m pretty sure this antenna will give me good satisfaction.

Best 73,

Guru

Hello Guru, I’ve had several SOTA QSO’s with you recently while I was activating summits, but it sounds like perhaps you were using another antenna? Regardless, I am always happy to hear your signal breaking through to the American Southwest! I hope we work many more times in the future.

73,
Keith KR7RK

Hi Keith,

The endfed antenna I’m setting up in the balcony of this flat is being so far connected to my QRP Yaesy FT-817 and this is definitely not the station I was using when I chased you last June 14th and all previous occasions.

We are not yet living in the flat, we are going there from time to time to try to little by little move forward on getting and setting up furniture, as well as preparing rooms for our 3 kids.

When I chased you, it was late in our evening and I was in my current QTH in a village 18Km SouthWest of Pamplona, which is where we are still living in until the setting up of the flat gets completed and we move there, which may happen in a couple of weeks or so.

While writing you this message, I’m in my house QTH in the village SW of Pamplona, not the flat in the town. The house QTH has a much better station, which you’ll be able to see on my QRZ.com page. That’s what I was using when I chased you, the Hy-Gain TH5-DX yagi antenna and the Kenwood TS-940S + TL922 Linear Amplifier putting nearly 1Kw out.

No doubt that I won’t be able to copy activators from Arizona when in the flat with that simple wire antenna and much less will I be able to make my QRP signals readable that far away, but this is something I have already accounted for.

The good news is that I’ll keep my house QTH for the moment with the good station in it, so I still hope to be able to go there from time to time and enjoy chasing DX activators like you, Keith.

Thank you and best 73,

Guru

I’m glad it worked out from DM/BW-639. A clear spot along the forest road and a well-placed tree stump allowed me to hoist the apex of my inverted-V linked dipole to the full height of the mast (ca 8 m). Since it was the end of the day and my battery was holding out, I could linger beyond the dissipation of the pile-up.
The flies were a bit vicious, but that’s another story ;>) .
73, David, DD7II/N3II

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We’ve spent the whole afternoon and evening in the flat moving pieces of furniture for setting up and preparing bedrooms, but I still found some time to look at Sotawatch on my smartphone and chase a few activators.
These are my SOTA chases today.
The first one was chased in the morning from my house QTH in the village SW of Pamplona and all the others were chased in the afternoon from the flat QTH in Pamplona on QRP 5w with the endfed in the balcony.

I found Simon GW4TJC/P sending QRL? on 30m before starting to CQ and I think I probably was his first chaser on that band and possibly in his activation, as I didn’t find any spot for him from activity on any other bands before. That’s why I raised one for him. I hope it brought a good number of chasers for you Simon @G4TJC

Good fun today with the balcony endfed antenna and QRP 5w.

Best 73,

Guru

This is my yesterday’s chaser log:


Three activators from USA, where the first 2 were chased from my house in the village at the SouthWest of Pamplona with my 5 elements tribander + linear amplifier at 500 watts.

But I chased the last one of those three from my rental apartment in Pamplona.

Over the last weeks, the configuration of my endfed random wire in the balcony has slightly evolved and, with the help of a second 3m long telescopic fishing pole I installed some few weeks ago, it is currently like this:

With this antenna, my FT-817ND at 5 watts and the invaluable help of mother propagation plus the good ears of Paul @KB9ILT, I managed to chase him yesterday on 30m.

It think it was my first USA SOTA chased on 30m ever.

The signals were very weak with lots of urban QRM. I was very much in doubt that Paul would have logged the QSO, but I did it myself, just in case. However, I wanted to check his activation log for confirmation.

I checked Paul’s activation log today and got delighted when I found my callsign in it :v:

Thank you, Paul for your extremely good ears!

Best 73 from a very happy chaser :slight_smile:

Guru

Thanks for the contact,Guru! Radio conditions were good on the summit and you were clearly heard, though QSB made it difficult to copy my signal report, 229 if I got it right. Little did I know we were both running QRP with endfed antennas. Fantastic!

Sometimes it amazes me what low power and compromised antennas can do.

73,
Paul - KB9ILT

Yes, indeed!

Same here, although propagation is the key factor.
It’s great when conditions are in good shape.
Best 73 and HPE CUAGN SN.

Guru

Father Sun keeps sending us a bit of his good stuff and it made Mother Propagation look beautiful today, letting my QRP 5w and balcony mounted endfed antenna chase all these activations this afternoon-evening:


The icing on the cake was my second SOTA DX from this QTH :v:

Thanks all for your activations and good ears.

Best 73 from a happy chaser,

Guru

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Hi Guru,

great that the qso between us (OE5REO/P on OE/OO-031) could be completed … for some minutes I heard somebody calling, but the signal was too weak to respond. but then suddenly the signal improved a bit and I was able to copy your call and signal report. it’s always good to have earphones in the backpack!

thanks for your patience … it looks like I was the only ssb-contact you made this day :slight_smile:

73 Martin, OE5REO