Having built the linked HF dipole (described by GW4BVE) some time ago I decided it was time to go out and tune it up, not having the space to do it at home. So, last Sunday, the weather being pleasant when I got up, I decided to go out to the local high spot (Winter Hill), get the antenna resonant and do an activation using HF, 2 metres, 4 metres and 23cm, should be a breeze I thought ! A 30 minute drive to the parking place just off the TV transmitter access road and I was ready. The only thing was, I couldn’t carry everything in one go so I decided on doing HF first.
So, after walking into the activation zone, the HF antenna and mast were put up and connected to the SWR meter and FT-817 with SLAB. Luck was with me and the 10 metre section was resonant - great ! Now on to the other bands, 20 metres was not quite resonant but the SWR was within acceptable limits. Now the fun started, 40 metres was way off with the antenna being too long. No problem, just shorten it a bit, however, where were the wire cutters ? they were in my pocket half an hour ago but not now - obviously somewhere in the heather ! A fruitless search for twenty minutes produced no sign of them, but let’s try 5MHz anyway. No chance of resonance on 5MHz and with all the messing around I managed to upset the settings in the FT817 so ended up operating “split” or sometimes getting TX-ERROR whenever I keyed the mic - why now, with no manual with me ! Eventually I had to do a “factory reset” and managed to sort most things out, but by now I had had enough and decided to leave HF for another day. By this time the heat was building up and I was dripping, and the flies were bad…
Never mind, let’s pack up HF, take the stuff back to the car and try 4,2, and 23.
Another ascent up the hill and 2 metre FM was used with the FT817 to bring in 9 chasers, not many considering the location but at least the hill was qualified. Now for 4 metres, only FM from a handheld with “rubber duck” but I should raise something - no such luck, nothing, zilch !
Getting a bit fed up now, extremely hot, flies even worse than before, and I had managed to find just about the only wet bit on the hill to kneel down in.
Ok, set up on 23 with the FT290, Microwave Modules transverter and homebrew antenna. GB3CLE was coming in ok, a bit weaker than expected but it was there. CQ CQ - nothing (as expected really) so spotlite…
Then at S9+++ there was a GW so give him a call - all I get is QRZ, there’s someone there but completely distorted and very weak…
What’s wrong now ? A complete check on the connections, cables, battery voltage etc found nothing wrong - then it dawned, the attenuator needed between the 290 and the transverter was missing (it was at home on the 4 metre transverter !) so that explains the distorted signal as the transverter was being overdriven. Horrible memories of the transverter datasheet warning about never, ever, connecting a transmitter without the attenuator now came flooding back - have I now blown something up ? I have still not had the courage to conduct any tests yet so we still live in hope!
So, after what should have been a breeze of an activation, and carrying the 4 metre rig, FT817, FT290, transverter, SLAB, 23cm beam, SOTA pole and HF dipole up and down the hill in swealtering and very humid conditions I ended up with a 2 metre FM activation that I could have done using the pocket sized handie, a possibly seriously damaged transverter, a still untuned HF antenna,
and an FT817 that needs all the settings and memories being re-input.
To cap it all it was then a trip to ASDA for the weekly shop ! But I still made it to the local for a couple of much needed pints just before closing time (it closes at 4pm for some reason).
I’m off to the Cairngorms soon with a trip up ES-001 planned but if this simple trip up Winter Hill is anything to go by then I may as well not bother taking the radio !