17 February 2014

SARL Field Day Contest February 2014

We travelled to a 'dog friendly' guest farm in the Magaliesberg for the weekend of February 8th and 9th. This is a really nice farm called Stonehill, not far from the town of Magaliesburg. We did some fantastic walks around the property. All good from an exercise point of view.

The weather on Saturday was perfect but on Sunday it became overcast and colder.

Purely coincidentally was the fact that it was the SARL Field Day Contest weekend. The cottage we were staying in was about 2/3rd's the way up a gentle slope with a nice take-off angle to the south. Upon surveying the trees, I elected to deploy a doublet up about 6 meters and between 2 thorn trees. The horizontal section was 23 meters long. This is a field deployable antenna consisting of two lengths of wire about 40 meters long. Once the horizontal section was deployed I then turned the rest of the wire into a ladder line by fixing portable spreaders between the wires. These spreaders being spaced about a meter apart. This is not a quick antenna to deploy but I was able to get it all assembled and in the air in about 45 minutes.  The original design was shown for years on the Adventure Radio Society Website which does not appear to be functioning any more.

After draping the feeder over the braai area and along some flowers I was able to connect it to my trusty balanced tuner, my ZM2. This tuner has been on hundreds of field trips and still provides wonderful service.

The first thing I noticed was the extreme quiet of the bands. This had to be a combination of band conditions, location and the balanced feeder system. What a pleasure.

I pre-arranged a QSO with Barrie ZS6AJY and Dave ZS6AZP on Saturday morning at 6:30am on 80m. Condx were a pleasure and I received solid reports from both stations which was very pleasing. Thanks Barrie and Dave for coming on frequency.

I did not operate for more that maybe 5 hours in the contest. I operated under Class 1C which is QRP field portable. Condx were nice and I was able to work all stations that I could hear. Check out the results, pics and details below.

Definitely a good location for radio and a fun weekend!