So, Julie and I just returned from a road-trip to visit her father in Oshawa which meant another opportunity for me to play radio for a few hours. On the way down, bands were looking decent (considering the recent coronal mass ejection) so I took the time to make some contacts on 15 & 20m.
The most distant QSOs I managed were 6100km to DG7NY in Germany (PSK31) and 6500km to IZ5PNL in Italy (JT65-HF). Good lord this mobile setup works well! As usual, I was getting out-standing reports on the visual qualities of my trace on the digi-mode waterfalls.
Once in Oshawa, I took the opportunity to stop by Durham Radio to pick up a few things:
- ARRL Antenna Handbook 22nd Edn. (hardcover)
- NMO to 3/8″ whip adapter
- NMO to SO-239 adapter
- 2 x NMO rain-covers
The NMO to 3/8″ adapter is meant to allow the use of Ham-Stick antennas which may offer some performance gains over the ATAS-120A antenna. I am not entirely convinced that the difference would be observable, however, I am open to the idea.
The secondary purpose of the NMO to 3/8″ adapter is to allow the rapid deployment of an NVIS (near vertical incident sky-wave) system. Using NVIS could allow for close-in HF contacts when VHF fails.
The NMO to SO-239 adapter will allow for the use of a PL-259 patch-cord for swapping over to a different (off-vehicle) antenna system for 2M/70cm.
I would like to be able to use something other than a 5/8 wave whip antenna when I arrive at a base-camp type position. I envision something like a 2M / 6M loop system or even a painter’s mast Yagi type array.
Finally, the NMO rain covers I purchased are meant to protect the contacts of the NMO mounts when they are not in use. I figure this would be a good practice as small measures of prevention typically yield excellent results.
The rain covers are plastic thread-on caps with o-rings at the base. For $4 these little guys can not be beat for value! No need to spend upwards of $10 on a “brand name” cover when these are readily available.
On the drive home, I was given the opportunity to play radio from Oshawa to Kingston, so I took advantage of every possible second. The bands today (Jan 27th) were quite bad – lots of QSB (fading) and some really odd QRM (man-made noise) on 20M (14.072MHz) which sounded like it might have been PACTOR-II as it was 500Hz wide. The transmission came from a VERY strong signal source walked all over QSOs in-progress which is extremely rude. In hindsight, I wish that I had recorded the incoming audio (which is possible in Fldigi: File > Audio > RX Capture) for post-processing.
Despite the very poor operating conditions, I still managed to make contacts with stations as distant as 5800km to a special event call station LX75RL (PSK31) and 8200km to PU2OAJ in Brazil (PSK31).
All in all, a great trip and another opportunity to operate /M