Easter Vacation = Mobile Ops

Once again, I was on the road with my wife to visit some of her family which provided me with an opportunity to do some mobile HF operating. This time, however, I did not have any success of HF.

For the first few minutes of my operating time, I was running Xastir (aprs software for Linux) and was sending out position packets just fine. I then swapped over to HF operating and tuned up the ATAS-120A antenna for 10.137MHz to give pskmail another shot. A few CQ calls and pings were sent out in an attempt to activate a listening pskmail station. Nothing was heard.

I then tried tuning up to 14.070MHz for some PSK-31 operating but was getting very little in the way of incoming signals. This seemed quite odd to me. I tried tuning around the bands a bit, looking higher each time, and saw some activity but mostly noise (S6-S8).

I then changed back to 2m for some APRS time while I pondered that was going on with the (normally great) HF setup I have. I then tried to tune up 30m again and the antenna was unable to make a match at all. The SWR was consistently high on all bands and did not change while attempting to tune the antenna. Bad news?!

A pit stop was made to verify that the antenna was in fact extending and collapsing as it attempted to find the lowest SWR. I loosened the antenna connection and re-tightened everything to ensure that the connection was good. We were soon on the road again, however, the problem was not yet solved. I should have tried tuning the antenna while parked!

In any event, no successful HF contacts were made which is frustrating, however, this learning experience will allow me to work out any glitches in my mobile setup. I’ve got some testing to do before we head back to Ottawa tomorrow morning – hopefully I will figure out what the problem is/was.

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