Saturday, September 26, 2015

QRP portable on PSK31 - five watts and five QSOs!

The car at Red Mountain with the antenna on the roof.
This evening after work I finally got a chance to test my new portable set-up for real. Previously, I had only tested it in the main shack connected to my home antennas. But today I wanted to give it a REAL test. So I took the portable station in my car to a hill about two miles from where I live called Red Mountain, just overlooking Donore village in County Meath. I wanted to run five watts only on either digi modes or CW, running off a separate battery, not the car battery. I didn't know what to expect . . . or even if it would work properly, although having tested it at home I felt it would.

It took me a few minutes to get everything out of the box and connected up. Eventually I would like to make a proper "go box", but for now I have to connect all the leads and that's OK. It only took a few minutes. I was using the Watson Multi-Ranger antenna on the roof of the car. I decided to use PSK31 so I didn't bother connecting a mic to the radio, or indeed the K1EL keyer. All I had to do was connect the radio to the battery, the antenna to the ATU, and the Signalink to both the computer and the radio. Oh, and I used the new Icom CI-V interface so that HRD could read the frequency and mode from the rig.
Everything fit on the passenger seat. It was a little uncomfortable because
I had to turn sideways to operate, but it all worked very well.
With all that done, I tuned up and then started CQing on 14.070.85 using just five watts. I was chatting to a couple of the local guys on two metres also. After five minutes of Cqing there was nothing, so I was thinking I might change to CW, but all of a sudden a F5 station was calling me! So I successfully made a QSO with him. I finished, thinking how delighted I was to have successfully made a contact with five watts when a German station called me. I worked him too. Then an Italian called me and I logged him. In total, I worked five stations in half an hour. The last one was the best DX contact - into Ukraine. 
Working DL9KW Karl-Heinz on PSK31 with 5 watts.

It was great fun - and very rewarding. The location helped. The hill falls away steeply towards the east so there would be good take-off into Europe. I packed everything away into the EI2KC portable case with a smile on my face.

I'm hoping to do more portable work soon - perhaps with a couple of the local hams in tow. We could maybe bring a flask of tea and some sandwiches and biscuits and make a nice social event out of it too...

Just a couple of things I need to do for next time. I need to get better clamps or connectors to keep the power lead connected to the battery. I also need to get a shorter RJ45 cable to connect the Signalink to the rig - it's too long currently. 

EI2KC selfie . . . in the car doing QRP PSK.

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