Portable operations

Nothing beats going “bush” with portable equipment, flinging a wire antenna into the trees, hooking up the sealed battery and having a listen for stations.

With so many aspects to enjoy in Amateur Radio, portable work may seem a lot of effort for little gain, but I can assure you even the most humble station can bring enjoyment.

For many years my portable station has consisted of:

  • HF transceiver – Yaesu FT-7, purchasedFT7 Portable equipment Pambula watermark compressed in 1978, running 10 watts
  • Antenna – homebrew end fed zeppelin wire antenna, with open wire feeder, cut as a 1/2 wave on 80 metres
  • Antenna matching unit – MFJ balanced/unbalanced cross needle
  • VHF transceiver – Yaesu FT-290R, all mode low power unit
  • VHF antenna – homebrew 6 element yagi
  • 6m transceiver – Icom IC505, purchased in 2003, all mode up to 10 watts
  • 6m antenna – dipole

Many excellent contacts have been made using this humble set-up, with one of the most remarkable being a 6m contact with a VK5 whilst I was portable at Pambula, on the south coast of New South Wales.

The 6m dipole had been damaged and I could hear a number of beacons on 6m indicating that the band was open. With only the HF end fed zepp I thought I have nothing to lose, so I used the Antenna Matching Unit linked to the end fed zepp and the IC505. Voila!! Exactly 50% efficient – 10 watts in and 5 watts out.

With the end fed zepp at only 4 metres above the ground I worked a VK5 for the better part of 20 minutes with 5×7 signals both ways.

Imagine the VK5’s surprise when asking me what sort of beam I was using with my reply of a fixed end fed zepp antenna running south east-north west!! A marvellous contact.

And that is what portable operation is about – particularly with the magic band of 6m.

More soon on practical portable operations hints and kinks, and a yarn (story) or two.