It was good to be back on the air after many a year really, or at least seriously putting out a signal as opposed to just trying out a new location, or a new vehicle/battery/antenna etc. The main purpose was to use all my new toys I had been adding to the portable arsenal. Although the Lesiure Battery is only 85A it managed the 6 hours or so using 100w - of course not even I could talk for 6 hours, so in reality there was probably a lot left in the tank - anyway, it is on trickle charge for next time. The new antenna - I-Pro Traveller was put through its paces too and this 3m vertical dipole was a lovely antenna to use.
This is now looking up. As well as replacing my dead Leisure Battery with a new 85Ah AND a quality CTEK charger, I even managed to obtain a Poartable Powerpack 200 from my local Halfords as it was reduced (apparently) and £30 cheaper than normal. This adds a 20Ah SLA supply but it also has 12v outputs and a 300w inverter - very handy for 240v low power. It combines a pair of flourescent lights, tyre inflator and jump leads should I flatten both the LB and the car battery!
Ok, so just what is needed for /P or Portable Operation to give it the correct name? - well, a lot of time, patience, luck and money would be the flippant answer - fortunately there's a better one. After much deliberation, I have, over recent years built up a collection of radios. I still haven't got the antenna of my dreams, but then again I'm not sure what that would be!
First things first - silly as it may sound is transport - a car, van, camper van, motorhome - anything really, as this forms perhaps the most important part of the operations - especially if you're a single operator and not part of a DX Group or Radio Club. Usually the more roomy the vehicle the better. So having said all that, I have a Nissan Micra! - I keep thinking about trading it in, yet there is nothing wrong with it, not costing anything (yet) in repair bills and economical to run etc.
The Micra was replaced in November 2009 for the more convenient Nissan Note - Diesel with integral SATNAV. A lot more cubby holes and a sort of false floor/boot section which can house anything from batteries to linears - all nice and tidy. A notebook has been added along with a mobile dongle - again meaning (hopefully) connectivity wherever I may wander (subject to signal).
Next thing to consider was a radio - I have several, but toying with the idea of a linear or a new radio with 200w output - I plumped for the latter - hence the recent arrival of the Kenwood TS480HX. This obviously needs a decent battery (or two) so I have Leisure Batteries (well have one, one on its way) to ensure sufficient battery power - though I don't intend running 200w all the time as I quite like my radios and their finals.
The antenna problem is being addressed. I need something to cover the main HF bands - i.e. 10m-20m - I have a Commercial Buddipole - the de-luxe version with all the bits which I imported direct from Bud himself (at a massive saving - even after duty & VAT, shipping etc.) I need to experiment more with the settings - especially trying near-vertical for low angle DX - or so the theory goes - This antenna also inc. 40m - handy for my WAB interest. Only qualm is I like to switch from band to band and be able to do so without having to get off my backside and change the tapping point on the coil! - This "laziness" also prompted my purchase of a MFJ 993b Auto ATU as well - although i believe it will be a great use both in and out of the shack.
I also have a love of 2m SSB - and will also be looking to work portable on that band as well. From what I can gather though, activity isn't what it was and my best bet here will be Activity Weekends/Contests. I'm not bothered about huge masts. 20ft will suffice - bear in mind a lot of the time my location will be very high on various Co. Durham passes. I still want it to be fun and not competitive or obsessive like some contesters - so the idea of huge arrays etc does not appeal. For this band I have the highly portable Yaesu FT857, which believe is 50w on 2m SSB - variable down to 1w I think! - The 480HX doesn't do 2m, but will give 100w output for 6m - that should be more than sufficient methinks.
Of course it would not be practical to have all of these interests and bands covered for /P work. I propose to have stations QRV for 2m, 6m and HF - all separate - specifically for the RSGB & PW contests, QRP, Field Day etc. Of course it means more antennas - specifically decent yagi's to do it justice. I'm already thinking of SOTA (Summits on The Air) - but that's another story - and probably another page for the site.- see SOTA page!
So, car, radio, power supply, antennas (well almost), mast, location all sorted, just need some nice propogation, activity and good weather for the Summer DX season - or any DX season come to that! - as an aside I have had a supply of QSL cards printed (awaiting delivery) and rejoined the RSGB in case I have need of the QSL Bureau - and to look over Radcom - I missed it over the last few years.