On the first weekend of December, ARK took a weekend trip to LB0VG’s cabin in Straumsvågen to test out our portable antenna equipment, and get a change of scenery.
For antennas, we brought a 40-meter and 80-meter dipole and our newly completed 80-meter vertical, which was ready just in time for the trip, see our previous blog post Making an 80-meter vertical antenna. We also brought a mast, soldering equipment, and enough wire to make a 40-meter vertical on the spot. Radio-wise, we brought our newly purchased ICOM-7610 radio and AL-82 amplifier. Additionally, LB1HH brought his own 20-meter dipole and a Yaesu FT-757GX MK1. LB0VG also brought his own radio, a Yaesu FT-450D, to use with a dipole that was already mounted at the cabin – although he was unsure about the targeted frequency for the antenna.
We arrived at the cabin Friday evening and immediately had to shovel the snowed-in driveway of the cabin to get to the front door. For dinner, we made tacos and ended the night playing board games.
The next morning was an early one, with breakfast starting at 9 o’clock. After this, we got started setting up the antennas. LB1HH, LB8LI and LB9WI took on the job of hanging up the 20-meter dipole, a grueling task that even involved tree-climbing. LB0ZI, LB1DJ and LB5DH took care of the 40 meter vertical and LB0VG and LB5PI stayed inside to set up the radio shacks.
The first antenna to be operational was the 20-meter dipole and LB1HH quickly set up his own HF radio to test the conditions. It was a success, and we got our first QSO of the trip!
The results of measuring LB0VG’s dipole were a bit strange – the antenna was resonant on the 17-meter band, albeit with a decent tuner we made it work on the 40-meter band as well.
One of the exciting features of our new IC-7610 is the dual receiver architecture that allows us to receive simultaneously from two antennas. We chose to utilize this feature to simultaneously receive from the dipole and the vertical antenna on the 40-meter band. Since the dipole is horizontally polarized and the vertical is vertically polarized this would allow us to listen to the strongest signal depending on the polarization of the incoming signal. However, in practice, it seemed like the impact of the polarization was negligible and the vertical antenna was superior on nearly all stations we listened to. Still, it was exciting to try the same band diversity receive for (we believe) the first time in the history of LA1K.
After we had two shacks up and running, we paused the operation for a quick break to go sightseeing in Kristiansund, the nearby city. Here we also got to visit LB1DJ’s mother and dog Linus, who lives in the area. Linus was such a charmer and we considered kidnapping him to be our mascot.
When we got back, LB9WI started on dinner. On the menu was homemade pizza. The rest of the group continued with amateur radio for a while. Suddenly, the 40 m vertical wasn’t getting any reception. A closer inspection outside revealed the antenna had fallen over, and the remaining time before dinner was spent re-erecting it.
The 80-meter vertical was on the agenda after dinner. The antenna was not complete when we brought it on the trip, as we had been having some issues with the loading coil at the bottom. After discovering that the coil was self-resonant on the 80-meter band, LB1DJ and LB5DH made a new coil out of 1.5 mm RK wire and added it to the bottom of the antenna. We got the ideal SWR of 1 once the antenna was set up and connected to the MFJ-948 antenna tuner that we brought.
We got our first QSO with the 80-meter vertical around midnight but quickly called it a night to continue in the morning. The next morning, we were able to check in on QST-LA, the national amateur radio check-in, that’s hosted every Sunday by NRRL on the 80-meter band.
Coincidentally, that Sunday was also the day for NRRL’s monthly “Månedstest”. We decided to participate on a whim and got a grand total of 4 QSO’s, perhaps due to our half-hearted participation. A little fun fact, all 4 QSO’s were obtained using the newly erected 80-meter vertical antenna.
We called it a day around midday Sunday, packed down all our equipment, and headed home. Yet again, a successful outing. Thank you to all participants: LB0VG, LB0ZI, LB1DJ, LB1HH, LB5DH, LB5PI, LB8LI, and LB9WI. And a special thank you to LB0VG for lending out his cabin.