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Radio Action, Part 4: First DX-pedition, Contacts = 0

Posted: Mon May 22, 2017 12:51 pm
by ve3efq
Radio Action, Part 4: First DX-pedition, Contacts = 0


I wrote my ham ticket in 2013. But at that time I only had a hand-held for 2m. But a hand-held on 2 metres is not so good for a bush radio given its range limitations. So, it was in 2015 that I bought a Yeasu 817. I had been out with OSO using his 817; seeing the distance that was possible with that, I could see the utility of bands like 20m for long range communication when out in the woods.

I zipped down to the city, turning cash into radio. But, what antenna? The one I wanted was not in stock; so, I bought another based upon a suggestion from the radio monger, an MFJ-1889t.

We loaded up the canoe and had the map ready for this was a new area that I had not traveled to before. It was a trip that would be five days in total.

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After a days' paddle across a lake, up a river, then around a waterfall, we were in a situation were the little 817 could address two problems: (1) No cell phone coverage; (2) not in range of a repeater.

The nearest repeater, which I had found and made notes about prior to departing, was VA3MIN, Minden; neither my HT nor my 817 was able to make any contact with it with the 2m antennas I had for these radios when out on this trip, assuming it was working at the time. As you can see, the land was rocky, had lots of rolling hills, and there was a fair bit of dense vegetation. Good for canoeing but not so good for 2 metre signals using a small antenna attached to the radio.

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I had a little box for the radio – an ammunition box from Canadian tire, though I am not so sure it would be water proof had the canoe capsized; so, I have since replaced that box with one that will not leak.

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I sat and sat for a fair number of hours trying to get some contact on 20 metres for many days but that little antenna did not help my lack of skill:

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I tried in more than one camp over the entire trip as we paddled and portaged from lake to lake:

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But I did not get a single contact. Not one.

The places we stayed at were super nice though:

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See here for the full version.

The only contact I had was with with some of the local inhabitants, who proved to be pretty tasty when sauteed in butter:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JbNmWWTFP8

I recently returned to this place and stayed at one of the same camps in November 2016. The difference was palpable: I had loads of radio contacts from all over the place on multiple bands, including contacts back to members of this club (I think I was the first contact Scott and Christine had during their inaugural ONTARS session), as I documented here. I had 2 really nice rag chews with guys in the US using 1/2 and 1 watts; and a few other QRP National Parks on the Air contestants in the middle U.S. I'd really like to go back there again and see if I could get into the Minden repeater now that I have made an external, 2 m antenna that has already proven to increase range. So, I have learned a lot in the last year or so about operating portable in isolated places.

To conclude, I have only final comment: Anyone want to buy a (slightly) used MFJ 1899t?

Enjoy,

EFQ