This is the first of a weekly (Lord willin’) post of some of the lessons learned in the last week of playing radio in the field and on the workbench. I will be sharing my good and some of the not so good lessons with ya so ya don’t fall into the same holes that I have.
Our monthly Polar Bear QRP Club outing was last weekend, and I hustled to put together a new C Pole antenna using Niel W0VLZ’s description. After gathering all the parts I set about preparing them. With the 100F temperatures and high humidity, that was a chore since I don’t have a garage with my condo and use my back porch as the workshop. I also have a less than full set of tools and to trim the 3/4 inch PVC pipe to fit the bases of the 16.5 ft Black Widow Crappie poles I had to resort to my Buck knife.
LESSON: Plan ahead and borrow the tools I need!!! YIKES.
I was a bit surprised how heavy the treated 1×4 lumber was. It certainly is not an antenna that is well suited to portable ops where it has to be carried very far.
LESSON: Think about how something is to be used BEFORE using it!
Got the C pole components loaded into the car and transported to the nearby lakeside park in our development. It is a nice quiet spot with towering pine trees and without too many curious visitors, so its a nice QRP portable site. Got my new Coleman shelter set up and went to work on the C Pole. Oops… another lesson. In preparing the PVC to fit into the crappie poles, I only tested the two pvc poles fit into ONE of the two crappie poles. After lugging the framework, antenna wire, coax, balun, and poles about 100 yds to my site, I discovered crappie pole #2 had a big drop of fiberglass inside the open end of the pole and the PVC would not fit at all.
LESSON: Check ALL the parts and do a trial setup BEFORE lugging the stuff across the wet grass and wasting time attempting to set it up.
LESSON: Don’t use a new antenna for the first time when the goal is get on the air and have fun!
For the Polar Bears, it was a frustrating weekend for most of us. Propagation was spotty and noise level was as high as the heat. At least I did reconnect with my antenna lovin’ PB friend Aaron, N9SKN/2 working from his hotel parking lot in NJ and had a couple nice ragchews including Julio NP3CW who was 599 and despite two guys calling CQ on top of us was able to be copied well. Great QRP signal Julio.
As you can see, I went ninja and tied a piece of old tee shirt around my head as a sweatband. Actually I was emulating our Alpha Bear, Ron WB3AAL after I read of his early Appalachian Trail exploits and saw a photo of him in his youth and ninja radio mode. Well I tied it TOO TIGHT and left it on TOO LONG and came home with a painful big red stripe on my forehead that lasted for several hours and hurt like all git out.
LESSON: Baby Polar Bears should not try to be like the Alpha Bear and wear an unapproved homebrew sweatband. These can be hazardous to one’s health and well being. Don’t try this at home kids!
p. s. For our Summer Picnic Events, we are supposed to send a picture of our sammich that we have for lunch. So here is mine!
Until next time…
Kelly K4UPG Polar Bear #173