Portable ops in the Cairngorms

My first radio was the Xiegu G90, and when I bought my Yaesu FT-DX10 I decided I’d keep the G90 for portable operations. It’s pretty small, 20W, and I already have it and know how it works. With a few days planned to stay near Aviemore in the summer holidays I thought it was the perfect time to try it out.

A converted church was our accommodation for the trip. Very fancy!

I have a 6m telescopic pole and decided to make a vertical antenna with it. In an effort to keep it simple, I went for a 1/4 wave for 20m with some radials and a 1:1 choke wrapping the coax around a toroid.

I’d left making the antenna until the night before we were due to go and so it was a bit of a rush to make it! I cut the wire considerably longer as I didn’t want to try and be too smart on my first attempt, and would use the NanoVNA to cut it to the right length.

Somewhat too long!

I think this worked against me as I ended up cutting it many times and then got sloppy and rushed, which meant I went from a 1.1 SWR at 14.035 MHz to 1.07 at 14.385 MHz..oops! By this time it was 9pm and I was meant to be packing other things. So I took the bit of wire I cut off and figured I’d reattach it later. I had also cut 5x 5m ish radials, and was using a dipole connector I had for the coax to wire connections.

We were staying with friends who were interested in hearing about amateur radio and why I was doing it, particularly when I set everything up outside. I tried not to blah on too much…

Our house backed onto the forest and there was no boundary between the garden ending and the forest starting, so I just setup near the bench and had the antenna towards the trees and out the way of running kids.

Setup at the holiday house

As well as my first time portable, it was my first time with a vertical and I was interested in how it performed compared to my horizontal EFHW I have at home. This is where I really like FT8 and pskreporter. Regardless of QSOs I make, I can see who hears me and I can obviously see who I hear.

I immediately noticed how many ZL stations I could hear, far more than I’ve ever had before. I think at home I’ve maybe seen one very briefly, but now I was seeing 5-8 stations for several hours in the morning. In fact I saw countries from all over the world that I’ve rarely heard before, it was like a deluxe buffet of locations!

My hastily cut and then reattached wire wasn’t the greatest, the G90 could tune it on 20m and several other bands but I kept it on 20m as I didn’t have that long to play in the radio and this should be the least worst band for it! Nevertheless, it worked and I was heard all around the world.

Who’s listening?

I made about 17 contacts that day, in the morning and then a little in the afternoon. A variety of European countries, including a couple of portable stations in Slovenia and Belgium, and also a contact in Oklahoma state. I listened in on SSB but didn’t get round to making any contacts on voice.

All in all, I was pleased with my first go, plenty of things to improve on next time and maybe try a different vertical, perhaps an end fed or just a better job cutting it! I do also want to get a bigger pole to move up to half wave territory. I’m not hiking up mountains so weight isn’t a huge factor, and I’m thinking of taking it down to the sea one time and seeing if the salt water helps me reach the exotic locations!

Testing in the garden






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