Sunday, 24 March 2013

Ground Waves

Interesting morning today, it was the first Emcomm deployment practice and exercise of 2013 for Frontenac Emcomm Group, and it was almost perfect weather for it. 
Homebrewed 80m Coil on 31' vertical
We set up four HF stations, all about 20 to 30 Kms from Net Control, and each other.  The object was to establish contact on 80m and successfully pass traffic using HF ground wave.   We also checked the 2m repeater coverage between us and tried to establish contact using 146.520 simplex. 

I drove to Piccadilly, just north of Verona on Hwy 38 and setup in the parking lot of the North Frontenac Rec Centre.  A busy hockey "hot spot" this morning.  Larissa VE3KGC and myself got more than our fair share of funny  looks from the crowd as we got ready and laid out the cables and wires.

The HF antenna system used today was the homebrewed 31' vertical on a collapsible MFJ mast with four 16' radials and a 4:1 Balun.  Also used today, for the first time, was the 80m homebrewed coil.   The coil is made from 15 turns of No. 10 wire wound around a 3" PVC coupler.  The coil must be removed to work any other band. 
FT-857D in action
I was really pleased and surprised at just how well this worked.  I at least anticipated some issues and had my toolbox standing by...but it wasn't needed.  The antenna tuned up perfectly using the LDG tuner on the FT-857D with no issues at all.

I'm sure there are some good losses using the coil, but for Emcomm work and passing traffic around Frontenac County it works just great. 

The repeater check went well, but the simplex check....not so good.  We could hear Net Control but the others were really too weak to work.  It might be interesting to try this on 2m SSB in the future. 

The topography of Frontenac County is that of rolling hills and valleys.  You're OK if you're on top of the hill, but the valleys are terrible for getting a signal out....which is why we practice HF ground wave comms. 

It was nice to get out and let the winter cobwebs get blown away this morning.......I now feel that spring must really be just around the corner.  A lot was accomlished and a lot of "lessons learned" filed away for future use. 

The next two monthly exercises will see us checking out the new digital network we are in the process of building up in the County.   So far we have two Nodes - VE3KER-7 in South Kingston and VE3FPN-7 in Sydenham, and a WinLink Gateway on VE3FRG-10 in North Kingston.  Future plans call for at least another two Nodes in the North part of the County. 

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