Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sense enough to come in out of the rain

My callsign (V4/NE1RD) continues to bollix up operators world-wide. But, even with this minor annoyance I managed to put nearly 300 Qs in the contest log. This is far below the pace I had hope to make. I was able to work a few folks from home including some guys from the YCCC and my local club.
My operating position on the veranda is working reasonably well, at least during the day. Nighttime is a different story. I've been fighting off either mosquitos or heavy rain. Tonight's storm came up quickly and included some very high wind gusts. We scrambled to get the radio stuff inside and I lowered the beam to reduce the stress on those painters poles.
This brings up an important point. Though the 100 Pound DXpedition is principally a portable operation, you still need to have an antenna deployment that is resilient to the elements. Storms and high winds can come up quickly, especially in a place like the Caribbean. Antennas and masts should be guyed or strapped securely to a building or fence. It does you no good to bring a great antenna system only to have it destroyed by the first breeze.
As far as antennas go, the Mosley Mini-32-A has performed very well. I am able to do some A/B comparisons between the beam and my 40m/15m vertical and the beam is much louder (as you would expect). I have made most of my contacts on the yagi. The 40m vertical is up but I had very few options for where I could run the elevated radials. So, this antenna is not performing as it did on Montserrat but is still getting out. I expect to make more 40m contacts tomorrow before the contest ends.
The band that is most problematic seems to be 80m. The noise on this band is consistently S9 or worse. I have overheard others complaining about it, too, so I don't believe it is specific to this location. That's too bad. With all this extra space on the phone band, it would have been handy to have this band open and quiet.
I'll try to rise early to get back on the bands. I'd like to put in a good effort on this contest even with the limitations discussed. After the contest I'll likely pack up the 80m and 40m verticals and stick with the beam and 17m vertical for the remainder of my stay.


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