WD4ELG QRP-in-the-field adventures, session #1

Discussion in 'QRP Corner' started by WD4ELG, Apr 3, 2021.

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  1. WD4ELG

    WD4ELG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not new to the hobby, I have been doing DXing and mostly CW since 1977 as a teenager. But this portable QRP bug has bitten me hard. So I decided to jump in with both feet today. This is Session #1 notes.

    • Test out new ZM-2 antenna tuner
    • Try out random wire antenna with counterpoise (new antenna type for me)
    • Test my arbor line throwing skills (new tool)
    • Make notes for future field deployments
    • Make a few QSO's
    • Have some fun, learn some things
    • 50F, sunny and windy; backyard of my home QTH
    • FT-817ND with CW filter and BHI DSP module, Palm paddle
    • BioEnno LiFePO4 5 AH battery
    • Emtech ZM-2 tuner
    • 58 feet of landscaping electrical wire for radiator (acceptable length according to several articles)
    • 17 feet of landscaping electrical wire for counterpoise
    • Arbor's weight and 100 feet of line
    Steps taken:
    • Cut the insulated wires for the radiating element and counterpoise
    • Made several throws with the arbor's weight and line
    • Hooked up and verified all equipment working properly
    • Verified that all gear is functioning as expected
    • I had fun, and learned some stuff
    • My arborist line-throwing skills need a lot of work; even after watching the YouTube videos, I could not get the weight higher than 50 feet...and the weight did not always travel in the direction I wanted it to. I need some practice.
    • Made a single QSO with W5TM on 20 CW
    • The tension on the aerial kept pulling the ZM-2 off the picnic table, so I had to loop the aerial around a wooden post on the deck
    • ZM-2 tuned the wire on 17, 20 and 30 but would not tune on 40
    • Many very strong stations on 20 CW from US and EU, but only one could hear me
    • The ZM-2 light for SWR in "test" mode is very bright, almost like a car headlight; not a good idea to look at it directly
    • The ZM-2 is easy to use, many YouTube videos out there that are helpful
    • Not sure why the random wire would not tune on 40, maybe the loop on the deck postA resonant EFHW would have been simpler (obviously) and I might have made more QSO's on 20. But I would need separate EFHW for each band.
    • The entire setup has a lot of stuff involved; definitely not a "lightweight/minimal" model, but certainly flexible with SSB and CW across multiple bands with a single antenna
    • The FT-817ND audio is "harsh" even with the BHI DSP module; after 15 minutes of tuning around, I felt tired just from listening to the roaring sound of the RF. (Makes me wish for a IC-705)
    • Try this in another location
    • Investigate ways to anchor the aerial so it does not pull the ZM-2 off the picnic table (suggestions? Should I just let it run slack to the ground and then up?)
    • Cutting the radiator and counterpoise
    • Setup for Session #1

    K7WFM and W4ZNG like this.
  2. K5CWO

    K5CWO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I’ve read that some use a small fishing pole or a slingshot to launch arbor line into/over the trees
    WD4ELG likes this.
  3. W4ZNG

    W4ZNG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    First steps well done!

    That's already a pretty clean and light setup you have. Are you looking to get down to backpack portable, or just easy-to-carry-from-car-to-picnic-table portable? If you want to reduce the bulk some more, you might consider this "roll cage" https://portablezero.com/yaesu817.html The 4.5 AH Bioenno battery is perfect.

    Also, I want to ask about the BHI DSP module. Is it internal?

    Is that an in-line speech compressor on the mic line? Adding one (SOTAbeams, though there are several similar ones out there) upped my SSB contacts by an order of magnitude.

    Vibroplex makes some nice multi-band EFHW antennas, some of which are very light:
    They are designed to work without a tuner, though I cheat and use one to extend the working bandwidths on my EFT-10/20/40.

    Anyway, you've already learned a lot about portable already just by getting out in the backyard and shaking things down. You're off to a good start.
  4. VE7JBX

    VE7JBX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Bit puzzled by your setup. I see you've used a BNC to binding post adaptor and then fed that off the coax out, but the ZM-2 already has binding posts and the "GND/LINK" switch. When I've used mine similar to your setup, I've set to LINK and used the built in posts for the wires, and very rarely find I can't tune a wire. (Sometimes, the additional capacitance has to be switched in). Maybe try that next time and see if it makes a difference to matching 40m?

    The "wire-pulls-tuner-off-picnic-table" is familiar! My usual trick is to feed one of the wires under the battery to hold stuff down but if a suitable fixture point is available, a small loop of guyline cord can be used to tie tuner down to table.

    The ZM-2 is a bit fiddly with having to twiddle both knobs to find the match, but in my experience has always worked well.
  5. WD4ELG

    WD4ELG Ham Member QRZ Page

    @W4ZNG - thanks for sharing those links. I will try one of those EFHW antennas next time. The BHI module is internal, and helps with the receiving audio (although it still seems a bit harsh for my aging ears).

    @VE7JBX I was wondering about that as well on the binding posts. I was following the guidance from this video: Tuning a Mountain Topper MTR3B with an EmTech ZM-2! - YouTube I may be misunderstanding the ZM-2 usage. I thought the binding posts were just for balanced feeder line. I will try your suggestions...including the ideas to keep the tuner from getting pulled off the table. Thanks very much.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2021
  6. N1RBD

    N1RBD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Throwing just takes some practice. I used to go out to a local park to hone my throwing skills. I can now regularly hit my target within 2 throws, looking at the first as a "calibration" throw. :) I was so proud of myself on my last SOTA. I nailed a SMALL "V" (about 6") between two limbs about 30ft up on my first try! LOL!
    WN1MB likes this.
  7. N8RKD

    N8RKD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have attempted the "slingshot" method of launching a line over a tree branch but had absolutely no luck with it.

    Poor technique? Probably. Slingshot "pocket" too small? (weight kept coming out) maybe.

    My next attempt will be to try some techniques as shown on the 'tube with an arborist's ball.

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