PSK31 Expedition (APE)
August 8 & 9, 2009
Each August, several members of the Penn-Ohio DX Society's 070 Club set up their PSK31 stations in portable locations "to encourage PSK31 operations in the field and to research and gain practical experience in the portable capabilities of the PSK31 mode." Since this was an operation similar to what I had done for Field Day 2009, I decided to participate while we were on location at the Contin-Tail Rock and Gem Show at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds at Buena Vista, CO.
We would again be camping with friends Leon (N0VWX) and his wife Pauline (KB0VMX). The camp site lies in the Arkansas River Valley running north and south at an altitude of approximately 8,086' ASL (above sea level). A few miles to the southwest (view at right) is the mighty Mount Princeton rising more than 14,000' ASL, and many of the surrounding peaks reach above 12,000'. To the east, the mountains are lower, nearer 10,000' ASL in height. It would be interesting to see how the mountains affect our signal.
This would be the perfect opportunity to experiment with the homebrew jumpered dipole used at Field Day. This time we would also try it on 15 and 10 meters as well as the usual 40 and 20 meters. I had no doubt it would work on 10 if the band was open, but because of an RFI problem encountered while testing the Hustler mobile antenna on 15 meters earlier, I didn't advertise that band to club members. In the earlier incident, the trailer's heater relay picked up RFI and set up quite a chatter. The radio would be further away from the heater this time though, and we would be using the Inverted "V". A G5RV Jr would serve as a backup antenna.
Jane and I left Pueblo West at 1:45 Friday afternoon. Our 115-mile journey began as we headed west on U.S. Hwy. 50. The trip took us through Canon City, past the Royal Gorge, through Big Horn Sheep Canyon cut by the Arkansas River, to Salida, and then north to Buena Vista through the Arkansas River Valley. We arrived at the fairgrounds at about 4:30, where Leon and Pauline met us. They had been there since before noon. I elected not to set up the solar panels or antenna that evening, opting to do it first thing in the morning.
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny, but I overslept a bit and was up at 6:45. With Jane helping before she fixed breakfast, the 20' mast for the jumpered Inverted "V" slipped together easily and was erected and guyed within a matter of minutes. Since our power usage would not be extensive, we set up only two of the three 64-watt solar panels.
Mount Princeton a few miles to our southwest (behind the trailer below) dominated the landscape at an altitude of 14,197 feet above sea level.
Since afternoon thunderstorms are a normal occurrence in the mountains, I had scheduled the main PSK31 operation to occur in the morning hours Saturday beginning at 1500 UTC. If the weather permitted in the afternoon, more operating between trips to the large vending area at the rock show would be done. If there was lightning, the mast would have to come down for our safety.
The homebrew jumpered Inverted "V" was set for 40 meters. I cruised the PSK portion of the band and gave a few calls, but no activity was seen. I then changed the jumpers for the 20 meter band and gave a few calls. NK5G, David, in Texas, answered my second call. In the next 2-3/4 hours I contacted 21 stations in 13 states, 2 Canadian provinces and Brazil, with 10 being 070 Club members. Of those 10, three were new member contacts for me. They were W7PAQ/7 also on an APE in Montana, WD8MBE in Ohio, and WA6NUT, also in Buena Vista, Colorado.
After taking a break, I set the antenna for 10 meters. Although beacons were heard from "9" and "0" land, I could not raise anyone on 10 meters.
High winds began buffeting the trailer early in the afternoon, and the antenna was taken down. The winds continued until after dark and came back Sunday morning. No operating was done on Sunday.
For information on the PODXS 070 Club, visit the website http://www.podxs070.com/.