EM33 HSCW Portable Operation
by KM5PO / KD5BUR, Jim McMasters 03/28/98

Click on thumbnails for larger image.
Equipment setup took 30 minutes. Everything in it's place Just before the first sked. VOX box in plain view. Adds VOX to your rig.
Same cabling nightmare as at home. Close up of Rig. Also: Hi Res 107k   image. Spare tire in background anchored one guy wire.
Two batteries help supply power. Mast base will undergo one more mod before Atlanta. Two inverters, two power strips.
Just before the swarm of bugs... Nice sundown in EM33. Yagi looking NW for Jay, K0GU.
Nightime portable operation: KM5PO/5. Also:  Hi Res 93k image. Why is this guy worried? Because he's running out of sked time with N3RN!

"We make our own showers".

This quote, which is credited to the Europeans, refers to the way in which HSCW is efficient to the extent that no regular meteor shower is needed for amateur communications. Instead, reflections from purely random meteor trails makes VHF DX possible most any day.

Here in North America, "We blaze our own trails!". By this I am referring to the new ground we are breaking with our operating procedures and style, and also the kind of success we are having during probably the worst time of the year for meteor scatter in general.

Thanks to Tihomir, 9A4GL, his latest version of MSDSP has many new stations cranking up for a great season of HSCW including my own. With this great software, we have found new speeds and convienience of operation including portable tests. Once again, this program was important to the success of my remote station Saturday March 28th.

The fact that March is about the worst month of the year for random rocks is also shadowed by the fact that early to late evening is the worst time of day. In spite of both these weaknesses, our portable station completed 5 of 6 skeds on this the second remote outing in two weeks.

This test was important to me since I wanted to work out some more bugs in the system before the trip to Atlanta, Ga. April 3-4. There, I will be presenting on the subject of HSCW and demonstrating it's effectiveness with on-the-air contacts. This is in conjunction with the Southeastern VHF Society Conference held on these dates. No doubt we will all "blaze a few trails" during the weekend!!

The remote test started out Saturday afternoon with an anxious moment or two. The individual responsible for opening the locked gate to the site could not be located. I must thank John Wilson, Miller County Arkansas Environmental Officer, for getting up out of bed after working for something like 20 hours straight, in order to handle this problem. The remote test was staged in rural Southwest Arkansas (Miller County), at a Transfer Station which is behind a locked chain link fence.

Equipment set-up took 30 minutes and then that magical sound came out of the speaker as power was applied. There was time for a few quick pictures (I was alone this trip), and then it was on to the rocks.

Like our previous test in grid EM32 two weeks prior, K0GU- Jay, started things off right with an early completion. Within 17 minutes of starting, I was receiving "TNX JIM".

Next came Shelby, W8WN. Normally a very consistent signal for me, Shelby's pings were missing now. There was one stretch where I heard nothing for over 15 minutes. Did he have a meltdown? Was he OK? This was not characteristic of his station. Then came some bursts. Taking well over 30 minutes of sked time to complete, I began to realize how bad a time of day 0100z really is.

The next sked was W7XU, Arliss, in EN13. This station is also one of the most consistent from my QTH in EM23 just 30 miles to the West, but not so this day. We could not complete within the 30 minutes we had allotted to the sked.

Then another surprise. Gary, N0KQY, no much over 500 miles to the Northwest came booming in on schedule and we completed very early (about 14 minutes)! Gary and I have run many tests and normally it is not easy for us simply because we are so close. I had noticed that earlier this same day, Gary's signal was pinging at an unusually high rate. I heard this while monitoring his contact (and completion) with Carl, KB5WMY in EM32. I finished with Gary so quickly, I decided to CQ for a while.

Andy, K0SM returned a call to my CQ and we completed our contact in 14 minutes. This pre-empted my sked with Andy which was due to come up next so I arranged a quick sked with Arliss, W7XU, again, via the MSROCKS page.

We started immediately on the new sked. I received calls on his first transmit sequence. Then it went on to take nearly a full hour for a completion. Perseverance had won again.

The last sked on my list was with Bob, N3RN. He reports that he heard calls from me twice. I heard nothing from him the entire sked, although I am now beginning to believe that the line noise I had in his (and Shelby's) direction, may have been masking some pings. It is hard for me to judge this because of lack of experience, but the noise did not appear very strong. I look forward to another shot with Bob.

Overall, I consider the test to be a success. Several problems with the portable operation were solved, but at least one new problem cropped up. This time I used a color monitor and the additional shielding solved the RF coupling I had noted on the last test while using a monochrome monitor. But I had problems with RF coupling into an amplifier intended to provide more audio into the headphones. Working in the quiet setting of my shack at home is quite different from being outdoors!

Maybe the worst thing to happen was the swarm of strange bugs and insects that appeared right after sundown. Some of these creatures I don't think I have ever seen before. Working into the night, I also had problems finding the landmarks I had sighted on earlier while getting my bearings to point the antenna. Even though I had picked nearby objects, it gets mighty dark out there in the country!

A recap in brief:

Portable Equipment set-up at EM33:

Yaesu FT290, TE systems amp : 325watts
Cushcraft 13b2 at 14 feet.
Pentium 200, SVGA monitor. Both powered by separate inverters.
MSDSP software, homebrew interface VOX box.

Thanks to all who helped in this effort. I'm looking forward to Atlanta!


Jim McMasters KM5PO / (ex-KD5BUR) Home QTH: EM23wk

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