After a glorious weekend of sushine and silly temperatures, I’m writing this with a bit of extra colour on my arms, face and legs. Sunday’s /P outing was a 25’c offering of PZT-gets-his-legs-out-and-goes-a-bit-red… The HF bands were in a lousy state and my CW efforts on 17m were rewarded with a single RBN spot down to EA and 2 QSOs: EA5 and EA8. It wasn’t for the want of trying – but the ionosphere was doing things with my RF. Not very nice things, unfortunately.
Despite the sky gobbling-up any RF sent up to it, the Essex Hams at Galleywood Common enjoyed their afternoon of talking to white-noise and each other. A shiny new Icom IC-7300 had an outing on 20m and 4m – and it was my first time seeing it up-close. Nice radio, and a bit bigger than I had expected. It was certainly good being able to see the lack of action on its waterfall.
The poor conditions and intense heat were a cause for concern and highlighted for me just how difficult it can be mounting a decent, safe, and fun /P outing when travelling by mountain-bike. I have a little tripod stool [£3, Sports Direct] but way of carrying a table. Galleywood is on open bit of ground without much shade so not only does the body no good, but the equipment tends to bake, as well. In the picture you can see my /P zip-bag resting on top of the FT-857 to keep the sun off it. My phone, an LG 2X gave it to the heat at one stage – and it was inside the large bag you can see in the picture.
On my list of things to get/try are: Event shelter or simple “tarp” with a low-rider stool – placed against the sun so that I can hide behind it in relative comfort. A lighter power-source, most-likely a set of LiFePo cells – probably 4 of these 10Ah beauties. A steady 12.8v vs 12v (and plummeting). The weight difference will be about 400grams less but a fair increase in “talk time”. I may even get a “travel” 10m pole to make transporting an aerial support easier – My aim is to get a whole station, including lunch, into a standard back-pack.
So, for those of you looking to try some outdoor Ham Radio shenanigans, my /P pointers are, in no particular order:
- Take plenty of water, plus a couple of savoury snacks
- Wear a hat – If you buy a big Yaesu radio, you may get a free baseball-cap with it
- Wear sunscreen (so say Baz Luhrmann/Lee Perry)
- A first-aid kit – I have a small zip kit with an assortment of goodies, including a few 500mg paracetamol tablets
- A comfortable pair of earphones – I like the “neckband” style, they’re light and you almost forget you’re wearing them
Places like Blacks and Sports Direct are ideal if you’re in town looking for something – and, of course, there are specialist camping/outdoor websites and even CPC have a decent selection of chairs, shelters and camping gubbins.