QRP Saturday, Part 3

I haven’t actually written parts 1 and 2 in a “QRP Saturday” series, but I might point to this post and this post as evidence of my recent weekend exploits 🙂

I was up early this past Saturday and decided I would take down the Buckmaster OCF dipole and do several things: One, check the condition of the antenna, coax, fittings and ropes, as the antenna has been hanging for nearly a year now; two, get the dipole up another 10-12 feet; and three, while the Buckmaster was on the ground, string up the home-brew TV twin-lead antenna and see how it loaded up on bands beyond 20 and 40 meters.

I lowered the Buckmaster and everything appeared to be in good shape. The coax connecter had a little play so I snugged it back up. The RF choke was looking a bit sloppy, so I worked it back into a nice circular shape. Ropes all looked good.

I decided I would toss a line over the next big limb on the tree so I could hoist the OCF up another 10+ feet. Using a partially-filled water bottle as a weight on the end of a length of thin nylon cord, I tried several times to sling the cord up over the limb. My trajectory was good, but I didn’t have the height. I tried to conjure up all my masculine energy and explode with one giant heave that would enable the line to coast up and over the limb on a true course.

The unintended effects of this burly endeavor were two-fold: One, my weighted line shanked wildly to the left, as my clumsy release was way too late. Two, as I torqued my body counter-clockwise to generate the needed thrust, I managed to over-rotate and began losing my balance. My left foot remained planted and suddenly supinated, turning inward and immediately sending a hot, throbbing pain into my ankle. The momentum continued carrying me around until I landed with a heavy thump sideways into dead leaves, moist dirt and what was certainly dog poo.

I managed to pull myself back up to a vertical position and assess the damage. Mostly, my pride was wounded, but my ankle hurt like hell too. I wondered if the neighbors on either side of me had noticed the stunt. I was determined to get the line up in the tree though, so I persisted. An hour later, I hadn’t made any progress and gave up.

I did hoist up the home-brew antenna and connected it to the FT-817 for a fine hour and a half of sunny operating on the back deck. The twin-lead antenna tunes to a flat SWR from 40M to 10M. I wasn’t as lucky on 6M, as the 817 was showing 2-3 “bars” of SWR even after a successful tune cycle. I suspect it would work, albeit in a compromised fashion. I didn’t have my meter out there with me, so I don’t know exactly how bad the SWR really is on 6.

There were several nice QSO parties going on, so I plugged in the Heil Traveler and went to work, first making a SSB contact on 20 meters with PI4DX out of the Netherlands. Anytime I make a contact with this little radio, I’m impressed. But I’m ASTOUNDED when my signal makes it across the pond!

I tuned around 20 meters a bit and managed to grab three more stations, two from the Vermont QSO Party and one from Minnesota. I tried 15 meters and picked up another nice Minnesota station. The final “test” of the day remained on 10 meters. The 10-10 International Net was holding a contest and WA7NB was booming out of Arizona. It took me a few tries, but I finally made contact. He had a perfect copy on my convoluted call sign too.

I spent the rest of the evening with my swollen ankle on ice, wrapped in a compression bandage. Fortunately, by Sunday I was up and walking around normally and it looks like there was no serious damage.

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