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Author Topic: Ham Radio Camping Trip.  (Read 28570 times)

gil

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Ham Radio Camping Trip.
« on: April 13, 2013, 08:24:50 PM »
If all goes well, I should be putting my radio preps to the test this coming week. I say ?if all goes well? because of some current health concerns, and a myriad of other variables that could prevent me from going on a one week camping trip at a semi-remote location. That said, I am getting ready and will be sharing the ?adventure.? I can hardly call it such, but it will be a good test to figure out what works and what doesn't. I will be available for skeds from ?the boonies? on 20 and 40m CW. Ray will be my liaison to the outside world. I am not sure if there is cell phone reception there or not, but even if there is, my battery won't last a week anyway. If I get cell reception I will keep it charged for emergencies and probably check messages once a day.

This trip won't really simulate a bug-out, but might point out some deficiencies in my thinking...

I am sure you guys would be interested in what I am taking with me, so there it is:

RADIO:


I just received the LNR Precision trail-friendly end-fed wire and choke (see attached photo), it is very small and weighs just about nothing. I decided to use it without the LNR matchbox because I needed an SWR indicator to use with the MTR. For tuning, I will use a 9V battery for reduced power. Besides, I already have their 40/20/10 regular end-fed, so I can use that match box as well. The good thing about the BetterQRP end-fed tuner is that it can be used with any half-wave wire from 15 to 40m. I am very grateful to Larry at LNR Precision for selling me the wire & choke assembly separately. I just tested the combination and could get a 1:1 SWR on both 20 and 40m without having to trim the wire. I expect excellent results with this combo.

I might take my KX3 with me if my pack doesn't end-up being too heavy, but I have the sinking feeling that it probably will. It would be fine without food and water, but both are pretty heavy. What the KX3 would give me is short-wave reception, as well as 15, 17 and 30m on top of 20 and 40. No big deal, but SWL would be nice. If the zombies attack I am sure Ray would let me know via CW before they get to him.  ::) An excellent alternate option that does provide SWL would have been a KX1...

Here is a list of some camping gear I got for the trip (subject to change):


This is just the main stuff of course, I am also packing a number of other items not worth mentioning. I was not going to use my Eberlestock backpack but could simply not afford a bigger pack. I'll just have to strap a bunch of gear on the outside. If you think I am forgetting anything, please let me know.

For food, I got help from a hippie friend who is used to Rainbow Gatherings and camping.. Without her, I would not have included fresh vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes), chia seeds, mixed nuts and dried fruits.. I got tea, protein bars and will get eggs and canned meat on Monday. Oh, and of course some port and liquor  :) I leave on Tuesday afternoon. Again, any suggestion would be welcome.

This will also be an excellent opportunity for me to practice Morse code without the help of a computer as a backup. I am starting to head-copy, but I still miss many words. At about 12 to 15wpm (on a good day), I can copy without much trouble. Faster than that and my brain refuses to cooperate, yet... I think the small CW rig and end-fed will prove to be the ultimate in camping / SHTF applications. It has taken me a while to slim down my portable station and try different options, but with the MTR and the KX3, I think I am now all set.

Stay tuned for more...

Gil.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2013, 09:40:04 PM by gil »

Geek

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Re: Ham Radio Camping Trip.
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2013, 09:08:53 PM »
Safe camping requires a minimum of three people.  If one gets hurt, then one can go get help, while last renders assistance.  That point leads me to the fact you didn't list a first aid kit.  I hope that is among the stuff not worth mentioning, along with map and compass.

gil

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Re: Ham Radio Camping Trip.
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2013, 09:31:49 PM »
Hello Geek,

Yes, I have a first-aid kit, forgot to include it.. My above-mentioned friend will stay for three days, and I will remain there alone for the rest of the week. There might be other campers there on Saturday and Sunday, probably not on Thursday night and Friday. So, I should not be alone the whole week, though I will enjoy my solo time, even if it is not the safest. Oh well, life is a terminal disease... Interestingly enough, I have always approached these activities as a solo endeavour. I used to solo-cave-dive, if that tells you anything... Probably wouldn't do that again now... I have mellowed down enough to get people to enjoy joining in my planned outdoors activities now, but I guess I am not yet used to the idea... Map and compass, yes, I have both.

Gil.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2013, 09:43:52 PM by gil »

gil

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Re: Ham Radio Camping Trip.
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2013, 10:07:40 PM »
Here is my whole HF CW station revisited. The Nomad 7 recharges the AA NiMH cells four at a time. The MTR uses eight. The solar panel also recharges the mini speaker. Everything is there for a fully autonomous station with global reach. It all fits in a very small bag and is very light. That includes the full size antenna and tuner! No heavy batteries to carry when your receiver current draw is 35mA! Power output with eight cells is 4.5W on 40m and 3.3W on 20m. This in my opinion is as small as you can get without losing performance. Total cost estimated at $430, including shipping charges. For a complete station including solar charging and antenna, it isn't bad at all. If a KX1 had been used instead of the MTR (which is rarely on sale and harder to build), you would add about $190 to that. The LNR Mantiz is also a good option if you don't want to build a kit: http://www.lnrprecision.com/transceivers/. As far as I know, the MTR is the smallest full-featured radio out there.

Gil.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2013, 11:59:42 PM by gil »

Geek

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Re: Ham Radio Camping Trip.
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2013, 09:55:27 AM »
Hello Geek,

Yes, I have a first-aid kit, forgot to include it.. My above-mentioned friend will stay for three days, and I will remain there alone for the rest of the week. There might be other campers there on Saturday and Sunday, probably not on Thursday night and Friday. So, I should not be alone the whole week, though I will enjoy my solo time, even if it is not the safest. Oh well, life is a terminal disease... Interestingly enough, I have always approached these activities as a solo endeavour. I used to solo-cave-dive, if that tells you anything... Probably wouldn't do that again now... I have mellowed down enough to get people to enjoy joining in my planned outdoors activities now, but I guess I am not yet used to the idea... Map and compass, yes, I have both.

Gil.

Solo cave diver?  I am certified as a solo diver, wreck diver, decompression diver and I am not insane enough to go solo cave diving.  :-)

Sounds like you're staying in a organized camp ground where there is a bit of staff.  Good enough.

We'll want reviews on each piece of equipment.  I am especially interested in the solar panel and recharger.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 09:57:57 AM by Geek »

gil

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Re: Ham Radio Camping Trip.
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2013, 10:05:15 AM »
Quote
Sounds like you're staying in a organized camp ground where there is a bit of staff.  Good enough.

Primitive camp site.. Staff is a few miles away.. Basically, you're out there with no facilities of any kind. I like it that way because if there happens to be other campers around, they are the kind who don't mind and actually can walk a few miles without dropping dead.. Which usually means more respectful and quiet.

Gil.

RadioRay

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Re: Ham Radio Camping Trip.
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2013, 10:39:41 AM »
Gil -

Your experience with those who walk to camp is generally correct.  It seems that even a little bit of work to be someplace, makes it better to be there.  The drive-in "camp sites" are something that I avoided like the plague. I had long legs and used them to get up into the high country where everything up there either walked, flew or swam.  I never heard the "boom-chigga-boom-boom..." or mariachi music common in paved parking spots in the payed 'camp'. Up there, found a great deal of peace. I've had friends who RV'd and had generally good experiences in their park & rest mode of travel, but it was usually around other retirees (read old people) who are not immune, but generally much less likely to impose upon others.

As an ex-sailboat live aboard, I loved being at anchor in some obscure spot.  Sailors (and trawlers) tend to give and desire "plenty" of distance between boats, unless specifically invited.  Fast power boaters often were in LOUD packs, music blasting, generators running and etc.  However, 99% of the time, they roared-off just before sundown, racing home to the power cord. Some of my best memories are of being at anchor, sundowners in the cockpit or on the side decks while 'helping' the sun to set.  Some of the OTHER best memories are from when I was single and sailing and I don't mention those infront of my wife .   ;) ;) ;)  "Survival" comes in many forms.

Yup  -   if I wanted to be with several million of my 'closest friends' in a noisy, dirty place, I'd live in Baltimore/DC.    :o  (just discovered that we don't have an emoticon for VOMIT!)


de RadioRay ..._ ._


 
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 12:43:41 PM by RadioRay »
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

KC9TNH

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Re: Ham Radio Camping Trip.
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2013, 12:05:40 PM »
Yup  -   if I wanted to be with several million of my 'closest friends' in a noisy, dirty place, I'd live in Baltimore/DC.    :o  (just discovered that we don't have an emoticon for VOMIT!)


de RadioRay ..._ ._

http://smileyshack.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/puking-smileys/#jp-carousel-3821
Here you go; applicable to any number of places. I think it's a .gif, can't remember the tag to animate it.
 8)

gil

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Re: Ham Radio Camping Trip.
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2013, 03:34:47 PM »
Looks like it's a GO!

I was pumped full of iodine and irradiated this afternoon, but all went well. The radiologist can't diagnose of course, but I asked if it was wise for me to go camping, she said "absolutely you should go," which I am going to take the right way  ::) (blood work and EKG were in the green). If you wonder, I've been having bad stomach problems, and weird deep upper back pain, getting worse.. Hopefully it is nothing but stress..

My pack is of course way too heavy at 63Lbs, plus a 2.5Gal (20Lbs) bottle of water I am carrying. Fortunately there is a short cut we can take to cut the hike to three miles. Thank God! I don't think I could have hiked 9 miles via the scenic route.. Not with that weight and feeling like crap (excuse my French).. Half of the weight is food and water for a week.

I should be on the air mornings at 11:30 on 14067.5 (sked with Ray first), then I'll listen for others. Same at 20:00 to 21:00 (Eastern) on 7067.5.

If I make it to the camp site with all that stuff on my back ::)
The return trip will be soooo much easier!

Gil.

RadioRay

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Radio Contact From Gil at Camp!
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2013, 08:14:03 PM »
The 8pm sked with Gil from his camp spot worked.  Unfortunately, roaring T-storms made more than the basics of 'arrived safely' not easy to copy.  He should be stronger for the 9pm sked (7067.5).  The morning sked is always the best and no T-storms (11:30/14067.5)

Now mind you, he's using a transceiver the size of a pack of cigarettes into a wire in a tree to reach me over 800 miles away. If there was less of a storm, I'd copy him with no trouble.  I'll post his comments here



>Ray
« Last Edit: April 16, 2013, 08:20:38 PM by RadioRay »
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

KC9TNH

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Re: Radio Contact From Gil at Camp!
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2013, 09:31:30 PM »
Now mind you, he's using a transceiver the size of a pack of cigarettes into a wire in a tree to reach me over 800 miles away.
>Ray
Lots of QRN on 40m tonight, weather doing its thing, plus the usual Canadian SSB'ers exercising their band plan. I figured he was tired but, if you would, let Gil know in the AM that I happened to copy him 239 when those other things were out of the way. Now, I'm over 1200 miles away from Gil and off to the side of whatever directionality you guys might be working.

So put in perspective in the mode of the romantic good old days (which actually sucked pretty bad pretty often), if Ray is "London calling" then Gil is not just in France; he's further way the heck into Central Poland, and another 400 miles to me. Not bad at all. I probably could've even dealt with the QRN but really working copy was tough with LSB voice banging away at inopportune times. It is quite the proof of concept and a standard 20w radio of the time would've been easy. Oh, that's right, they came in suitcases.

Gil, good luck "chewing" down the size of your pack.
When I'm in the shack at any of your sked times I'll give a listen.
Nice job guys!
(As usual Ray you were banging in here, ez-pz.)

cockpitbob

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Re: Ham Radio Camping Trip.
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2013, 09:42:04 PM »
Ray, thanks for the update.  I'll give Gil a try from time to time from my hole deep in eastern Mass.  It's a long shot but as one QRPer once told me, with QRP you aren't loud everywhere, but in good conditions you are always loud somewhere.

Are you at liberty to disclose what state his "remote location" is in?



RadioRay

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Radio Contact From Gil at Camp!
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2013, 09:57:49 PM »
Talked to Gil at 9pm from his camp in southern Florida.  I am in Virginia.  When asked how he is doing, his reply -through horrendous T-storm lightning crashes - was "GREAT".  We should have good contact in the morning, no T-storms and on a higher frequency/much lower noise.  FYI - for those who have never worked message traffic through heavy QRN ( lightning induced noise), it causes 'ringing' in the filters, pumping of the AGC and it's also - of course - damned noisy! 



One lightning strike is probably a GigaWatt.  Gil's radio is 2-5 Watts, depending upon battery.    ;D  To think that I used to do this for a living - no wonder my ears are a little flat....

-...-

Right-on with the distance in relation to occupied Europe during WW II.   Of course, Gil's TINY transceiver would have been the dream of any SOE agent operating in denied territory.  Those B3 Mk2 suitcase radios weighed about 35-40 pounds, If I remember.  Many of the 'pianists' (telegraphers) in the occupied areas were women, because most men were either at war or in the factories.  Also, women could get away with a LOT more with the German soldiers than a man ever could - simple fact. 

We'll likely have some real copy in the morning.



>de RadioRay ..._ ._
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 12:47:36 PM by RadioRay »
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

RadioRay

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Weds Morning Radio Contact with Gil
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2013, 12:28:20 PM »
GOOD contact with Gil this morning. I handled one piece of "OFFICIAL" radio traffic for him and also quizzed him about his hike and antenna installation.  Here is the gist.

He had a good but hard hike in with the HEAVY pack . His new/small military grade tent is working VERY well. The antenna is a Better QRP End Fed Tuner using a lite weight wire with choke for 20/40m from LNR Precision. The wire is up a tree, put there using fishing line and a sling shot. He is excited about "ONE WEEK WITHOUT A COMPUTER!". //ha ha//

We were joined by one other station from Gil's CW operator's class. This other station is also from Virgina (where I live) , which is really too close for us to hear each other well on this higher frequency band, but I copied him fine, while he could "detect" me but not copy.  In the same state, only a hundred fifty miles apart, we'd usually use 40m afternoon and 80m all other times for solid copy.  Low local RF noise is why I could hear the other Virginia on weak ground wave on 20 meters: the skywave coming down several hundred miles away. He was also easily talking with Gil in CW.

-...-

Think about this type of radio communication in the realm of personal preps.  Gil is operating from a hike-in camp site, is using a radio transceiver the size of a cigarette pack . . .


Transceiver circuitboard.

. . .and a wire up a tree for an antenna, yet easily spanning more than 800 miles.  Power is from solar rechargeable batteries. This is not some TEOTWAKI novel - this is actual fact, happening right now. This very low power with field expedient antenna would usually result in very rough or no copy in voice, but quite easy copy in Morse. I copied his "OFFICIAL" message letter perfect on the first pass, so it's an easily copiable signal in Morse. Remember: higher power/less efficiency mans carrying larger & HEAVIER batteries requiring larger & HEAVIER recharging methods. 'Electrons are cheap, but heavy!'

de RadioRay ..._ ._
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 04:46:36 PM by RadioRay »
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

KC9TNH

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Re: Radio Contact From Gil at Camp!
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2013, 03:31:11 PM »
FYI - for those who have never worked message traffic through heavy QRN ( lightning induced noise), it causes 'ringing' in the filters, pumping of the AGC and it's also - of course - damned noisy! 
WHAT??  Speak up young man!

Good deal on the tfc passing. I respect what he's actually doing, will try to give another listen. I'd probably still just use my 817 'cause it has a little more versatility band-wise, as well as being available for SWL, etc. But this is cool.  We're getting hammered for the next couple of days - again - but if the convective krappola will keep south I'll stay plugged in & listening. I'll listen on the 817 tonight as it's got a better filter.

"John has a long moustache..."

This is going to make for an interesting AAR, in terms of how the 63# tick on the back vs. how it will be next time.
 8)

Radio Preppers

Re: Radio Contact From Gil at Camp!
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2013, 03:31:11 PM »