For a couple of weeks now I have wanted to take the Landrover out with my, sort of, new FT-897. Up to now their seems to have been an excuse not to go. I ran out of excuses this weekend. On Saturday I made up a new length of Co-ax (Last weeks excuse) and it was all systems go. The only drawback was the severe weather forecast predicted for Sunday. Part of the renewed interest in getting out Sunday was to try out an Odyssey battery out to see if it was going to be suitable for powering the 897. The battery is a deep cycle 13Ah 12 volt battery.
Anyway on Saturday night I made sure I had everything in place so there were no excuses. I decided I was going to go to the old WWII Matching airfield site, the air fild is long gone but the geography is still there. It’s pan flat, very open and hardly any buildings about, so no noise. One of the other reasons for choosing this location was because its IARU locator is TL51 and not very densely populated (by Radio Hams), so in that case it will be sought after by other hams doing the worked all Britain challenge.
The 897 in it case with my key.
The WAB challenge is to try and work as many of the uk 10km square locators as you can. Some of the squares are quite difficult to work as they may be on remote coastlines or in national parks with no habitation.
I set off about 10:30 for the 30 minute drive to Matching airfield with all the kit in place, the weather was very wet and quite blowy. All the fields are completely water logged with much of it now running into the road. I find myself a layby and set up, I have had the Pro-Whip out so many times now I can set it up in about 5 minutes. I was glad to back in the car as the rain was now going sideways. I set the radio up in the front passenger seat and was pleasantly surprised with the reception, very little noise. I set the radio to 20 watts and had a listen on 12 metres, I heard a Maltese station and called back and got into him straight away with a 5-7 signal report, following on from that I worked a Ukrainian station then switched to 10 metres and worked another Ukranian station. After this I switched to 40 metres and worked a large handful of WAB stations.
I was really impressed with the way the WAB net worked, you all call in and give your call sign to the moderator, then he calls you in turn to work to work a selected station. I was really pleased when he told the group that he had M0PHO in TL51 and 12 stations came back eager for the square. I worked my way through them being able to work most, but not all unfortunately.
The portable station set up on the left.
I had a fantastic morning and the 897 is a fantastic bit of kit. I cannot say the same for the battery however. On some of the overs I noticed the supply voltage to the radio dropping below 11 volts, which isn’t ideal. I think I may have to revert to heavier duty battery to cope with the demand. I was hoping to get away from using a large battery, mainly because having to lug it out of the car and into the shed every time it needs a charge, and then lug it back out to put it in the car. I think the HD battery will have to be used however, I may try to rig up some split charger or 240v charger set up in the car, watch this space.
I tried to get the parts needed to repair the fuel system on Matha (my boat) this week, firstly work was that busy I was unable to get to Pirtek to get the parts needed. I went on Saturday with the notion of picking up the parts and going to the boat on Sunday. Unfortunately Pirtek no longer keep parts which are in Imperial spec. This meant I had to order the parts with a plan to go to the boat next weekend, probably portable in TG32 with any luck.
Life’s pretty good at the moment, the leg seems to be well on the mend and it is as near as dammit feeling as normal as I can remember. I am looking forward to seeing how this year pans out.