Thursday, October 21, 2010

AO-51 Handheld!

Tonight's contact on AO-51 was quite fun! Rather than use my usual sat setup (the twin FT-817ND's and Elk antenna) I took my older Yaesu FT-530 dual-band radio hiking in a nearby park. The park is bisected by the -122 longitude line, so half is in CM88 and the other half is in CM98; there's a fire road that goes up to the top of a 800-foot hill with some radio towers. I arrived at the top of the hill just before an AO51 pass at 10/22/2010 0056 UTC -- and didn't expect to hear anything since I had only the stock 8" rubber duck on the antenna. The pass was a western (ocean) ascending pass with a max elevation of 30 degrees.

I was quite suprised at mid-pass when I could more-or-less clearly hear KI6IUJ in DM13! He was commenting that there weren't many people on the bird at the time, so quickly I gave him a call -- again, just using the stock duck on the antenna, with only two watts output. Imagine my amazement when he came right back to answer my call! Woohoo!! We exchanged grid squares, and I heard another ham calling me but at that point I lost contact with the bird, just noise after that.

Compounding the difficulty of this one was the fact that the Yaesu FT-530 is a true full-duplex dual band radio, so since I had forgotten to bring earphones or a speaker mike, every time I transmitted I had to manually turn the volume down and then back up again for RX. And it was raining at the time. But the contact with just a stock HT, out in a park in the rain on a hilltop with the sun setting, was a whole lot of fun!

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