Portable Data Modes While Camping

Never one to miss the chance to operate outdoors I decided to try a spot of camping portable. I often find that the bigger camping and caravan sites are just too congested to allow HF operating. In the past I have never tried on anything other than the quiet sites, operating in the past from the Isle of Man and Wales.

I recall the campsite in Wales, it was on the Isle of Anglesey  close to point Lynas  http://www.pointlynas.co.uk/ At the time it had no mobile signal from any network, making the QSO with home quite special. On that occasion I decided space was not an issue so used the doublet roach pole supported. Anyhow back to the current location.

Normans Bay is located in JO00ET, between Eastbourne and Hastings, around 100m from the beach. The site was as expected busy, its the week before the August bank holiday and the school holidays. On arrival it was very windy, so much so I wasnt sure if I could even pitch the tent. Much pulling and tugging later the tent was up, and with several guys in place it was hopefully not going to succumb to the elements.

Once the wind abated it was worth a try. The mobile tuner is a rather basic manual one from MFJ the 901B (no dials or buttons) and I have used this for many years out portable. It can get bashed around, its very basic but does the job. It can take coax, ladder line or a long wire.


The antenna in this case was a random wire, I like many sometimes call these long wire but thats not correct as its only 20m. Long wire would be something more like 100+ meters. The roach pole was extended to 9 meters (it will go to 12) about as much as I thought I could get away with. The wire was run up the pole, and then in an inverted V came back down to the ground some 7 meters from the base of the pole. The random wire was actually around 20m long, this seems to work well on 5, 7 and 10 MHz. I wasnt able to try 14 MHz because it was getting RF into the laptop. The intention was to do low power 10w sometimes 15 and see who I could work.

The radio was the newly acquired TS590 from Kenwood, the idea was to make use of the USB connection and in-built sound card. DM780 is still my program of choice, I know my way around it after quite a few years and while its no great contest logger its ideal for casual operating.


I was surprised how good 5 and 7 MHz  was in the evenings for UK contacts, I worked John M0UKD on both 5 and 7 MHz, I also had a good chat with Peter G4VLC who can often be found on 5366.5 Olivia most evenings. In both cases 10w was all that was needed for a reliable qso on Olivia, looking at the S.N ratio I suspect we could have worked on 1w if needed. Through the week I used the radio mostly in the evenings, and worked mostly EU, I did often get the odd comment when I said “operating from my tent”

Hopefully once again goes to demonstrate you don’t need any special antenna, a simple bit of wire and a roach pole is ideal.

73 Dave M0TAZ


About M0TAZ

Dave enjoys all aspects of the hobby from contesting in a wet cold field (OK enjoys is a bit strong) to building beams and working big DX. Portable VHF and HF can provide lots of opportunity to try new things, test out antenna and enjoy a field day based curry.
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