Get Out Of The Shack And Discover New OpportunitiesIn this nice summer weather it becomes harder to sit inside at a radio when the sun, blue skies, birds, and blossoming trees, shrubs and flowers are beckoning outside. Fortunately, the outdoors and ham radio make a superb combination, thanks to today’s miniaturized and power-saving technology.
VHF/UHF FM handhelds (HTs) often provide the most available way of taking ham radio outdoors. An HT with a decent whip antenna (something rather better than the usual rubber ducky), an external microphone, and an ear bud can be used for “pedestrian mobile” radio, bringing the old expression “walkie-talkie” to life. (Try this for your next check-ins to the Tuesday night SARC and SEPARS nets!) Alternatively, and with appropriate precautions to avoid collisions and other nasty mishaps, an HT and whip antenna can be secured to a bicycle for “bicycle mobile” radio, perhaps making use of VOX operation with a suitably compact one-sided headset.
A suitable clamp can fasten a whip antenna to a park bench for portable, rather than mobile, operation, allowing the less energetic but peripatetic ham to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and sights and smells of spring in a local park, taken one bench at a time, moving from location to location as fancy dictates.
Even more fun for some of us, at least, is the opportunity to work some HF DX contacts while walking along the beach, following the example of Peter Parker VK3YE (see Peter’s website at http://home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/projant.htm or his YouTube channel for some videos of beach pedestrian mobile HF SSB operation using his “Wadetenna”). HF pedestrian mobile operation makes use of highly compact and light-weight yet high performance QRP (low power, typically 4-5 Watts) transceivers such as the popular Yaesu FT-817 or the highly regarded Elecraft KX3. Even smaller and less expensive (but often lower power and definitely less flexible) rigs are available for pure CW operators.
For even more outdoors adventure, the physically fit ham can take part in the Summits on the Air (SOTA, http://www.sota.org.uk) program. SOTA operation is possible with either HF (and modest antennas) or VHF (with lightweight portable beam antennas) radios, and is a superb way to combine mountain hiking (or even technical climbing) with ham radio.
For hams not yet sufficiently fit to climb mountains, the Islands on the Air (IOTA, http://www.rsgbiota.org) program offers a fun and challenging alternative for HF operations at picturesque locations on coastal islands.
|Mt. Seymour, within an hour's drive of Vancouver|
More information is available on all of these outdoor activities on the internet by using search terms taken from the above descriptions. All are suitable for either solo or group activities, as your personality dictates. If you are interested in outdoor radio operations, whether VHF/UHF or HF, but would like more information, contact the club, either at the end of any Tuesday night SARC net, or via email using our email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are ready to try it but are reluctant to go solo, let us know and we’ll put you on a list to see if we can partner up some members.
If enough members would like to take part in joint outdoor radio activities, an Outdoor Radio special interest group (similar to the groups for Contesting, Satellite, and CW groups) could be organized under the SARC umbrella to coordinate partnering and possibly group outings.
Hoping to work you outdoors, 73