SKCC 5123T----- FISTS 14979----- Flying Pigs 2331----- NAQCC 3610-----QRP ARCI 14176-----Polar Bear 257

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Rallying the Saltwater Effect

Last Sunday, I made yet another outing to St. Andrews State Park near Panama City Florida. My goal was to take advantage of the salt water effect for vertical antennas. On the North side of the park there is a pier over the Grand Lagoon. I got out to the end and setup with the Alexloop. I made my five contacts for the RaDAR Rally rather quickly. These included with my report VE3AXW Ontario 53, SM5AQD Sweden 55, AJ2I New Jersey 57, KF4WMB Virginia 57, K4GXV Florida 59. This is not bad for the Alexloop at 10 watts SSB. Note that SM5AQD called me. So having five contacts at the pier, it was time to move 1 kilometre to Sandy Point.

The Alexloop at the end of the pier.

Sandy Point has many angles over salt water. I actually brought two N6BT Bravo 7K vertical dipoles. and set them up as a parasitic array for 10 meters. They hopefully were pointed to the Northeast. First contact was  EA5NW who was impressed with my signal but I did not get a S value. Followed by G4ZWY 55, NP3RE 59, EA9IB 57, and N1GGG 45. Around noon I redirected the array toward the Northwest. I worked AC7AV Eric in Washington State for about 30 minutes. He gave me a 58. I dropped the reflector and he noted a small drop but not all that noticeable. I also had the the Alexloop on a switch. The Alexloop had a S unit or two drop below the verticals on receive. The loop was quieter than the vertical. Eric had no problem working me on the loop. Getting close to pack up time, I was called by KC1CMF running 10 watts in Massachusetts who gave me a 59. Then  KD0VNQ in Colorado gave me a 44. My last contact was Phil N4STC who was local. He gave me a 59 and did not notice much change when I dropped the reflector. But when I put the reflector between me and Phil the signal went down to 55.

Two N6BT Bravo 7K vertical dipoles. one is a parasitic reflector

It is a bit hard to be scientific but I found that the DX came easy on this outing including stations calling me. I would put the Bravo 7K ahead of the loop but on my test I could still carry on the QSO with the loop. I think the gain of the array is modest and was not that noticable state side. I would like to have a DX contact report with and without the reflector. The front to back on the array is dramatic in any case.

The KX3 on my beach cart that doubles as a table.

As you may know Sandy Point at St Andrews State Park is my favorite portable QTH. Since Sandy Point was my second location on this outing, the first five QSOs counted two points in the RaDAR Rally. I did have a local fisherman Ron  witness the DX contacts. I had a boater pull in and ask what I was doing. I saw a dolphin out in the channel and of course the pelicans. This is hard to beat. I have since learned that there is a shuttle boat to Shell Island across the bay from the park. The shuttle will start running in March. I think that would make a fun excursion for RaDAR to operate from the park and the island on the same outing. You can find out more about the Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) Rally at this link.

The pier was at the dock area and then I walked to Sandy Point. Shell Island is across the channel to the South-East.