Saturday, August 13, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
Erika and I went down to Cape May today for a kayak eco-tour, which was excellent. Our guide was a PhD candidate biologist (who is defending his dissertation next month...good luck buddy!) and he was very knowledgable and chatty so I learned a lot about the salt marsh ecosystem. I provided comic relief by unintentionally stepping backward off the boat launch and going for an unplanned swim. Fortunately, the cameras had already been put away so that comedy went undocumented. After the kayak adventure we went to Cape May Point State Park so my wife could spend some (planned) time in the water. The concrete structure in the background is the remains of an artillery battery from World War 2. Along with the shore battery across the bay at Fort Miles in Lewes, Delaware (now Cape Henlopen State Park) they guarded the approach to the bay and ultimately, the Delaware river.
Erika loves the beach, me not so much, but I did arrange alternate entertainment by bringing some radio gear and operating from the beach while she was in the water. I was using an FT-817ND transceiver and a Buddipole antenna (configured as a vertical dipole) along with a small solar panel to keep the radio charged. Murphy also tagged along, much to my chagrin. I set the Buddipole up for 20 meters according to the tuning guide in the manual but could not get the resonance point below 15.5 MHz. Tomorrow's project involves using my antenna analyzer to characterize the BuddiPole for my favorite frequencies and creating a tuning chart. Why the voltage regulator from the solar panel to the radio wouldn't work is a complete mystery; when I got home I tested the unit and all associated cables and everything was performing beautifully. Thirdly, my go-box is waaayyy too heavy, slogging across the sand with it was more of a workout than I cared to endure outside of the gym. We stopped at a store on the way home and I got a new camera bag for my DSLR and repurposed the old bag as my new 817 ops bag. I shed a lot of contingency items and stuck with the basics, with a considerable reduction in mass. It would have been nicer if the propagation on 20 meters had cooperated, but there was a lot of fading (QSB) and I was unsuccessful making any contacts using SSB. Next beach trip I'll use CW, hopefully with better results.