More Fun in the Sun on 2M – this time with friends and HF…


I’m a fair weather motorcycle rider, only bringing my little 125cc out of its winter hibernation once the three-way relationship between two wheels, the ground and daily temperatures has improved. In other words… I never head out in the winter, or when the temperature is lower than around 6˚ to 8˚. However, come springtime I am always out somewhere, usually carrying my camera gear and handheld radio. This time it was once again heading to Twmbarlwm mountainside, South Wales, to meet up with a good friend, Richie MW0LGE, who would also be heading there with his HF gear, and also an addition to my motorcycle in the form of a 7m fibre glass pole.

Easily figuring out a safe method of securing a 7m telescopic pole to the side of the bike meant I could attach the already well proven SlimJim antenna (see previous blog) directly to it with it still mounted to the side of the bike which would also negate the need to park the bike close to trees when looking for a higher sling point.

Living close to the Brecon Beacons National Park, through the spring, summer and autumn I regularly find myself in quite remote mountainside locations, or close to the coastline, which also means I will be able to pretty much use this setup wherever I park the motorcyle.

Whilst at these remote locations I am rarely far from the bike and would only leave it unattended if in a busier area with many other folk around, in which case I probably wouldn’t be wanting to get on the air with the radio.

Arriving once again on a secluded lane close to the peak of Twmbarlwm, it was a 5 minute job to attach the SlimJim to the top of the fibre glass pole, and shimmy it up whilst connected to the Yaesu FT-70D. Richie loaned me a LifePo4 battery pack just in case (which ultimately I did need – as the battery in the FT-70D lasted about 2 hours with heavy use on 2M). I also noted the need to place some protective foam around the pole where it rests on the side of the motorcycle panel as I could see it wearing through the plastic protective layer on the bike. Once again using the SlimJim is orders of magnitude more effective than using the factory supplied rubber duck antenna. Now don’t get me wrong, for sure I made several QSO’s using it, but the difference in comparison to the home-brew SlimJim is enormous, and I made many QSO’s of well over 70/80 miles.

So, using the SlimJim which was hoisted up on the telescopic pole at around a further 16′ above the bike, I was all set to once again commence calling.

Rich meanwhile was busy setting up his HF gear, and an impressive portable station he set up too! The mightily fine ICOM IC-705, with ICOM autotuner, about 70′ of random wire and using the fence as an effective ground proved quite effective once Richie figured the best way to get takers when calling on the special event callsign GB4NPT, was to respond to the contest stations active across many of the HF bands that weekend.

Rich set up a 22′ pole – initially with a sloper layout for the random wire which was tied off in a tree in fully professional manner as one does but alas this sloping arrangement wasn’t so effective.

This set up with the sloping wire was proving great on Rx with strong signals being heard and clearly from afar, but given the 10W of the IC-705 was not so good on Tx, so Rich eventually used another 22′ pole about 60′ away to ensure the radiating element was level above the ground across much of its horizontal length. Voila.. the USA was reached pretty easily and a contact with K9CT was made.

I had not seen either the IC-705 rig, nor the ICOM Autotuner in the flesh, and it is fair to say they really are fantastic pieces of equipment. I own an IC-7300 which I have loved since I first purchased it two years ago, and the IC-705 being so similar but also including 70/144 is something I would like to own one day.

Rich tested the set up and within a few seconds the autotuner managed a tune up of 1:1 on top band 160M, very impressive indeed. You can see in this pic that the ground is simply connected to the metal fence.

I think we stayed on the side of the mountain for a totally enjoyable 3-4 hours.

When one enjoys amateur radio it doesn’t often get better than this.

What is there not to like about having an effective portable HF/VHF set up, coupled with spring sunshine and rounded off with a McDonalds breakfast burger that I decided to drop on the floor as I started to munch into it.

Ah well… it added a nice earthy flavour to it, maybe needed with a McDonalds 🙂



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *