Invisible airwaves crackle with life
Memorial Day, 2003 Portable Operation
My first test of the portable quad (and a dry run for Field Day, to figure out what I need to add to my "grab and go" kit) was an evening of 6 meter dx-chasing from the sunny shores of the Gulf of Mexico at Indian Rocks Beach,Florida. My father in law helped me erect the quad on its 12' PVC tower (16' was the original design height, but it failed rather spectacularly during a dry run at the inlaws' house),and I settled in for a lovely afternoon of sun,sand,static and occasional band openings.The saga begins (well, and ends too, as I got pretty sunburned and the kids spent all day on Sue's sister's boat and were tired so we didn't get back to the beach on Monday...) the Sunday before Memorial Day,in my inlaws' driveway. After I cut a couple hundred feet of braided nylon rope into 20+' lengths to use as guys,it was time to try erecting the thing.
Note: thanks to my lovely wife Susan for snapping the beach pictures!We got the 16' PVC tower up by itself,tied off the guys at the appropriate lengths so we'd just have to hook the ends over the tent stakes at the beach,then knocked it down and mounted the quad. That's when I realized that using 1-1/4" pipe instead of the 1-1/2" that the article had recommended was a bad thing
Unfortunately there wasn't a third warm body there to photograph the debacle as Ray (my father in law) and I scrambled to support the quad before it dashed itself to pieces as the insufficiently-rigid mast bent into a lovely U shape,just before one of the screw-together pipe joints stripped its threads and let go with a sharp bang,smacking me in the chest and raising a nice welt in the process. A strategic retreat to the 12' height you see demonstrated above turned out to be just the ticket. For Field Day,I'll most likely switch from a PVC mast to a steel one. Lowes sells 5' chunks of ChannelMaster mast for a reasonable price; I'll pick up 5 of them and cut them down to 4' (again, so they fit in the trunk of Sue's Honda). I've alredy got some slip-collar guy-wire mounts that'll fit the mast,and some rope-climbing clips for the ends of the guys that will snap onto the holes in the mounts.
After hooking everything up and verifying that it all worked (with the quad pointed south I could hear some stuff going on down in Miami on 6),I broke it all down and packed for the drive over to the beach. The radios (an MFJ-9406 for 6 meters and the Yaesu FT-2500M out of the car for 2 meter FM),two 7AH 12V sealed batteries scavenged from a UPS,and enough cables and jumpers to hook everything up (or so I thought at the time) went into a duffel bag. The antenna and mast wound up in a bundle no bigger than a good-sized two man tent. I need to find a canvas bag big enough to hold it.