I went to the magnum rally in Irvine on Sunday. I was hoping that some kind sole would have have brought along their Elecraft K3 to show off. It's really too late to find I don't like the K3 as I have already ordered one (due to arrive before IOTA). I also wanted to sell an old VHF multi-mode transceiver to fund the outstanding balance of the K3. It wasn't to be my day as the K3 didn't make an appearance and no one wanted the old VHF transceiver. The reason for this blog wasn't for these failures but to document a find.
I'm off to the isle of Islay for IOTA on 25-28/7/08 so have been thinking about what antenna to take. I'm going with family, but will be setting up and operating alone. I don't want to be spending a lot of effort/time setting up, but still want to put out a potent signal. There, on an army surplus stand at the magnum rally, a friend spotted an 18ft fibreglass mast made by a company called Thales, neatly wrapped up in a waterproof army green shoulder bag. On inspecting it, I discovered it was not only a mast but a field antenna system. There was a reel of wire which when mounted at the top of the mast could be pulled out and wrapped round and down the mast to a feed point. The reel itself also had an integral socket connected to the reel wire which allowed a collapsible metal 7ft whip to be inserted thus increasing the overall length of the antenna to around 30ft. All in all, a 25ft stucture as light as could be hoped for and designed with attention to detail that only the MOD could orignally afford. I scooped it up complete for £40, so the day wasn't a failure after all.
On getting home I errected it in the back garden with a friend and stuck an LDG Z-11 pro antenna tuning unit at the bottom and managed to tune it from 40-10m. It wouldn't tune on 80m as expected, but I didn't have any radials fitted and could still hear A61 and W3,4,7,8 and 0 coming in on 20m. I recon with some practice I'll be able to deploy the antenna alone and therefore it could be the one for IOTA.