I’ve just returned from a two week (July 30th – August 11th 2012) stint in North East Scotland, well to be more exact Elgin but didn’t spend two weeks just in one place, lots of Whiskey distilleries where visited and I can promise you plenty of whiskey was consumed and I even managed a visit the BrewDog Aberdeen bar to consume a few more adult beverages.
Although it wasn’t a radio holiday, it was a time to have a bit of a relax and explore and spend some time with my Gran. I did manage to involve some radio for the trip I took along the Yaesu FT-817 along with two battery packs for it plus the Superantennas MP1 and Arrow satellite antenna.
Unsurprisingly I used the satellite stuff more than HF with 40 contact, I found using a compromise antenna and low power on SSB the most frustrating experience, I did however make 10 QSOs mostly on 15 & 10m, what I would like to try is data modes using my Android Tablet which will hopefully be something for the next trip.
During the 2 weeks I operated from two locations first being Grans garden (IO87IP) the other being around the harbour area in Lossiemouth (IO87IR). Operating from Grans garden was rather successful and managed to work SO-50/AO-27 without too much problem and even managed to work through VO-52 and FO-29 sat on the front lawn with my laptop as my frequency guide and managed to work 2O12W on FO-29 and a couple of others!
From Lossiemouth I operated from a couple of locations popular area for me seemed to be either the West beach right next to RAF Lossiemouth, which was very good for working low FO-29 passes out in the North Sea bit tricky when the RAF Tornadoes are on approach and take off they also affected the signals from the satellites when they got in the way and Around the Harbour/Promenade which was a fantastic location for working satellite passes going South->East->North.
This was in a very public place I was standing on the Harbour wall, and as I’ve yet to figure out a audio splitter to wear headphones and record the pass on my digital recorder I had the volume up full tilt 🙂 which seemed to gain a little interest from people passing by!
On the final Saturday of the trip I decided along with Dad to have a walk on the east beach, this proved yet another good location and I managed to use SO-50 and AO-27 with ease, nice thing about this location was it was quiet and only one person I asked if I was trying to track birds (Dont think I look like a twitcher).
Things I noticed while on the trip
- Operating via AO-27 isn’t easy from North East Scotland due to the fact it turns off very quickly as it passes over Europe so I was generally only getting 2-3mins of pass time.
- Operating through SO-50 from Lossiemouth was easy and even on low passes I was regularly hearing it strong even at -5 degrees elevation.
- SSB satellites with only one radio and no ability to hear yourself on the downlink is frustrating, FO-29 was reasonable bearable but VO-52 was a pure nightmare.
- Extra spare mobile phone battery is a must when you’re using the GPS and HamSatDroid to tell you where the satellite is.
- A method to wear phones and record at the same time needs sorted, as it’s really hard to hear a locator when a RAF Tornado is 40ft on its approach.
- Lots of people genuinely seem interested in what I was doing others clearly thought I was bonkers.