Radio Sled First Outing – On the Beach on February 1st!

The first day of February has been very mild with temperatures creeping just above freezing. There is a decent covering of snow, with lots more due over the next couple of days – ideal conditions to give the new radio sled its first tryout.

I chose a nearby beach looking out over Georgian Bay which stretches another 190km north. Impossible to tell where the beach ends and the frozen lake begins so caution was exercised. The sled was hauled about a kilometer to a quiet spot on the beach.

The newly built vertical antenna with the adjustable coil was mounted on a short pole on the sled. A single counterpoise wire was stretched out and hung over the bare limb of a short tree at the edge of the beach. Then my trusty Yaesu FT-891 rig in a backpack was hooked up to a 12ah Bioenno Lithium Iron Phosphate battery.

VA3KOTs sled-mounted antenna

With everything set and ready to go I fired up the rig on 20m. My homebrew L-match tuner was on bypass and the SWR was 1:1. A quick check on the POTA spotting page showed several stations activating on 20m. I set my power to 35 watts and, with my Bulldog clip paddle, keyed my callsign in response to a station in Florida.

K8RLE was activating the De Soto National Memorial, park #K-0772 near Bradenton. He came straight back to me with a 599 report – a little flattering for my humble outdoor station. I returned his 599 and put him in the log.

XYL was feeling cold. It was a mild day but there was a chilling wind coming in off the big lake. “Just one more I pleaded” and called another POTA activator in Kansas. K0BWR was activating Leavenworth State Fishing Lake, park #K-7390. We also exchanged 599 reports and another QSO was in the log in quick order.

It was a very short outdoor operating session but it is mid-winter in southern Ontario so I packed up the gear, loaded up the sled and hauled it back to the truck. Everything functioned perfectly so another radio sled outing is in the plans very soon.

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