Helicopters and more

SPIDEX Hex Beam Portable Weekend

SPIDEX Hex Beam Portable Weekend

This weekend was the low power VHF contest here in the UK. We trooped off with the Burnham Beeches Radio Club and it provided an ideal opportunity to put the hex beam into operation. This was the first time that it was used in anger and with the bands being a bit on the poor side I didn’t have great hopes.

First issue was that I was there to start with on my own so I needed a way of erecting the mast one handed. So I adapted the technique that I used with the 6m contest but this time I had the Spidex aluminium mast to help. The mast is around 8m long, less whip than the fibreglass one that I used before and the way I do it is to set the mast up on the rotator against the car held with a bracket onto the roof rack. I then get on the car put the antenna on and raise it. Put out the guys. The Spidex has three guy points which I have added rings to and the good thing is that the guy collar rotates so the bottom mounted rotator has no problems.

As I was then needing the car I detach the support bar and drive the car off. Putting it down in the reverse procedure as the Haynes manual are often telling us.

So here is a sequence of shots putting it up.

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Here is all the necessary gear, apart from the car!
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I have brought a bag for the Hex Beam and it all fits in. Just
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Using a ground screw makes building the beam easier
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All together on the ground and you can just see the mast in the background

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I bit of heave ho and onto the mast.
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Then you can push the past up locking off each section
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Drive the car away and it stands up on its own!

So how did it perform. Setup was the 991 with the spid rotator linked through MacLoggerDX. I have so say the the results were stunning, particularly given the relatively poor band conditions.

Contacts were mostly made on 17m (my favourite) and some on 20m (contests stop play). Some are listed below:

VP8LP Falkland Islands: (cheers Bob)
HK3C Columbia :John who puts up with my mobile ops and very nicely has a chat
GD6IA Isle Of Man : unusual short skip
VK3MO Australia. Cheers Ian for making that one last QSO to me
HT7C Nicaragua
JR7TKG Japan. Brilliant as Sakli was very surprised to hear a UK station…..from a TENT !
XR2MIN Chile - Well done to Paul for adding Chile to his DX list
KW7Y Washington State

Etc. including some 6m DX to Spain.

All from a tent on 50W from the portable Yaesu,

So to sum up.
Great antenna and easy but a bit time consuming to put up.
Superb performance
not particularly directional
great price for what you can do with it
no tuner used or needed

Would I swap for my StepIr… Of course not. But you are taking about two totally different propositions. This is the antenna for me for serious portable use and a good backup for the 4 else StepIr on the club contests should problems arise.

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Thanks for all who came along to help out. It was great to see such a turnout and I hope that we managed a reasonable score on the contest. We certainly managed a very hospitable evening around the fire and drinking Uri’s mystery wine.

It turns out amateur radio and gastronomy go well together….until you have to get up in the morning without the neurofen.

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