Adventures in Urban HF Portable – Part 0 (The Plan)

Is this just an exercise in futility? Only time will tell

With solar cycle 25 now in full swing, this summer appears to be shaping up to give some good opportunities for HF radio contacts, and fortunately for me my amateur radio hyperfixation has appeared again while heading into Spring/Summer, rather than in March when the bands are dying down again, as it has in past years.

While operating portable or from home during the weekends should provide some good opportunities, I’d like to have the ability to work the upper HF bands at a minutes notice during the week when they’re open, which adds the requirement of being to operate from work.

While I don’t work from home, my work is quite flexible, so I should be able to fit my break times around periods where the bands are open. Being in the office though, my options for getting on air are slightly limited. The way I see it, I can either:

  1. Leave the radio at home and use my existing home VPN infrastructure to run digital modes via a connected Raspberry Pi and WSJT-X
  2. Bring a QRP radio to work and setup a compact station there.

I have some reservations about the first option with regards to how I’d handle TX timeout, and also the way in which it locks me into digital modes only, as the ability to run SSB would be much appreciated. As such, I’ve chosen to go with option 2.

Rather wonderfully, my work colleagues (shoutout systems-ade crew) have found my descriptions of some of the technical aspects of radio to be interesting, so they seem to be on board with me being able to setup a QRP station with a small antenna in the office. Bonus points if I can work some DX while they’re around!

Station Constraints

I’m somewhat fortunate that my office is at somewhat of a height (~10 floors up), and has a large window that spans the length of one of the walls. The length of this window is approximately 6 metres, which should give me couple of nice options for working on 15 and 10 metres for summer.

  • Small Magnetic Loop – This one is most ideal as it’s small to store and quick to setup
  • 15/10M Fan Dipole – Would require its 15m elements to hang down at 90 degrees at the ends to fit the space, but 10m will fit just fine.

I’ve decided to have a play with both and see how they each perform. I suspect that due to its size the loop will win out, but it’s more complex construction means it’ll be longer before I have it ready.

The fan dipole is much quicker to build in comparison, so hanging it up indoors will be the main challenge. More details to follow it it’s dedicated post.

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