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Spider Beam Antennas

VK6YS/p - West Lewis Island OC-199 May 18th to May 21st

My special thanks to Craig and his family and mates for inviting me to operate from the "shack" on West Lewis Island. It is a special place in the world with rugged coast and shore line, sandy beach and beautiful views to the edge of the world, especially at sunset. Thanks again Craig for a wonderful weekend. And also for the regular coffee's that kept appearing unexpectedly!

And thanks to all who made contact and made it an extra special weekend for me. The dogpiles of fellow hams wanting the contact make it all worthwhile.

Thank you!

The long drive north from Perth took 16 1/2 hours for the 1600 odd Kms and heading back south on Monday afternoon / evening took me over 20 1/2 hours as I had to admit defeat and take a short 4 hour sleep on the side of the road. I am obviously not as young as I used to be, or think I am.... at 61 these drives seem to be longer than before!

The shack West Lewis Island

We made it out to the island on Friday afternoon and I was able to quickly get set up and be operating by around 1700 local time, but without any shelter.

The shack West Lewis Island

The next morning once the sun came up, we erected a portable shelter to keep the sun off me, and more particularly, off the computor screen! No matter which way I tried to position the chair/computor/etc I could not see the screen until we put the shelter up.

The shack West Lewis Island

The "shack" . Light on creature comforts, but high on views, mateship, clear sky and breathtaking scenery. The rock formation you can see behind, is found all through the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It looks all the world for a dump truck pile of broken rock rather than a natural formation. All helps make this place so unique. The shack West Lewis Island

And this is just a small "sunset video" timelapse taken on Sunday night. >

Equipment and operations

The equipment used was very simple, mainly because I was operating alone, and also knowing the limitations of the site and transport.
The only transceiver used was an Icom IC7000, which worked faultlessly. I did take along my old IC706MkIIg as a just incase, having had this same IC7000 let the smoke out during our OC-211 operation. The Heil Proset Elite usually does a great job, but it seems to have sprung a loose wire or something in the cable, so needs to be twisted to make contact, but again once working are just great for this type of operation. (I keep promising myself that I will repair them, but then they start to work so I forget!!
Two antennas used were the Force12 40XK, which is very easy to configure from 20 through to 10 metres, however, 30 and 40 metres became problematic on my own on the rocky ground and at night, so I did not even attempt. The other antenna was a Spiderbeam 12 metre fibreglass pole which I support in the center with three guys, and then run interchangable verticals, in this case, 18 through to 10 metres, with three ground plane wires, each down the guy ropes.
I used my miniVNA originally to set each 1/4 wave GP vertical, and they work well, especially in this sort of location.

For logging and CW generation, I use my trusty old Macbook (about 6 1/2 years old now), and MacLoggerDx software.
For the voice side of things, the software is excellent, but for the CW side it is a little cumbersome as it is not really set up for dxpeditioning type ops. It does the job though, and means I dont have to worry about interfacing issues, as the Macbook interfaces with my microHam USB II interface with no issues. It just works!

I took along my Honda 1Kw generator, but didnt use it because Craig had a 2Kw on the go for the shack so my load was not really too much on top of the normal running load, except when one of the two fridges kicked in, I would sometimes get a drop out.

West Lewis Island - OC-199 Location

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