BY RAFFY VK2RF operating as 3D2RS
For successful overseas radio operating, planning is the key to everything.
Normally I look for 2m and 70c repeaters, but
this is the first time I have operated portable HF overseas. The main reason
has been is that the HF equipment has been too bulky, and the power requirements
This time, I took my Yaesu FT-817 this is the ultimate travel radio! It is feasible to operate from it's
eight internal AA NIMH 1.6ah rechargeables, at 5 watts SSB output.
For the antenna I made myself a 20m single band dipole, out of 20 metres of slotted
TV ribbon, with a homemade 4:1 balun.
Together with a portable 12 foot telescopic fibreglass mast, Switched mode 13.8v supply (2 amps), some nylon fishing line, sinkers, thick rubber band for slinging sinkers over trees, 144/440/50 mhz rubber ducky, ATX vertical (for other bands..). The total weight of this is about 3kg. A complete HF/and uhf/vhf/6m station! I was thinking about taking a small 5watt solar panel… but not this time. 240v is available everywhere.
First challenge was to get a local licence. The Ministry of Information and Communications phone number in FIJI is +679 3384766 fax is +679 3386310, and the person I spoke to was Vilikesa. I needed to fax a copy of my Australian Licence, plus a form , a passport sized photo, and $FJ 13.75. ( I actually just sent $A20, on the theory that it would be worth someone's while to change it to Fiji dollars because I couldn’t find any in Sydney!)
The actual address I was given had changed to:
PO Box 2264 Ministry of Information and Communication
Government Buildings, Suva, Fiji
Now I didn’t leave them too much time (About 10 days!) so I first rang and discussed it with Mr Vilikesa (first name/surname??) and he asked me to fax my licence, equipment details and where I would be operating from, and upon payment, promised to fax the licence to the Resort I was going to stay at.
I did all that (faxed & used international air express for the hardcopy and $$), and upon checkin at the resort, I had my 3D2RS licence.!
Not only that, a day later he called us at the resort to check that I got it! Very efficient and caring! I was extremely impressed.
Step one complete!
The resort is called the Warwick Resort on the coral coast, and it is two hours bus trip from Nadi Airport. Nearest town is Sigatoga.
So I went for a walk around the resort. I did try to operate with the ATX vertical ( a mini outbacker style antenna) but no joy!
I ended up operating from the golf course to the UPPER left of the above
beach picture. It had a fence with 2 metre high posts next to the beach
and some non-coconut trees with branches.
So I lashed my 12 foot portable telescopic fibreglass mast to a fence post (secured with cable ties to the wiremesh fence) and tied the two ends of the dipole to the trees. I made sure I was aiming broadside to Australia. It didn’t look too much out of place, and I suspect nobody noticed it until it was pointed out to them because the trees hid it. I left it there for the four days of operation left.
I had planned the time and frequency of operation by referring to the IPS propagation website http://www.ips.gov.au/asfc/current/predsvs.html
This suggested that at 0600 UTC (4 pm in Sydney, 6pm in Fiji) the 20 metre band was good for Sydney-Fiji point to point. This was good from the resort timetable and a reasonable pacific area time .
I really had good results,-all on SSB phone. I used partly 5 watts and 2.5 watts. With
KB4NGH in Miami on 2 OCT I used 1(one) watt and was heard 53!!! Also,
Eric VK2KUR and Demetre SV1UY heard but could not copy me.
It was quite exhilarating to operate via battery power whilst sitting on a picnic table, as the sun set slowly on the beach. All in all, a very worthwhile enterprise.
73 de Raffy 3D2RS
(home call VK2RF)