Sunday, June 2, 2019

Video: Drone antenna-hanging and RGO One at KFF-3028

Yesterday's activation of Lake Livingston (Texas) State Park (KFF-3028) went well and gave me the opportunity to test two pieces of equipment.

The first was a new servo mechanism for my DJI Phantom quadcopter. What an improvement over what I'd been using - it is smaller, lighter, cheaper and self-contained. For $27 I now have something easier to use, and therefore more effective, than the old method.

Part of any reluctance I may have to operate portable is the fact that I will have to make do with a compromise antenna - a dipole too low, a vertical to short, etc. But now there is no reason a full size vertical for 80 or even 160 meters can't be installed as long as we have the trees for it - and here, we do. Or a dipole 100 or more feet up, limited only by the amount of feedline you want to deal with.

A park ranger came by as I was setting up the quadcopter and said "You can't fly that around the park." I told her how beautiful, yet professional, she looked in her uniform and that it wasn't a quadcopter but an antenna-hangin' tool.

Seriously though, after explaining what I was doing, permission was granted.

The second piece of equipment was the RGO One transceiver. It was noticeably easier making phone contacts with 50 watts than with QRP power. The PAR antenna I was using states a 25-watt limit and I observed that limit - at first. Curiosity got the better of me and I gradually inched upped to 50 watts, about 10 watts at a time. No ill effects at all.

I didn't make a lot of contacts (30) but I did have some good ones:

  • Steve WG0AT on a summit
  • AI5P who was also activating a park
  • Jim N4QO, QRP friend from the old days
  • KH6BB on the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor
  • Being called by JA and DL, one right after the other

After 2-1/2 hours I'd used 5.5AH of juice from the battery - less than I would have thought given my output power.

Most of my contacts were on CW although the following video is mostly of contacts made on phone. If I worked you, thanks, danke and arrigato for making my outting enjoyable. If not - no soup for you.


Steve WG0AT just emailed a pic of where he was operating during our QSO along with an MP3 of my audio. Check out that scenery...and I don't mean the foreground!

I regret not being able to record every QSO, Steve being one of those contacts I missed with the phone's videocam function. Next time, Steve - thanks for the files and 73!


  1. That is a very cool video from the drone and an amazing way to get the long wire where you want using the length you want. So what would be the reason the park ranger was not going to allow you to fly the drone?

    1. There is a dam at the lake's output (Trinity River) - evidently it is a "security" issue.

  2. Ah, I thought it might be the National Park Service, which has banned drones in all the parks, since some idiots did thinks like drop their drones in the Prismatic Springs at Yellowstone, etc.

    I find it kind of amusing that after explaining that you were about to hang a wire in a park tree, that was OK. I can't tell you the number of parks I've been to where the rules specifically forbid putting anything in the trees (wires, ropes, etc).

    We have a couple in our local club that do a lot of POTA activity, and they've settled mainly on using a crappie pole mounted on the rear hitch on their vehicle, and then either running an end fed vertical up the pole, or an inverted vee made out of tiny stranded wire, with the far ends held down by small sandbags, etc. In either case, they use a rolling inductor Viking matchbox, to minimize losses in the tuner, if they need it.

    They use the latter system if they can find a parking location with very low foot traffic, so they don't have to deal with folks getting tangled up in the inverted vee, even though it is clearly marked.

    1. You're right - you'd think it would have worsened my chances by telling them I want to put a very long wire in a tree! But I emphasized that the drone would be up, down and back in my car in less than 10 minutes. That was what they needed to hear.