Outer Banks 2018

My family and I went on our annual vacation in Corolla on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Ham radio-wise, it started off as a challenging week.

We arrived at the house we rented for the week after a long but fairly non-eventful drive. As we were unloading at the house, a storm rolled in. This delayed getting an antenna set up.

We were also visited by a security officer for the development we were in. Apparently, my daughter’s small cargo trailer was in violation of the Development’s rules. I won’t go further into that but, because of that drama, I decided to keep my antenna as low-profile as possible.

On Sunday afternoon, I finally got an antenna set up. I sloped a 29.5-foot wire down from a 3rd story deck to a wooden fence behind the house. It tuned up OK and I appeared to be getting out. Unfortunately, the local noise level was horrendous. Despite the high noise levels, I managed three quick contacts in the SKCC WES contest.

My Alexloop set up out on the deck.
My Alexloop set up out on the deck.

On my second full day there, I used my Alexloop outside on the deck. It helped to make the noise situation more manageable on most bands. The 20M band was still a bit noisier than I would have liked, though. Even though we were only 2 blocks from the ocean, our rental house overlooked a scenic little lake. The struggle with the noise levels was at least partially offset by the great view I had.

My view from the 3rd story deck
My view from the 3rd story deck

On the third day, I removed the sloper and installed a 53-foot inverted L antenna. I mounted a 9:1 UNUN near ground level and ran the wire up the deck support. I ran the horizontal portion of the wire along the top rail of the deck. I estimate that the vertical portion was about 20 feet with the remaining 33 feet running horizontally. Surprisingly, the inverted L had significantly lower noise levels and seemed to be getting out pretty well.  There was a picnic table conveniently-located near the antenna’s feed point, which provided a shady spot in the morning hours.

Operating from the picnic table. Above my arm, in the background, you can see the feedpoint for the inverted L antenna. My 9:1 UNUN is wrapped up for weather protection.
Operating from the picnic table. Above my arm, in the background, you can see the feedpoint for the inverted L antenna. My 9:1 UNUN is wrapped up for weather protection.

For the remainder of the week, I fell into a pattern of getting on the air each morning for a few QSOs. Most of my contacts were casual rag chews. It was nice to chat with a few familiar stations I haven’t worked in a while. The shade out there was usually gone by 1PM, so I limited my operating to the morning hours. The rest of the time was spent with the family and doing the usual things you would expect for a beach vacation.

It was a great vacation.  This week was a perfect example of why I always like to bring several options for antennas.  These rental houses are all different and sometimes you never know what you’re going to run into when you get here.

72, Craig WB3GCK

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