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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Field Day with Farhan, his Family and an sBITX Near Hyderabad, India

Farhan and his son Rayyan with an sBITX

The SolderSmoke crew thought it had a tough time this Field Day:  Pete N6QW had hoped to do something, but was stymied by hot California weather.  Dean KK4DAS had even worse weather.  Bill HI7/N2CQR was at a remote QTH with an HW-8 and a wire antenna -- he managed just ONE contact (W7RN in Nevada on 15 CW).  But none of us had as much trouble as our friend Farhan had.   In  his account of Field Day in Hyderabad, we see an intrepid ham standing up against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that Field Day often throws at true radio amateurs.  Here is Farhan's Field Day story: 


You asked for it, so here it goes...

I got the chance last evening to head out to our farmland. My daughter Ramsha had her friend were over. By the time we all got into the SUV, it was already 5:30 pm. I had loaded in the Spiderbeam fiberglass pole, the sbitx with LiPo battery and an EFHW ATU strapped on, into the back into my backpack,  the toolbox with a few hand tools.

On the way to the farm, rain begin to come down. Rayyan (son, VU3ECQ) started said as much, I turned up the volume on Bruno Mars...

By the time we got to the farm, the rain was over(Ha!). We immediately begin to set up the antenna. I chose an inverted V config for the antenna and to use a tree as the support. The spiderbeam, as any who has been taken in by it knows, is a telescoping 33 feet high mast made of fiberglass. A curious villager decided to help us too. The girls had already taken off to pick the Mulberries.

So, Rayyan, the curious fellow, and I tried to telescope out the mast. The curious fellow, having never read the manual, picked up the mast from the wrong end and all the pieces fall out the other end. (Censored @#$%...). Within 15 minutes, we had all the pieces put back in the order of their thicknesses. I scotchtaped the center of the 66 feet wire to tip of the mast and we all hauled it up vertical. For those who don't forget maths, you can figure that two section of 66 feet wire will be exactly 33 feet high and when you tie this to the high end of a 33 feet high pole -- they just hang down vertically in a straight line. I was trying hard to remember the math teacher's name when the telescoping mast decided to untelescope into a 5 feet, collapsed height. My son commented that it has worked as advertised. Now, I wanted to remember my son's Moral Lessons teacher's name...

Next, we scotch taped the center of the 66 feet wire to approximately 2/3rd height. The curious guy and I walked it up back and took it to the tree. Rather we tried to. The branches kept getting in the way. Finally, managed to get within 4 feet of the trunk and I declared that we could just tie it up with the packing nylon rope bundle we were carrying. We did and it held up. 

By now, the two ends of wire had gotten all twisted around each other. We all had an excellent arm workout trying unwind them. The techniques -- never mentioned in any antenna handbook -- is to hold both ends of the twisted pair in one hand each, spread out your arms and make overhead sweeping motion to flick one wire over the other. This method only adds more twists into the wire. I discovered that wires could be twisted around each other both ways. There is no untwisting them. I discovered this amazing feature!

After watching us for 10 minutes, Humera, my XYL, asked us to forgive the world and bring down the mast and untangle the wires on the ground. By now, a stray cow had also sauntered in on her way back home. I think our language attracted her. She was bellowing for her calf to come and watch.

Next, we, efficiently undid the wire twists. Rayyan and the curious fellow held the two ends away from each other and I raised the mast. Or rather I tried to. At 45 degree tilt, the mast sections add up huge amount of weight. I was tottering around with it when it thankfully  leaned onto the tree branches. At this time, I declared it done. We tied the mast at 6 feet height by the rope to the tree trunk. One end went to the a branch of a bush and the other we walked to the point where it was taunt and touched the ground. 

I brought out the radio, much to the curious fellow's surprised, who was looking forward to me doing more entertaining things with the mast rather than a radio. We switched it on, I quickly peaked the ATU to maximum noise and keyed up. The sbitx shut off. Our battery was discharged.

An intrepid ham is never dissuaded by the flings and arrows of time which, when taken at a tide, leads to Field Day. I decided to move the operations to the farm cottage where we had power. But there was no supporting tree nearby. I decided to use the SUV as support.

We packed the SUV at an approximately correct distance from the vernadah of the cottage. We carried the mast over to the SUV and strapped it at two points: on the foot rest and on the overhead luggage rock. At this point the Spiderbeam fiberglass collaspible mast took a commercial break and demonstrated rapid collapse, into the much vaunted 5 feet size. Rayyan was rolling in the grass with mirth. This divided my anger between two opposing directions: toward  my progeny and toward my antenna mast. I didn't move.

I thought like an engineer.  The curious fellow and I carried the mast to an illuminated part of the farm, laid it down, and scotch taped each section to the next as the spiderbeam folks had warned us to do. It is strange how memory works better when your blood pressure is up. 

The mast went up again, this time strapped to the SUV's rack, door column, and the footrest. I setup the radio on a table outside the cottage, running the extension cord from inside. The SUV and the antenna were too far for the EFHW  to reach the radio. 

We asked Humera (XYL) and the girls who were watching us while having their mulberries to DO SOMETHING and not just SIT THERE. So, Humera got inside the SUV and started to roll it towards the cottage. A loud crunching sound announced the sad departure of the sunflower plants we had tied the other end of EFHW from  mother Earth. The EFHW had unrooted its support as the SUV pulled it away. These minor inconviences never deter a determine man, remember Gandhiji! 

Finally everything was in place, and we fixed up the rig but the microphone wouldn't key up. So what? I can just operate from the in-built mic and the thoughfully provided on-screen keyboard for CW, right? Well I could but I needed to key CW contiuously to set the SWR. So I opened up the mic. The curious fellow who had carried the radio to the new operating position was new to radio etiquette. He had just picked up the radio and walked, dragging the mic through the slush and weeds. The mic connector had come out.

I took the matters into my hands, by now, Rayyan was trying to show empathy for the old man by making loud noise like Aww! Shucks! and other unmentionables. I cut the cable with teeth, unbraided a small section and wired it up on the connector so I could short it to key the rig. Why can't the imbecile radio designers think of providing a tune button on the screen??

Finally, everything was in place. I tuned up and AIR net was on. This is the national evening SSB net on 7150. I tried breaking in with SSB a few times but didn't get through. Finally, I changed to CW and called. The net control asked "the CW station to QSY, this is the AIR net....". Finally some other SSB station who could copy my CW translated my CW to the net control and we had a three way contact.

At this point the girls declared we had to head home now that I had had my contact.

I was about to let out my public school vocabulary when I heard them say that they were hungry and there was lamb curry at home. The idea of getting back home and drying out, and eating the hot lamb curry and mangoes was too much for me. We folded up. But the mast refused to collapse. The curious fellow who had taken charge of the mast engineering had finally gotten hang of it. With superhuman strength, he had pulled the section of the mast out so tightly that no power on earth could potentially loosen them. I decided to trick the mast into thinking that we wanted it to stay up, so we put it back up vertically and slammed it into the ground. It dutifully woke up and demonstrated the much vaunted ability to fit back into a 5 feet tube.

I looked into the darkness to find the EFHW winder but I couldn't locate it. The curious fellow had left, scared by the racket the radio was making. The cow and the calf had gone home. We too headed back home. 

In the picture, you can see Rayyan standing while I am checking into AIR net. In the background is the SUV with spiderbeam fiber mast that is easy to carry in a 5 feet size.

73, de Farhan VU2ESE with a little help from my friends and family.


  1. Hilarious!
    de M0GUJ

  2. I have operated homebrew portable in a park almost every month for the past ten years with the Central Florida QRP Group (see our website), and will do so again this Saturday, June 29 at about 1500Z on 20M SSB in the vicinity of 14.280 MHz at POTA park US-3650. Also, two of my friends will be there on 20M CW, so consult the POTA Spots page and give us a call. If you look at my last activation attempt of March 23 on the POTA website, you will see that I had 15 contacts (in 45 minutes) on 20M CW, so we in the Central Florida QRP Group know how to do this! 


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