Having limited space to string up antennas for shortwave radio in our garden always makes us just that little bit jealous when seeing pictures of the large arrangements of wires some radio operators have attached to their equipment.
From full size G5RV’s to full wave long wires for the lower part of the HF spectrum it makes us sometimes wish that our garden plot could be re-arranged, moving all the width to the length and leaving a garden just wide enough for that dream antenna would suit us down to the ground.
Thankfully the cure for all the shortwave antenna envy comes around for at least a few months of the year in the shape of those long hot summer nights. Always happy to camp on mountains in the warm weather it gives us the perfect opportunity to whack up the sort of antenna we spend the rest of the year dreaming about.
Ideal Locations and Why We Love Trees
Extra height is great for working the higher bands (21-28 MHz) and we always try to string up at least one vertical running up a tree but peaks of mountains are usually barren without a tree in site. Walking down the mountain to find tall enough trees to work with does leave us with the disadvantage of having tons of earth behind us effectively cutting off signals from one direction.
Sometimes the choice of which way to walk down off a treeless mountain is governed by which direction we want to receive the most signals from especially at the higher HF frequencies.
This Years Equipment
We wont leave the house without our trusty (if battered) Eton E5 which doubles up as a pretty good USB shortwave receiver and is loud enough on the FM side to fill the camp ground with music.
But this year it may be time to drag something a bit bigger up the hill. After looking around at all the radios in the shack we drew up a rough points system based on weight (most important), power consumption (batteries are heavy too) and how fond we are of it.
The first two are sort of obvious but let us explain the last one.
Do enough camping and you’ll know that things do sometimes take a turn for the worse with events like sudden changes in weather or falling over meaning the death of radios even though good precautions have been taking.
Weighing up all the options the winner of this years trips outside is going to be the Realistic DX 394. Its a little bulky but as light as they come and after measuring the current consumption we are confident of being able to get a full nights use out of some mashed up Ni-Cd batteries, will have to tape up the annoying mains power lead though as it’s wired directly into the radio.
A Whole New World
If you too suffer from a lack of space to erect anywhere near an effective antenna we would highly recommend taking to the hills with the a roll of wire and the first portable shortwave radio you can lay your hands on. You can even get away without walking by finding a high spot you can drive to with the added benefit of being nice and snug inside the car while you listen to your radio.
Apart from the improved signal reception a bit of altitude brings you’ll be removing yourself from the man made radio signal mush that we have to put up with everyday in built up areas.
See you on the mountain!