Notes: Sierra testing on bicycle tour

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From: Bilbee@aol.com
Date: Fri Oct 14 1994 - 06:19:39 EDT


There was some interest on the stuff I used when I field-tested the Sierra
prototype on the bicycle tour the end of August. So here goes:

I used a Solarex solar panel (available from Antennas West, Real Trading Co.
and Sunlight Energy Systems) MSX-10. The "10" means it can generate 10 watts
under full sunlight. I bought mine from the latter company, run by Mike Bryce
(the QRP columnist for 73 mag, out of Massillion, OH) for about $150. I also
used his charge controller between the panel (which is about the size of a
long clipboard) and my 3.5 AH lead acid battery.

I position the solar cell on top my sleeping bag/tent roll on the back of the
bike. The blue crystals on these solar panels are right out of Star Trek --
very beautiful!

My prime antenna was a fanned inverted V for 20 and 40 meters, with a clip
add-on to change the 20-meter arm to 30 meters. The design was from a recent
"backpacker's antenna" article from QST. I was disappointed with the antenna
for my purposes, tho. It uses thin enamelled copper wire. I had trouble with
the wires getting entangled, and the dern thing took too long to set up and
take down and store. When you're moving from campsite to campsite daily, it
just takes to much time to handle. A simple vertical is a much better idea.

My other antenna was an end-fed 20 meter dipole, using RG174. It is a much
simpler, more practical design, tho the trouble with it was that I didn't
have enough feed line. This design is from a QRP book by Dave Ingram.

I ended up taking the 20 meter legs off the fanned inverted V and just making
it a simple 40 meter inverted V. Most of the action was on 40 m anyway ....

I also had a homebrew antenna tuner with me -- using toroids and air
variables -- a design from Doug? DeMaw (sp?) in one of the ARRL books. Also a
homebrew SWR meter. A design from one of the QRPp newsletters put out by
NorCal QRP club.

We were touring the Pacific Crest Bicycle Trail, which is a road-based route
I originated from Canada to Mexico through the Cascades, Sierra Nevada and
other mountainous areas. It attempts to come as close as possible to the
Pacific Crest Hiking Trail. I did the guidebook ("The Pacific Crest Bicycle
Trail" pub. by Bittersweet Publishing Co of Livermore, CA). Each summer now I
organize a week-long tour along the Trail, especially looking for hams to be
part of it. If you're interested, please E-mail me your Postal Service mail
and Internet address, and I'll put you on the mailing list for next year. I
should say, tho, that I plan to keep each year's group at 10 and we had 10
this year. If it expands beyond 10, I'll probably form two groups riding at
different dates. Next year's trip will be from Hamburg, CA (on the Klamath
River) to Lake Tahoe, CA.

Whew. I can see my America Online bill for next month ....

-- Bil Paul KD6JUI San Mateo, CA


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