Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dec 2009 - Africa - Portable Operations.

Located about 100 miles north-east of the coastal city of Cape Town, our base camp is at 32.871954S, 19.084239E.
This time, we are exploring the mountainous region of the Ceder Mountains, adjacent to the Great Winterhoek Mountain Nature Reserve.
The base cabin is visible in the middle of the picture. A freshwater stream (which provides drinking water as well as a refreshing break from the daytime heat) runs about 100ft from the cabin.

Traveling here is easy by car (we bring 4X4 just in case), and at elevation of about 1500 MSL, we are surrounded by lots of mountains.
The cabin offers sleeping facilities for 6x. No electricity or water supply - just the way we like it. Well - ok - plenty of running water from the nearby river which serves as fresh water supply as well as a welcome relief from the baking southern sun.
At this location, the air is clean, there is no light pollution and at night, the Milky Way lights up the skies. While around the campfire, stargazing consumes the better half of the evening.
(No visible International Space Station pass during our stay unfortunately)

The "Green" Inverted V goes up - Mast is a sturdy piece of 30ft straight timber we found close to the cabin.

QRV / QRP - Of course no electrical infrastructure for miles, also means no rf pollution, and virtually "no" noise floor. With an inverted V for 40/20m, we light up the 706 (battery power). 20m dx sounds fill the quiet evening and even S1 signals are booming in Q5. What appears to be 20m short path to the U.S. comes alive around 20:00 UTC. No dx luck at QRP power levels, unfortunately, due to the high noise floors at the remote stations.

On 40m, local stations (< 1000 miles) provide for fun rag-chew QSO's during the daylight hours.

 Working local stations on QRP power offers quite a bit of activity during the daytime, with several fixed base and mobile stations from as far as Namibia and the Kruger National Park on 40m.

Stateside dx on 40m around 04:00 UTC are 5/9++. W1AW code bulletins are as clear as local stations during this window. 40m Gray line propagation shuts down around 06:30 UTC. Unfortunately we did not work any dx on 40m this time.

The rock formations in this area are truly spectacular, with a variety of freshwater streams feeding into the Elephant river. Easy hikes from base camp provide access to great vistas, waterfalls and freshwater mountain pools for cooling off during the summertime heat.

This time of year, the temperatures average about 30C. During our stay, we were lucky with some overcast days reaching 28C.

Posted by Picasa

No comments:

Post a Comment