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July 2012 - Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg, TN
In the middle of a very hot summer we planned a 4 day stay in a beautiful mountain cabin between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN. Since we would be traveling by car (versus by motorcycle or plane) space was not at a premium. I almost considered taking the TS440 and a switching power supply but again opted for the little Hendricks PFR3 and a couple of antennas. I also took along 4 sections of military mast and bungee cords in case they would help to get the Par End Fed 40-20-10m antenna (borrowed from my buddy - N9ZI) up.
You never quite know what the 'antenna situation' will be so best to have several options. After looking around it became obvious that 16 feet of mast bungeed to the rail of the deck would put the end of the antenna well above ground. I attached the feed-end of the Par End Fed at the top and ran the antenna to a tree about 50 feet away. After a minimal amount of effort adjusting the length of the antenna (using an MFJ analyzer) the antenna tuned nicely on 40 and the SWR on 20 fell right in line.
I also took along my home brewed BuddiStickę and set it up on a tripod on the other end of the deck. This would have been a perfect place for a clamp-on mount. Instead, I just used the small tripod. The single 40 meter counterpoise ran off to a tree about 40 feet away - well above ground level.
The bands (at least 40 and 20m) were pretty lousy in the week preceding the trip and that didn't change much while we were there. Most activity was early morning and evenings.
I was anxious to compare these two antennas to learn if either offered an advantage over the other.
The outside operating position was at a small table on the deck facing south with a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains. Since this cabin is at the top of this small (2k) mountain it appeared that the signal would not be hindered by surrounding terrain. When it became too hot to play outside, it was easy to pull the gear inside the cabin and operate from air conditioned comfort.
My main focus was on 40 meter CW (it always seems to come to that). I made several contacts on the vertical before I had the Par EndFed up and ironically the first contact was to K9FW back home in Fort Wayne. Al was operating QRO so no problem hearing him. My 4w QRP signal was a bit of a challenge for him, though. I made several more contacts before setting the Par EndFed up.
The Par EndFed went up nicely on the 16 feet of mast and put it well above the surrounding terrain. It was quickly apparent that this antenna was about equal to the vertical during tests with Terry-N9ZI back in Indiana. Since I didn't take a coax switch, A/B tests were challenging and not instantaneous. I would give the RX edge to the vertical, perhaps because of my prejudice to an antenna that I built. Terry reported that they were "very equal" at his end. That was really good news, to me. The instant QSY between 40 and 20 on the EndFed was very nice. To accomplish a band change on the vertical required a change to the proper counterpoise and coil tap.
I didn't spend a lot of time on the air. Between visits to Gatlinburg and Smoky Mountain National Park and soaking in the hot-tub under the stars, it wasn't the most important part of the trip. Combined with less-than-ideal band conditions and maintaining domestic tranquility, it seemed an appropriate amount of time. ;-) For the same reasons, we also did not visit the Ten Tec factory in nearby Sieverville. Maybe next time...
The cabin rental was great. This is a modern, clean, affordable, well equipped cabin in a great location. More info and pictures are available here: http://www.vrbo.com/361992