Amateur Radio Adventure in Tuscany: On the Road with VHF
Finally it is September. The dreamed-of journey over 2000 km from Germany to Italy has now become reality. Unfortunately, the itinerary leaves little to no time for radio operation on site. On the contrary, I will have a lot of free time as co-pilot, which I can use for some QSOs.
Choosing the antenna for the mobile radio adventure
Since the small Toyota Yaris does not have an antenna base permanently attached to the chassis, installing a mobile HF antenna was out of the question. I would have had to opt for a magnetic base, which would have limited me to small VHF/UHF antennas.
The base I had was a DIAMOND K-701M. This is an excellent product because in addition to the magnet, it also has a suction cup which provides excellent adhesion. For the antenna I will use the Diamond NH770, a small, very robust mobile bi-band antenna. I had also planned to take the almost 170 cm long HYGAIN with me to use when the car is parked. But the "sweet" look of my dear YL immediately stopped me.
Decision making: FT-818 or FT3D for the trip?
I was a bit undecided whether to take the small YAESU FM transceiver, which has significant limitations compared to the FT-818 but offers the advantage of native APRS, or the FT-818, which offers many extras but is more complicated to operate and ''bigger''. In the end, I decided on both. The FT-818 was the backup with which I used the USB mode on 2m to monitor the VHF contest. Strangely enough, I received the BIGGUN with signals I had never seen in my life. I am very sorry for the small QRP front end.
APRS configuration and SOTA activations on the first kilometres
On the first kilometres I used the time to configure the APRS of the FT3D. The signals were received by I-GATES and DIGIPEATERS all over Germany and Switzerland. Unfortunately the coverage in Italy was very poor and as I saw on www.aprs.fi many colleagues have switched to LORA. Should I wear the PICOLORAAPRS next time?
While passing through Switzerland, I heard three or four SOTA activations. I tried to answer, but the 5 watts and the steep mountains blocking the signal made contact impossible.
Radio fun in Tuscany: VHF DX and fun QSOs
Once in Tuscany, the small hills merge into an endless valley, ideal for VHF DX. I had a lot of fun with locals and not so local OMs. The reception on the hills, especially the highest ones, was spectacular.
Conclusion: in the end, the situation doesn't matter, radio amateurs always find a way and a place to enjoy their hobby.
73 from LU8MIL.