First thing was to have a small radio that could easily fit in my hand luggage. I contacted Yaesu Europe and discussed the use of the brand new FT-897 for this purpose which is an ideal expedition transceiver. Yaesu supported the idea but actual delivering the equipment was difficult as the distribution was just about to start. Just a few days before departure the FT-897 and the FP-30C switching power supply were on hand but the automatic antenna tuner was not yet available. At the last moment I ordered the MFJ-901B which is a very small ATU and suitable for the work.
In the meantime I started to prepare my own Cushcraft R7000 vertical for quick installation by marking the tubes with colored tape. To transport this antenna on an airplane is a challenge as the base assembly is at least 1.60 meters long. I had no original packing anymore of the R7000 so I constructed one from card board. It measured about 12x12x160cm. Once all the antenna parts were packed in the box, it was slid into a bag that fitted tightly. The purpose of the bag was to avoid the box losing parts in case of rough handling during transportation.
As an alternative, I also bought a G5RV dipole which only weights 1.5 KG and could easily be transported in my suitcase. These two antennas would allow me to anticipate on the different circumstances I may encounter once being at the spot. I was taking in account that in a city the vertical could be more sensitive for the electrical QRM than a dipole.
Preparations and what to bring along?
Logging for the expedition would be done with CT and I had downloaded the latest version that works under Windows (9.84). All software was installed on my laptop and the testing of the interface cables could start. For keying of the rig I had a LPT keying interface cable. This is using two opto couplers and works already for many years at home. The data interface cable which I normally use for my FT-920 did not match the FT-897 as it has different plugs. At the time I received the radio, there was too little time to fix this problem so I had no automatic band change available and should pay attention to change bands on the rig and in the logging simultaneously. Aditional software for conversion (from BIN to ADI) and preparation for the log search applet of G4ZFE was installed.
Although keying would be done from the laptop, an external keyer (ETM-8C) was added to my equipment list for sending additional messages.Packing
Once I had the complete list of materials ready, it was a matter of packing all the stuff and make sure that I could get it all along on the airplane. From previous experience (BV0AA) I learned how this could be done. Pack all you heavy materials in your hand luggage and the rest in the suitcase. This makes that the lowest weight will be checked in at the counter and will determine if and how much overweight you have to pay. In practice you hand carry the 'actual over weight'. So the radio, cables, coax, keyer, antenna wire, etc. were packed into a trolley with a size that is allowed to be carried into the cabin. The laptop, paperwork and personal things went into a backpack and would also be carried into the cabin. Total weight of these two was about 20KG. Most of the personal stuff, tuner, sharp instruments like knife, screwdriver, etc. (they are not allowed in hand luggage) and a FT-840 were packed into a normal suitcase. The suitcase and antenna together were about 35 KG. This made it a total of 55 KG.
- Ready to go Ready to go
- R7000 ready for transport R7000 ready for transport
- R7000 ready for assembly R7000 ready for assembly
- Tools, equipment, spares, etc. Tools, equipment, spares, etc.
- Station Station