Thursday, May 13, 2021

HF Portable Ops Solar Powered

This day finds me out operating HF portable from the top of a high butte overlooking the Red Deer river valley badlands of southeastern Alberta.
I am not the first person to set up camp on this butte, as I was set up beside a tipi ring that may be centuries old, signifying the fact that first nations people had been using this spot for setting up their tipi's for many decades in the past.
If you expand the photo and look at my vertical antenna with its guy-lines, you can visualize a tipi sitting in this spot, chosen for its commanding views in all directions over the grasslands.
The owner of the ranch who's land this butte is located on, was telling me that back in the 1800's, the Hudson's Bay company had established a fur trading fort on the banks of the Red Deer river, the location of this fort only several kilometers from my location on this butte.
There are tipi rings to be found all along the ridges of this range of buttes and hills located east of the ghost town of Dorothy AB throughout the grasslands bordering the Red Deer river.

Earlier in the pre-dawn darkness, I had left Calgary with plenty of time to reach the grasslands located in the Wintering Hills of southeastern Alberta, where I hoped to catch the sun rising over the beautiful rolling grass bordering the badlands of the Red Deer river. Once I reached the end of the blacktop of highway 564, I planned on working my way north through these hills that roll down against the badlands bordering the Red Deer river. I already knew my destination on the day where I would be setting up to operate HF portable from a butte overlooking these grasslands. Off the end of highway 564, you drive a twisting backroad that descends through the badlands to a very cool one lane girder bridge on the Red Deer river, and after you cross this bridge, it is just a short distance to the ghost town of Dorothy.

 Dorothy is situated in Aberta's famed Badland Country just to the southeast of Drumheller, and has history from 1895 up to 1970, enjoying its greatest prosperity in the 1920's shortly after the railway line was built through the area, because of the dozens of coal mines up and down the valley.With the closing of the coal mines it was only a matter of time before people begun leaving the valley.
 By 1960 Dorothy was in decline and today less that a dozen residents live in the area around Dorothy. I have been to Dorothy numerous times over the years, but always enjoy the visit while out this way. Coming in from the end of the 564 is fun if you love steep winding gravel roads. None the less the view is amazing, as you are high up on a bench that gives you a commanding view to the north of not only the badlands along the Red Deer river,but also further north across the river valley, where the Hand Hills are visible on the northern horizon.
 By the time I was within the last few kilometers of reaching the Red Deer river valley, I had captured a number of photos that I was pleased with, including a stop at the wind farm that highway 564 dissects with 55 turbines located there.
Of course you know that I don't go anywhere without my cameras, and its a given that whatever my plans for the day are, photography plays a part of it.
For me photography is not only about documenting my goings on, but also is about communicating an emotion. Taking it one step further, one of the most important aspects of being able to communicate an emotion through a photograph is the proper use of light. While there are certainly many other aspects of photography, the one common requirement needed for all photographs is light, and if the light is wrong, the photograph fails!

What is the best light?, that depends entirely on what emotion you are trying to convey at the time you compose and shoot the scene presented before you. A photographer that wishes to communicate the delicacy of a flower will choose a different light than one who is photographing a city-scape, or in my case the light at sunrise. That being said, a large number of images are taken in the outdoors where the photographer, and this would be myself on most mornings, wants to communicate the beauty of the natural surroundings of the environment and what resides within it. In this case, the best light is often a soft, warm, directional light that creates saturated colors and soft highlights and shadows.

Those were some of the thoughts coursing through my mind upon arriving at my destination located on the ranch owned by my friend Doug, where I got set up to operate some HF from the top of a butte overlooking a stunning landscape that included vistas I planned on capturing images of when there were lulls in the action on the bands. However conditions were good on both 17 meters and 40 meters over the course of the time that I spent operating the HF bands on this day.

Besides operating my Yaesu FT-897D on HF with my 10-60 meter vertical antenna, the antenna that I designed and built and I will be writing a construction article on, I was also running tests on my portable solar panel setup, having acquired an additional solar panel recently, that I re-wired allowing the panels to be daisy-chained together as seen in the various photos included here.

My power source for the Yaesu FT-897D is my 12 volt power can with the batteries being maintained by the two solar panels.
 The charge is being controlled by the charge controller inserted between the solar panels and the power can batteries.
The solar panel on the left is a 40 watt 2.4Ah unit, and the solar panel on the right is a 20 watt 1.2Ah unit.
Together, their combined 60 watt output to the 7Ah charge controller is 3.6 amps of charge output that keeps the batteries in the power can charged and my FT-897D transmitting with a full 100 watts when required.

Also due to the fact that my FT-897D has the optional Yaesu internal battery packs installed in the battery tray located in the bottom of the transceiver, and with the output of the 12 volt battery charger connected  to the back of the transceiver, the batteries in the battery tray can be charged by having the input of the 12 volt charger connected to the power can, while at the same time the batteries in the power can are being maintained by the solar panels/charge controller.
 The solar panels were carefully chosen to have the necessary capacity to maintain the batteries of the power can, as well as the internal batteries of the transceiver while operating on HF.
 When its time to pack up, the two panels are physically sized to be stored in the emergency preparedness storage box being used as the operating table for my HF rig.

All in all, the day was a success, with many contacts placed in the log, tests run on my solar panels proving successful, and of course it goes without saying, many photographs shot through the course of the day while visiting the grasslands of southeastern Alberta.

Note....all photographs expand.

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