Overnight ham radio activation in Hailuoto, Finland

Our operation was in Hailuoto, a small island (200.53 km²) in the Gulf of Bothnia with a population less than thousand people. Together with Julian, OH8STN, we operated from protected flora & fauna (Natura2000) site. This is my story about our overnight expedition.

A beautiful sunrise halo on Saturday morning (09:27 local time)

We departed to catch the 11:00 ferry to the island and arrived just in time to enjoy a lunch in Kahvila Loma. Their burgers are outstanding! Then we picked up salt, pepper and butter from local grocery store to season our dinner, and purchased beef sirloin and beef jerky from local farm shop.

Our chosen protected flora and fauna (WWFF) area was the same as we had in our last trip to Hailuoto. You can read up everything about it from our last activation report. Quick recap: A Natura2000 nature protection area on the south part of Hailuoto island called Pöllä just next to the small airfield (ICAO: EFHL).

Since our plan was to spend a night in the tent and the weather forecast didn’t look forgiving — 17–18 m/s winds with gusts up to 25 m/s, and snowing— extra time was spent to select a good spot for our shelter. High winds meant no solar power. Day is also less than nine hours long so if sun is up, it’s not up for long.

Tent and antennas partially hidden between spruces to give us some shelter from cold north breeze.

After all the necessities like shelter, heat source and pile of logs ready to go were up it was time to start setting up the stations. Then a problem surfaces!

A small boat next to our chosen camp place.

A need for the Plan B

I forgot my FT-891 power cable! My station setup has way too many cables: power cables for radio and tuner, USB cables for radio and audio interface, a cable and a coax between radio and tuner, and what else. If one of the cables is left out the station is incomplete and can’t function 100%. Missing the power cable meant I couldn’t do anything.

But OH8STN had two radios and offered me to try his TX500. To make things simple we decided I go with SSB voice. No computers involved. Only 10W power output and current band conditions meant I might have a struggle to operate on voice.

But this radio is awesome! For small and lightweight device it has beautiful bright and sharp black and white screen and front panel full of dedicated buttons for important things. Basic things were easy to use and the user interface was easy to figure out. It’s definitely a radio I’d like to have.

A quick review: Lab599 Discovery TX-500

Pros:

  • Awesome display
  • Good buttons and enough of them (no deep menu hierarchies)
  • Construction feels really sturdy

Cons:

  • The headphone jack placement on mic
  • The headphone jack gave audio only to left channel

The WWFF Activation

I was prepared to do SSB contacts if my laptop had issues so I had paper log sheets printed and pencils sharpened. A quick self advertisement to WWFF cluster and the first log page (20 contacts) was full in twenty minutes.

Later on Friday after a dinner a second self advertisement to cluster led to two more contacts. This time no Finnish stations but Estonia and Poland.

The next morning, Saturday, my self advertisement generated quite a pileup. Many Finnish stations, and Slovenia, Italy, Poland and Ukraine all wanted to have contact with me!

Video from our trip

Every time we go out operating portable we learn something new. See what Julian, OH8STN gathered from our expedition from his video in Youtube: “QRP Radio Camping in a storm”.

Summary

With meager 10W output on TX-500 and 80m end-fed half wave (EFHW) antenna, the total of 60 SSB contacts was a success in my criteria. And I want to do more SSB activations in the future. Data modes like FT8 gets boring really fast.

Operation details

  • Date: Friday 2021–10–22 to Saturday 2021–10–23
  • Time on air: Friday: 14:00–19:00 UTC (17:00–22:00 local time, UTC+0300), Saturday: 07:00–09:00 UTC (10:00–12:00 local time, UTC+0300)
  • Callsigns on air: OH8HUB/P (op. Ossi), OH8STN/P (op. Julian)
  • Maidenhead grid: KP24IX53RC
  • WWFF area: OHFF-0970, Kirkkosalmi
  • IOTA: EU-184, Hailuoto
Screenshots to prove we are operating inside the WWFF OHFF-0970 area and weather observation to nearby weather station.

Co-founder and R&D lead of @sensorfu. Interested about software and network security.

Co-founder and R&D lead of @sensorfu. Interested about software and network security.