Free advice for Portable Operators

(Updated May 15, 2009)

We all know what free advice is worth, but I offer the following in hopes that some of you may avoid the idiotic mistakes that I have made over the years.  These are in no particular order.

1.  Read my suggestions for rovers.  Many of them also pertain to portable operations

2.  Shoot beam headings.  As soon as you have your antennas set up, take a compass and orient yourself.  Draw a diagram showing beam headings for known operating locations, large mountains, etc. and sketch in landmarks so you will know how where point your antennas.

3.  Try it out.  If possible, run schedules on all bands prior to the contest.  This will give you a chance to check out beam headings and get a feel for your location.

4.  Get some local support if you can.  The local guys know the roads, the landowners, county mounties, etc.  A scouting trip into a new area is a good idea.

5.  Take emergency gear.  This includes a cell phone, jacks, tow ropes, lights, lanterns, etc.

6.  Set up a sign out front.    It is amazing what a difference this can make when you have visitors.  If you are on public land visitors will include local yokels, police officers, forest rangers and ranchers that are concerned about their cattle.  A sign out front makes all the difference in the world.  My favorite is "DANGER, 1,000,000 Ohms!!!"

7.  Keep a clean camp.   The first thing that I do is grab a garbage bag and pick up all of the trash in the immediate area.  This makes for a nicer camp, and if a police officer or landowner visits it is great PR - be sure to keep the bag out in sight and mention that you have cleaned the place up.

8.  If there is ANY fire danger, have an axe and a shovel handy.  I also take a compressed air powered H2O fire extinguisher with me and put them all together in a prominent location.  If police officers or rangers perceive that you are a responsible individual they are much less likely to hassle you or run you off.