Operating QRP/P with the JPC-12 portable vertical antenna and the Icom IC-705. It was sent over from Pileupdx.com in Sweden for testing and review.
Last weekend, OH8HUB and I were out QRP/P with our Icom IC-705. I was testing the JPC-12 1/4 wave vertical antenna sent over from PileupDX. It was my second time out with this interesting antenna, and it didn’t disappoint!
Initially skeptical about such a “small” antenna, especially after my poor experience with the creative marketing from Alpha Antenna,I was cautious. Not one to be easily impressed, this shortened quarter wave vertical antenna was perfect for a quick deployment in harsh conditions, where balancing a quick setup time with reasonable performance was important. Operators don’t expect miracles from compromise antennas. We just expect them to do what it says its going to do on the tin.
The goals for this outing
- Understand how easy the JPC-12 was to setup
- Understand how easy the antenna was to tune.
- Run FT8 on 20 meters at 10 watts to see what we hear, and who hears us.
- Check Winlink emails from a regional station within Scandinavia on 20meters.
- Understand how difficult re-packing the antenna will be, during the teardown.
The JPC-12 is extremely easy to set up. There are only a few pieces to the system, all of them going together easily by hand. An especially nice touch was the single ring terminal counterpoise wire harness. No fumblining with multiple connection points, the counterpoise wires were all in parallel with a single ring terminal. The terminal connects to the ground spike. The wires were a little fiddlyin the heavy wind, but worked well. Although resonant wire antenna are the best option for performance, it i since not needing an additional mast to lift that wire up in the air. There are not always trees near the setup location, so the ground mounted vertical was an excellent option.
Tuning was extremely easy! The JPC-12 is resonant on one band at a time. If you want to change bands, you’ll be heading outside to do so. The nice thing is the sliding coil contact. To tune, we move the contact higher or lower on its rail, then fine-tune with the telescopic whip. It certainly helps to dial it in with an antenna analyzer, or an SWR sweep directly on the radio. Once tuned (and despite the heavy wind) the antenna stays locked on frequency. I would suggest the manufacturer add a knob to the contact slider, making iteasier to move it up and down the rail.
FT8 was an absolute blast on the JPC-12. As you all know, I only use FT8 for antenna testing. The results were better than expected. Not being new to FT8, I understand how it can skew our perception of “good performance”, so I’ll come back with Winlink later on. Nevertheless, regional coverage was excellent. Coverage across EU, Asia and North Africa were excellent. Coverage into South East China and down into Australia were unexpected at that time of day and power level. This setup got me into Australia on FT8 with 10 watts. The performance was honestly kind of surprising (in a good way).
The Winlink connection was solid and reliable.I connected to LA1B in SW Norway. It was an easy connection, using Vara HF on 20 meters. It was even possible to send out a small image to another portable station operating in Hattiesburg MS in USA, with this connection.
System teardown on took a minute or two. The spray from the sea made it difficult to get a grip on the components to unscrew them. Dry hands help! Having this poor wx experience, one suggestion would be neoprene or rubber coated gloves to disassemble the components. Winding the counterpoise wires was uneventful. I may update this part of the post after the next deployment. This is when we find out if the counterpoise wires are a tangled mess next deployment, or good to go. So far so good.
As a ground mounted vertical, this antenna performed extremely well. Tuning was possible between 40 meters and 6 meters with good results. I’m curious how the salty Gulf of Bothnia air will affect this antenna in the long term, but it already seems reasonably well protected.
For the arctic operators, this antenna comes with a ground spike If the ground gets frozen were you are as it does here, deep winter deployment will be a no-go without some other sort of ground mounting system.
As far as long-term performance, I promised to send this antenna back to Pileup after testing and grabbing clips. If you would like to see a long term review or see more of this antenna as part of the channel/blog, bug Pileup! Alternatively, help me get one for the channel.
Lots of effort goes into these posts. Researching each component, software application, strategy, pragmatic field testing. When you see these posts, the mistakes and blunders have already been filtered out. If you find any value in that, share this post and/or buy me a rootbeer.