FT8 & the Chameleon EMCOMM 3 Part 1

Hello Operators.
Last Christmas I received three new antennas from Chameleon Antenna.

  • Chameleon EMCOMM 3
  • Chameleon EMCOMM 3 LITE
  • Chameleon TD (Terminated Dipole)

You’ve already heard me mention the Chameleon TD terminated dipole being the primary antenna system for the solar powered Field Station project. You’ve probably never heard me mention the other two antennas which arrived at the same time. Today we are talking about the Chameleon EMCOMM 3 LITE.

Antenna Family

All three of these antennas are very similar in design. The EMCOMM 3 is the powerhouse fixed installation or high power field station version. The LITE is the 100w SSB/50w CW-DATA ultra-portable sibling. Then there is the ALE/MARS compatible TD version, also 100w SSB/50w CW-DATA. It’s a near twin of the EMCOMM 3 LITE, with a few subtle differences. We’ll cover those differences in another post or video. All three of these antenna systems are smaller, lighter, and easier to deploy than the originals they replace. the differences are not just cosmetic though!

On Air testing

For a little more than a week I’ve been testing the EMCOMM 3 using FT8. Before you scold me, I’m using FT8 as a more Interactive alternative to WSPR. Like WSPR, I can get near instantaneous results of how the antenna performs and where it is most effective. moreover I have the added benefit of actually having a qso (critical info, location, snr, …) with the station I’m reaching out to.

I have the EMCOMM 3 on the tower in a sloping configuration, close to 360 degrees north. This is a temporary configuration, allowing me to get some idea of performance compared to the other wire antennas, I’ve had up on the tower before.

Reception on the antenna is actually quite amazing, even with the antenna sloping towards the North, I’m still able to hear stations all over Europe easily and as far away as the Falkland Islands, South Korea and Japan consistently! In fact reception is so good that I wondered what sort of mode FT8 really is. On the transmit side of things, I’ve completed ft8 qsos with stations all over Europe, and the Oddball in South Korea. I’m also being spotted consistently in North America and Asia. All during the horiffic propagation were having during this testing period.

What’s under the hood?

I promised not to give too much away about these three new antenna updates, until chameleon antenna releases that information themselves. What I will tell you is enormous effort has been on reducing losses, over the systems they replace. So these three new updates will certainly be a viable QRP/QRO option, for a rapid deployment antenna system.

Slight modification

I made a slight modification to the way the housing was mounted on the wire winder. Initially the coax cable came off of the right side of the housing. In my opinion, it is more practical to have the coax connector and the weight of the coax hanging along the wire Winder, in line with gravity. This reduces Hang Ups during tree deployments, and takes the stress away from the coax connector. I proposed this change to chameleon on the final product. Let’s see if the suggestion makes it to production. Even if it doesn’t it’s an easy mod if one likes it this way.

Personal thoughts

Chameleon Antenna has recognized the need for better performing, field deployable antenna systems. Antenna systems light enough in weight that they can actually be carried, deployed, and used by man portable operators in the field. these are antenna systems striking that fine balance between performance and only having to carry one antenna. I wasn’t a big user of the original EMCOMM II, but its big brother the CHA TD, was on my tower for nearly a year. you’ve all seen what I have done with that antenna.
There’s no Miracles here! Theses antennas solve a problem all field operators have which is a reduction in gear without the hit in performance.

I’ll close this by telling you my plans for the three antenna system

  • Chameleon EMCOMM III This antenna is going on the tower. for the time being it’s going to be my primary antenna system for Digital Communications on HF.
  • Chameleon EMCOMM III LITE This is going to be one of rapid deployment antennas. it’ll be an alternative to the shortened verticals that I carry now.
  • Chameleon CHA TD this is the primary ALE compatible antenna system for the Solar Powered Field Station

Incoming blogs and videos

Julian oh8stn

Spread the love