Arctic Field Test Chameleon EMCOMM III Portable

Hello Operators.

Today I’m at KP26JL. This is between Rovaniemi and Yli-Tornio Finland. The goal of todays trip is to deploy the solar powered Field Station. Beyond that, there’s a few questions I’d like to answer.

  • How long will the 10ah LiFePO4 pack last powering the radio and the Raspberry Pi? Also, how much voltage will the battery pack have at the end of the day?
  • Will the PowerFilm fm16-7200 keep up with the pack depletion?
  • I’ll deploy the Chameleon EMCOMM 3 Portable without a tuner. My hope is to make it outside of Europe with ft8, and reaching some of the other operators in the portable digital & qrp fb group.

Antenna configuration

I deployed the antenna in an inverted V configuration. The apex of the antenna was about 5 meters up, suspended from a birch tree. The end of the wire and the transformer were terminated with two other birch trees. A coaxial cable with built-in balun connected the transformer to the Yaesu ft-891.

On the air

Having heard the solar forecast for this weekend, I didn’t have very much hope. The band was extremely quiet with most of the activity coming from ft8. To my surprise there was also sstv activity on 20m. It seems the digital modes are King during times of low propagation. SSB and CW were almost nonexistent on 20m.

Slow start?

The beginning of the day looked like this. EU coverage was easy at best, but one of the operators from the portable digital & group, informed me that I was making it into North America as well. I really didn’t expect that from this antenna, but I should have known, since its older brother has been up on the tower for a while now.

When we deploy a Broadband antenna, we do so understanding the price of convenience or not needing a tuner may be some losses. Broadband antennas are less efficient than a resonant antennas, but sometimes are very much worth it. Today, sitting in the the forest, in the middle of nowhere, operating the station which probably shouldn’t work in the first place, but it was. Imagine my surprise when I realized my station is being heard across the northern hemisphere. Well… something is working!

The most successful activity on this day was a completed QSO with a JH station on 20M with FT8. (Check the video on instagram, or scroll down to the bottom of this page). In addition to this, my station continued being heard in North America throughout the day. By the end of the day, I was also being heard in Australia. This is pretty darn impressive for a station that fits inside ammo can.

By the end of the day, the psk reporter page looked unimaginable.

Again, man portable field station, middle of nowhere, on battery power, Broadband antenna, …

The propagation was also in the pooper, and I didn’t expect much. So what did we achieve today?

  • The Chameleon EMCOMM 3 Portable seems insane. Sure propagation can help, but I think they’ll be no arguments if I say there was none. Moderately Easy QSO to JH while man portable. I wish it were lighter but, it seems like a good option for the field radio operator who needs to rely on a single antenna.
  • I can now fit my entire HF station in an 556 ammo can. This was critically important to achieve, because it shows us that a Digital HF station is possible, even when operating man portable.
  • Battery power is no more a limitation to the field radio operator.
  • The PowerFilm Solar FM16-7200 is insane. It kept the station running and the battery topped up for the entire 6-7 hour run. I was also able to measure it solar collection while partially shaded, which proves the point of amorphous solar panels in the field. This panel is quite incredible!

About the Chameleon EMCOMM 3 Portable

The Chameleon EMCOMM 3 Portable is a kind of Leatherman or Swiss army knife of portable HF antennas.The EMCOMM 3 Portable antenna is well-made and weatherproof. it serves well as your single antenna for hiking, backpacking, tent camping or Overland adventures. it’s not the lightest antenna to carry, but is the most robust. This makes it a natural choice for rapid deployment, Amateur Radio Emergency communications.

You can get more information about the EMCOMM III PORTABLE from Chameleon Antenna. As soon as this antenna is available on Amazon all add links to it here.

Previously we were limited by a number of things in the field. Batteries, weight, output power for emergencies, antenna configuration possibilities, …

Batteries and solar power don’t have to be a limiting factor anymore, Even our antennas are becoming easy to carry, and esier to deploy, with fewer compromises. The weight of our gear is even coming down making it more practical to be man portable in the backcountry.

So, the next time someone says “there is always limitations being man portable in the field”, I’ll laugh hysterically at them.

A battery and solar powered Field Station isn’t a limitation any longer!


Julian oh8stn
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