Sonoran Desert Camo

... How to blend in
while operating in the desert Southwest.

Sonoran Desert Horizon/Skyline
Hidden vehicle, all mode ham station, 80m antenna
Here's the
Sonoran Desert wilderness
inside the Phoenix city limits!

There is a lot going on in these pics.
Some of it not so obvious.

Most of what you see is creosote bush
palo verde trees, sahuaro cactus and sand.

The location is 0.3 miles from a highly traveled,
very busy city street.

If you look closely you might be able to see
high tension power lines in the distance.
Those are just under one mile from the
camera viewpoint.

My campsite is just about dead center
in the photos. If you were able to see it
you'd find a Chevy Astro van, a QRO, all mode
all band amateur radio station,
and an 80/40m dipole with it's center point
18 feet off the ground.

Can you see my operating position?

Where's the van? See the van yet?

You see a lot of vertical elements
in these photos. Some are cactus. Some are
utility poles in the distance.

One of them is the 18 ft center support
for my asymmetrical dipole.

Can you tell which is which?
There's the van! There's the top of the van.

It's dead center on the horizon,
below the largest mountain in the
center of the photo.

Look for the 'hard edge' shape
of the top of the van. It's one of the
few horizontal visual elements in the photos.
The van is facing the right side of the pic,
perpendicular to the camera line of sight.

The vertical element sticking up from the van
is the 18 ft center upright support
for my wire dipole.

View from the roadAnother view from the road View from the road.

Sadly, like a lot of remote areas
this area attracts the idiots that
dump their old appliances, landscape waste
even toxic stuff like old motor oil.
The unofficial name I've given to this
desert road is 'Purple Couch Road',
named as you would guess, because
someone dumped a bright purple couch
in the desert about 100 yards from here.

If you (or one of the idiots) drove by my site
this is what you'd see.
There IS a van in there!There IS a van in there! Maximum Exposure

Pic on the far left is the
'best view' any passing 4x4, ATV,
hiker or equestrian would ever have
while looking directly toward my site,
IF they took their eyes off the rough road.
And that 'best view' would only last a brief
moment. Then as they passed, I would again be
blended into the desert by the surrounding foliage

Pic on the right is what you would finally see
if you were to make your way down the animal trail
and come to the clearing where I'm parked.

My perimeter alarm(s) would let me know
you were coming, long before you knew
you had reached me.
Dipole AnchorDipole Anchor Closeup Asymmetrical 80/40m Dipole

The center pole in the above photo supports
a wire dipole that is an 80m quarter on one side
a 40m quarter on the other side. I use it on
all bands, 80 through 10. It yields about
3-4db gain on 20m.

These 'flying saucers' are the terminal
anchor points for the dipole. They are designed
as dog tie-out anchors and have a 6 ft length
of wire rope attached. The dipole
wires are each tied to a 100 ft length of
camo woven parachute cord. So the end result
is a slightly inverted V, depending on
how far out I'm able to extend the anchors.

In an area where there might be 4x4s or dirt
bikes, I'll sometimes hang yellow caution
tape near eye level on the dipole/guy legs
(not shown), or better, move to a more remote spot.
Dipole wire reel, looks like trashJust another piece of trash in the desert (not) My cable reel.
Looks like trash.

The wire and parachute cord that forms
the legs of my dipole, are wound onto
old, plastic, wire reels. I found the
reels right here in the desert. I've
added some wooden chair legs and dowels
to make reeling easier.

To the casual eye, the reels, even when
deployed, look just like another piece
of desert trash. A passerby might certainly
see it, but it wouldn't look out of the
ordinary or desirable in the least.
Big Sahuaro CactusMore Big Sahuaro Cactus
Big Sahuaro CactusMore Big Sahuaro Cactus
Tall Monsters!

These huge 'organ pipes' are Sahuaro Cactus.
They are a protected species. Actually,
all plants in the desert (or any wilderness)
are typically protected. It is unlawful
and environmentally irresponsible to
remove or deface any vegetation.
That includes tying ropes to them.
Let the huge monsters live.


That means if you find Sahuaros
try and camp there. It's usually a little
cooler and a little shadier, than areas
with plants that don't require as much water.


Be Aware! Most animals will hide,
run, shy away, whenever humans approach.
But coyotes, big cats, feral dogs, anything
that is hungry enough, and that has been
forced from it's natural habitat by human
incursion, will do whatever necessary to survive.
Arm yourself with pepper spray and
Be prepared to dash into your vehicle
for protection. Don't leave food out
where animals can smell/see it. Coyotes
and Pumas will swoop through campsites
with more quiet and stealth than you could
ever imagine. MANY domestic poodles and other
pet dogs are taken by coyotes and birds of prey
every year in the desert.


ALWAYS look down at where you are stepping.
Snakes are very, very camouflaged and will sit
very, very still waiting for their prey to move.
If you happen to stick your foot in front of
their 'hunting ground' they will very likely
strike you out of either fear, defense, or the
desire to eat.

Backyard Remote!
Backyard Remote
Camouflage Antenna Mast
Snorkel Antenna
World's Largest Discone Antenna
Giant Discone
Camouflage Screwdriver Mobile Antenna
Camo Screwdriver
Rapid Deploy Station
Rapid Deploy Station
Operating with the Scorpions and Rattlesnakes
Urban Desert Ops
Map of my world wide QRP contacts!
My Contacts
Vertical emt Conduit Antenna
EMT Conduit Antenna
Blending in to the desert, or anywhere!
Desert Camo
2m Beam from neighborhood garbage!
Recycled 2m Yagi
AS3900 Mil Mobile Antenna as Temp Base
Mil Mobile Base
6m Ground Plane from Recycled Beach Umbrella
6m Ground Plane
Where Am I?
APRS Tracking
Repainting the Yaesu 857 - OLIVE DRAB!?
Green Radios
Take Me Home!
Return to QTH

The rest of my life?
Craig 'Lumpy' Lemke