A few graphs for you ….
A few graphs for you ….
A few notes on my usual points: propagation motivation stamina running. Propagation in a word “wasn’t” (as in “wasn’t there”). Again. This year there was an additional layer to my standard statement “There is only so much you can do with LP and an 80/40 vertical”: a layer of noise and very strong QSB. I had to constantly ask for repeats. Stations going from 599+ to below my noise level within one transmission. Getting just one digit of the exchange per repeat and then parsing/pasting it together (hopefully right) was the name of the game most of the time. Noise I could deal with better this year; I still do not have an RX antenna but I had installed a phase noise canceller and it seems to be helping quite a bit. But that QSB thing was a killer. The rest of conditions as per usual for the last few years: 10 and 15 pretty much dead (I only had one Q on 15 with ZF2CA who was consistently very loud on all bands other than 10 where I heard no one); 20 m – average just uncharacteristically low signals nobody seemed to be strong; 40 – OK by my standards and the way ZL6HQ/2 was coming through the second morning: wow! if everybody was that loud and clear all frustration (and fun?) would be gone; 80 m – noisy but otherwise OK; just really long stretches of “nothingness” because of my set-up. Hearing my “locals” carry on with good rates of running while I cannot hear a thing reminded me of my place on the totem pole: below the big guns below little pistols below BB guns amongst the “pea shooters”. Motivation I thought I had this time. No distractions and full commitment to go 24 hours. (My N1MM+ shows ~20 hours of operating time.) It was the stamina that I had not. I could make excuses that it is not really “morale boosting” when your Q rate in the last 7 hours of a contest is exactly 1 QSO/hour. But it was the stamina that failed me – utterly. Several times towards the end I found myself falling asleep sometimes for extended periods of time. P
A belated pic of the setup at my “new” QTH, which has been awaiting a station for 3 years now. Still engaged with the local planning authority, hence everything has been disguised as far as possible to minimise the view of it from our nearest neighbours 250m away!
73, Peter G3LET
Just a couple of photos of my BERU portable setup at Seddon.
The 80m Windom isn’t visible but the 40m & 20m verticals are, on the edge of a fairly steep 90m-odd drop-off to the valley floor to the north-west. With 100W, I need all the natural help I can get!
Call: VK3MI Operator(s): VK3MI Station: VK3MI Class: SO-Restricted-24 LP QTH: VK3 Operating Time (hrs): 23 Summary: Band QSOs Bonus Pts ----------------------- 80: 57 850 40: 168 1280 20: 82 880 15: 24 410 10: 6 100 ----------------------- Total: 337 3520 Total Score = 5,140 Club: Comments: I again set up a portable station at a rural farm stay about 70 km east of Melbourne, due to the high level of manmade QRN and lack of space for antennas at my city QTH. I hauled up two multiband horizontal dipoles to a height of around 20m between some gum trees – one aimed at North America and the other at Europe. As usual, despite my best plans, it was a scramble to get the station set up in time before the start of the contest. Heavy rain was forecast for the Saturday, so I decided to take time off work and set up the antennas on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, one of the car tyres got a puncture and went flat while driving to the site so I lost several hours getting this fixed. This also meant I was forced to complete the antenna work in torrential rain on Saturday afternoon and ended up finishing in darkness with only 30 minutes remaining before the start of the contest. I than hastily set up the station and computer equipment and was relieved to be able to get on air just in time to catch the short 15M opening to UK at 10:00z. As summarised below, I ended up with a claimed raw score of 337 QSOs and 5140 points, which is a decent improvement over the 272 QSOs and 3930 points that I achieved in 2020. I attribute this to a combination of factors: - Better conditions on the high bands. I managed to make 6 VK QSOs (admittedly at ESP levels) on 10M, compared to nil in 2020. I was also able to work 8 UK stations during a short 15M opening to UK at the start of the contest. I did not hear or work any UK stations on 15M in 2020. - The availability of additional HQ stations from for bonus points - 80M seemed to play better this year and I think this was largely due to my use of horizontal dipoles rather than the quarter wave vertical with elevated radials that I had used in previous years. Vertically polarised antennas seem to suffer from excessive losses at this location due to their proximity with the surrounding trees. - This year I used RG11 rather than RG6 TV coax for the 70m long feedlines between the operating position and the location of the antennas. This reduced transmission losses on 10M and 15M by up to a couple of dB. The only 5 band QSOs were with VK stations but I was pleased to make 4 band QSOs with G3BJ, G6XX and GM6XX. Thanks to everyone for the QSOs and especially the large number of HQ stations for all the bonus points! A special shout out to 5Z4VJ and ZF2CA for their exceptional patience with the many repeats required to pull out my weak signal on 40M and 80M respectively. Radio: FLEX-6400 100W Logging software: WriteLog Antennas: Pair of 80M-10M orthogonal multiband horizontal dipoles (20m height) aimed at North America and Europe Thanks again to everyone for the QSOs and especially all the operators who made the effort to activate the VK HQ stations - the latter certainly helped to boost scores this year. Unfortunately the owner of the rural property that I stayed at for the contest is selling up so I'll be looking for another option next year!
It was a lot of fun. I wished I had been able to use more bands and operate for longer. I will try to encourage the two other cw operators to consider contesting in future, if only to hand out a few multipliers.
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH
This year, VK1WIA, VK2WIA, VK3WIA, VK4WIA, VK5WIA, VK6WIA and VK7WIA were activated in the Commonwealth Contest. Could we try and get VK8 next year?
Thank you for responding to my call for CW operator assistance. I am certain that all who exchanged numbers with you in the contest, appreciated the bonus points. Some of you experienced extreme weather, antenna failures, logging problems and other commitment conflicts; but that is behind us and now we await the contest results and to plan for next year’s contest.
A special thanks to Andrew for his portable activation of VK1WIA from Red Hill in Canberra. I hope you can do it again next year Andrew, as there are very few CW operators in VK1.
Canada and New Zealand also responded well with additional HQ stations.
I think that this year would have been a record number of HQ stations in the contest.
FYI: A total of 26 VK calls have submitted contest logs.
Lastly, two actions: 1. Send contest photos to email@example.com. Send the ADIF log to the WIA.
From: Andrew VK1DA
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2021 22:11:20 GMT
I received several direct messages about another post-contest logger, but I have successfully captured the log using Fast Log Entry in contest mode, it has keyboard shortcuts for ciphers and reports default to 599, so within a half hour or so my log was finished and the Cabrillo output ready for tidying up, with power level etc.
So with help from Allan VK2GR the file is being checked before upload.
Thanks to all for the contacts. I was operating out of my car on Red Hill in Canberra’s south, about 3 km south of Parliament House. Rig was IC706, antenna a dipole I made for SOTA use, supported on a 7m pole at the feedpoint.
I thought the afternoon/evening conditions on 40m were pretty darn good, I don’t recall working into G at that signal level ever before. Benefits of the sunspot low!
Plans for a better station next time. This was cobbled together hastily when an opportunity became available, I was nearly out of action all weekend due to illness in the family, but that was resolved on Friday.
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH
From: Colin Smithers
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2021 22:07:06 GMT
Last year a Hangouts txt came through from my Camb-Hams chums (the generic name for several Cambridge UK ham groups) mid-contest wondering if I was considering getting home PDQ, given the state of the news with travel shutting down rapidly. I tried not to let it distract me and pressed on, not imagining for a second where we would all be by now.
On my route in via Boston I had met and had dinner with Marty NN1C one of the ZF1A regulars and spoke amongst many other things about the bits I had been accumulating on-island to make the travelling less arduous, now including an older and lightly populated K3.
During the year Marty mailed to check whether my K3 was still there and would I mind it being put to use in their remote operation? The ZF1A regulars have put together an entire remote SO2R multi-op system that has continued to do well in the big rate contests. It’s quite a set-up:
– Two full stations based on remoted K3s and an Acom or OM amplifier
– Shared, band-pass filtered switched antennas
– Remote rotator controls
– For multi-op, logging computers networking from anywhere on the planet
So this year I was ZF2CA remote, as some of you read in a brief snip earlier. As ever, in the run-up work behaves like the dog that knows instinctively that you are going on holiday and plays up, so preparation was behind the curve and sleep not sufficiently topped up.
Conditions started well with low QRN on 80, always a dice throw in the tropics and after a few fumbling minutes I was away to a decent start against all the big VEs – you have to tune the K3 remote head quite slowly but given that it works a treat. There had been high winds so the 80m beam was fixed NE, but it didn’t seem to matter. After 30 mins to 40m and then to 20 where as always it’s like coming out from the dark into the sunlight to find the big VEs a 100 Qs ahead or more. From then it’s trying to keep up, keep your chin up, and remember to QSY every rare opportunity. Must have kicked myself ten times for failing to do this.
Operating wise, it is too easy to think ‘I’m the mult, I’ll just bash away’ but with all the additional HQ stations this now requires significantly more adaptation, as they too think they are the mult. I was only lightly affected by DQRM but of course had to send ‘BERU, UK, UK PSE’ such a lot. Almost all got the message although one out of character JM really took his time. I was hit by the ‘Give your call’ police a couple of times, unfairly I think because I did my best not to go beyond two Qs. It is important to note that not giving out your all is the best way to moderate and therefore speed up a big pileup, especially with so many piling on zero beat. The smart ones 70Hz either side get the worm first, and usually first go. I wasn’t caught out by too many callsigns although G3DR and GM3DR had me going: I thought you could only have one ‘3DR’ at once, not two. There were a surprising number of dupes, some with low total Qs; I’m sure they know why but it beats me.
Getting the South Africans is always a challenge as they don’t seem to beam west often, but a bit of persistence pays off – and revealed some high Q counts. Then, at 4pm, just as I was working G3TBK on 15 all went dark. My ISP kicked the equipment off and so a router reboot lots of faffing to bring everything back up. Looking now the log shows 35 minutes lost.
A short break for dinner then I dared to take 40 winks. Being in the Remote section I am not up for the big trophies so staying awake for the normal 22.5 hours is suddenly far harder. It wouldn’t matter I thought, daytime path to VK/ZL not quite open yet. Overslept and came down to white noise. No camera looking at the big amps, no Anydesk into the ZF PC, so no antenna director and no ability to switch any antenna, at all. Huh?… Murphy had visited during my slumber!
My PC had done a reset, another in a string that we have all suffered recently. Perhaps a PC reset also in the ZF shack? I WhatsApped site owner Andrew Eden to have a look and he reported a power outage, now restored fortunately. He reset the ZF PC and quickly the cameras and Anydesk were back up, but no antennas. The Green Heron server that ran it was unresponsive. Now feeling I was becoming a bit of a pain I WhatsApped system architect Marty in Boston. He was out, but 30 mins later we were back up. Lost the whole VK/ZL HF opening though, so many mults L. So press on with openings on 40 and 80 before it all slowed right down by about 3 a.m., and some shuteye until 5.30.
Sunday morning is the chance to catch up as the paths to G on 80 and then 40 is somehow better for ZF then than from VE, not forgetting that it is also wide open to VK/ZL and so the chance to pick up a lot of mults. Constant beam switching to be heard by both but listen to one path or the other. But where were they? I was checking my 2019 log which showed the last 45m filled with them, far fewer this year, though loud when they were there. Hmmm.
Switching back I continued trying to winkle out the weaker Gs. In CQ WW I do QRP from the UK and so I recognise the effort I request of the DX end; this is payback time. Most of the calls are familiar and so easier to decode, but then G3JNB. Not such a regular contest call but it rang strong bells and suddenly I recalled this guy Victor whose name was representing Sutton and Cheam RS in one of those fat chrome folders in Cheam library filled with thin carbon copies and that my Mum had found. I must have rung him 20 times but no joy; out of date number I reckoned. I was just 9. He’s got through now!
I eventually became the club ‘mascot’ in short trousers, until replaced by the younger Gary G4IFB, now ZL2IFB. Worked him too!
BAND QSO BONUS HQ DUP POINTS
80 144 23 12 2 720
40 178 41 18 3 885
20 232 34 12 7 1160
15 53 22 5 1 265
10 0 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 607 120 47 13 3030
FINAL SCORE: 6 370