Gabon and Togo join Commonwealth!

Two former French colonies in Africa join the Commonwealth

Short presentational grey line

Gabon and Togo have moved to strengthen their diplomatic armoury in a bid to ease their reliance on France.

They have been admitted to what was originally founded as a club of former British colonies but has been steadily diversifying its composition. These two small francophone African nations are now the Commonwealth’s 55th and 56th members.

Rwanda joined in 2009 and Mozambique came into the group in 1995. None of these states had particular past historical ties to the UK.

The fact that they have opted to join the Commonwealth suggests that they see the organisation as a useful network of diplomatic and cultural influence, and for exercising “soft power” on the world stage.

ZS6R QSL card wanted

My grandfather, JC van Wyk, competed in the Commonwealth Contest throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He was in Johannesburg, South Africa and operating as ZS6R (and, initially, ZS6QF). He took 1st place in the junior section for 11 years in a row (1950-1960).

Now, I would dearly love to find one of his QSL cards (even better if issued during the contest) so I can frame it and put it in a place of honor in my little shack here in Alexandria, Virginia, USA.

If anyone reading this has one of his cards, please email me or respond here. It would mean a tremendous amount to me.

73 de K0RvW ken (at) vanwyk.org
Ken van Wyk

ZF2CA BERU traveller tidbits


From: Colin Smithers
Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2022 20:08:57 GMT

In Bob G3PJT’s excellent history of the contest ‘Reflections in a Rosebowl’, VE3EJ’s tips include topping up on sleep. Not so easy for the traveller. After three or four days of planes, cars, meetings, covid tests, border admin and station prep with added jetlag, the sheer excitement of ‘BERU in the morning!’ means not getting a solid rest that night either. Hours in, and once the adrenalin levels fall off the drowsiness eventually descends and my ability to differentiate between CC and XX disappears. Fortunately the sender slowed right down, helping me back to consciousness – this Caribbean station did claim those bonus points. Those who know me know I can powernap just anywhere, as others of you may have witnessed mid-QSO.

Following someone from band to band is the big fun in BERU. And of course it’s so useful to be able to predict the serial. So when operating SO2R with networked PCs and for the first time the number server issues a number that is out of sequence and back three – what to do? The other end repeats the sent number back with ‘?’, several times. Fortunately VK2GR’s morse was up to reading ‘Nr ok, nr ok, it’s the logger, it’s the logger’.  In the heat of battle fighting the loggers seemed the bigger challenge.

Being let out to roam after Covid the world has changed. It’s now clear to me that hotels everywhere are ‘open’, except that that means: Open apart from the bar and restaurant that shuts early with new (limited) menus, and maybe just shut some days. Oh, and we do not service rooms any more, although on day three you can have a fresh towel and shampoo. And we only allow one staff member on reception at any one time; It’s a Covid thing you know! And don’t mind rust in the plumbing – it soon clears (unlike the water in the shower tray). But as previously stated, they all charge fully. Everywhere is now under new management and with new front of house staff with a consequent loss of corporate memory and new names for bars and rooms. People that knew you and cross-arrangements with other organisations are long forgotten. But being in business, you feel for those who must have lost their shirts.

Fashions have altered too. In bars and restaurants water and soft drinks are now served out of large jam jars with thick, coarse threads – honest!

Renting a car in the Caribbean is always a dice roll. Mostly you pay a lot for a rust bucket with dubious and unbalanced shock absorption, and even more for the insurances (not needing to get into local bother at any cost). You can buy renters insurance – there is a Lloyds policy I believe and which is far cheaper – but the rental companies won’t accept it. For the very first time I had a new model, only 20,000 km on the odo and the kindly manager gave me some sound local advice: “Good, you have all the insurances, but remember not to park under coconut trees – they regard that as negligence.” Just as toast always lands butter side down, it seems coconuts always aim themselves at the windscreen. The true hazard for the uninitiated is, therefore, that the last empty parking spot is always the one under the coconut tree.

73, Colin Zf2CA, G4CWH, M3E

BERU 2022 – G3PJT

9am Saturday morning, just a quick walk down to the antennas to see if all looks OK. That’s odd I could have sworn I parked the Yagi on NE for VK/ZL but its pointing SE, strange. Quick look at the indicator in the shack and yes it says NE! So what’s going on? I found I could turn the beam but the direction was somewhat random in fact when the contest finished the beam was 180 deg out. This made for a challenging contest, lots of rushing back and forth to check the actual yagi direction for the entire contest as the error kept changing.

Nonetheless I thought conditions were quite reasonable and managed to break a few pile ups when the required direction and the beams actual direction were roughly the same. And there were certainly plenty of VK/ZL stations to work but probably fewer VEs than normal.

10m Usual spotty conditions 5X,5Z,9J, ZS around 1030-1300 and then ZF in the afternoon. No VE heard.

15m Outstanding signals from ZL6HQ on 15m SP . Jackie sounded as loud as a local as did VK6T and a nice bonus was ZD7.

20m Plenty of activity but for me no VE7, mystifying.

40m My receiving is limited by noise especially to the NW. and the noise nulling set up is much less effective on 40 than I had hoped. I might change to a rotary dipole this summer as the verticals are picking up too much local noise

80m So transmit on 80m and bang the SWR hits 4:1 the amp says ‘no way jose’ and shuts down. Flash over in ATU. It goes without saying that this did not occur in testing. On 80m though I have at last made some progress on noise reduction. Better engineering for next year. I think I will try shunt feeding the tower next.

On 80 too I should have stayed up later on Saturday but staying awake when the bands go quiet is practically impossible for me these days.

DXLog worked fine and the new version of the software has cured the slow band change problem I experienced in February. I like the SO2V implementation especially.

Looking back at the whole contest I was a bit dispirited with the rotator problem which looks like a complete antenna dismantling to get the rotator out for a new potentiometer(?) to be fitted. Its certainly true that a contest quickly finds the weaknesses in your set up.

See you next year.

BAND QSO BONUS HQ DUP POINTS AVG

———————————

80 18 10 5 0 90 5.0

40 43 33 5 0 215 5.0

20 75 46 8 0 370 4.9

15 41 34 4 0 205 5.0

10 6 5 1 0 30 5.0

———————————

TOTAL 183 128 23 0 910 5.0

=================================

FINAL SCORE: 3 930

BERU 2022 – GB5CC


From: Chris GM3WOJ
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2022 09:37:41 GMT

Hello all

Interesting to read all the reports about BERU last weekend.  It is always enjoyable being an HQ station, so I volunteered to be GB5CC again this year. This callsign has been in use since 1987 (the 50th anniversary of BERU) – I asked OFCOM if I could use the callsign GB85CC this year, but I only thought of this about a week before the event so they said ‘no’.

Out of the 625 QSOs I made, only about 5 stations accused me of being G6HCC. I’m not sure why this happens – one Caribbean station refused to accept that I was sending GB5CC even when I slowed down to 12wpm and sent the callsign with a 2 second gap between the letters 😦   Maybe it’s a code-reader problem – anyway they will lose the points despite my best efforts.

Overall the contest went reasonably well, but as others have mentioned, the edge was slightly taken off things for me by events in Ukraine in the background. A healthy turn-out from VK*WIA stations, but a disappointing number of VE*RAC stations this year. Jacky ZL3CW at ZL6HQ was a loud signal here on 40/20/15m.

The aim of a Bonus station in BERU is to be as available as possible for entrants to work. I did this by having a reasonably strong signal, ceaseless CQing (with some S&P) and having the 2021 winning UK Unassisted entrant’s logfile (thanks Keith GM4YXI / GM5X) to help my somewhat haphazard knowledge of what propagation to expect.

BAND   QSO DUP DXC  HQ  POINTS BONUS   AVG
——————————————–
   80   121   0  14   4     140   460  4.96
   40   178   4  25   7     330  1020  7.58
   20   215   6  33  11     540  1420  9.12
   15    76   0  21   1     150   600  9.87
   10    25   0   6   1      35   140  7.00
——————————————–
TOTAL   615  10  99  24    1195  3640  7.86
============================================
            TOTAL SCORE : 4 835

WinTest does not have a clue about scoring BERU as an HQ station, so the total score above is incorrect.

FTdx101D + K3 + amps.  80m vertical + dipole + 1 Beverage, 40m Force12 2ele yagi, 20/15m Force12 9ele yagi, 10m 5ele YO6.55 yagi.

Many stations worked GB5CC on four bands – the following stations are in the GB5CC log on all five bands :   G4CZB, G3BJ, G4BUO, G3PJT, G3TBK, G4PVM, GM3YTS, M7T, M5DX, G4KNO, G4FNL, G4PIQ, 5Z4VJ, MM0ZBH, GM0GAV, GM4Z.

Thanks to everyone for who worked GB5CC 2022.

73      Chris     GM3WOJ