Having entered Beru for many years as a serious contestant from UK and
other pink bits I thought it time to volunteer to give points away for a
change. Presumably, judging from the speed my offer was seized upon, no
one else thought that way! We started the weekend not knowing what to
expect – after the AFS fracas last week would there be much activity?
Would the SARL event cause big problems? Not wanting to let Bob and
other Beru stalwarts down we had decided to carry on as normal.

No Mega-station here – my home station is a “classic” tri-bander and
wires set-up, with an aged FT1000mp and a shiny new KPA500 Linear. The
beam is an A4s, with the extended driven element for 40m. For 80m I have
a near-vertical which slopes from the top of the 55 ft tower to a corner
of the garden. Despite not having much space for radials this is
surprisingly good for DX but several S-points down on a dipole for UK
stations. Hence I also have a dipole at 70 feet for that band. This
set-up was enough to make us the leading G multi-op station last year.
We used my “reserve” FT1000D for some spotting.

Operating was shared with my neighbour, G4HVC, who last year helped me
with the multi-op entry. We did toy with the idea of a multi-two effort,
as he also has a similar antenna set up as me at his QTH less than 100
yards away. However we were informed that the HQ station had to comply
with the multi-op rule regarding a single transmitted signal. Since the
HQ station is not actually competing with anybody, but trying to
maximise the number of points given away, perhaps the Commttee would
reconsider this for the future. Interlocking the stations as for HF NFD
would have been a possibility, but as we have both been hospitalised
recently we didn’t have time to progress that idea. We would of course
have had to specifically request the NoV be applied to both QTHs. We had
interlinked our stations previously, for a multi-single entry in CQWW
RTTY, all our equipment being easily within the radius allowed by CQ.

To be seeking out other UK stations seemed a bit odd at first,
especially on the higher bands. It was interesting that on 10m and 15m
most UK stations were very weak as expected, but conversely many were
very loud on 20m. In terms of “normal” Beru QSOs, 10m was significantly
down on last year.

We did have a very high noise level on 10m which had not been present in
the days before the contest, still not certain of the source. So if you
could hear us but not get a response on 10m our apologies. We were very
frustrated, as we could see from RBN reports that we were radiating OK
and would like to know how others fared on 10m.

Conditions seemed quite good on the other bands, including on 80m during
the night. The 20m opening to ZL and then VK at around 04:00 was
present again this year, and some of those signals were very loud
against a quiet background. The low-band dawn path to VK didn’t seem as
good as usual, but of course we were being called by strong UK stations
which might have masked some callers. High spots on 20 were working
Tonga and North Cook, I’ve probably never worked either of those in Beru

Some sixteen UK stations worked us on five bands, but many more had us
on four, 10m usually being the one missed. In total we made 715 QSOs,
about half being with UK. On 80m the majority were with G, but we did
manage 28 DX contacts, about the number I normally achieve. Sadly none
of the African stations were worked on 80m.

In general a fun weekend, but I think I will go back to making a normal
entry in future. The DX-er in me wanted to concentrate on finding the
bonuses, especially on the low bands!

Thanks as ever to the Travellers, without whom the Contest would lose a
lot of its unique flavour. Possibly I will be tempted to re-activate
J88DR next year – my antennas and rotator are still there.

We logged with N1MM, which allows a station to work other stations in
the same Commonwalth Call Area as long as the sent exchange incudes
“HQ”. As usual it was flawless. A second, networked, PC was provided at
the spotting position.

Band QSO Call Areas

80 115 23
40 153 33
20 212 71
15 174 59
10 55 26

There didn’t seem to be much activity generated by the SARL non-event,
so we probably need not fear that in the future. However the TARA
contest on 80m was another matter. That was the cause of us spending an
hour on 3509 kHz. We couldn’t find a slot above, and with some
trepidation went below 3510. We had noted that other Beru stations had
done the same and figured that many UK stations in the 12 hour classes
were probably waiting to bag our bonus points before closing down.
Hopefully the adjudicator will be tolerant as we as a non-competitor did
not do it to benefit our own score and the TARA QRM was probably not
envisaged. We did QSY above 3510 as soon as we found a free channel.

73 Dave G3TBK