Hi all

As others have already noted, it was hard work making QSOs in Commonwealth contest this year.

My claimed score of 2,205 points score is well down on previous years – mainly due to missing the crucial initial 6 hours of the contest, the limitations of the hastily erected antennas at my new QTH (see below), and very patchy propagation. I’m sorry I could not contribute more points to the VK Team 2 score.

Most of my DX QSOs were on 80M and 40M. I failed to work any call areas beyond VK and ZL on the higher bands except for 9M6/G3VYI, 9V1YC and ZF2CA. I heard 9J2BO calling on 20M around 0500Z but unfortunately he could not hear me.

Getting ready for the contest this year was more challenging than usual as we had just moved into a new rental property. The new QTH is a town house and only has a small back yard of around 70 square metres in size, so no room for the dream antenna farm! However, there is a tall gum tree in the middle of the yard that can be used to support some antennas.

I ran a couple of wires up alongside the gum tree, along with some elevated short radials (9m long), to make a multiband vertical antenna for 80M and 40M.

An antenna for the 20M, 15M and 10M bands was more difficult. I discounted using a multiband vertical for these higher bands as experience suggested that a horizontal antenna at modest height should be more effective and also less sensitive to manmade noise from the dense housing in the neighbourhood. There was not enough room for inverted vee dipoles to be installed at a reasonable height clear of the house so I decided to build a compact multiband dipole (cobweb style) and hang it at about 9 meters AGL from a rope thrown over a limb of the gum tree. I originally intended to complete this task during the daylight hours immediately prior to the start of contest at 9 pm on Saturday. The antenna took longer to make than anticipated (like most antennas do!) and I was also distracted by some domestic duties. I ended up completing the assembly and tuning of the antenna on Saturday evening, and then hauling it into position around 2 am on Sunday morning. After fixing some residual problems with the matching of the 80M and 40M antennas, I finally managed to get on the air and join the contest at 3:15 am! 😊

The cobweb antenna was OK for making local QSOs but I struggled to hear or work many stations beyond VK and ZL. Poor propagation was partly to blame but I’m also suspicious the antenna was not performing as well as expected. The antenna is only just above the roof line of our house so it really needs to be higher, but this is not possible due to tree branches and foliage being in the way. It looks like I will need to consider other antenna options for the high bands before the next contest from this QTH.

Score Summary:

Band QSOs Points

80M 26 520

40M 46 910

20M 25 525

15M 9 225

10M 2 25

Total 108 2205

Equipment used:

Radio – Flex-6300 90W

Antennas – Vertical wires for 80M and 40M, and a cobweb dipole antenna (9m AGL) for 20M, 15M and 10M.

Thanks to the RSGB for running the contest, and to everyone for the QSOs, especially those who travelled to DX locations or operated HQ stations. I look forward to doing it all again next year, and hopefully with a decent set of antennas tested and ready to go prior to the start of the contest!

73, Brian VK3MI