Here is my experience in the 2019 Commonwealth Contest from a normally RF noise quiet rural QTH, an elevation of 85m and 6km from the Tasman Sea
The QRN on Saturday evening made it heavy going for me on 80m and 40m, due to east coast VK storm activity.
On Sunday morning, from 1640 UTC, the 40m short path was wide open to the UK and I had a nonstop run of 68 contacts. Moving to 80m at 1755, I experienced a fantastic run of 21 contacts on 80m, these were mostly G stations with a couple of ZLs and VKs. I still feel the buzz from this 80m DX experience.
The antennas certainly assisted with the above experience. On 80m the newly erected 2 element wire beam performed better than I had expected. For receive I used 100m long Beverage pointing to the UK. On 40m a ground mounted 4 Square array worked very well on short paths to the UK and Canada but not as well as usual on the long paths for this year.
On 20m I use a 4 element mono-band Yagi. This is where my contest war story started. Let me quote from Nigel’s (3B8XF) email, “During the second QSO at 0257z on 20m you appeared to stop sending very suddenly while sending me your serial number. You just sent me 599 2.. Despite several requests I couldn’t hear you resending the full serial number”.
What happened during that QSO exchange was that the power supply for the tower mounted remote antenna switch blew a fuse, followed by several other fuses that went the same way while attempting to find the problem. The tower was then lowered and tilted over in an attempt to bypass the remote switching box. Low level tests with an antenna analyser appeared OK, however the SWR was too high to use the antenna when it was raised. At least the two RV power winches received a good work out. After 3 hours, a lot of sweat on a hot afternoon and two such tower tilting attempts, I gave up and stayed with 40m and 80m for the remainder of the contest. Overall this was a very frustrating experience and since I have located the intermittent problem to a poor PL259 coax plug termination. Don’t we all love putting coax connectors on the ends of RG213 cable?
My operating time was about 15 hours.
Contact and Score Summary:
Total: 246 Total Score = 3,670
Thank you to all who gave me a call and exchanged numbers during the contest. My plan for next year’s Commonwealth Contest is to grow the 2 element 80m beam into 3 elements……. not something that could be done in my old Sydney suburban QTH!
Allan Mason, VK2GR
Allan Mason, VK2GR