ZF2CA 2020The World Travellers team has been discussing the merits and demerits of finding yourself in a strange shack with a couple of days to go before the contest is due to start. There are always issues.

The plusses this year are that the team of US regulars visiting ZF1A have been improving the antennas by swapping some out and adding more,  and adding further switching and triplexing/quadruplexing so that any band can access any antenna at any time. Joy!

The trouble is that the antennas are big and the winds strong and there are always rotator issues. This year was no exception. The huge (400kg) log periodic is now regarded as ‘fixed toward W6’ and ‘the 2-ele 80m beam has stripped its gearbox again, we leave it pointed North held with ropes, though we have added a 2-ele 40m beam underneath it’.

And then there’s the sundry stuff. I can report doing 3 hours aircon repair training Friday morning, but however failing my finals by lunchtime. Still the ever resourceful host Andrew Eden got a man out and had it sorted by the time I turned up 4am Saturday morning, thank heavens. Doing the last day’s prep at 90 moist degrees and with reduced time was not on the project plan.

I have now brought an underused Tokyo High Power amp out that will stay here and it worked fine despite whatever impact was required during transit to cause one of the 4CX250Bs to come clean out of its socket. And this year XYL Helen has a zero-year birthday on the 14th March itself, though I am not allowed to say which one dah-di-di-di-dit so she has come out to join me. She acted as a fine mule, bringing the 2nd K3 in carry-on and putting the THP in the hold. As usual I went via several  US customer  meetings but Helen came on her own via Miami. Her total training was “Smile sweetly at the girl on the counter as the amp weighs 24kg with a 23kg limit, and put the K3 in its own tray –  you’ll be just fine. Just remember there is ’no lithium’ in the THP, that is all they will ask about” Despite some trepidation, it all worked to plan.

So technical improvements over last year:

  • The Microham SO2R controller RF lock-up problem is fixed with a tragically placed capacitor inside – they have definitely not got RF grounding right, in our out.
  • I have switched to DxLog and, well, saying I’ve mastered it is just a lie, but I push buttons and it seems to work.
  • Beaten myself up with Morserunner set at 40wpm. It does help, though when tired I get bouts of ‘2nd language blindness’ and seem at times to have to decode individual letters.

SO2R is working and is now operator limited.

Operating BERU from the Caribbean starts on 80 then 80/40 and you work all the big VEs and some VK/ZLs. Then something happens and when you emerge in the sunlight on 20 at noon they are always 1-200 Qs ahead. After all the prep and travel and set-up, this comes as the big spiritual test and this student continues to ponder on it.  Somehow you have to try to remember that paths allow a degree of catch-up Sunday morning, the only problem being having to do this on ‘empty’. I am quite sure some of you were repeating serials with no reply owing to my being asleep at the wheel.

Conditions: nothing on ten except some LUs; 15 a real curate’s egg with some patches very good (from memory G4BUO and GW6XX in particular) and a decent run to VK/ZL as predicted. What I didn’t predict was some super loud scallywag calling me by name and sending me halfway up the band to absolutely nothing. 20 worked fine and open very late, my last G was at 22.05, though noise is becoming a problem limiting the weaker stations. I think some lost confidence that I had confirmed as I got ten dupes from stations often with low serials. 40 was good though hard to find rarer stations, but 80 a bit weaker than normal; fortunately QRN was low that can otherwise be devastating here, think I could have done more VK/ZL… next year.

Scores:

Band    QSO    Bonus     Dupes

80        131         32          2

40        262         61          3

20        292        51          10

15          57        37            1

Points broken – we’ll have to wait and see.

Colin ZF2CA