Not one of my better efforts I have to say poor conditions and a number of equipment and other problems rather took the edge of things.
Its always tricky to separate out propagation conditions from other factors when you are operating from a new site. The last time I operated from Barbados was from the super station at 8P9Z and thus a vertical on the cliffs really wasn’t in the same league.
I used the venerable K2 and 100w to two antennas, a vertical doublet for HF fed with open wire line and via an auto tuner, and for 80m I had an inverted L. The vertical had worked great on J6 a few years ago. Both of these antennas suffered problems, for a start the inv L was a pig to get to tune properly. Although the miniVNA showed a good match, the K2 SWR bridge stubbornly disagreed. In the end I found that if you use elevated radials then you need to be careful to choke off any RF on the coax outer else the SWR in the K2 will shut the pa down. A combination of choke balun and more radials did the job. In addition the inv L failed high SWR twice, once before the start, hence the 40m start, and finally just as 80m was opening on Saturday evening. Both cases when it was pitch black, squally and tricky to find your way to fix things.
The K2 had also suffered in transit and the tuning knob has become very stiff to turn. I hope that just the knob has slipped on the shaft otherwise it will be a new encoder. How and when this happened I don’t know but when you are in transit there are plenty of knocks and bumps. And after I got home I found that the Powerpole had melted, I assume it wasnt properly engaged and had been arcing, hence the reports of chirp and a rough note from time to time.And I thought it was just the large wooden parrot casting a baleful eye on proceedings.
Conditions in general at the start of BERU were very quiet and only a few stations were audible on 40. 20 too was not very noisy, 15 and 10 were dead. Not a good omen. E51KTA was loud on 40, pity he couldn’t hear me. Dom was working 9V and VK who were also good signals but CQ s nearby produced nothing. Gives you a feeling that something is not quite right. Now this site is on the cliffs on the east coast of 8P but I was a little concerned to note that in fact it faces south rather than the east I had expected. However electrically it is very quiet I could hear better than I could be heard.
A pattern developed such that I would call people, no-one coming back to a CQ, and they didn’t reply. I concluded later that I was not strong enough either to get over their local noise level or in the case of the VE s, strong enough to be heard of the side of their beams when they are working UK/Med.
I now experienced a problem I have never had in BERU, a cockerel got into the villa and I spent a frantic 15mins chasing it around with a broom until it escaped outside. A sense of humour failure was much in evidence.
So the first part of this BERU was S and P with short runs on 20m. I was slowly ( quickly !) slipping behind my 2016 target from J34G. The stiff tuning knob on the K2 didn’t help .
The remote tuner is pain for band hopping as there is a finite retuning time. Never again, resonant antennas with a switch for the future. The Butternut will be brought out of retirement yet again.
There were many notable signals. 9G5X was just a huge signal with a huge pile up seemingly all the time. E51KTA was strong too as were several of the Gx80CC stations. It will be interesting to check when the logs are analysed that the usual quiet times in the early UK morning have been filled in a bit. Nice to to work 3B8/G3TXF, its a long way from the Caribbean to Mauritius.
I usually operate the full 24 hours if possible but this year I had a 4 hour sleep from 2100 to 0100 local as I had lost 80m.
BERU seemed hard work this year and rather frustrating with the conditions and other trials.
One thing which really impressed me was the Barbados licencing office. You have to re-apply each January for an annual licence so I sent the completed licence forms with 30USD about a month before the trip. And they replied within 7 days of receipt by email with a pdf licence for my old call. When I congratulated the lady on this super service she said if I wanted a paper copy to drop by their office and she would let me have one but actually just print one off for yourself and don’t bother to come in. Ofcom could learn a lot from them.
Barbados Airport is becoming very congested due to the number of cruise ship passengers transiting the ship terminal and airport immigration queues of up to 2 hours are common at weekends I was told. So we bought a Fast Track service to bypass the wait. DX Travellers will know about the necessity of arranging a ‘fixer’ to get through immigration in some of the more out of the way spots. Fast Track is the same thing in the first world. An important side effect is that those of us with fishing poles without fishing gear or ski bags without skis or lots of electronics can just pass rapidly through the system, very useful.
Operating time : 14h05
BAND QSO DUP DXC HQ POINTS BONUS AVG
80 32 0 4 3 160 220 11.88
40 160 2 21 9 800 820 10.13
20 134 2 17 7 670 760 10.67
15 36 0 15 4 180 480 18.33
10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
TOTAL 362 4 57 23 1810 2 280 11.30
TOTAL SCORE : 4 090
I also managed a visit to the local Barbados club at their rather fine clubhouse on the west side of the island close to Oxnard village . Here you can see the log periodic thaty have for HF. I was told the site has become very noisy due to all the building of houses on the other side of the road.
Here is a view of the HF operating position.
They had a lecture from the President of the Barbados Astronomical Society, Victor Small (left ) here with the Chairman Ron 8P6SL of the Barbados Amateur Radio Club.
A lot of interest was expressed in a collaboration communication project.