2018 – 9H3ET

Some very interesting posts so far – thanks to all. And good performances under very difficult conditions! For 2018, I returned to Gozo for another Restrricted Unassisted bash as 9H3ET, this time hosted by Colin 9H4CT and his wife Sue – thanks so much to both of them! Their villa is located in San Laurenz, with an excellent take-off across the Med in the favoured directions between NW and S. And as Colin was also looking after the villa next door in the owner’s absence, use was made of their attached small field. Colin had provided an advance plan of the combined site, which allowed for the construction of a custom multi-band wire vertical to be slung from a catenary erected between the roof and my 12m spiderpole, which Easyjet had consented to stow as normal checked baggage. The lower 8 sections of the 12m was mounted on top of an existing 5.7m length of water pipe, giving an overal height of around 45 ft. This left something lacking on 80m and so the balance was arranged to form part of the catenary.

I also brought along a 40m dipole for the UK, which was erected inverted-V style from the combined mast. Colin’s 15m dipole, already in place some distance away, was used for receiving and allowed me to practice some rudimentary SO2V, when combined with my set of ((hitherto unused) 5B4AGN filters. This facility, along with my Elecraft P3, helped find several bonuses that would otherwise probably have been missed, although lack of experience in the overall technique gave rise to some issues while running – apologies to those on the receiving end of these!

The vertical was fed against tuned counterpoises around 80cm above some nicely watered ground, thanks to rain the previous week and the combined antenna system proved adequate to easily work Nigel on all bands, with excellent signals.

The main gremlin, discovered a couple of hours into the event, was that I had “lost” the cat control port to the K3 and had been operating mainly 20m while logging on the default band of 80m. I discovered this after successfully moving with Brian 9J2BO from 15m to 10m and being rewarded with a dupe! Frantic attempts to recover from this situation being unsuccessful, many of my eventual legit 80m QSOs were also signalled as dupes, to the extent that a number of the further G’s I called on 20m turned out to be real dupes. More apologies are in order here! And thanks to Paul for his very timely support to SD this morning.

Back to the event, it was necessary to at least attempt to run for much of the event as so many of the available QSOs were G’s and without the SO2V facility bonuses would have been pretty thin on the ground. Most of the bands seem to be occupied either by the Tesla event or a range of popular dxpeditions and it only slowly became clear that some of these might be worthy of attention. The P3 is magic at breaking pileups because you can locate XIT exactly where the last station was worked, assuming of course that there is propagation. It worked well with the V2 and 9Y4 without incurring unacceptable delays.

Overall, 8 QSOs and bonuses were netted on 15m and 3 on 10m, with the other main excitement being the dawn VK/ZL opening on 40m, which extended for longer than usual. In comparison, 20m produced comparatively little. The night hours were, as usual, unbearably slow but did produce bonuses. The QSO meter continuously dropped in a most discouraging way and I crept unbearably slowly towards 500, with more than 40 being reported as dupes. The final total was 546, with a claimed score of 5225, well down on 2017 in all departments. And 2019 is predicted to be no better. Still, the whole exercise, from the initial planning, to taking down the mast and packing everything away this morning, was most enjoyable, as always! Thanks to the many G’s who called and others who cheerfully put up with my various idiosyncrasies.

73, Peter G3LET