Its 11am, Thursday 8th March, British Airways check in, ‘We are sorry but your flight to Bermuda is cancelled’, just like that, no warning. ‘We will put you up in the Premier Inn and you will be able to fly tomorrow’. Now I know what ‘BA’ really stands for. I start to read the very fine print on the travel insurance.
However looking at the flight schedule it seems I might just make it if I can get to VP9GE’s place in the late evening to set up. Set up. K3, SDR-IQ as panadaptor, A3S, 40m dipole, 80m G5RV (part time! ) and inv L. Logging on Win-Test.I had planned to spend Friday afternoon setting up and running a few pile ups to get the feel of everything, still better late, very late, than never. No chance to play around with the antennas though.
As it happens get set up late on Friday night and manage to grab a few hours of fitful sleep until the off at 0600 hrs local.
Get started on time but within a few minutes the laptop reboots, the first of several reboots – might have been caused by interaction between the LPbridge virtual ports and the SDR-IQ – whatever – its irritating.
After a few hours the first unintended consequence of the loss of a day – nothing to eat and only black tea to drink so in a relatively quiet period walk up the road to the shop and buy a few provisions.
Things rolled along quite nicely when suddenly the K3 goes very quiet and its the first of the two blackouts – no signals audible over the whole HF spectrum from 3.5 to 28.5MHz – I grab 30 minutes sleep.
As the day wears on the weather becomes windier until it builds up into a full scale gale as darkness falls – I always seem to have a storm at sometime during BERU. LF bands get pretty noisy with leakage on the overhead power lines. At about 9pm local Ed gives me a bang on the door to tell be the G5RV has blown down – that explains why I didn’t seem to be getting out on 80, in fact the inv L seems a lot better – so soldier on with that but I couldnt make a Q with Nigel – I hear him but he can’t hear me.
In the end I only have 60 Qs on 80 – about half what I would have expected.
The use of the SDR-IQ on the K3 if seems to be a good way of checking a complete band quickly – like 10m, if the combination could be made to operate reliably. Might need a faster laptop with more USB ports. After about the 6th reboot I try to remove the SDR and LPBridge and run Win-Test directly from the laptop – but the ports were now messed up and Win-Test can’t access a port higher than 12 but the laptop thinks that 16 would be a good number to use! Keep calm and carry on!
By this time all the other big Open section signals have QSO numbers about 100 ahead of mine so must have missed an opening somewhere.
80m pretty poor due to the antenna problems and the usual noise, much quieter at the start than at the end, no ZLs
40m bread and butter band, still missed ZLs and VKs
20m plenty of activity but very patchy, even without the blackouts. Also I had radar/ digital noise from 14010-14035 for most of the time – this pushed me down the bottom end and away from the main centers of activity. Interesting propagation on 20m at about 0230 – I can hear 9H3ET quite well whilst beaming over the Pacific – the only EU station I can hear. Peter must have a pretty good site.
15m very watery signals from G
10m nice opening to G with big pile up, 1400 to 1530 which vanished as quickly as it appeared and surprisingly few VEs – I expected that they would have been very strong later in the afternoon but no luck.
So not one of my better trips. 50 call areas worked for the Commonwealth Jubilee Award.
Many thanks to Ed, VP9GE, for his hospitality and the use of his antennas and Tarrafal Apartment.
Time to goto the Swizzle Inn for a beer and a fish sandwich.
Stayed at Grotto Bay – very convenient for Ed’s place and a very sunny beach.