G3PHO

Conditions similar to 2019 with deep QSB on most DXstations after midnight. The ZLs didn’t appear on 20m at 4am like they used to years ago but instead were very good on 40 and 80m. Great to work G3TXF on three of the five bands. I heard him on 80m but could not get through with my 100 watts to a dipole. This year I added an 80m quarter wave inverted L to the “farm” and was glad I did as I read and worked stuff with it that was inaudible on the dipole. Disappointing turnout from Far East. I only heard 9V1YC and VU2PTT all weekend.Outstanding signals on all bands: VP5O VE8CB VK6LW 9G5XA ZF2CA (who was coming through on 40m well into mid -morning on Sunday. Nice to work two old friends from way back in the ’60s .. Barry VK2BJ(ex G3PEK) and Nev Bethune 6Y5FS (ex G3RFS). As always the Restricted Section presents major challenges with Search & Pounce much more productive than CQing and being prepared to spend 10 to 20 minutes trying to work one valuable multiplier! For UK ops this is NOT a rate contest!

V31GX travelling home to beat the virus!

Hello,
Back from Belize now to sunny North Norfolk but it was only just..

The day after I arrived, they banned any more Europeans from entering and Mr.Trump set up his ban on arrivals from EU unless they had been away for 14 days, which was a problem because all flights go via the USA to England from Belize and USA has no real transit area, you have to physically enter the USA and go through immigration customs etc.
No sweat I thought, at least I got in and it just means another extra week in Belize, not a problem, so I ordered another flight. Alas I could not get a refund for the first return flight.
About 2 days into my second week, five days to go before returning, there were rumors about Belize closing the land borders, despite having no cases of the virus confirmed as yet.
The next day I received a message from my hosts, which was sent to them from a government friend, that all the land borders will close at 4pm the next day and the airport a day after that. (Before my ticket home).
Left with no choice, I got into a taxi the next morning to the Mexican border, walked across and then found a bus to Cancun with the hope of getting a flight out from there, being a much larger and busier airport than Belize and it was in the back of my mind that if I did get stuck, Mexico was probably a better place as it had more infrastructure.

I booked the only flight out to London from Cancun, going via Canada. Due to number of people also trying to escape, all tickets were full for days apart from Business Class, which I reluctantly bought as again I was running out of options.
The day of departure, I got a phone call from a friend, who was trying to help some friends stuck in Panama, telling me that Canada had just closed its borders to non Canadians.
Its OK, I thought, I’m transit and Toronto has a proper transit area but when I tried to Check in online it refused me, stating the new travel restrictions.
I went to the airport where the lady at the Air Canada desk agreed new rules were in place since that morning and I would have to contact the airline directly to arrange a refund.
Now thinking waiting for repatriation was my last and only hope, I just tried to check in anyway, with one of the machines. To my great surprise it printed out two boarding passes but stated I would have to speak to check in assistance to confirm.
Fearing the worst I queued up anyway. By this time confidence was running low and expected to be turned down but they just waved me through.
Waiting for the plane, it was repeatedly delayed by 1/2 hour several times, so was still worrying about a last minute cancellation.
There were plenty other Europeans in my situation waiting for the plane, from all over South and Central America, looking for that elusive non USA bound transit flight to EU.
Finally they let me on and we left Cancun and I transited to London with no problems.

I’m lucky that I’m fairly used to thinking on my feet, having travelled quite a lot in 3rd world countries in my youth but even I acknowledge that was a close thing..

I still have no idea what happened toward the end but someone was smiling on me.

Iain V31GX/G4SGX

2020 Participation

Here are some very preliminary charts showing entrants by section, region and assisted/unassisted

Entrants by region20entrantsbysection20entrantsassited20

I must stress this data is pretty noisy as the definition of sections has changed quite a bit over the life of this dataset and I have sometimes been a bit arbitrary in allocation.

73 Bob G3PJT

VK6VZ

G’day

A big thank you to all in the Australian teams and our HQ stations for taking part – you did a fantastic job – and to everyone else who took part in the this year’s CC! My summary was 322 QSOs (4 dupes) for a score of 4,455 points.

.             80  40  20  15  10

QSOs    68 157 75  18    1

Bonus  32  55  43  15    1

Antennas this year were a half-square antenna on 80m, an Innovantennas C-140 rotatable loaded dipole on 40m and a Innovantennas XR6 2-ele yagi for 20/15/10m. All the antennas’ highest points were around 20 metres above ground.

Conditions were very bottom of the cycle and, with the exception of 80m, were poorer than in 2019. 10m was dead except for VK6WIA, 15m barely had a pulse, 20m staggered open very briefly on the UK short path/long path, but the 80m conditions compensated to some extent, including QSOs with the UK, Caribbean, VE/VY2 and VO. 40m was the money band, providing about half my QSOs.

Hard work and great fun as always. Biggest highlight was working Peter GM3XOQ who taught me CW back in 1969/70 via his (then G3XOQ) 160m slow Morse transmissions.

Vy 73

Steve, VK6VZ

World Travellers

Hi Bob,

As an update, Team World Travellers are now all home or on their last journey legs apart from Team sub Richard G3RWL/8P6DR who is staying in 8P6 for a while longer as he originally planned.

I think we have all had to alter our travel arrangements to get out of locations before borders or airports close on us, but Iain G4SGX/V31GX has had the most harrowing journey involving a route via two other countries. I will let him describe better in his own words.

73, Colin G4CWH again.

 

VY1KX

Hello Bob,

I want to let you know how much I enjoyed the Commonwealth Contest again this year.  Conditions didn’t seem to be very good but in spite of that I got more contacts (70) than I have been able to make previously.  Making contacts from here in the Yukon can be difficult – partly due to equipment and antenna (and operator too, I’m sure) but it’s also a long way from most of the centres of activity and I think that people with beam antennas don’t aim this way too often.VY1KX shack
All my contacts were on three bands, 80, 40 and 20 metres.  I didn’t hear anything on 15 m.  Twenty metres seemed very noisy and signals were weak.  Nevertheless, I was really pleased to make a lot of contacts with stations in the UK, as well as some to Australia, NZ, parts of Canada and a few other locations.  For the first time ever I heard a station in Singapore too, but was unable to make contact.
I’ve attached a couple of pictures I took this morning of my QTH on the North Klondike Highway north of Whitehorse and of my station.  You may be able to see the end of my doublet antenna where it is attached near the top of the tall tree just to the left of the house.  My radio is a Yaesu FT-ONE.
Thank you for your efforts with the Commonwealth Contest and to the participants who make it such a pleasure to take part in this event.
73,
Allen Wootton, VY1KX

VK2/G3VYI Report

I   just  got in from VK..yawn, 26 hrs  flying…I used  my FT991 80w  and verticals.:sorry  to hear  about  the noise  issues  etc   elsewhereIMG_5269 :
VK2/G3VYI …
I  had a great site in a campground in south NSW  overlooking  the pacific/|tasman  sea and local lagoon  about 100 feet up, operating  from  the camp pitch  ‘dunny’ which had mains  and heat and light! Meant the xyl  had  the  campervan to  herself  for 24hrs!
Hmbrew suitcase verticals were ok but not a good antenna for 80m at 33 feet bottom loaded, some G s could not  hear me, but good on 40m  and ‘OK’  1/4wave on 20m, lots of Oceania of  course , a few G s on 80m on sunday morning  and 40m was ok  to G  longpath at 0900z  to my  surprise…
3.5   17Q
7       73 Q
14    24 Q
21    6 Q
N1MM+ Score = 2320  , maybe wrong
BERU was great fun  and a  good holliday too!
73
Mike  G3VYI

6Y5HN

Bob – here is my report on the 2020 BERU, thanks.

So glad I made the effort to get back in the BERU – Just managed to get my 80m shallow vee up to about 45 ft on Friday night using some bendy 3″ plastic pipes which fell over a couple of times during erection !! It was meant to be a temporary antenna but after all the effort I think it will continue to be an eyesore for a while. The 4el KLM is only about 40′ fixed and pointing 60 deg. but did not do too badly in the end. Had an amp failure on the old SB201 when the relay wire to the swr bridge seemed to have melted and made me deaf !! So after a quick pull down and an equally quick solder job – got it going again !! Desperately tried to snag ZD7BG on 15 but he was focused on EU, also heard my neighbour ZF2CA from the back of the beam but he could not hear me. Good to hear some still familiar calls like G4BUO he was loud !! The HQ stations all had big signals too – the lack of multipliers and VK/ZL’s let me down this year.

80 and 40 was very hashy throughout the entire contest – I got a very slow start as I was using and learning the new SD logging program for the first time after coming from the old pen and paper logging 23 years ago !!. It is great when you get going eventually !! Now if only I can get it to key from the keyboard – oh well, I have another year to figure it out.

Thoroughly enjoyed it although slightly handicapped by a quadruple bypass and arthritic fingers !!! Covid19 hit us here on the island earlier in the week so there were many family concerns, but the show must go on hi !! Hope to see you all next year……

This is what it looked like in the end, less anything that I got wrong of course…. SD check was a breeze !!

-    -        80m     40m    20m   15m   10m   Total
QSO's          70     120    139     4     0     333
Bonus          27      36     31     3     0      97
Points        890    1320   1315    80     0    3605

Nigel 6Y5HN.

VP5O

Sorry Bob, I sent a brief run-down to Colin CWH, our team captain for World Travellers but fogrot it hadn’t gone to you too!  Well done by the way on your own effort, excellent signals on 4 bands.
The decision to go to Turks & Caicos was largely driven by increasing inability to cart multiple large suitcases around the styx, hence the need to find what is essentially a ready-made station, in other words a rental shack.  After a number of fruitless enquiries, I settled on Jim Jordan’s very nice villa  on Providenciales, which is equipped with a basic Elecraft setup, together with a SteppIR 3el with 40/30m loop and a rather low 80m dipole.  It soon became clear that this setup had been largely tuned towards the ARRL events rather than CQWW, which would need to perform in all directions.
The benefit of the SteppIR is that it can be configured as a dipole by retracting the director and reflector elements, leaving me with what I had thought would be rotary dipoles for 10, 15, 20 and 40m.  Unfortunately (not declared until after I had arrived) the rotator had ceased to exist some months previously and turning it by Armstrong method wasn’t really on at relatively advanced age and degree of decrepitude.  Nevertheless, a couple of hours using this together with the barefoot K3 appeared sufficiently promising to consider a Restricted entry.  The villa is high up with outstanding sea views to the north and north east and this probably helps.  Having switched off the pool pumps and pulled a variety of wall warts (the shack only accounts for a small propertion of lettings) the site also proved nice and quiet.  I had  brought along my own P3 which was  missing from the station but I was disappointed to find that there was no second receiver fitted to the K3.  CAT control, which has been the bain of recent events, was however faultless.
We arrived at 7PM on the thursday before BERU and had just enough time to visit the local weekly Fish Fry event, a mile along the beach road before collapsing for the night.  Luckliy, Jim had run ARRL SSB the weekend before and had left everything pretty well set up, so it was only necessary to create a new SteppIR antenna with collapsed parasitic elements.  This took longer than anticipated because it had to be done separately for each band and then the driven element optimised for SWR.  Still the station was ready to go  by mid-afternoon on Friday, soon followed  by an early retirement.
Well, it’s true, keeping awake for 24 hours when approaching one’s dotage is non-trivial!  I really struggled over the last 6 hours, but then there wasn’t so much going on anyway as the end approached.  Looking at the log, it doesn’t look as though I napped for longer  thasn asbout 15 minutes.  Hard to comment rationally on conditions, having no experience of the station here but 80 in particular was disappointing to the UK, with lots of absorption.  I spent ages trying to make it with Nigel but signals were too poor and fluttery.  40 was marginal and nothing heard from him on the HF bands.  15 was open on and off all day to the UK and the P3 came in really handy to catch the “on” times.  I also spent an unreasonably long time chasing VP2VB and finally made it on 2 bands.  Signals were never wonderful on 15 and so i never  bothered with 10m.  Had the dipole been rotatable it might have been worth looking for Brian 9J2BO but the QSO with him on 15 was marginal anyway.
VSWR was quite manageable with 100 watts on all bands but I’m not sure how it would have worked with higher power. For me, a highlight was following the other Nigel 6Y5HN, who was a regular in the ’90’s but not heard since, so his “guest” entry this year was quite special.
So here we go:
80 – 101 QSOs, 36 bonus, 0 dupes
40 – 280 QSOs, 71 bonus, 3 dupes
20 – 253 QSOs, 48 bonus, 4 dupes
15 – 46 QSOs, 16 bonus, 0 dupes
Total 680 QSOs, 171 bonus and 6820 points.
I was disappointed not to have made either 700 QSOs or 7k points but there was literally nothing to be had in the last hour.
Thanks to all for the QSOs, everyone in the World Traveller Team seemed to be doing very well, although some of the numbers being  touted by the big Canadians were pretty frightening.  I think there’s little doubt they will walk off with the team competition this year as most of the VK/ZL  numbers were comparatively low this year.
73, Peter

Propagation from VK4CT

Hi Steve,
Thank you for your comments and helpful insight.
Certainly does appear that the propagation was with me this year. Barry VK2BJ commented on similar propagation differences from Sydney.
Indicative path openings from Queensland (Ocean View) to North America (NA) on 20m, 40m, and 80m are shown in the table below. The data is collected by my reverse beacon and forwarded to the RBN. Anyone can freely download and analyse the RBN raw data for any reverse beacon. I find this data useful for planning ahead.
To download data for any day in March 2020 visit: http://www.reversebeacon.net/raw_data/#202003
VK4CT Beacon NA Spots 14-15 March 2020
UTC
HOUR
NA
Path
20m
NA
Spots
40m
NA
Spots
80m
NA
Spots
10 Short 2 33 25
11 Short 1 36 18
12 Short 21 44 4
13 Short 14 14 1
14 Short 12 9 1
15 3 0 0
16 1 0 0
17 10 0 0
18 4 4 0
19 Long 49 13 0
20 Long 57 51 0
21 Long 56 67 0
22 Long 22 47 0
23 Long 15 6 0
0 7 0 0
1 7 0 0
2 10 0 0
3 2 0 0
4 1 3 0
5 0 8 0
6 short 0 22 3
7 short 3 34 9
8 short 3 35 5
9 short 2 27 6
Both paths to NA on 20m and 40m were clearly open from Queensland (Ocean View) – especially the long-path.
A multi-band vertical antenna collected all of the VK4CT reverse beacon spots.
Limitations:
Some spot counts are understated because my beacon stops while I transmit.
The table only provides the number of spots.
This table does not show variations in Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR).
73, John
VK4CT