From: Graham G4FNL
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2018 19:34:30 GMT
A brief update from me from the Commonwealth Contest where I was operating as G6XX, located in Brighton, UK last weekend:
Despite the poor conditions I thoroughly enjoyed the contest – and being an HQ station meant that I was kept relatively busy throughout. Like others, I find 24 hours continuous operating quite difficult (especially after a long working week.) For this contest I considered my role as ‘cannon fodder’ and was there for the benefit of other entrants. I hope I did a reasonable job – but I am not sure. I almost always called CQ – but I did also have the cluster running and would occasionally chase a new mult and those that I thought might be able make multiple bands QSOs with me. It seems that I was partially successful – but I realised that after trying to call some of the more marginal ZLs, VKs and West Coast VEs that my DX signals on 80m and 40m just aren’t good enough. So further work to do next time. I did manage 11 x 5-band QSOs – but they were all with stations within the UK. 10m was tough with just a total QSO count of 19 on that band and my best ‘DX’ was with my friends at GD6XX! I did manage a total of 18 x 4-band QSOs including the following calls: 3B8XF, 9H3ET, G6HCC GB5CC, GM4Z, VE3FJ and VK2BJ. Other stats are 54 x 3-band, 58 x 2band and 105 unique Qs. The overall QSO breakdown band by band is below (hopefully the formatting remains intact).
BAND QSO CTY HQ
3.5 147 32 5
7 158 58 6
14 145 57 7
21 38 10 1
28 19 4 1
Total 507 161 20
My station consisted of an Elecraft K3 + Alpha 89 amp, with a TB3 triband Yagi for HF at 60ft and a dipole for 40m at 70ft and ¼ wave vertical or a doublet at 60ft on 80m and some dubious beverage RX antennae
Thanks to EVERYONE for the QSO in the contest. See you next time……
73 Graham G4FNL
As others have already noted, it was hard work making QSOs in Commonwealth contest this year.
My claimed score of 2,205 points score is well down on previous years – mainly due to missing the crucial initial 6 hours of the contest, the limitations of the hastily erected antennas at my new QTH (see below), and very patchy propagation. I’m sorry I could not contribute more points to the VK Team 2 score.
Most of my DX QSOs were on 80M and 40M. I failed to work any call areas beyond VK and ZL on the higher bands except for 9M6/G3VYI, 9V1YC and ZF2CA. I heard 9J2BO calling on 20M around 0500Z but unfortunately he could not hear me.
Getting ready for the contest this year was more challenging than usual as we had just moved into a new rental property. The new QTH is a town house and only has a small back yard of around 70 square metres in size, so no room for the dream antenna farm! However, there is a tall gum tree in the middle of the yard that can be used to support some antennas.
I ran a couple of wires up alongside the gum tree, along with some elevated short radials (9m long), to make a multiband vertical antenna for 80M and 40M.
An antenna for the 20M, 15M and 10M bands was more difficult. I discounted using a multiband vertical for these higher bands as experience suggested that a horizontal antenna at modest height should be more effective and also less sensitive to manmade noise from the dense housing in the neighbourhood. There was not enough room for inverted vee dipoles to be installed at a reasonable height clear of the house so I decided to build a compact multiband dipole (cobweb style) and hang it at about 9 meters AGL from a rope thrown over a limb of the gum tree. I originally intended to complete this task during the daylight hours immediately prior to the start of contest at 9 pm on Saturday. The antenna took longer to make than anticipated (like most antennas do!) and I was also distracted by some domestic duties. I ended up completing the assembly and tuning of the antenna on Saturday evening, and then hauling it into position around 2 am on Sunday morning. After fixing some residual problems with the matching of the 80M and 40M antennas, I finally managed to get on the air and join the contest at 3:15 am! 😊
The cobweb antenna was OK for making local QSOs but I struggled to hear or work many stations beyond VK and ZL. Poor propagation was partly to blame but I’m also suspicious the antenna was not performing as well as expected. The antenna is only just above the roof line of our house so it really needs to be higher, but this is not possible due to tree branches and foliage being in the way. It looks like I will need to consider other antenna options for the high bands before the next contest from this QTH.
Band QSOs Points
80M 26 520
40M 46 910
20M 25 525
15M 9 225
10M 2 25
Total 108 2205
Radio – Flex-6300 90W
Antennas – Vertical wires for 80M and 40M, and a cobweb dipole antenna (9m AGL) for 20M, 15M and 10M.
Thanks to the RSGB for running the contest, and to everyone for the QSOs, especially those who travelled to DX locations or operated HQ stations. I look forward to doing it all again next year, and hopefully with a decent set of antennas tested and ready to go prior to the start of the contest!
73, Brian VK3MI
Firstly thanks for all of the contacts during this year’s BERU contest. I made a relatively last minute decision to participate and thought I would try something out of left field and activate a WIA HQ station for the event. A quick phone call to the president to gain permission to use one of the WIA callsigns and away we went as VK5WIA HQ. This all happened about 4 days before the contest so publicity was limited.
The station at this end consists of a 40m delta loop @ 16m (strung in a gum tree) and a 20-6m HexBeam at 10m. I get some terrain gain towards EU from my QTH and for some reason always do very well to NA on 40m of an evening, so I hoped I would be at least a semi-respectable signal on the air. Also, as my CW skills are still in the “developmental” phase, I didn’t want to make a big deal about it in case I broke too many calls. As it was, I suspect I surprised a couple who clearly did a double take when I called them as they weren’t expecting VK5WIA HQ on the air. With a lot of repeats I managed to copy most callsigns and so people at least had the opportunity to work the VK HQ station.
From an operational perspective, I couldn’t operate the whole contest due to other commitments. I managed in the end to start from about 1030 utc Saturday night. With Theo VK5MTM helping me, we commenced on 40m and worked quite a few VK/ZL as well as VE stations and one from Singapore. It was great to see 9M6 activated as well. I made a few domestic QSOs on 80m but my local QRM and non resonant antennas hampered me there (I basically loaded the 40m delta through the tuner – I suspect a lot of my power ended up as heat). Then at about 1400 utc Europe SP finally opened and I had quite a run of G/9V1/3B8 and 9M6 as well as ZL stations and others through to about 1600utc, when I headed off to bed.
4 Hrs later very early Sunday morning I was back at it on 40m again working G stations with a few others thrown in through greyline. I then QSYed to 20m and got to spend a little time working VE on NA Long Path. I had to stop around 2200 utc as I had committed to help with the telemetry collection for Horus 48 (the Amateur Radio Experimenter Group’s High Altitude Balloon project). Upon returning in the afternoon, a few more stations were worked on 20m and also 15m into ZL. I put some calls out on 10m but there were only JAs on the band so no luck there. I also did some 40m LP into Europe shortly after that and was rewarded with some more HQ stations from the UK as well as a few late VK starters. Finally the well went dry about 40 minutes from the end and no new contacts could on any band be found despite calling for about 40 minutes. I then packed it in and was pretty happy for my first attempt at the BERU.
Final scores for VK5WIA for ~9.5hrs on air were:
Band QSOs Pts Cty Sec Pt/Q
3.5 6 150 6 0 25.0
7 53 960 37 2 18.1
14 46 810 26 2 17.6
21 14 350 14 0 25.0
Total 119 2270 83 4 19.1
1 Mult = 1.4 Q’s
As I have a very modest station I had a simple goal: get to 100 QSOs.
Things got off to a good start (11pm here). 47 in the bag inside the first two hours with the VEs in particular coming through strongly on 40m and 80m. I hit the hay and then made my first mistake in not getting up for the sunrise grayline shift. Instead I got up at 8am and called CQ on 15m and then 20m for an hour without a single taker.
Daytime propagation in ZL at this stage of the solar cycle is a bit like Donald Trump’s brain. Generally a barren desert with the odd oasis of logic shimmering at you in the distance, except when you get there you are just as likely to find it is a mirage. Saying that I managed one highlight. As a bit of a fun project over last couple of weeks I have been looking at how to remote into my station. The BERU gave me plenty of time to experiment and I managed to get it to a proof of concept stage by making a number of QSOs from a laptop in the living room. I might just do BERU from a beach somewhere next year!
I had high hopes for the last four to five hours as 80m and 40m opened up nicely to the UK, when I noticed the SWR started going haywire on my inverted L. An inspection found a joiner at the antenna end was very warm due it seems to moisture getting in under the protective tape so that was the end of my contest. A paltry 84 QSOs for a very long time on the air and I probably missed the best opening.
I can only describe my overall experience as the contest equivalent of self flagellation.
From: Peter Hobbs
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2018 17:04:36 GMT
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.
From: MW0BRO Martin
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2018 14:16:25 GMT
From: robert hammond
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2018 13:48:44 GMT