Monthly Archives: November 2008

160m SSB Club Calls Contest – November 2008

Dorridge Scout Group M0XXT HQ107 in the log. I’ve no idea what my score was since I used N1MM’s DX Serial Contest template to do the logging and the miscellaneous field for logging random text did a hopeless job of being able to edit long club names efficiently.

The last time I entered this contest, my log was called into question when the adjudicator asked me to clarify what I meant by the club station “Reading”. It transpired that there was only one radio club in Reading anyway. I vowed not to do this again but I’m back.

This year, I had the added luck of G3WZT CQing 1.7kHz up from my run frequency of 1.903 MHz on the off at 8:00pm. Yes, I had been talking to James for about an hour prior to the off and yes, of course he would have noticed me there – but his deep concern for our predicament was (to use his words) “tough luck”. John, thanks a lot, 1967 RAE passes were obviously excellent vintages. I’ll endeavour to remember you next time and offer you my run frequency quicker than you can say, “I’m a G3 and I certainly act like one”. I wonder if you behaved like that in 1967 when you had a fresh RAE pass in your pocket and a 12wpm ticket?

Luckily for me, the scout hut was warmish during the event so I wasn’t doing my normal teeth chattering. I took a 20 minute phone at 10:00pm from Wendy which gave me a break but I missed a few because of it and then S&P’d for a while. I notice that there were actually very few clubs playing which was strange. I would have thought this would be more popular. EI and DL stations were playing too, giving Non Member reports bar one DL who gave his full radio club, bless. I wrote Non Member in my log but didn’t tell him so not to cause any upset!

Absolutely nothing wrong with the antenna; 174 metre equilateral triangle at 85 feet fed with 4:1 balun and coax in one corner. It had good ears. Only three stations I gave up with and two of them were in mainland EU; a PA and a DL. M3s (and M6s) were heard well on their 10w. I notice last year’s top score made 130 Qs which was a reasonable benchmark so I’m fairly pleased with 107 bearing in mind the proximity to “John the G3″ and that I had to take Wendy’s important call at 10:00pm. I could only make more if I was either slightly more lucky with the G3s – or played more seriously with SO2V.

Will I do this contest again? Well, I’m not used to a) the quality of operating (come on, it was a bit geriatric) and b) I’m not that keen on the rules. Even just logging the Town would do justice to copying something interesting and different, but logging “Wensleydale Cheesmakers Transmitting and Electronics Amateur Radio Society” is a bit of a mouthfull. In light of the fact that this contest is apparently a route to getting newbies interested in contesting, forget it. Committee, do yourself a favour and get into my head. I have M3s that want to operate. Give them something they can do and build their copying (and confidence) skills, not drown them with difficult reports under heavy QRM.

Anyway, Sunday’s Remembrance Parade was fabulous. I was back to Front Rank Drummer again after all these years. Great!

73

Callum.

2008 CQWW

James and I entered CQWW as a Multi Single event. We did a lot of learning that weekend and came back the next couple of years aiming for a top 10 in EU, quite successfully.

Waterproof PL259 connectors for Ecoflex

Waterproof PL259 ConnectorsI’ve been lucky enough to purchase 100 meters of Ecoflex 15 recently and the solderless connectors are awesome.

Available for Aircell 7 (RG213 replacement) and Ecoflex 10 (Westflex replacement) and this giant 15mm diameter stuff, once fitted they are completely waterproof.

My experience with all these products started with me laying down a few runs for my narrowboat earlier this year because I wanted a low RF leakage product. More recently, I’ve rebuilt most of my spare patch leads with the remainder of the Aircel and Ecoflex left over from the boat build. All my RG213 and Westflex has been relegated to tutoring and testing.

Callum.

SSB Field Day 2008 – M0XXT

2008 will go down as a wet year. Both VHF NFD and SSB FD was a soaking experience. Luckily, as with most close knit teams, we laughed it off and worked through it, however a tough act all the same.

Lee G0MTNArriving at the site on Lunchtime Friday, I got the tent up in a complete hurricane. Stripped to my shorts and a T-shirt in the driving wind and rain and all on my own, at one point I just burst out laughing at my predicament. The only thing that kept me sane was the knowledge that some other crazy people in other parts of Europe were also following my example and getting their stations worked up.

Finally at about 15:30hrs, I had a tent up – and all the tent pegs used up, a sure sign that I had screwed the thing hard into the ground. Sporadic rain continued as Terry and James arrived to part assemble the A3S.

Eventually, James and I were left to our own devices to continue building the working station in the tent, networking the machines and arranging the PCs etc. Still, no antennas had been erected.

After our meal in the evening, a quieter weather front descended on us and with still an hour of light left, we put up the 60 foot mast that would house the 40m and 80m fan dipoles. We kept pushing and pushing, even firing up the lighting rig to give us 10kW of light to finish the job (at 1:00am in the morning!). Both dipoles tuned fine, fed off a single 1:1 balun at the top with Westflex straight to the tent. Only the A3S to mount in the morning.

Indeed, with Terry and Lee’s help, we had the A3S up at about 10 meters by mid-morning and we ran a few numbers whilst checking N1MM’s implimentation of Reg1 Field Day. Unfortunately, I missed a trick and for the whole contest, we ran without automatic multiplier recognition. Scoring was right, mults weren’t. What do we all tell everyone to check? The software. What didn’t I do? Grrr! Plonker!

With a couple of spare hours left, I erected the RX loop on a spare mast on a Barenco wheel clamp, running some RG58 back to the tent. Big mistake since the coax “leaked” too much which meant that some bands were difficult to spot due to proximity to the TX antennas – even running Barry’s new Stub Filter switch that he had made for us – but we’d just ran out of decent stuff.

The next 24 hours was a blurr of operating, cups of tea and running repairs. The only real thing that let us down was the 1:1 balun driving the fan dipoles on 40 and 80 which seemed to go open circuit. At 7:30pm on Saturday evening, we dropped the mast, stripped out the balun and directly connected the coax via a spare dipole centre. This meant that Terry carried on running on 20m for longer than he wanted but the propagation came back and he ran a string of West Coast stations prior to dropping down to 80m. Maybe a blessing in disguise?

Lee’s Saturday afternoon stint was taken over by Terry and both left the site by dinner time to leave James and I to run the night shift. Doing half-hour on and half-hour off, we managed very well. It was one of the most interesting night shifts I’ve done. I think staying fresh with only 30 minute stints may have helped. On the other hand, sometimes I wanted more time on the mic, but as a compromise 30 minutes seems about right.

Big contests aren’t right without the obligotary ZLs and VKs early on 40 meters and we were pleased with a small crop of these. Fresh as a daisy, Tim and Terry arrived back on site within half an hour of each other at around 6:30am to allow James and I to hit the sack for three hours sleep, rising just before coffee time in the morning.

I hate the last couple of hours of the /P contests. I know it all has to come down and everything needs packed away again so to get ahead, I dropped the RX loop and packed away the second receiver station, neatly arranging everything in the tent door before lunch.

Blur descended on us. Looking back, everything is in speed-up mode. All I can remember is getting in the bath at about 5:00pm on Sunday night knowing that the car was still jammed with gear.

Enjoy the photos – and write back if you like my drivel!

Cheers and beers,

Callum, M0XXT Team Owner!