June 2017

Five Antennas for GB2HBT

On 10th and 11th June, members of TARG set up a Special Event Station at Hadliegh Country Park overlooking Canvey Island where two bombers collided when returning from a bombing raid in France in the latter stages of WWII. The history of the event can be read here: Link to QRZ.

To remember the event, a small team from TARG pitched tent and operated five radios connected to five different types of antenna much to the interest of passing members of the public who showed an interest in what we were doing. A clear blue sky gave excellent views over the Thames and out towards France. New members of the club popped along during the course of the day and learnt some of the practical considerations when setting up at a temporary location.  Link to impressive video can be seen here: Link to YouTube

CQ World Wide WPX CW Contest

How frustrating is it? You turn on your HF radio at the weekend and the whole band is full of contest operators. You find a space in which to call CQ and you’re bombarded by answers looking for a signal report and a serial number, and all you want is a chat! Worse still, you are stamped on by a station running umpteen kilowatts.

Sometimes you can turn these contests to you advantage. Many of the big contest stations only come out of the woodwork for special events such as CQWW WPX which was held over the weekend of 27/28th of May. By scanning the bands you can work some of these obscure locations and if you are chasing awards like DXCC, it’s an ideal opportunity.

As a CW operator, I became hooked on the larger CW contests a couple of years ago. I started off just trying to work the rare locations that I would not normally find in the evenings or at weekends. I then progressed to the Commonwealth contest, which is very relaxed and does not invite the high powered Italian stations. It’s a contest where only Commonwealth countries can work each other.

But you don’t have to participate in CW contest. Many rare locations can be worked in SSB contests.

This is my account of the CQWW WPX contest. It’s a contest to work as many different prefixes as you can. I knew that I was unlikely to beat any of the larger stations, so my aim was to do well in the U.K. Most contests have several entry categories, so my aim was to enter as a single operator on a single band. Previously, I had entered 14MHz single band, which meant I could operate during the day and get a good nights sleep. This year I decided to enter 7MHz as I had quiet a lot to do during the day, but it did mean a couple of late nights. I don’t have a large antenna for 40m, just a G7FEK at 24 feet, and with 100 watts I wasn’t expecting to set the world alight!

The contest started at 0000z on the Saturday and ended at 2359z on the Sunday, which meant there were three evening slots for 40m. I checked VOACAP propagation prediction online and decided that a few hours sleep on Friday night and up at 0200z would give me propagation to North America, Canada and Europe. I was right, and operated for 5 hours working stations as predicted and ending the morning with 136 different stations worked.

My next plan was to operate Saturday night from midnight onwards as the evening was taken up with family activities. The band wasn’t really alive and I only managed to add another 50 contacts up to 0100z. I decided to have a break, but unfortunately fell asleep until 0900z. I had noticed earlier in the evening that some U.K. Stations had worked Australia at around 1700z, so Sundays plan was to start a little earlier.

I dipped in and out during Sunday, finding mostly Europe, but started my concentrated effort at around 1600z. I found Mongolia, Australia and West Malaysia amongst the DX. Now the problems started. Sandie, my XYL, wanted to watch the tv and for some reason 7MHz affects the tv by bringing the screen options menu up on screen. I tried several iron cores, but could not resolve the issues, so had to wait until she went to bed at 11pm. This gave me two hours. Things were slow and I only managed to raise my QSO total to 287 with 260 different prefixes worked.

Good fun and a good way to test a small HF wire antenna. So, give it a try…..see you on the next one.

Dean, G4WQI

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