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Activity reports

CQWW 2008

Getting there

Most of the team members travelled to the farm on Wednesday 22nd October 2008, with the exception of Charles (M0OXO) who travelled from his home in Yorkshire on the Tuesday. Chris (G1VDP) and Tim (M0URX) left the Midlands mid day as they had to pick Ant (MW0JZE) up on the way down from his home in Llanelli after he had been working for the day, and arriving at the farm some time around 19:00 local time. Oli (MW0JRX) drove across to Manchester airport to meet Viliam (OM0AAO) who had arrived from Bratislava in Slovakia, and then down to the farm from there.4.erecting_the_40m_vertical_to_get_on_the_air_before_the_contest

After eating fish and chips – the traditional 1st nights meal - Ant, Charles, Rob, Tim and Chris erected the first antenna, the 40M ¼ wave vertical ground mounted with 60 Radials in the dark, it was after all 19:00 UTC when they arrived, and getting on the air soon after. Oli and Viliam arrived at around 22:00 hrs where the celebrations began with Oli for passing his Advanced exam and getting his full licence.


The pile ups on 40M surprised the boys, but I guess the MC0SHL call is a rare prefix, and it was surprising to them how many stations thanked them for the new one, signifying that Wales as a DXCC entity is still widely wanted on this band.

Set up

Thursday morning was the start of the antenna and station building, and with strong winds and driving rain were not ideal conditions to be trying to erect antennas. The first to go up was the 80M ¼ wave vertical, again ground mounted 28._80m_vertical_almost_ready_for_erectionand with close on 120 radials. We also split the tasks into small groups. Tim took on the task of rolling out all the Coax for the antennas, and Oli and Viliam started to get the Top band inverted L ready.

Rob, Chris, Ant and Charles then started on getting the 80M vertical ready. Chris and Charles unravelled the wire for the radials, whilst Rob and Ant built the antenna. Within a hour or so it was ready for the whole team to get ready to haul in the air. We guyed the antenna at 3 different levels as the winds were so strong. When up the radials were split and the antenna put on the analyser with a perfect reading. We now had 2 bands.

The 160M antenna went up a lot easier, Viliam had made a fantastic job of utilising 2 12M fishing poles to make the 2 supports one for the vertical section and the other to hold the top of the inverted L.35._vertical_almost_the_wind_was_ridiculous_160m_vertical_part_of_inveted_l We again fought with the wind but eventually the 2 poles were up in the air and when tested the antenna was again spot on. Viliam we salute and thank you for your hard work in building and shipping the antenna over with you from Slovakia.


Time had rolled on, and the strong winds were making it dangerous for the beams to be erected and with a better weather forecast for the following day, we retired into the warmth for food and drinks. The evening on the air on both 80M and 40M were fun, but we left top band until the contest as we wanted to enjoy it that way.

Friday morning and a couple of us nursed a hangover from the night before, we stayed up late and was on 40M right to the early hours enjoying good company in the shack and on the air.

With the equipment being stored in one of the lofts at Robs we thought it would be an idea to clean down the rotators and antennas before we built them. We also needed to connect all the rotator control cables to the rotators and test 49._ant_preparing_the_rotator_for_15m_beamthem, before erecting the masts and finding the faults then. Ant did the 15M beam, Viliam did the 10M one and Rob did the one for the main tower. Chris, Tim and Charles did the Moseley and Oli started sorting the IT out in the shack, setting up the computers and networking them.

Once the rotators were done we again split into 2 teams, Chris Oli, Charles on the Moseley, Ant, Tim and Viliam on the 10M beam. This left Rob to check out the tower and fit the stub mast. Once the antennas were built we stuck to our teams to get them mounted on the 2 masts, the Moseley was going on Robs tower and the 10M on a 10M portable mast. Once the Moseley was in place we all gathered at the base and lifted it into the air, put the analyser on to it and it was way out of resonance on the 20M band, this did not look good. 63._oli_connecting_up_the_moseleyWe lowered the mast and checked all the connections and all seemed OK. We moved the feed point as per instructions and still it was way out. We then tested all the other bands and found the 20/15M bands were way out so it looked like a trap had gone down. More tests and we could not determine the fault so it was decided to try when the other antennas were up to try again.

The 10M was easy, straight on to the mast, up into the air and guy down, a last check on resonance and it was exactly right where we needed it. Now to the 15M tower. This took all members of the team, Ant, Viliam and Oli building the antenna and the remaining 4 siteing and getting the base and tower ready. We attached the rotator cage and then we all got ready to fix onto the tower base. This is where the fun really begins. We used one of the farm tractors to lift into position and secured with Bolts to the base and supported with a Acro stand. Once the antenna was mounted we checked all guy ropes were OK and hoisted 87._just_in_time_for_this_photoin the air. Not an easy feat, but something we are going to look at changing for next year. By now the sun was starting to set so no time to go back to the 20M beam.

We sat down in the kitchen and discussed our options, without 20M we would not build up a high enough score to achieve our goal, so we voted to do single band high power entries using the following calls;

MW9W 160M Operated by Viliam OM0AAO
MW0JRX 80M Operated by Oli, and giving his new call an airing for the first time.
MC0SHL 24hr 40M Operated for the first 24hrs by Tim M0URX

MW0X    24hr 40M Operated for the second 24hrs by Charles M0OXO as he is the holder of the call

GW4OH 15M Operated By Ant MW0JZE as he is the holder of the call

GW1VDP 10M Operated by Chris G1VDP.

The decision made we ran a few test calls on each band using MC0SHL and checked all was working OK. Then Jane cooked a lovely meal and we rested and socialised ready for the off.

The Contest

From the off the Low bands were in fine condition and the run rate by each station was fantastic. We knew what the records from Wales for each band were and decided that we would consciously attempt to break them. 100._cq_contestThis is where the best laid plans go wrong. Jane also prepared something of a first for us, a full breakfast. So before it got too busy on the air we all sat down and had breakfast.

Following a sleep Ant and Chris settled into their respective operating positions and checked the bands, 15M was open and Ant found a frequency and called CQ getting a steady stream of callers. Chris tuned 10M and nothing! Not even a local or UK station calling, so he decided to try and get a run going. He called CQ and set the voice recorder on the FT2000D to the GW1VDP call and used that to call. He called for a good 2 hours turning the beam virtually 360 degrees before his first reply. This is how the 10M band was all weekend, but it was the same all around the UK.

As Saturday progressed the 80M and 160M operators went and had some well earned rest, leaving Chris, Tim and Ant to try and rack up some scores on their chosen bands. 10M just did not produce, and 15M was hard work for Ant. Because we are right out on the Western coast of the UK the 3 element was not allowing him to hear or be heard by the near European stations, and a few “local” multipliers were 113._charles_on_40m_as_mw0xmissed, maybe this will improve next year as we will have a 4 element beam on this band. Tim carried on making contacts all day until he was so tired he was operating like a robot.

As evening drew in Tim swapped with Charles, who had rested most of the day and was ready for action. Oli and Viliam returned after having a shower and freshening up and ready for their second night on the air. Jane again cooked a meal and we all sat and ate this discussing and making plans for Sunday. Following the meal Tim went to bed and his well earned rest.

Ant, Chris, and Rob gave the others moral support as well as keeping them in cups of tea, and other beverages. Sunday morning and more breakfast cooked by Jane – Rob has found a good one here. Ant and Chris got on the air again. 10M was still not opening and on 15M Ant had a good run into the Pacific and as the propagation changed had a huge pile up into the US. Viliam retired as 160M closed and went to get some sleep, closely followed by Oli as he started to fall asleep while CQ’ing. When the evening came around Charles also had to stop and get some sleep, but only for a few hours as he was back for the end of the contest. Tim got back into the 40M chair and carried on up to the close. Oli and Viliam again refreshed cam back and got on the air for the last hours. The final claimed scores are;

160M MW9W (OM0AAO)-  61 DXCC, 13 Zones, Total Points 39,590
80M MW0JRX (MW0RJX)- 91 DXCC, 18 Zones, Total Points 151,510
40M MC0SHL (M0URX)- 98 DXCC, 23 Zones, Total Points 159,478
40M MW0X (M0OXO) - 83 DXCC, 21 Zones, Total Points 145,288
15M GW4OH (MW0JZE) - 101 DXCC, 29 Zones, Total Points 130,520
10M GW1VDP (G1VDP) - 15 DXCC, 3 Zones, Total Points 846

The Low bands and 15M easily beating the previous records, with Viliam and Oli taking the highest UK scores for their respective bands. 10M well maybe next time! When the contest ended we opened a bottle of Champagne and toasted what was overall a successful weekend, a lesson learned that we need to make sure we have spares for the antennas, especially a trap or two, but then we should have a new installed antenna for next year.

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Conclusion

Monday morning dawned and we all got up and made our way to the kitchen. Time to strip down most of the antennas, but leave one so we can get on the air Monday night before we all go our separate ways home. The antennas came down with out any problems and by mid afternoon the field was starting to look like Rob could put his sheep back in there. We then went for the post contest walk down to to the cliff tops and around the farm for our team photo. 140._the_teamThat evening we got on the air using MC0SHL for the final time at our first anniversary weekend. We also ended the weekend with some drinks and usual socialising and had a early night.

Again we had a good time, lots of laughs, lots of hard work at times, but most of all we bonded and became even closer friends. We learned some valuable lessons and made some plans for next year. We all left with a project to look at and we even decided when we were all going to try and get together again. Just watch this space.

   
© MC0SHL