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is an informative, cynical and sometimes humorous look at what is happening in the world of amateur radio.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Maintenance, Moving, Mowing, and the 80m CC

It has been one of those hectic periods of time I get now and then. I have not posted on my blog for a few days because we have a shut down on at work and I had to do six twelve hour day shifts on the bounce and then my eldest son has just bought himself a house. Moving house and plumbing washing machines are not my favourite things. Added to that my eldest daughter had her school prom and we had to run my granddaughter to and from a friends birthday party. In between times there has been stuff like shopping, mowing the lawn and getting ripped to shreds trying to clear brambles that had almost surrounds my shed. Some of you may think that six twelve hour shifts is not that bad but it is the lack of sleep the does for me. Five hours kip a night and up at 5:30 is not my idea of fun.

Consequential to the busy time the radio has almost taken a back seat, particularly when I get in from work, I just do not have the motivation. One day I did have the motivation was on Thursday 24th June 2010 for the penultimate SSB section of the RSGB's 80 Metre Club Championship. I started to prepare early by raising my antenna another ten feet. Unfortunately that went pear shaped and I brought down not only the 80/40 trap dipole but the 60 metre dipole in the process. It was then a mad panic to get the dipole back up in time. I left the 60m antenna on the ground until the next day. It turned out to be that the rope holding one end up had suffered the effects of UV from the sunlight and it disintegrated in to dust when squeezed so it would only have been a matter of time before it gave way. What I need is more of the Kevlar reinforced stuff the army use.

Thing went okay in the contest once I started to get calls, but there was a period of three minutes calling CQ before anyone at all came back to me. Finding a free frequency was not easy and I ended up on 3.770 close to the edge of the contest zone (3.600-3.650 & 3.700-3.775). Even here I was wedged in between seemingly well set up stations with the expected QRM. I managed to work 76 stations which seemed reasonable although there where a couple of duplicates and an incomplete who disappeared before I got his call. My plan was to work the first hour calling CQ and then switch to search and pounce mode. I called and by the half hour I was stuggling to speak. Helen was out and the kids were no where to be seen. I soldiered on desperately needing a drink but afraid to get up and loose my spot. After an hour I was totally unable to speak and got myself a cold drink. I was dying for a beer but I had a blood test in the morning and it was meant to be a starve for eight hours before one so it was water or nothing. Two pints of water and I was back. It was a good job I had planned to work the last half hour the way I did because as soon as I had got up my place was swooped on by another contester. My calls had like my voice dried up so I started working my way down the band working each station I heard. It was a little disheartening to hear numbers double what I was giving out but I was also working stations with similar and worse scores and it is everyone in the group that makes up the final score. With a few minutes of the contest to go I worked John GW4BVE who is another member of the Travelling Wave Contest Group who gave me a serial of 132, which I hoped was in the right ball park. Later I found out that only one more of our operators was able to take part. Caroline was on from Guernsey as GU6WRW/P and I believe she had also accumulated a reasonable score. Hopefully our minimal presence will have done enough to maintain our position.

Central to my better position was that I was able to dig in and find a spot, there was no one here generating QRM, the TV and Sky box which cause noise on 80m-40m were turned off at the wall. Improvements here would be to have plenty of drinks lined up and maybe get Helen to log for me. I am thinking that maybe I could borrow some better radio gear with narrow filtering capabilities, get the antenna higher and swap out the trap dipole for a monoband just for the contests. Maybe I should head down to the Mold radio club shack and work from there or find a site with low noise and go portable.

The club championship is restricted to 100watts and there is a QRP section, which makes me wonder why so many stations were testing their linears before the contest started. Who runs 100w from a linear when they can run 100 watts bare foot? Maybe next time I will start a list of those I hear doing that or maybe I should ask the question to a wider audience than reads my blog.

I did not work much yesterday on any band but I have already a nice tally of SOTA points in the log today. It is a bit quiet around here I think someone said there is a soccer match on or something. The road noise is almost zero in the garden and no one has called on 2m FM for about an hour.


  1. You managed to make contesting sound like an exercise in masochism. Thanks for reminding me why I never participate in phone contests.

    Lots of SOTA and WOTA activity round here too. Why stick indoors on front of the box watching a bunch of overpaid prima donnas kick a ball around when you can go out on the hills with a radio?

  2. It must be. I am a learner when it comes t contests. In the past I have only bothered with VHF and above and then only to give a point or two to the local guys. I will probably continue to turn off or change bands during the big HF contests but I must say that I enjoyed the 80m Club Contest and the challenges it brought. I would never get anywhere on my own but as a group I can contribute to our success.

    Agreed on the football thing. I don't understand the appeal at all. Watching a kids game paid by grown men who prance around like fairies is not my idea of a good time. I would much rather be up a hill or in the shack catching SOTA or WOTA stations.