IARU HF Championship 2015

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11-12th July 2015, RSGB HQ station GR2HQ from the Gower Peninsula, West Glamorgan, South Wales.

I went down to the contest site 2 days before the contest, 9th June, to help Ken GW0RHC and Stewart GW0ETF setup the Field-Day style station.

Here’s the summary of the contest and the preparation before hand by Steve GW0GEI.
Call: GR2HQ (15m SSB)
Operators: GW0HRC, GW0ETF, GW0GEI, G4AXX

GR2HQ 15m SSB report
This is a brief overview of how things went at 15m SSB station, located on the Gower peninsula,
which seeks to comment on conditions, lessons learnt, and add some context.

After meeting Ken GW0RHC last year, following his return from working in Saudi (as HZ1GW),
he kindly invited me to his house to see a mobile set up he was developing, consisting of a
converted twin axle trailer shack with two radio and two amp set up, three mobile towers, 
and three SteppIR yagis (3 ele, MonstIR, and DB42). We discussed using the set up in CQWW 
2014 as a shake down of the system, and Ken negotiated the use of a large field on the Gower, 
next to where he has a static caravan about a 150m from the sea. Danny GW6LHF (whose shack 
Stewart GW0ETF and I had borrowed previously to use for GR2HQ) provided some assistance on 
the /P site with his welding gear to attach guy lugs onto the towers.  

Stewart and I joined Ken at his /P location for CQWW SSB following weeks of antenna building 
and site set up by Ken. Unfortunately we had some issues on site on the first night with 
neighbour complaints re the generators we were running, and that, combined with an issue with 
the SteppIR MonstIR main antenna caused us to abandon the contest on the Saturday morning.

Ken searched around in the following months and found another suitable farm site with a hilltop 
large field overlooking the estuary.  Many months of transporting towers and other gear onto the 
new site by Ken followed whilst I alerted Chris of the option to use the newly located station 
as a GR2HQ bandslot. The SteppIR MonstIR gave us 3 elements on 40m and the larger DB42 SteppIR 
gave us four elements on 40m and five elements on HF. Stewart agreed to join us again and the 
15m SSB slot was offered to the station.

Ken and his grandson spent more weeks getting the large SteppIR antennas built on site and I 
travelled down then to spend a day helping to finish the DB42 assembly and testing, after Ken 
had taken delivery and tested/installed new motors from the USA  to avoid some problems with 
the early model motors on the antenna. Unfortunately Murphy paid his first visit on that day 
and we spend a lot of time taking the wiring apart on the antenna and tracing a fault, which 
was frustrating – later found to be a too low voltage power supply for the long run of control 
cable needed to hook the shack up to the DB42 on tower 1. Ken sorted that out in the days that 
followed and got the antenna working correctly, and proceeded to tow the mobile shack and 
generators onto site and to test the Microham Station Masters, SteppIR controls, rotators etc. 
with the IC7800 and IC7700 plus amps. There was no time left to sort out power splitting so 
whilst at VHF Field Day we agreed to use the second radio and MonstIR SteppIR Yagi for partnering 
other GR2HQ stations from the west coast location. 

Stewart GW0ETF and Mark G4AXX travelled down on the Thursday morning before the contest to help 
Ken finish off the coax cabling and to familiarise themselves with the station set up.  Murphy 
also arrived again and caused some issues with the DB42 again, which Stewart and Ken resolved 
after a few hours of checking the wiring. Everything was taped back up and when I arrived on 
site on Friday morning the shack was on site, and tents were up. The main jobs left were to 
test the radio and amps etc. set up and do the final software set up on the three laptops, 
having agreed to use one position as a local partner to the run station and the third position 
to use the IC7700, PW1 and MonstIR to remote partner other sites, with three ops on in shifts 
and one on rest and tea making duties.

We worked well as a team on the Friday but Murphy gave us multiple problems in the shack, with 
setup issues on one of the Microham Station Master boxes which refused to be programmed for the 
MonstIR antenna; and some CAT issues on both stations. Three of us retired to the pub mid evening 
for a pint and a nice meal, whilst Ken returned to his caravan.

Friday morning we were up early and set to try to resolve the Microham  issues, with a cut off 
time agreed of 10am which would trigger more drastic measures. That became necessary and we 
disconnected the Microham Station Masters, and then with an hour to go we still had amp keying 
issues which was traced to a faulty lead, and so following some quick soldering work by Mark we 
had a working run radio and Acom 2000A amp but no CAT. We finished the final software layouts and 
cleared the logs down.

Thankfully we had both the 15m SSB run station and the remote and local partner positions live 
by the kick off time. Apologies to any gabs we did not answer in the hour before the contest but 
we were in full flat out get it working mode, unfortunately we left WiFi running on one of the 
laptops which later caused double gabs and spots so apologies to Pete CLA and others for that too.
It took us a while to sort out the set up and iron out issues like that during the afternoon.

Mark started on 15m SSB with Stewart as local partner, and Steve started on the remote partnering 
station by supporting 40m SSB. 40m SSB was slow so we moved onto 20m to partner 20m SSB, which 
was slightly busier but not raging.

One of the three 5kVA generators had refused to start but the other two were fine and they served 
us well during the 24 hours.  We used a camping stove in the mess tent for brewing up and meals.

As we did not have the CAT working on the run station or the partner stations we manually put the 
run frequency into Wintest and the local partner op used the second receiver on the IC7800 with 
an audio splitting switch box brought along by Stewart to search for mults. The partner spots 
were not appearing so Stewart resorted to passing paper and tapping Mark’s shoulder next to him 
with mult info. Mark managed well enough with his Saturday evening productive mult trawl with Ken 
as local partner when Stewart and I went to get a nice Indian takeaway, washed down with some 

Conditions on 15m were certainly poor and we watched the summary window and noted that the 15m CW 
seemed to doing better. On Saturday afternoon the 15m band was showing very rapid & deep QSB. 
So fast that a call came out of the noise then dropped out before an exchange could be made. 
Ken & Mark switched over to 20m to take over from Chris GM3WOJ who had an amplifier failure. 
The run on 20m was very productive until 21:45 when the 20m SSB team got back on the air.

Around 2216 15m CW had a stream of JA stations being logged while for us just the odd one every 
few minutes.  Mark  could hear YB0 working JA but could not raise the YB0 until later. Steve PJ4DX 
was worked but was ESP, V55 was worked and VK, but none of the JA pileups of years gone by. 
Returning to 15m the band had recovered a bit with propagation to South America and it was a S&P 
multiplier feast for 45 minutes before the band finally died. 

We had some heavy rain and wind during the night, and Stewart awoke to discover his side of the 
tent had taken in some water, which meant he had to run on 15m with wet trousers, much to 
the amusement of all :-)

Sunday was slow going with the rate peaking at 100/hour but a low average rate. Remote partnering 
on the second station with 20m on a steady EU pile up fed lots of QSOs into the log that might 
otherwise have been missed. 

We plodded on, running and mult-hunting on 15m SSB and Steve had some short path dx towards the 
end into JA and YB, VK etc whilst the other team members started taking down the second tower 
and antenna.

After the contest end it took us another few hours to roll up cables, move the towers into their 
resting locations, and pack up the tents and shack before towing the shack and generator trailer 
off site to their secure storage. Mark started off on the long journey home to Saffron Walden, 
and Stewart came home with me for a well deserved Sunday dinner and a bottle of red wine before 
heading back up to N Wales the next day. 

On reflection plenty of lessons were learnt around the difficulty of putting on a large field day 
station, a week after VHF Field Day on another site, and when only one of the team of four is 
living near the /P site. Murphy was unkind to us more than usual but the positive team working 
through the problems as they came prior to the contest and the weekend of the contest was 
pleasing for us all. Station automation and ergonomics have been discussion points post contest 
along with antennas and heights etc.

It is a lot of effort for a 24 hour summer contest, but it was enjoyable nevertheless despite Murphy 
and the poor propagation. Special thanks to Ken for agreeing to host the team and station; and family 
and Paul for getting most of the gear on site and up. It was a good team effort under a lot of pressure. 

Last but not least thanks to Chris for being team leader for the last few years and encouraging us in 
this year and in previous years to improve. Hopefully someone will step in an volunteer to be the team 
leader for next year and that we can get back to a bigger team with more hosts and options for moving 
bands around next year.
15m SSB team

Click or tap on a thumbnail to open a photo.

The shack, Ken's car and 2 of the 3 generators on a trailer

L-R Stewart GW0ETF, Ken GW0RHC and Dan the farmer son, next to the MonstIR

Two sheep dogs on the back of Dan's quad bike looking like statues. With a casual "away" they streaked like greased lightning and herded all the sheep off into the next field.

Ken and Stewart setting up to raise the DB42.

Ken raises the DB42 as Paul GW4KTT looks on. Paul used to be the Mayor of the City of Swansea.

The site and Stewart's car.

The DB42 in the distance and the MonstIR nearer with the third generator.

The site showing where the mess tent was.

Steve & Ken trying to debug the Microham configuration.

The support station IC7700 (behind the laptop) & PW1.

The generator trailer.

Generators, shack and DB42.

The three generators' 230V input connectors to the shack.

Lots of kit under a tarpaulin.

Earthing strap for the shack.

More kit.

There are dragons..

.. in Wales.

The two generators.

D6000SL, we had trouble starting this one.

The LD6800T, ran on red diesel and powered the Acom 2000A all through the contest.

The fuel store.

Steve in the mess tent.

Gas stove, kettle and table, doing it in style.

The view East on Friday evening.

Ken and Steve still debugging on Saturday morning.

Stewart and the DB42.

The genny trailer with tarpaulin to keep off the rain.

The sun going down to the East on Friday evening.

Dew display on Sunday morning.

Nearby Weobley Castle, near the village of Leason overlooking Llanrhidian Marsh and the Loughor estuary. The castle dates from the 13th Century.

The view over the Llanrhidian Marsh, I lived in Crofty in my final year at Swansea Uni in 1976, and had this beautiful serene view with horses roaming free, as I wrote my final year thesis. A place for poets, artists and creative engineers.

Steve pulls out the Acom 2000A.

We find a broken PTT lead that I repair with a neat little gas soldering iron.

The shack after the rainstorm.

The MonstIR, in clearing skies.

Stewart on 20m Support, Mark on 15m Run & Stewart on 15m support.

Stewart on 15m Support, Steve on 15m Run & Mark on 20m Support.


Driving to Rhossili Bay after the contest.

Worm's Head on a grey Sunday afternoon.

Rhossili Bay.

A busy place, visited by tourists from all over the world, and much loved.

unique visits since Nov 2005