IARU Region 1 SSB Field Day 2003

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6th-7th September 2003, Park Farm, TL 521 451.

We were looking forward to trying out our new homebrew auto-ATU this year. Unfortunately we managed to set fire to it the evening before the contest, so on Saturday morning, a few hours before the contest started, we reverted to Simon's SGC Smarttuner.

We had 5 operators this time, we were joined by Colin G4CWH and Paul G0WAT. Paul bought his MP so we had an MP at the run station and another at the spotting station.

We logged with Writelog, and made 519 QSOs, 2082 QSO points and 122 multipliers for a final score of 254,004. That was an improvement on last year with declining propagation conditions. We achieved 2nd place in the restricted section.

Here are Andy's soapbox comments.

                  HF Contest Summary Sheet

Callsign:  M0CAM/P                      Total Claimed Score:      254,004

Contest: IARU Region 1 SSB Field Day    Date: 6-7/9/03
Mode: J3E   Single/Multi Op:  Multi    Section: Restricted
Group Name: Granta Contest Group
Location: Park Farm, Gt. Chesterford, Essex.

Band         160m     80m     40m     20m     15m     10m    Total
Valid QSOs      0     141     139     163      74       2      519
QSO Points      0     675     607     563     229       8     2082
Bonus/Mult.     0      16      29      44      31       2      122

Power:  100W
Antennas: Rotatable 15m Double Extended Zepp @ 50ft
Logger: Writelog 10.40J
Operators: G0WAT, G4AXX, G4CWH, G4EAG, G4KNO

This year saw us welcome Paul G0WAT as a guest operator, we all got on
very well and look forward to having Paul join us again in future events.
We were looking forward to using our newly developed auto-ATU. In theory
this would provide instant QSY without the need to transmit to tune,
unlike the previously used SGC Smartuner. We also reckoned it would be
lower loss on 80m, the main underperforming band for us. Unfortunately,
and despite prior testing, we managed to set fire to the antenna side
capacitor bank PCB. Reluctantly therefore we reverted to last year's
antenna arrangements. Very disappointing.

On the logging side, one of the PC's now being an XP machine means that
before every contest we spend several hours getting WL to network properly.
We also lost more than half an hour's operating in total with networking
re-starts - not a problem previously experienced with WL.

Conditions weren't too great on the Saturday. No opening to JA on 15m and
10m dead except for two Q's at 19:30. We were concerned that 15m might not
be open again and so concentrated on that band. As it was, 15m did open to
JA on the Sunday morning, providing a useful drip feed of Q's. As expected,
80m in particular was the problem band. We notice that our competitors are
usually behind us on Q's at midnight but they claw that back principally on
80m by the time 20m opens again on the Sunday. 

Throughout the contest we were comparing our Q total against what we thought
was last year's log. Only after the contest did we realise we were looking
at the 2001 log when propagation was far superior! Against 2002's log we're
about 25,000 points better off. Considering we got a 10m opening last year,
there’s hope.

WX was generally good. It did chuck it down early Saturday evening which
caused us some problems with local arcing noise. We still don't know where
it was coming from but it did create S7 noise on all bands for some time,
though the MP noise blanker did a good job.

Click on a thumbnail below to see a larger picture.

Andy & Simon setting up.

The Range Rover roof-rack makes a nice platform to work on.

Untangling the wires and guys.

Assembling the double extended Zepp.

It's nice for us to use fields in stubble. If a field's been ploughed it get's far too muddy.

Wiring up the new remote control ATU.

Simon G4EAG taping the wire to the 9m fishing poles.

Andy G4KNO tightening things up.

Simon starts ....

.... winching up the tower

The tower half way up.

And Andy finishes off....

...the winching.

Nearly there .....

.... and Simon takes a guy ....

.... to lock the tower in place.

Well that was the antenna with the new ATU on Friday afternoon.

But on Friday evening we were "training" the ATU software and set fire to the antenna side capacitor bank.

So here it is on Saturday morning with the ATU removed and replaced with the SGC Smarttuner.

All set, the Zepp at 50ft.

Ready for the contest.

Simon setting up a tent with the 4m yagi in the foreground.

Interior view of the caravan, housing the spotting station. The Icom was replaced with Paul's MP on Saturday. The 4m radio and TNC are on top of the power supply on the left. The yellow cable is the ethernet to the WiFi link to the run station.

It's comforting to hear the spots coming in off the internet in the 4m receiver speaker. We must find a way of restricting the data we send over to the site to Eu sourced spots. When the spots are sourced from the US, most of the time they are inaudible to us.

The Cellnet base station. We tell Cellnet every time we operate from the site, over the years we've never had any co-location issues.

View showing the spotting station with Carolina Windom. The run station with rotatable Zepp is in the background.

The spotting vertical.

The remote filter bank at the base of the spotting vertical.

Worm's eye view of the spotting vertical.

The Range Rover mast supports the Windom and the 4m antenna for the packet cluster feed from Saffron Walden.

The Honda 2kVA generator and line noise filter.

The 4m yagi.

A rainbow graces the sky.

Paul G0WAT.

Andy G4KNO.

Colin G4CWH.

The certificate (2nd), from the RSGB.

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