____________________________________________________________________________________ We had been tiring of the Restricted Section of this contest and had a break last year. We also hadn't got the big antennas out this year yet. This and general rule changes aimed at stopping us from using the technological advantage we had developed for the Restricted Section saw us have a go at the Open Section this year. Ambitious, considering there was only going to be three of us. Despite having the station ready an hour prior to kick-off, we were only ready with about 30 secs to go! This was mainly due to a lack of understanding about IP address ranges and Writelog not responding to being shouted at! Actually, WL seems flakier than it used to be. We're considering switching to something else next year. We had problems with the generator, getting only 300W out at best. The combined load of all the equipment and the linear almost stalled the generator at times, the brown -outs resetting rigs and PC's. We used the linear very sparingly, only using it to complete an occasional difficult QSO. We ended up running most of the time with 100W in the Open Section! Even then, we continued to have problems with brown-outs. Apologies if you were on the end of a half-completed QSO! We started off working JAs on 20m, but propagation was generally poor, with occasional surprises to Africa. An example of this was a 10m opening around 09:30Z that saw us bag several African multipliers. Amazingly we didn't work one DL on 10m or 15m. No USA on 40m either. Our impression was that the antennas were loud to DX even with 100W, generally having little trouble breaking pile-ups. The problem was that we just weren't loud enough with 100W to run successfully. It's still hard to imagine how a working linear would see us treble our Q total and compete with the likes of GD0EMG/P & G6YB/P. Station: Run: FT1000MP 2nd Rx disabled. Spot: Orion 565 2nd Rx disabled. Logging: Writelog 10.55D with custom contest module. 80m: 3 sloper system @ 85ft. 40m: loaded Moxon rectangle interlaced on 20m boom @ 85ft. 20m: 3-ele monoband yagi @ 85ft. 15m: 3-ele monoband yagi @ 95ft. 10m: 4-ele monoband yagi @ 40ft. Rx only antennas: Carolina Windom @ 40ft, multi-band vertical. Band 160m 80m 40m 20m 15m 10m Total Valid QSOs 0 165 171 156 37 20 549 QSO Points 0 762 741 540 135 79 2257 Bonus/Mult. 0 21 30 45 22 9 127 Our feeling is that the Open Section requires too much hardware for a serious entry by our small group. It being a 'Field Day' would mean sourcing a much bigger generator. I think we're more likely to get the big station out for the bigger international contests where we can use a caravan 16A mains point for power. We plan to be back in the Restricted Section next year, probably with a simpler set up than we formerly used. We had a 'too close for comfort' colony of rats nearby, but they didn't really bother us! Wx was superb, and we're glad to have missed the rain and lightning that arrived 24 hours after the contest ____________________________________________________________________________________Click on a thumbnail below to see a larger picture.
Setting off from the Plextek car park.
At first I set up in the field we have used in previous years. Unbeknown to me the field had recently been drilled which made the soil very soft.
After an hour of setting up the owner came and politely asked me to get back onto hard ground. I packed up and found that the trailer-mast had sunk into the ground nearly up to its axles. It took all of the power of the Range Rover's 3 litre engine to get moving again!
Andy arrived and then, after another recce trip, we were shown a concrete area, complete with mountain of builder's rubble and resident rat colony, where we set up.
Setting up the new 20/40m combination.
Simon arrived so we could put the 20/40m beam on the mast.
The 4m yagi on the side of the tower, on the 2nd section, it's high enough for the packet link back home.
The top ends of the 80m slopers are fitted. The 40m Moxon rectangle has two feeders for remote F/B adjustment and instant beam reversal.
Simon sorting out the feeders.
Andy making sure there's enough slack for 360 degrees of rotation.
Fitting the guy ropes.
15m monobander fitted right at the top.
The tower was put up and guyed down snugly Friday evening, in failing light.
The next morning it's still up and looking good.
Saturday morning, Simon assembles the 10m yagi.
Fitting it in the Range Rover rotator.
The pneumatic Range Rover mast goes up to 40ft.
The two towers together.
Smart aluminium, fibre-glass and wire, hi!
This site is also occupied by an O2 GSM base-station. This was the first year we entered the Open Section from this site, so we made a special request to O2 to check that we weren't causing interference to their GSM base-station.
On Friday 9th an email arrived from the O2 engineering team informing us that they had been monitoring the site activity during the contest and had no evidence of any interference.
The spotting receiver vertical.
The remote filter bank and switchable LNA. (see the Equipment section)
The six-way antenna switch.
The 4m yagi, only when it was up did we realise that it was fitted the wrong way round. Still it didn't matter, we had a solid packet link to chéz G4AXX in Saffron Walden.
The 2.2kVA generator, we need one ten times the size really.
We only used 24 litres of petrol in the contest.
Andy on Spot with the Orion.
Simon on Run with the MP, during the Sunday morning opening on 10m, looking for that North-South propagation. Notice that the linear is switched off!
Sunday morning and looking for QSOs at the bottom of the solar cycle, it's hot and quiet outside.
Tearing down after the contest.
It took us about 5 hours to pack up.
I guess the rats were glad to see the back of us.
15m beam comes off first.
What happened to all the slack in the coax? The weight of the feeders had pulled through the tape holding it up.
Proof that the 4m Yagi was put on the wrong way round, with director facing the tower! It needs discipline to check each other's work, and to re-check your own work if you get distracted.
Nearly ready to leave.
Packing the last few items.
And wash up before hitting the road. Back to the Restricted Section next time I think!