Category Archives: Contests

GP6UW: IOTA contest from Guernsey

GP6UW certificate

William Eustace M0WJE and Dan McGraw M0WUT entered the 2018 RSGB IOTA Contest from Guernsey. This was no cushy operation, however; the excitement began with the journey from the South Coast, made in a 24′ sailing yacht Aphrodite.

I had brought the boat to Poole to allow a better slant on the anticipated SW winds; Dan and the non-radio operator (but keen sailor) Hugo Cheema-Grubb appeared on the quayside at varying times on the evening of 25 July, and all hands turned in—after figuring out how to stow themselves, a tent, a trestle table, two radios, four or five SOTA poles, power supplies, laptops, camping stools, Morse keys and all the other equipment required for a multi-two station in a very small space!

View of Old Harry Rocks, from the outbound Channel crossing.

Under sail off Old Harry Rocks at sunrise, shortly after leaving Poole.

We slipped lines at 0330 and found ourselves off Old Harry Rocks by dawn. The crossing was in beautiful weather but much of it with remarkably little wind, so the deafening roar of the 4hp 2 stroke outboard featured for some hours, and those sitting in the cockpit donned their ear defenders. That evening, Aphrodite arrived at Braye, Alderney—thanks to a tidal miscalculation, just after sunset. After a leisurely breakfast the next morning, the tide was just turning in “the Swinge”, the mildly terrifying gap between Alderney and the off-lying islets, as we set sail once again. The wind was more obliging today, though predictably on the nose, and, helped by the notoriously rapid Channel Islands tides, we reached Guernsey largely under sail.

Beaucette Marina’s boatyard was the operating location chosen, and, when the skipper had recovered from the excitement of the very narrow entrance, the QTH was surveyed: a majestic spot on the cliffs of Guernsey, looking out towards Herm and Alderney. The take-off to Europe was undeniably good, and proximity to salt water combined with ample space for antennas and the operating tent appeared promising. The weather forecast for the contest weekend, with winds  frequently up to gale force and the occasional bit of heavy rain on Sunday, filled us with less enthusiasm—though at least it assured us that the conditions would not risk our feeling unadventurous.

Starting at 0700 on contest day 1, Saturday 28th, we began pushing the gear in trolleys up the steep pontoon ramp and then heaving it up the mud bank onto the cliff. This seemed minimal in difficulty then; by the next morning it was to assume quite a different complexion. The tent was erected in the rising winds, and well guyed; with the help of Paul GU4YBW and Adam MU0WLV, we raised our 20m and 15m antennas, set up the trestle table and equipment within the tent, and, at 1300 (the start of the contest) were [almost!] ready to begin operating.

At the start of the contest exactly, Dan, the CW op, began sending the first of many “CQ TEST”s; as the SSB op, I tried to ensure that the frequency and mode were logged correctly (attempts to get the FT890 to speak to DXLog had failed), then began bellowing into the aether, with spectacularly little result. The “statistics” window grew progressively more depressing from my side, as the CW QSO count mounted rapidly in the marginal conditions. After some time, the SSB rate needle lethargically levered itself away from the stop, but not by much. Dan meanwhile was running at a fine rate, occasionally clasping his hands over his earphones in an attempt to resolve an indistinct number or callsign—and perhaps in the hope of reducing the audio frequency power output of his fellow contester across the tent. Hugo had spent the day exploring the island, and helpfully provided a much-needed and delightful dinner. We abandoned the cliffs for an hour or so to eat, washing down the food with the local Roquette cider that Adam (MU0WLV) had thoughtfully delivered as “contest juice”—or Roquette fuel, as he termed it! Dan, complaining that there were “lots of dots and dashes going round and round in my head, and they all hurt”, made the sensible decisions to retire until 0600 the next morning, given the entry appeared to stand little chance of being competitive; I, being more foolhardy, returned to my three-legged stool and continued shouting into the void. Special thanks to the cheering QSOs with Bernie, W3UR, who worked us on SSB on a couple of band slots—the latter at roughly 0400 LT, in which he presciently asked how the tent was coping with the gale force winds. As it banged, flapped and slatted around my ears, I assured him all was well; as the sun began to stain the sky I made a foray outside to re-erect a partly collapsed antenna, but was pleased to note there were no other casualties. Despite running for at least six hours more, conditions (between local QRM from boat battery chargers, QRN, and generally poor propagation) were hard and 100W of voice went nowhere—I was now, finally, creeping up on Dan’s QSO count from the previous day. At about 0430 it began to rain outside, which presented little bother; unfortunately by 0530 it had begun to rain inside the tent as well, and operating became somewhat more challenging. By 0555 the situation had worsened to the point of being hazardous, and, covering all the equipment with oilskins, I QRX-d just as Dan arrived for the morning shift. Fetching more oilskins and packing away the most valuable equipment, operating resumed for a time, now on one rig only; I was pleased to note that Dan grimaced at the conditions on SSB, suggesting it wasn’t only my inadequacy causing such a pathetic rate, and, as the leaks intensified and a lake on the groundsheet developed alarmingly close to the mains wiring, we decided to go QRT for the contest (at risk of going QRT for good!), on 742 QSOs, mostly on 40, 20, and 15m, with a few on 80m—though I had not bothered to erect the 80m dipole, the FT890’s tuner was quite able to cope with the 40m vertical on 80m, though of course the antenna was doubtless rather inefficient.

M0WUT operating under a tarpaulin in the leaking tent

As the rain poured into the tent, equipment was covered with oilskins and we scaled back to one SSB station.

What, one might ask, of the other crew? Hugo had intended to explore the island that morning. A first hand account from Dan reveals that he rolled over at 0600, silenced his alarm, heard the rain on the cabin roof, remarked “No” and went back to sleep! All hands were soon rallied, though, and the equipment was vacated first to the (mercifully dry) campsite laundry room, then to the boat. After a refreshing few hundred yards’ stroll to admire a cliff fort and pass the time to 0900, we repaired to the restaurant, which had just opened, and had a well-earned Full English breakfast; that evening, the rain having abated, we were treated to a tour of a few of Guernsey’s highlights as unearthed by Hugo’s exploration, before patronising an excellent curry house in St Sampson—virtually the only restaurant in the area open on a Sunday evening.

The accursed tent was stowed in the marina skip, and we set off for Alderney. From here, passage back to the UK was smooth and thankfully uneventful, though crossing the shipping lanes mid-Channel—likened by one watcher of an online AIS display to crawling across the M25—proved entertaining as always. I dozed down below for a while, and in my absence a log entry reports “Playing Frogger with container ships.” We dropped anchor off Sandown, Isle of Wight at 0330 on 1 August, and pottered into Aphrodite‘s home port in Chichester Harbour later that morning, after some much needed sleep!

Rigs were a Yaesu FT890 (kindly loaned by G3ZAY), and Dan’s Elecraft K3, used with paddle and Winkeyer.

Photo of the crew exploring Alderney.

The crew had an afternoon ashore in Alderney to walk round some of the island. From left, M0WUT, Hugo Cheema-Grubb, M0WJE.

2018 GP6UW QSL Card

2018 GP6UW QSL Card

 

William Eustace, 23/9/18

 

M4A Contests

The following is the latest list of contests in which the callsign M4A may be used, as issued by Ofcom on 18 December 2007 in the G6UW NoV. M4A may only be used by members of the club.

  • ARRL DX CW
  • ARRL DX SSB
  • ARRL 1.8MHz DX CW only
  • ARRL 28MHz Multimode
  • CQ WPX CW
  • CQ WPX RTTY
  • CQ WPX SSB
  • CQ World Wide CW
  • CQ World Wide RTTY
  • CQ World Wide SSB
  • CQ World Wide 160 CW
  • CQ World Wide 160 SSB
  • IARU Championship Multimode
  • IOTA Multimode
  • WAE DX CW
  • WAE DX RTTY
  • WAE DX SSB
  • ARRL RTTY Roundup
  • BARTG RTTY
  • IARU 50MHz Trophy Multimode
  • IARU 144MHz Trophy Multimode
  • IARU 432MHz to 248GHz Multimode
  • March 144 and 432MHz
  • May 432MHz to 248GHz Contest
  • Movember Marconi Memorial 144MHz
  • Russian DX Contest

M0TDG: CQWW CW 2006

For some years now, whilst CUWS has been regularly fielding teams for the major phone contests in the amateur radio contesting calendar, there has been little representation in CW contests. This is regarded as a shame by some but it also gives an opportunity to those who are active on the CW parts of the bands to use the G6UW shack both for some contesting practice and to give their own callsigns a QRO airing and to try and nab a few new ones for their country totals.

CQWW CW is generally regarded as the biggest CW contest of the year and there are many expeditions to rare and semi-rare countries all over the world. Often, these expeditions involve taking large antennas and amplifiers to these countries making them easy pickings when combined with G6UW’s large antennas. After some negotiations with other CUWS members keen to have a go in the 2006 contest, it was decided that I should have the Saturday to work what I could.

The original intention had been to travel up on the Friday night and be ready for the start of the contest. It became clear in the week leading up to the contest that this would not be feasible as work committments meant that an arrival in Cambridge would not be possible before 2100 and an 80m antenna would have to be set up in the dark as there is no permanent one currently at the shack. Taking this into account, I decided that it was best to get a good night’s sleep at home on the Friday then head up the next morning. Waking the next morning, I discovered that there was a serious accident on the route to Cambridge I normally use. I waited a little for this to clear then headed north.

The shack is pretty well set up for getting on the air with win-test and the rig interfaces permanently ready. In addition to this, I had use of a microham microkeyer to provide keying from the keyboard.

As time was short and the main aim was to expand my DXCC totals, I decided to go for Single-Op All Band Assisted High Power so that I could use the packet to sniff out the juicier stations. Things started off well with lots of DX audible even though winds forced me to keep the tower wound down. However, within 20 minutes of starting, a squally shower swept through accompanied by thunder and lighting. The only thing to do was to unplug everything in the shack and power down until the storm had passed. This took a good 40 minutes and there were several lightning strikes in the fields surrounding the shack. Once the lightning had passed, things were back up and running again quickly. Conditions were reasonable for the most part and 15m was open to the US and other parts of the world. The best DX worked on 15m was VK9AA for an all time new country at around 1330z. Small runs were possible to the states at times but these did not sustain for very long and the band opened and closed several times. There were also problems with the microkeyer at times which meant some of the keying had to be sent manually. The problem was eventually traced to RF getting into the USB lead from the PC to the microham and a well wrapped ferrite ring seemed to cure this.

In the end, I didn’t operate too long after sunset due to other things coming up and the final totals were as follows:

Band QSOs DXCC Zones points
10m 5 5 3 11
15m 55 43 19 136
20m 53 50 20 114
40m 26 26 8 36
80m 0 0 0 0
160m 0 0 0 0
Total 139 124 50 51678

For only a few hours work, this seemed reasonably successful with a reasonable score and a total of 82 unique DXCC worked which included 7 all time new entities and numerous new band/countries worked. Others also reported successes in the contest with good conditions on the higher bands (although sadly there was not much on 10m).

There is an increasing interest in CW among the active members who join our contest entries and hopefully, it will not be too long until we can mount a major multi-op entry into a big CW contest again.

CQWW SSB 2006

Article by Dominic Smith, M0BLF, edited by Thomas Wootten, M0FFX.

I participated in the CQWW DX SSB Contest from the Cambridge University Wireless Society, using our contest callsign M4A.

A short audio clip (1m37s) of me running on 20m at about 1220UTC on Sunday can be heard here (RealAudio format) or here (MP3 format).

Summary

Contest CQ World Wide DX Contest
Callsign M4A
Mode PHONE
Category Multi Operator – Single Transmitter (MS)
Overlay —-
Band(s) All bands (AB)
Class High Power (HP)
Zone/State/… 14
Locator JO02AF
Operating time 41h13
BAND QSO DUP DXC CQ POINTS AVG
160 73 0 40 6 78 1.07
80 281 0 61 12 331 1.18
40 396 0 85 23 797 2.01
20 980 8 118 35 1845 1.88
15 591 0 113 31 1004 1.70
10 189 2 53 16 247 1.31
TOTAL 2510 10 470 123 4302 1.71
TOTAL SCORE 2 551 086

Operators: DL5RB, G3ZAY, G7VJR, KC5WNG, M0BLF, M0DEG, M0FFX, M0HSW, M0TDG, OZ7AGL

Soapbox: A very fun contest entry with a large team made up almost entirely of current students or recent graduates of Cambridge University. We had our fair share of problems, such as melting two baluns during the weekend, which left us with 80m for much of Sunday evening, and we also had only one 14/21/28MHz antenna, so the mult station could not use these bands while the run station was on one of them. Nevertheless, we improved on our score from last year and felt that conditions weren’t as bad as they might have been. More information at http://www.domsmith.co.uk/contests/cqww06/

Set-up

Run station: FT-1000MP, Quadra, Dunestar filters.

Mult station: FT-2000, TL-922, Dunestar filters.

Antennas: 160m dipole, 80m phased array, 80m dipole, 40m four-square, 40m rotating dipole, Stepp-IR.

The antennas were shared between the run and mult stations. This means, of course, that while the run station was on 20m, 15m or 10m, we could not use the mult station on any other of these bands (except if we forced the 40m rotating dipole onto 21MHz).

Logging was with Win-Test, which worked very well except for a small bug in the communication with the FT-2000 (hardly surprising given how new the rig is).

Some pictures of the set-up are at http://www.domsmith.co.uk/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=892.

Highs and lows

Good points were beating last year’s score and taking the opportunity to introduce many students to contesting for the first time.

Low points included melting two baluns, which meant that we couldn’t use 80m for the last four hours on Sunday; getting the mobile tower stuck and not having sufficient antennas for a full mult station.

Band breakdown

(QSO totals below include dupes)

Band QSO % Time % QSO/min.
160 73 3 79 4 0.924
80 281 11 273 13 1.030
40 396 16 409 19 0.968
20 988 39 855 39 1.160
15 591 23 411 19 1.440
10 191 8 149 7 1.280
Total 2520 100 2176 100 0.877

Distribution

There were 1970 unique calls in the log, of which 2 were worked on all bands, 8 on five bands, 24 on four bands and 82 on three bands.

Rates

There were 76 minutes during which we sustained a rate of four QSOs/minute or higher (individual minutes, not one 76 min period!). On average, we made about 1.02 QSOs/minute during the 41h13min on-time.

The hourly contacts per hour rates were:

Date UTC Rate
28/10 0000 59
0100 83
0200 122
0300 66
0400 30
0500 18
0600 29
0700 40
0800 94
0900 55
1000 57
1100 55
1200 118
1300 72
1400 85
1500 124
1600 74
1700 94
1800 99
1900 32
2000 28
2100 30
2200 54
2300 26
29/10 0000 10
0100 8
0200 15
0300 16
0400 9
0500 23
0600 12
0700 24
0800 31
0900 61
1000 101
1100 85
1200 95
1300 127
1400 35
1500 74
1600 30
1700 34
1800 57
1900 63
2000 21
2100 15
2200 12
2300 18

Thanks to everyone who contacted us!

Dominic’s site can be found at http://www.domsmith.co.uk

Statistics on this page created by SH5rescab.nm.ru

SH5 v1.18 (25 June 2006)

RSGB AFS SSB 2005

M0BBB and M0TDG were portable around Cambridge for this one while G3ZAY and newly licenced M0TJH manned G6UW for our first full 3 station entry into the this competition for 3 years. Local QRN hampered our efforts somewhat and antenna and transceiver problems led to M0BBB only being able to operate for some of the time. M0TDG was operating from the terrace of his College’s sports ground in what became sub-zero temperatures by the end and this reduced his rate (as well as his ability to type or speak) by the end.

Scores were as follows:

Callsign QSOs Points claimed Points after checking Position
G6UW 293 2930 2890 =10th
M0TDG/P 227 2270 2210 =31st
M0BBB/P 153 1530 1460 =80th
Total 673 6730 6560 9th

The final results put us in 9th place overall which was quite pleasing as we could still improve on our score by a lot provided we sort out the equipment problems and we weren’t too far off the 6th place score. A top 5 score could well be possible if we can muster 3 stations again next year.

The complete results listings are available at: http://www.contesting.co.uk/hfcc/results/2005/afsssb2005.shtml

CQ 160 SSB 2005

G3ZAY, M0TDG and M0TJH decided to do a low key operation in this contest to provide some contest training. A poor antenna and a lack of operating time did not lead to a great score.
Our final claimed score was 63336.

Results are pending.

ARRL DX Phone 2005

We were lacking a multiplier station due to lack of operators for this contest so there was no chance of putting up a competitive score but we still put in a Multi/Single entry. Conditions were very poor this year and this further reduced our score with a final claimed score of 956238. Operating this one were G3ZAY, M0BBB, M0BLF, DJ9AO/M0TAO, M0TDG and M0TJH.

The article from QST covering the contest has been published but only covers the top ten places in each category and we were well below making the top ten in M/S. The article can be found on the ARRL website as a PDF here.

IARU HF World Championships 2005

After a strong start and, rather unusually, having been ready for the contest before it began, our entry into the HF World championships ended with a disappointingly low score. Software and equipment problems (apologies to those who heard our morse software doing an impression of a heart monitor monitoring someone going into cardiac arrest) were compounded by poor conditions and only having simple antennas for the low bands so a final score of only 603064 was achieved. G3ZAY, M0BLF, M0TDG and M0TJH (with BBQ support from G7VJR) were operating as M4A in the Multi/Single category. It was not a score that will make us competitive but it was still an enjoyable contest and gave good practice to the ops, especially those who were trying serious CW contesting for the first time.

Our score was reduced to 563760 upon checking leaving us 19th in Europe in our category. Given better low band antennas and conditions, it’s felt that our score could have been much improved. The top score of 2.8 million is a long way off but better preparation in the future could see us greatly improve our ranking in the future for this contest. Results can be found at http://www.arrl.org/contests/results/prscores.html?con_id=91.