Three CUWS alumni M0VFC M0BLF and M0WUT visited Montserrat at the end of 2018. Read about their activity at https://vp2muw.com/
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!
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.
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.
William Eustace, 23/9/18
In September 2017, 6 members of CUWS: DK2AB, G3ZAY, G7VJR, M0BLF, M0WUT, M0ZXA plus DH5FS operated from Ile aux Marins off the island of St Pierre. This was a short 6 day operation but in this time, over 10k QSOs were made, in particular over 1000 on 160m.
Day 1 (17/9/2017)
Most of the team before departing Gatwick: (l-r) M0WUT, M0ZXA, DK2AB, G7VJR, DH5FS, G3ZAY Photo: M0BLF
The team set off from Gatwick airport on the Sunday morning and after an uneventful flight arrived at St John’s where we had lunch with Rick, VO1SA.
We then caught a second flight to St Pierre where we spent the evening in Hotel Robert and met FP5CJ for dinner.
Day 2 (18/9/2017)
We shopped for provisions and then caught the ferry for roughly 200m to get us to Ile aux Marins.
We then began setting up and started on 20m CW and quickly got a large pile-up but managed to work several fellow Camb-Hams including M0VFC, M1BXF and G3PJT within the first 100 QSOs.
We then kept building stations and started working people as each station was complete. At full strength, we had 5 stations, 4 K3s running barefoot and 1 KX3 running into a Juma PA1000. Operation was mainly CW but there was a substantial number of SSB QSOs and several hundred on the new FT8 data mode. Antennas were all vertical with the exception of an inverted-L on 160m. Due to the house having WiFi, all QSOs were uploaded to both Clublog and LotW within 5 minutes thanks to M0VFC and M0BLF. The pile-ups were good particularly considering the state of the sunspot cycle currently, with some fairly notable DX including working the 5T5OK DXpedition on several bands including 160m
QTH for the week
Day 3 (19/9/2017)
We were visited by FP5AC who visited our QTH and kindly brought us some gifts.
FP5AC with M0BLF.
Dom M0BLF also did a shack tour which can be found on Youtube here.
Day 4 (20/9/2017)
On the Thursday we attempted the first SOTA activation in the newly formed FP SOTA list. M0BLF and M0WUT climbed Le Trépied and activated it, only just making the requisite 4 QSOs due to the antenna showing very high SWR and Thursday lunchtime being a poor time to work local stations. However we did manage to work RU3GF so there was some DX there.
View of Ile aux Marins on the descent and the cairn at the summit.
Day 5 (21/9/2017)
Today, we were interviewed for TV St Pierre which was also repeated on French national television. Michael G7VJR and Dom M0BLF were interviewed.
Day 6 (22/9/2017)
As this was the last day, the main thought was dismantling the stations, as the lower bands closed these stations were taken down with 20m being run until the last minute. Final QSO count was over 10,500. We packed the equipment, had lunch at the excellent Maison Jezequel on Ile aux Marins and most of the operators caught flights home that evening.
QSL is up to personal operators preference, listed on qrz.com but mainly we will use Clublog OQRS, as discussed above, all QSOS that we have made have been uploaded to Clublog and LotW.
The CUWS DXpedition for 2017 will be to St Pierre and Miquelon. A team of at least 5 members (G3ZAY, M0BLF, M0WUT, DK2AB, G7VJR) plus guest operator DH5FS will be active from Ils aux Marins from 18th September – 22nd September. More operators may be confirmed at a later date.
The team will be active on HF in both CW and SSB and there may also be some operations via satellites.
Operators will be active under FP/ homecall. QSL preferably via Clublog OQRS or via operator’s homecall.
Six CUWS members (Jens DK2AB, Martin G3ZAY, Dom M0BLF, Rob M0VFC, Dan M0WUT, and William M0ZXA) visited Iceland between the 11th and 18th September 2016.
Three days (20th – 22nd) were spent operating from the Westman Islands (“Vestmannaejar” – EU-071) and the others were spent exploring the country – locations visited include Reykajvík, Ϸingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss, Landmannalaugar, Skaftafell, Jökulsárlón and Skógarfos – quite the whistle-stop tour! Our APRS track is shown below.
Despite all this travelling, some extra time allowed us to opportunistically activate an Icelandic SOTA, Hjörleifshöfði (TF/SL-216.) This was the first time it had been activated, as the Icelandic SOTA association was commenced two weeks earlier on September 1st.
For QSL information see QRZ.com entries for home callsigns.
From Monday 2nd – Friday 6th December 2013, G3VFC, G3ZAY, M0BLF, M0VFC and M1BXF will be operating as ZD8UW from Green Mountain, Ascension Island.
We’ll be active on 40m-10m, mainly SSB and CW. (Being equatorial, there’s little point in taking the extra weight for 80m, I’m afraid.) There may also be some WSPR operation overnight. The best time for the path to the UK is likely to be in the mid-mornings on 17m and 15m, or the mid-afternoons on 12m and 15m. We’ll be operating with Elecraft K3s.
We won’t have internet access at the QTH, but logs should be uploaded roughly daily to Clublog. The logs will also go on LoTW once we’re back, but we can’t apply for the LoTW certificate in advance as we won’t be collecting the radio licence until we get to Ascension. QSL will be via M0OXO.
See also: Ascension Island (ZD8): 2009
Five CUWS members (Martin G3ZAY, Michael M0GXM, Greg MD0IGD, William M0ZXA and Gavin M1BXF) went to the Faroe Islands from the 17th to 24th June 2013.
We stayed in three youth hostels – for the first four nights we were in the Faroese capital Torshavn, then one night in Gjov and two in Sandavagur. The equipment was two Elecraft K3’s, one Yaesu FT100 and a Yaesu FT-817, plus a Spectrum transverter for 4m. Antennas included vertical antennas, vertical dipoles, slanted dipoles and a quad antenna for 6m.
QSL for OY/G3ZAY, OY/M1BXF and OY/M0ZXA via G3ZAY.
QSL for OY/M0GXM via M0GXM.
QSL for OY/MD0IGD via MD0IGD.
(Details correct on QRZ.com 2013-10-02)
For more information about the islands, see the Wikipedia entry
In September 2011, 6 CUWS members (G3ZAY, G4EAG, M0BLF, M0VFC, M0TOC and M1BXF) went to Miquelon Island. Miquelon is the largest island in St Pierre et Miquelon, which is a French-owned territory just off the coast of Newfoundland.
We stayed in the Motel de Miquelon, a very ham-friendly establishment right on the coast of Miquelon.
QSL via home calls – for cards from multiple operators, QSL via G3ZAY.
A total of 17920 contacts were made with 124 DXCC entities using RTTY, SSB and CW, on 10m – 80m.
The log contained 9272 unique callsigns, with 74 people who worked all 6 operators.
For more information about the island, see the Wikipedia entry
For more information about the DXpedition, see http://dx.camb-hams.com/dx-peditions/cuws-in-fp/
From 23rd to 30th September 2011, six members of the Cambridge University Wireless Society are active from St Pierre et Miquelon, a couple of French-owned islands off the south coast of Newfoundland.
On the trip are G3ZAY, G4EAG, M0BLF, M0TOC, M0VFC and M1BXF.
We’re active on 80m-10m in SSB, CW and RTTY.
As of 27th September, we’ve made over 10,00 QSOs already.
Six CUWS members (Martin G3ZAY, Michael G7VJR, Tom M0TJH, Gordon G3USR, Simon G4EAG and Hugo M0HSW) were on the air as ZD8UW from Ascension Island (AF-003) between 1 January and 9 January 2009. We were active on all HF bands, both SSB and CW.
We were on Green Mountain, with a clear view to the horizon from about 210 degrees to 45 degrees. Other paths were totally blocked by the mountain.
We don’t need your card if you don’t need ours! If you are happy with an LoTW confirmation then please save the planet.
All QSOS are also in LOTW
We were spotted 2110 times.
Best DX: ZL taking into account our QTH! Also KH6 (even on 80M), KL7, UA0 on 160M, various exotica such as PY0, YS, HK, EP, JY, XW, OD, EL, OA, ST, HS.
Weirdest DX: TN on 160M (Republic of Congo). Not far away, but truly rare. Other African DX included Cameroon and Angola.
Band CW SSB DXCCs 160 1452 0 70 80 1181 521 58 40 1133 1825 80 30 1661 0 61 20 1170 3139 100 17 1051 2286 87 15 765 1240 80 12 193 297 27
Total QSOs 17914 Total DXCCs 125 CW 48.05% SSB 51.95%
For more information about the island, see the Wikipedia entry