Three CUWS alumni M0VFC M0BLF and M0WUT visited Montserrat at the end of 2018. Read about their activity at https://vp2muw.com/
This year, the weekend of 24/5 November saw the CQWW CW contest. Although CUWS normally enters the SSB version only, my Morse has been progressing steadily and I felt finally ready for a contest…what better opportunity? Since the VP2MUW team of experienced CW ops was returning hours before the contest began, and since in any case I thought building a team to disappoint with my beginner’s operating was a bad idea, I entered the single-operator category from Woop Woop 3. As a relatively recent licensee, receiving my M0 call in early 2017, I was also eligible for the ‘Rookie’ overlay category. Having set up WinTest for the contest in advance and checking I knew at least vaguely how to drive the shack’s Winkeyer, I left things until Friday; unfortunately, I still had rather a lot of work to do over the weekend, so clearly could not go in for a serious 30+hour stint. I elected to aim for about 10-12 hours operating over the weekend, and chose to enter the 20m QRO class.
I arrived at the shack (later than I would have liked) at around 0845 on Saturday, and began by working the numerous multipliers in Asia before propagation in that direction died; after a couple of hours including my first attempt at running in a contest (at 26wpm or so, extremely leisurely by contrast to some ops—TI7W, for example was running at 43wpm), I decided to go and buy myself a sandwich lunch while waiting for the US path to open properly. On my return, I had a cup of tea and got back to work, soon managing a reasonable run of US stations interrupted only occasionally by frequency-snatchers, only some of whom were warned off with an insistent “QRL QRL”!
I returned at greyline time on Sunday morning to work a few more mults/JAs; in the former I was largely unsuccessful, finding no new zones but a few new countries, but I managed to run through around 50 stations, comprised of many Russian/eastern European stations and a few calls from further afield, including JA.
What I did
- About 9.5hrs operating over two days
- 20m high power
- Logging to Wintest
- Morse via Wintest macros, sent through Winkeyer
- Hand keying for some partials and abbreviated CQs etc (which I never got round to programming in) via a Bencher paddle connected to the Winkeyer.
- FT1000MP with 250Hz filters. DSP minimally used.
What was good
- Logging was largely successful, though I made a few keyboard errors.
- Sending exchanges, most callsigns and some partials via Winkeyer.
- Some partials etc by hand.
- Running in a contest…it’s stressful but not as bad as I’d feared.
What was bad
- Copy accuracy: I was able to copy about every other callsign on the first attempt, even at only 27wpm or so. Most callers were considerate enough to slow down to this speed, though a few attempted to work me at >>35wpm (I feel I can estimate this fairly well since I will happily call people QRQ if they are running fast, especially given the predictable exchange in CQWW DX). One or two succeeded. I found myself sending lots of partials. Predictable given my inexperience and rather as I’d expected—sorry to those whose rates suffered from my ineptitude!
- Hand sending: it’s improving, but I am still prone to make errors when sending by hand at 28wpm (I think I’m slightly better, at least with some messages, at higher speed). On several occasions I released the key too early when sending a short CQ, thus sending “M0W” (three men went to…), so had to correct myself. I also seem to struggle unnecessarily with the humble question mark: never have I sent so many ..–. . or similar!
- Run technique to some extent: this was mostly due to the copying issue. Lack of experience once again largely to blame. I was very confused until after the contest by people whose callsign I had thought I’d copied correctly sending some unexpected characters before the exchange; now I realise this was probably “UR”. I was also not always able to establish when I had copied callsigns correctly; credit due to those who patiently sent “N N” when I had it wrong, and “R R” when I had finally cracked it, but less to those who gave their exchanges even though I had not sent their full callsign and then disappeared!
- Winkeyer occasionally: for some reason, every so often, the keyer speed appeared to jump quite dramatically. I suspect this may be due to the interesting idea of speeding up to send “5NN” as quickly as possible, and somehow periodically failing to slow down again… problem easily solved by wobbling the potentiometer on the front though.
Raw score was 139,050, though I am sure the error rate will be startlingly high (for reasons outlined above). Hopefully I should at least finish with a positive score! Raw score places me 78/145 worldwide, 59/88 in EU and 6/6 in G.
Update: Final score after moderation was 118,104. 5.4% error rate compared to the average of 2.8%; not brilliant, but not as bad as I’d expected! 1st of 3 in G “Rookie QRO 20m single op”—perhaps unsurprisingly—and 11 of 71 in worldwide Rookie QRO (all sub categories). Not as bad as feared!
(UPDATE – Based on claimed raw scores we are 1st in the U.K. in the Multi-Single category.)
A team of operators manned Woop Woop 3 for the CQWW SSB Contest over the weekend of October 27/28. 2443 contacts were made for a claimed score of just over 2.3M points in the Multi-Single category. The 40m 4-square antenna and the 80m vertical will probably be left up for members to use over the winter.
The antennas are shown below: 80m vertical, 40m 4-square, 5 element 15m Yagi on 40ft SCAM, and regular 3 ele SteppIR in distance.
Life Member Rob, G3YZO, operated and brought along this picture of the original Woop Woop building in Grange Road which the club vacated in 1970. It was an ionospheric research lab before it was taken over by CUWS. Note that it wasn’t the first club shack – that was in the Old Cavendish in town.
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
CUWS used the special RSGB Contest Club callsign G6XX on a couple of days during the football World Cup Championship in June. Ops included G3ZAY, M0WUT, M0ZCJ, G7VJR, M/KD2LXA, 2E0FFC, 2E0XSM, M0VFC, M0WJE, M0BLF, and M1BXF. Around 1500 contacts were made with up to 3 stations QRV simultaneously.
Dom, M/KD2LXA operating as G6XX.
Rob, M0VFC with the third operating position (K3 + Juma amp) on 18MHz.
Charlie M0ZCJ on 14MHz.
Sean 2E0XSM using G6XX
David 2E0FFC using G6XX
The event finished with the annual CUWS BBQ.
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.
Between the 24th and 26 March 2017, five CUWS members activated two SOTAs in Snowdonia. Jonathan GW2HFR, Dom M0BLF, Nige M0HZR , Rob M0VFC and William M0ZXA climbed Y Garn (GW/NW-004) on the 25th and Moel Eilio (GW/NW-022) on the Sunday. Unlike some previous CUWS SOTA trips, the weather was remarkably pleasant (other than a slightly chilly first night) resulting in good views from the top. The bands were very active – favourable conditions and the coinciding CQWW WPX contest made it very easy for all operators to exceed the minimum required contacts and enjoy a couple of hours playing radio on the summits.
In true CUWS fashion, the campsite chosen featured an on-site pub – although this year’s also featured a micro-brewery which together provided exactly what we all needed after a long day’s walk!
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.
For anybody interested, we will be meeting in the Maypole pub at 8pm on Thursday 15th October (and every Thursday during term.) The Maypole is on Park Street just past the multi-storey car park, near the Union Society building.
If you are interested, we would like to meet you there, we will also be at the Cambridge University Freshers’ Fair.
If you would like to know more, please contact me at [email protected]