Location portable in JO01CM, ASL 20m, Operating time 2 Hrs, Temp +1C
Operating alfresco in the UK Christmas Cumulative Contest with John M0UKD from Hornchurch country park. Located in JO01 at a height of just 20m ASL. Using a Icom 7100 battery powered, with a push up mast at 6m. The antenna was a UKD designed 6E pegtenna, with a gain of 9.3 dBd.
We worked 43 stations, with our best DX 280km into Wales GW8ASD.
Other highlights included working into JO03 (quite rare) and ON5AEN (JO10) in Belgium.
A map showing the QSO is available here.
Altogether a most enjoyable afternoon operating in the afternoon sun.
73 Dave M0TAZ, John M0UKD
UPDATE – The results are now in. M0TAZ came third in our section.
Last night with the able assistance of John M0UKD we attempted an entry in the 160m club calls contest. As the name suggests this is a 160m contest, designed for clubs to have teams of members on air. The exchange is a little strange, RST, Serial, (member, Club HQ or non club) and then 4 letters for your club HAVE (for Havering). The rules and contest exchange are available here for further reading.
As you may recall, Saturday night was heavy rain. The forecast suggested it would be very windy and a little wet, it was in fact very wet and not windy. Our nominated operating position was grass based, and we soon took the view this would be less than desirable. Not only was the car likely to get stuck, but the prospect of getting muddy and wet before even starting!
We decided to use plan B, a tarmacked location with access to put up a large doublet. The plan was to use my 18m roach pole and a dipole / doublet (2 x 40m) fed with 300 Ohm feeder.
After the initial “what the hell are we doing moment” we decided to brave the rain, and was set up for around 20 mins late (around 8.20). In the process of setting up a local farmer came over to check we wasn’t trying to install a new caravan based settlement close to his home. He was “reassured” to see it was just some blokes with a very large pole. At one stage he asked “haven’t you got anywhere dry to do that” ….. A good question, well presented….”no”.
The next challenge was logging, we opted for SD and the first attempt caused much swearing. The exchange is not standard, and while the program should take this into account… lets just say it caused some stress.
The contest lasted for 3 hrs, and topband was very busy. At times it was hard to find a space to call CQ, and we had quickly worked 30-40 in the first hour. In the end we worked 69, not bad considering we had a very high noise level (s9) and I have no doubt we had people calling that we just couldn’t hear. Not sure why that was, only one local farm but who knows, even poor farmers have Range Rovers and plasma TV these days…
73 Dave M0TAZ
Today the weather was ideal for some /p over Hornchurch Country Park.
85Ah Battery, Icom 7200, 18m Roach Pole, Inductor 340µH.
The roach pole provided 18m (60ft) of antenna, and when coupled with the inductor at 15m provided a match at 1830 kHz. The ATU was used to provide a match at 1910 kHz, the club top band frequency. It makes it all a bit critical having the inductor so high, but the big advantage is that the bottom 15.5 metres has a lot of current in it, leaving only the 2.5 metres above it at a high impedance, making a better radiator. Ground was provided by a chicken wire fence, which I have used many times before with good results.
One answer is to to learn a low powered digital mode, CW fits the bill but things have moved on in the last 100 years and computers have provided an even better, more robust form of digital communication.
What am I talking about? No not the internet, but low power digital modes like JT65, JT9, Olivia, PSK to name a few… In this article we was going to concentrate on JT65 and JT9, like many modes its hard to know where to start, what software and what frequency should you listen to.
So what is JT65
Its a low power digital mode invented by Joe Taylor K1JT in his original paper and I quote “It is easy to show, however, that neither the encoding nor the modulation of CW is optimum. When every dB of signal-to-noise ratio counts, as it does in amateur meteor-scatter and EME contacts, there are very good reasons to explore other options. Personal computers equipped with sound cards provide a golden opportunity for experimenting with the wide range of possibilities.”
The JT65 protocol uses 65-tone frequency shift keying with constant-amplitude waveforms and no phase discontinuities. The original mode was optimised for EME QSO, but later versions JT65A, B and C had a more HF focus. The mode used in the programs we will look at is JT65A although its usually described as just JT65.
On this occasion we chose Holyhead Mountain, this is SOTA ref GW/NW-069 and at just 220 meters is a real little summit with an interesting walk. Its on the Isle of Anglesey, over looking the Irish sea with good view North into Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man and South into England. The antenna was a new portable design 6 element from John M0UKD, using a light weight aluminium boom and a quick release element system never before seen in the UK.
John had designed the antenna to be easy to assemble, having learnt on the activations to date that its often cold and hard work to tighten screws and secure elements. The new revised (mark 3) design makes use of textile secure spring loaded gripping devices, some will know these better as clothes pegs. The pegs are secured to the boom on a wooden plate, so the elements simply need to be clipped in place making the entire assembly around 60 seconds. On this occasion we used the Yaesu FT 897 and internal battery at 20w on 144 MHz SSB.
Despite our best planning the SSB part of the band was almost all filled with s9 of harsh electrical noise, in some directions we could null out the noise but it soon became apparent that SSB would not be possible from this summit. The back up plan was to move the beam into the vertical polarisation and operate on FM. This proved much more successful, with the noise reduced and we had soon worked 10 stations, including 3 summit to summit which are listed below:
GM7PKT/P (Robin) GM/SS-060 Meall Buidhe 719m (SSB) – a distance of 348 Km
M0NJW/P (Nigel) G/NP-004 Whernside 736m (FM) – a distance of 184 Km
MW6GWR/P (Ricky) GW/NW-048 Mynydd Nodol (FM)- a distance of 78 Km
A short video clip showing a few pictures from the summit and our /P HF activation can be seen here on YouTube. Also a video of some operating on 40m from our accomodation location is here.