The Easter bank holiday weekend and the WPX contest provided an ideal first field day in 2016. The event was located at Kelvedon Hatch SNB near Ongar in Essex and used the club call MX0SNB. On arrival at our contest site close to the mast the recent wet weather had made the grass boggy to say the least. It soon became apparent one of the vehicles was stuck in the mud, and after much pushing and pulling we decided another location would be required,
Luckily the owner of the site offered us another location, higher up on the hill with the added advantage that once onto the hill your vehicle only need to slide down to the bottom of the hill to exit.
Using George M1GEO 14 MHz homebrew beam and my 21 MHz beam we setup our stations on a lovely sunny Friday afternoon. Power was provided by 2 x Honda EU20 generators coupled together and providing 4 Kw of power.
Dave M0YOL kindly offered his awning and copious cups of tea, bacon sandwiches through the event. We had completed the setup before sun down on Friday, allowing us to complete some testing with both of the solid state amplifiers. George had recently purchased a Expert 1.3K FA amplifier and I have been using the hal1200_atlantic for the last few months.
Both amplifiers are capable of providing over 1KW of RF power, more than enough to meet the UK full legal power of 400w.
George M1GEO and Chris G8OCV have designed and built a 3 element 14 MHz beam, the design uses roach poles and provides a light portable beam. The 21 MHz beam I constructed was based on DK7ZB design, and the construction details have been previously discussed in this article.
Audio clip working India AT5R
The setup inside the awning provided a dry and mostly windproof operating position, although at this early in the year the evenings are somewhat chilly ! The weather provided a real challenge as the weekend progressed, with a high exposed location and storm Katie approaching the south of the UK. Over the course of the next 48 Hrs the rain and the wind increased to storm force with gusts in London of 50 MPH and in our exposed hilltop location more like 70 MPH. We lowered the beams and continued as best as possible using a vertical and doublet antenna. Late on Sunday night, early hours of Monday morning the storm really hit, the awning was in danger of parting from the caravan so the decision was taken to quickly move all the equipment into the safety of the caravan.
The wind caused some damage to George and Chris beam, this now requires some TLC.
Unfortunately the beam is not likely to make any further contests, but team GEO do have plans for a aluminium version soon.
My 21 MHz beam fared a little better with the weather and survived the storm, unfortunately the mast will require a new guide rail (a plastic wedge that stops the mast rotating) due to the wind loading put upon the mast in the storm.
Despite the awful weather conditions we did manage to work 744 QSO in 94 DXCC in the main on 14 and 21 MHz.
The following maps show QSO made on 21 MHz (Red pins) and 14 MHz (Yellow pins) showing North America, South America and Asia.
73 Dave M0TAZ