Tuesday, 29 October 2013

What a weekend......

The weekend in one word?  Outstanding!  The bands were just simply incredible with both 10m and 15m just rocking with wall to wall DX.

It started early Thursday morning when Don VE3MNE and I hit the road and travelled up Hwy 38 to Leggat Lake, about 75 Kms north of Kingston to my brother-in-laws cottage.  Leggat is a medium sized lake and sort of remote.....well, it's off the beaten track. It's very quiet electrically there with very little to no noise like we get in the city.

Once we had arrived and unloaded our trucks it was time to get the antennas up.  Don used his Chillycon Mk.2 antenna with six 16' radials.  We also put up a 2m 5/8 ground plane antenna so we could hit our local repeater and talk back into Kingston.  My initial choice of antennas are what we now call the VA3QV, first seen on Bob's Blog.

Now Bob uses this antenna all the time and has good results with it.  I couldn't get it to work to save my life.  Don was working DX hand over fist and I couldn't get the VA3QV to even tune.  I even added and then subtracted radials and changed the coax, but still it did not work for me.  The radio in use was a FT-857D with a LDG YT-100 tuner.  By this time Bill VA3WOW had arrived from Belleville, so outside we went and swapped the VA3QV for a 66' long wire with a "pile" of 16' and 31' radials.

While the 66' long wire worked, it was not to my liking and the tuner was taking forever to tune.......I knew I could do much better, and it was now getting dark, Don was still working DX hand over fist, and frustration was starting to settle in!  Outside we went again, only this time it had started to rain, and put up my 31' antenna in a sloper configuration with, once again, a "pile" of 16' and 31' radials.  Hallelujah, it worked just fine, and the DX started to roll in. 

Thursday evening was just a feast of DX as everyone was on the air testing and checking out their antenna systems for the weekend contest.

Most of Friday was taken up with more tweaking of the antennas, adding and subtracting radials, elevating them, and putting them back on the ground.  We also took time out to explore the other side of the lake, and had a good long walk doing so.

Bill VA3WOW chowing down!
Don BBQ'ed a great steak supper on Friday night and as he did so the bands went very quiet.  Other contesters were also off to eat a good meal and grab an hour or two rest before it all kicked off at 0059 UTC.   Steak, mushrooms, peppers, and a very nice red wine were on the menu. 

After supper we stocked up on dry wood for the stove and got things cleaned up ready for the contest.

At 0059Z the bands just exploded!  I started off on 15m and Don was on 10m.  We just never stopped logging stations.  15m was simply wall to wall DX, with hardly a gap between them.  It was actually quite hard to sort things out at first as our ears were not used to the deafening calls of "CQ Contest".

It was  great to hear so many hams on the bands, I can't remember when I heard a contest kick off like this one did.  Because of the great band conditions and superb propagation we had many inexperienced contesters on the bands working.  This is great to see, but many of them didn't even know what a "zone" was.  You would think before entering a big contest like the CQ WW SSB Contest a person would read the rules, and hopefully listen.........and listen again........and listen again to what the other guys are exchanging.....but many did not do that.

VE3FCT in front and VE3MNE on the far side
On Saturday evening, just as the grey line was going through us, Don worked 15 Japanese stations one after the other.  He thought he had died and gone to DX heaven!

We also worked seven Moroccan stations between us, and over 20 Brits.  There were also a good number of Scottish stations we worked, including one in the Orkney Islands and another in the Shetland Islands.

Many stations, and especially those from one particular country, were running so much power that they were talking way past what they could actually hear.  I doubt very many of the stations calling them actually got through to them, the big guns called CQ over and over with little response.  Perhaps one day these guys will learn that you can do wonders with 100w and a long piece of wire up in a tree. 

My Philosophical question of the weekend is why is it that the station you "need" is always weak, and is always parked right next to a super station pounding out a 1.5k signal into stacked Yagi's ??

Of course it wouldn't be a contest without hundreds of "band police" on the bands.  They seemed to be everywhere on the weekend, and of course the LIDS were also out in full force.  Why, for the love of God, do these idiots insist on tuning up right over a QSO?  Do these individuals really think that's how things should be done?  I'm sure if we tuned up over one of their QSO's  they would all scream loud and long!

My prize for the most polite operators must go to the Germans. It was a delight to work them.  It was always please and thank you from them. The Romanians were also very polite as well.  One Romanian ham actually apologised to me for his poor English......which was perfect by the way.  I told him if he thought his English was bad he should hear my Romanian!

This weekends total was 131 countries worked, including three new ones:

C37NL from Andorra
UP2L from Kazakhstan
9K2HN from Kuwait.

Just an outstanding weekend!

Don VE3MNE cruising the bands
Hmmm....which wire goes where?????????

The quiet before the storm


1 comment:

  1. Very nice weekend one of both relaxing and radio! Some great contacts of rare stations as well and as I always say it's going to be during the contests that you can pick up the rare ones. It would not be a contest if Murphy did not show up but you guys were able to over come the antenna issues.
    Very nice picks of the weekend as well.