First Off – The Crew:
GD4IHC (Ralph Furness)
Slave Master and Operator
GD4WBY (Mike Jones)
MD0MDI (James Sawle)
Saturday 3rd March 2012
So I arrived at 9:30am local time for a start on 14 MHz, so after the lack of coffee we made it to the shack and started hunting for any American or Canadian stations, but they were all wrapped up warm and ignoring us.
So we settled in for a slow start only managed around 20 stations in the first hour, but as they started to wake up we started to get a few small batches, we then camped out on a frequency and started hitting the voice keyer and after a few calls some nice station must have added us to the cluster and that gave us a nice burst, stopped us drinking our coffee, and even made Ralph (GD4IHC) work hard logging averaging around 90 calls per hour until the computer decided to hang on us which brought us to a sudden stop.
It took for a few minutes till this was sorted, but this enabled some Russian station to steal our frequency so we had no choice but to start looking for another, but by this time the whole world had woken up and 20 meters was swamped, we even tried down just above the CW and RTTY bands but even these were getting swamped.
Just when you thought you had found a spare hole, up came a eastern European station running well over 1Kw to swamp us again, so we spent the next hour hunting the odd few stations seeking contest calls, this proved slow but we managed to get some nice stations added to the list, even so by midday we had only managed 82 calls in total on our humble little setup.
By the way, our leader (GD4WBY) and slave driver at this time was relaxing in bed, don’t blame him really as he’s off to Nobles for an operation on Wednesday and not really that comfortable at the moment, maybe that’s why we’re suffering from a lack of coffee!! I think I will have to put in a written complaint! Only joking…
Got an e-mail from Richard Rimmer (GD3YEO) this morning which was really nice, helping me out with a few missing details from the ‘Old Timers‘ page, much appreciated Richard!
As the conditions were a little quiet Ralph (GD4IHC) made an escape for some lunch at the Ramsey Swimming Pool, which for reference they do a half reasonable snack so not blaming him there, we woke Mike (GD4WBY) up and he took over the mic with me logging…
We had a good laugh listening to a lot of the stations that stated they were using 100 watts and then found that we couldn’t get 25khz either side of them! Me think they left a few noughty’s off there power hi hi.
21 MHz looked a little interesting, but this soon got swamped as well, and we were finding it hard to get back to some of he larger stations like N1MM who was booming into us (finally managed it later though), taking stations from Italy and France, but we were just getting swamped by the local Europeans. Hopefully later things will get a little more settled, yeah right!
Well we managed to get a space and started calling, then all hell broke out and we got well and truly swamped with me (MD0MDI) on the mic and Ralph (GD4IHC) logging we actually got up to 160 calls per hour at one point which and before long we were up to 300 contacts, I take it all those North Americans had woken up! This carried on for a couple of hours and hammered us for six with brains popping and starting to hurt, we were so having fun!
Ralph (GD4IHC) took over the mic for a while to rest my voice and then he was pushed out of his seat by Mike (GD4WBY) who then took us past the 400 contacts and it didn’t look like it was going to ease up, 21 MHz was looking very good, but it did in the end, we had a period of no new stations so we went hunting and although the band looked OK we didn’t manage to hear any new contacts so at around 18:30 we decided to go back to 14 MHz and see what was happening there!
We played about with both 14 and 21 MHz and before long we had worked most stations on both bands, and with not a lot of new stations coming though we settled in for a slow night.
We checked out 28 MHz but that had long since died, and even 7 MHz and above we’re just dead, so we just just sat on 14 MHz and hunted any new station, but the hit rate took a toll, going down to around 14 contacts per hour, god bless our humble setup, we do envy some of the bigger stations that we came across, some of the American station sounded very loud, and looking the odd one up on QRZ explained why, large towers with multiple monobanders, life’s just not fair hi hi….
Here’s another gripe whilst I have time to type, isn’t it not fair that we contact all of these state side stations and they thanks for the multipliers, and we don’t get one back, that’s just not fair, I am joking by the way, before someone out there decides to complain, although I do think, and I have mentioned this before but some of these big stations that are east of us that state their power of 100 watts are just taking the mick!
We have just run into a few of them and I’m sure they must be pushing ore like 1000 watts + and a bandwidth of around nearly 30kHz either side of their operating frequencies even though they are many miles away, you have to wonder just how many are playing this game fair? And also how quiet it would be if everyone played legal! Maybe I should stop nagging and get back on the mic before I get too tired, especially as I have already agreed to do the night shift!
Well we finally managed to get to 500 contacts at 22:00 which seemed like such hard work, especially after the pileups that we had earlier, it just seemed that most of the USA were not bothering with this contest, especially as we managed to work nearly all states with a lot of ease, but we started to find it hard to find new stations, roll on the night, hopefully 40 and 80 meters will open up and with a little bit of luck so will top band!
Sunday 4th March 2012
Suffice to say besides a few local stations from the Netherlands and Germany trying to just get in touch for their logbooks, the band was totally dead, well for us anyway…
Well between midnight and 6:30 in the morning we managed a fantastic 17 contacts, it was hard to locate any new stations out there, and with the Europeans waking up their linear’s the morning shift was going to prove very hard indeed with wall to wall QRM and very few State side station within earshot!
Mike (GD4WBY) turned up at the shack just before 7:00 which was just in time so that we could get on top band for a massive pileup of 4 contacts, this was so going to be a hard slog, hopefully 28 MHz would be a little better later on…
9:00 saw the snow on the mountain top starting to thaw out and the arrival of Ralph (GD4IHC) and with that we decided to pack in the low band and try 14 MHz for a while till 28 MHz opens up (we checked it quickly and it was dead along with 21 MHz!), 14 MHz was its normal chaotic mess with big European stations blasting their 100 watts over us, but we needed the numbers so we found a small gap on the band and started blasting out our call sign!
Bugger this! One hour past and not a tug on the line, fisherman would be happy with this, but I’m getting restless, on the promising side of things a look at the cluster to see what activity is around shows that things are quiet all over the world, but the odd hopeful comment stating that stations are starting to come through the noise is promising, plus the sun is out and and the shack is starting to heat up, even got the jumper off now.
11:00 and we started to wake up and so did America, our hit rate got into the 40’s and stayed there for the duration, and we actually got the first coffee of the day, so Ralph (GD4 IHC) pushed the button on the voice keyer and I logged as the day started to improve, we swapped over for a while and we managed to get 600 just after lunch, not that we had any!
With that we decided to try and get some on 28 MHz but the band seemed very quiet, but as we had seemed to exhaust all the other bands we persisted on 28 MHz with the hope that conditions would improve enough t give us a few contacts across the pond. Thinking back to last years WPX CQ WW contest where the conditions were ever so different, we could do with those conditions now!
Brian (GD4PTV) turned up around 13:00 and as the band was quiet we stopped for a while to have a chat.
When we eventually got back to the radio it was 15:00 and nothing was really happening except for the chaos on 21 MHz which was basically just European stations camped out and grabbing hold of any passing North American, so we decided to join them.
We managed to find a really nice quiet spot and didn’t have to wait long till someone must have posted us on the Cluster because we had the odd contact and then all hell broke loose again, this time with me on the mic again and with the great full help of Ralph (GD4IHC) logging we managed to grow the pile up to around 140 contacts per hour and before long we were starting to get the score up again (about time too).
Mike (GD4WBY) arrived with the coffees and with the latest score being 670 I handed it back to Ralph and I ran off for a quick coffee break and left them to it hi hi…
The propagation in the afternoon was very strange, we were only getting the east coast of the USA, nothing in the middle or far side at all, whereas yesterday we had quite wide propagation and managed to talk to all states at the same time, but today it is being a little slow, hopefully later it will improve a little.
With tempers running short and the band improving, we managed to push towards 800, now with the added bonus of stations from California and Arizona appearing in the log, we started to get more stations from the entire North American land mass.
I think I might have annoyed Mike (GD4WBY) a little as the next thing we sore was Mike standing at the door with a wood chopping axe and the look from that guy in the film ‘The Shinning’, better apologize me thinks!
Thankfully he was joking, either that or the faint smell of manure from the fields besides us were dulling his senses, but he soon mellowed and gave me a break from the mic whilst he and Ralph (GD4IHC) took over taking us up to and through the 800 contacts! I am sure there are better ways to spend the weekend that actually involve sleep along the way as well!
Not long after That some else must have added us to the cluster and forced upon us a very welcome large pileup that lasted some time, and very quickly started filling up the logbook and in a very short time Ralph had pushed up the contacts, then when he started to fade I was thrown back in the seat, and I am sure he planned it as we ended up with more help from some nice hams posting us on the cluster again and I ended up not being able to take a break till we got to 1020 contacts at an average of 160 per hour again!
Then with my throat starting to feel it and dying for the toilet I handed back to Ralph for a moment, but that pile up was really enjoyable, with the reports from most stations stating we had great audio.
We carried on for a while and then decided to have a look on 14MHz when 21MHz started to get very quiet and the stations dried up, we then ran into another nice Pileup with this one handled very well by Ralph which topped our logbook at 1120 before this band started to fade a little.
Then for our sins we decided to go down to 7 MHz and join in the chaos that was going on here for the last couple of hours, this proved a little harder than the other bands, with many stations sitting right on top of each other, and just when you thought that you had found a nice station they turned out to be Italian or another European station, even the lower end seemed to lack the Canadian stations, so it looked as though the last hours were gong to be very hard indeed!
We packed up early, with a total of 1138, maybe one day we will do this seriously and see if we can beat some of the big boys!
Anyway, here are the stats for this fun weekend….
First off an approximation of the scores as worked out by UcxLog: