Saturday 25th March 2012
Well another hard day over and there was me hoping for some sleep during the day so that I would be fresh and awake when I arrived at Mikes (GD4WBY) for the contest, but that didn’t happen, so when I eventually turned up I was already knackered and it looked like it was going to be a long night.
We got in the shack a little on the late side, switched on the radio, and listened to all the noise already on the bands, maybe this was not such a good idea?
So, with the noise level through the roof, we settled in on top band and started struggling our way through the noise with me logging (MD0MDI) and Mike (GD4WBY) on the radio, and boy was it hard work.
The noise levels on both top band (160m) and 80m was horrendous, and I even got time to eat some of my five a day fruits in the form of a bag of skittles, that’s me being healthy, anyway with the very slow progress we had only managed 40 contacts after a couple of hours which meant I was running out of my first bag of sweets with very little to show for it, not good!
We carried on as best we could till 4am and managed to double our score to 80 contacts in the log ending with most worked on 40 meters, at this point I left mike working and I headed to bed for a short kip!
07:47:03 – Well Mike managed to get up for the morning shift, I couldn’t though, it was nearly 8:00 by the time I staggered down stairs from my pit and tried to locate the toaster for some breakfast before making my apologies to Mike for the late arrival, he just ignored me, don’t blame him.
The noise level on 40m was terrible, but Mike had managed to find a little hole and had a steady stream of contacts coming through the noise level and by the time I started to opened my eyes and thinking of becoming awake for the day he had managed to get the score up to 125. At which point we swapped antennas and went to 20m to see what the noise was like there? It was basically just a noise filled weekend!
Ralph turned up just before 9:00 and shoved me out of the logging chair to make him a coffee.
By the time I got back he and mike had notched up a fair few on 20m and even without having time to finish my coffee I was forced against my will to take over the microphone.
With Ralph still logging and the noise level near suicidal we notched up 265 by 10:30 when the conditions just got way too noisy so we swapped to 15m to see what was happening there, but this also became a struggle between the noise level, poor propagation and the terrible over driven audio processing in some of these stations, this was proving to be just hard work!
Ralph had a break and I took back over logging for a while, we swapped over to 10m for a while and managed to get the score up to 340 which included a few nice contacts from outside of Europe such as Chili, Brazil and Dubai, but even this was getting to be a little on the hard side, and the calls dried up a little. shortly after we had some nice stations pop in, such as Afghanistan, and more from the middle east which was very nice.
Shortly after this I started to fade big style and wimped out and went for a kip leaving Mike on the business end of the contest with Ralph logging, when I woke I was told it was Sunday afternoon and that the clocks had gone back and the contest was over, well I know I am very tired of late, but I am not that tired!
So at about 16:30 in the afternoon I made my way back to find the score at the time was around 460. So after a wake up coffee and replacing Mike on the microphone I got stuck in for the rest of the afternoon, and with a steady slow trudge and an average of just 60 contacts per hour we managed to slowly get to 610 contacts on 15m by 19:30 where things really slowed down, so I took yet another coffee break and handed it back to Mike.
Well it slowed down a little and we moved to 20m to see if things would improve, but besides the odd nice station coming through, things became a little static, the calls per hour dropped to an unreadable rate and with long gaps between contacts I grabbed some grub, and gave the odd bit abuse to mike, and munched my through a whole bag of monkey nuts, can’t help it, it’s the ape in me…
Anyway, back to the fun being had and the contacts had got to 680 and dried up, it looks like it was going to be a long night. So we went up and down the band, camped out for a bit and just about managed to get the score to 710.
At this point we thought maybe 40m would be better? So on changing all we found was noise wall to wall and not many contacts! We were in for a hard night!
Midnight was heading up fast, and the day had been a hard slog between over tiredness and conditions we all decided to have a break and see what the morning would bring so with he alarm clock set on the iPad (and the volume turned off), I decided to see how many sheep I could count!
Sunday 26th March 2012
I really do not do mornings! Especially with the clocks going back (or is it forward?), just don’t like mornings anymore, I must be getting old! Please don’t comment on that one, but here I am standing in mikes kitchen, eating some toast and thinking that bed would be much better than radio at the moment!
But as I am about an hour later than I thought (or an hour earlier?) I should make a appearance and try at least to wake up a bit!
But hay, first in the shack and switched on all the equipment, let it warm up a bit and had some toast, then tuned in on 80m and was starting to think that I had slept through the entire weekend, as there was not one station calling contest? Had I slept longer than I thought??
Loads of stations having civil conversations and it even looked like the band was dying, I personally blame it on British summer time, I’m still knackered, sat in front of the radio, and because I wan to operate, British summertime is saying, the bands dead and I need to get back to bed! Well it ain’t happening, there has to be someone sill on?
It was 09:00 when mike finally ventured out into the world, he was not exactly awake when we landed on 15m and the noise was back, and as we both started to wake up we found a gap and started to call!
After the initial nightmare we changed to 10m and had a look at what was around, with Mike on the mic! We picked up too VK’s in quick succession but not much else, we hunted up and down the band many times over the next couple of hours and picked off the few nice contacts that we could locate, the band was not too good and the propagation was moving all the time to the point where contacts would just vanish when you found them, and then suddenly return a few minutes later, meaning that you had to be quick and grab them when you could. It was gone 13:00 when we finally got to 800 contacts.
From here on it got really slow, with the rate per hour only just into double figures, it took the rest of the evening till around 9:30 to get to 950, and the target of 1000 seemed impossible, especially as whatever band we tried we couldn’t locate any stations that we hadn’t already worked, that was until we got placed on the cluster and I was getting shouted at by mike to slow down as his keyboard skills were a little on the slow side, but thankfully we hit our target at around 10:30.