First Day's Activation Ruined by Local Station.
The first day’s activation on the Island proved to be a little taxing – a local station which would not give his callsign was not happy about the callsign that they were using.
The guys were using a club callsign of MT0WCB, but the local station would start ranting about ‘Pirate Station’, and generally keying up over them, or pretending to operate to another station that was non-existent alongside the club’s frequency to cause them a few issues.
Even other amateurs were at this stage voicing their opinions of this operator, but with his constant ranting and even speaking pigeon German at one point to an imaginary station, the crew decided to have an early night and call it a day, with fingers crossed that tomorrow this person would have grown up.
First Day' of Play!
Sunday 11th May 2014
Before any work could be carried out, a refueling was required and all stopped for the F1 on the box, so we sat down to relax, take a few photos and watch at least the start of the racing before any thought was made of putting up an antenna or two.
With the F1 over and the weather looking a little as though it was not going to clear up to much more than it was already, having been raining lightly on and off all morning, with the crew high on Coffee and Tea and with me being forced against my will (kicking and screaming) to help the guys raise the odd A3S antenna, the crew decided that it was a good time to see about getting at least one of the Beams up in the air.
One of the first jobs was to get one of the heavy ‘Clark’ ex-Army antenna masts into the field at the rear of the house and put into place ready for raising.
After watching Dave (M0SFT) struggle a little and giving him morale support and the odd giggle to his struggling, we decided to help him get this lump upright and into place.
These things are not light-weight, and certainly not back-pack portable, but they are very well built and great for portable operation..
With the mast upright Dave (M0SFT) and Steve (G0FUW) made short work of attaching the legs to the mast, and with a little weight applied to each corner the mast was settled into place and more or less upright.
Showing that they had done this more than once before, Steve (G0FUW) was running around applying pressure where needed to bed the legs into the ground and readjust the legs whilst Dave (M0SFT) kept an eye on the bubble to check that all was level.
The guys made short work of the adjustment to the mast and with a final check that the legs were tightened up we were ready for more bits.
The Top of the Pneumatic Mast.
All that was needed now was the might of a gorilla (in this case we had a Silverback) and a big hammer to knock the guy stakes into the ground. Using a piece of thin rope that was already marked at the correct distance from the base, the placement of the stakes was soon worked out and all that was needed was to hammer them in.
There seemed to be a lot of standing around and taking the mick out of both me and Dave (M0SFT), but we came to conclusion that they were just jealous of the teamwork, or maybe just the fact that we were getting all hot and sweaty whilst they were all relaxed! – Only joking,….
Whilst under the supervision of Dan (M0TGN) the rest of us managed to finally get the A3S built and clamped to the top of the mast, what’s more it was the right way up and even the elements were in the right order, so with a little luck it should work…. OK, there was no guesswork, and the antenna was perfectly assembled as the guys had done this on many an occasion before, so no luck was involved and with me getting the shortest straw, I was passed the antenna and with Dan Taking the weight, it was my job to tighten up the antenna to the rotator’s stub mast, fingers crossed it doesn’t fall off!
All that was left was for Steve (G0FUW) to prove to us that he was not scared of heights and connect up the feeder and the rotator cable and make sure that everything was cable-tied in place ready for any weather that may or may not show up over the week.
The Compressor was attached to the mast and the generator started and with a well tried and tested method, the mast was very quickly raised a section at a time, locked off and then on to the next section, The entire mast raised to full height in less than a minute and with just one minor hiccup that occurred when a gust of wind decided that it would be a good time to pass through, nearly toppling the mast by lifting two legs off the ground which caused a few seconds of panic and some hasty clambering by Steve and Dave onto the legs to bring the mast back to its upright position, and with Steve’s weight applied to the base of the mast, the rest of us ran around tightening up the guys ropes till all was safe to let go!
Before the team could rest, the feeder was sent back to the makeshift shack and the antenna analyzer was attached to check over the relevant bands, all was found to be good with nothing over 1.4:1, so everyone was happy.
All that was needed was a bit of cleaning up, working out which was north, and just a final check that all was tightened up and safe.
But there is no rest for the wicked, before we could have a sit down to test the antenna and grab a coffee, the feeders needed to be cut to length and fed into the shack.
So with the guys finishing up their final checks and seeing what the bands were like and also which they were able to work on, the team started to relax and start to think about the next task.
Not sure what Dan was drinking but he was not sharing!
It was not long before we were all getting ready for another session, this time with just a small mast and a dipole or two.
The mast being lightweight was quickly raised while tilted over and then raised up and although the wind had picked up a little, it was not at all hard to hold it upright whilst waiting for the crew to attach the guy ropes to the stakes.
And with the antenna raised up the mast and the feeder cable-tied to the base of the mast, all that was left now, was to test it out!
Another Day and More Hassles...
I popped in later the next day only to be told that they had another problem with this idiot transmitting over them the previous evening. Although this only seemed to happen a few times, they did manage to make well over 1000 contacts during the last time that I saw them.
Either the person in question got bored or their Mother told them to go to bed, either way, this was sad news, it is not what is expected from Amateur Radio Operators and it doesn’t exactly paint the Isle of Man in a good light.
When I arrived, both Steve (G0FUW) and Dave (M0SFT) were enjoying good pileups on both 20 meters and 10 meters with some cracking stations coming through, Most of South America was just booming through and even Europe was finding it hard to work though the mass of stations trying to add MT0WCB to their logbooks.
SO with the operators busy I sat down for a chat with Dan and Simon.
I was told by the guys that Simon (M0TTE) can certainly pull his weight on SSB as well and when persuaded to, he can really get into and manage a good pileup.
A plan was being hatched to put up one of the SOTA beams that they had brought with them and see what stations they could get with some SSB contacts on 2 meters and 70cms.
Then Dan and Simon started talking about where to put the beam, and a few sensible thoughts were added to this as well, and before long another cunning plan was hatched!
Another Day and a welcomed Guest!
Last Day on the Radio and Break-down...
That was the last of the sections for this tower and with one mast down, all thoughts turned towards the last one remaining….
And just to prove that was I was not being a lazy git, Dan grabbed the camera while I helped the guys get the mast over the fence.
I helped out with the last few cables that needed putting back onto reels. ….
And Dan kept giving me the ‘Why are you not working’ look!
Nearly there and the last of the packing seems to be pretty close, just a few last tangles to get sorted out…
The last of the fuel is put into one of the generators.
Why do I always get the heavy boxes!
The fun bit is lifting the masts onto the trailer and then lowering them into the wooden boxes that have been made for them, not fun when they weigh so much, but not too much aggro…
Download a High Resolution version of the above Contact map on the link below:
Thanks to the few locals that made the effort
Thanks go out to the locals that made the effort to meet up with the guys, it was very much appreciated:
John Butler – GD0NFN
Stan Ellis – GD3LSF
Bob Barden – MD0CCE
Collin Ingles – MD0PWI
Thanks for the visit guys, your activation on the Isle of Man was very much appreciated and enjoyed by many. It was a real pleasure to meet you guys, Thanks for this… Many 73’s