For 2018 there was lots to do, both on a personal level and club level. personally I wanted to do well again in the Backpackers series, PW 144MHz QRP and the UKAC series. Busy busy busy! Club wise we ended 2017 with strong results so we wanted a good push in the local club section of the RSGB UKAC series.
144MHz PW QRP.
As ever this is the one I want to win more than any other as it was my first ever contest in 1990. This year Paul G1YFC couldn’t make it so I was single op. And single carry… The weather this year was fantastic, sunny, warm, and calm. The downside of that was by the time I reached the summit of my portable site in the Black Mountains I was practically done for! Sweltering and exhausted. But a short rest and back to business setting up the station.
This year I had made a new single piece 4m mast specifically for backpackers to not take any extra waste, but more importantly, enable me to set it up in high wind easier on my own. It took two of use 2 hours to erect my telescopic mast last year, so didn’t want to be trying that on my own. Luckily it was nice and easy with next to no breeze. In fact my biggest problems were heat and flies!
Activity was great with 85 QSOs in the first hour and over 200 QSOs in all, the highest since 2009. ODX was over 700km with DL6YBF who was really strong with me.
My efforts were rewarded with a 3rd successive win which I am dead chuffed with.
70MHz PW Contest.
As I now have 70MHz capability I thought I should have a bash at the PW 70MHz contest for the first time. This contest was a couple of days after the September 70MHz UKAC which saw the some serious wind and rain from storm Bronagh. The forecast for the Sunday was also pretty dire so I decided to operate from a lower spot below the summit which is more sheltered but loses me my clear 360° take off. This is OK for me in the RSGB UKAC as I get great PPK due to the great take off East and North but with PW only 1 point per QSO would be a bit of a restriction. As it turned out the forecast was pessimistic and it wasn’t a bad day after, but I’d already committed to not going to the top.
As it turned out I managed to roust up a good number of QSOs which is ‘my thing’ and also luckily a decent square count, enought to take my first ever win in the PW 70MHz Low power section.
RSGB 144MHz Backpackers.
Loving the low power mountain top contests as I do I was keen to try and retain the backpackers Trophy for a 3rd year.This year Paul G1YFC couldn’t make any of the events so I was single op for all which meant being the armstrong rotator as well as logging and operating. However I managed to win the first 3 sessions which was enough to seal the win, which I needed to do as I had other plans for the last two sessions.
RSGB 70MHz Cumulatives.
As with PW 70MHz I figured why not have a crack at this series too as I am now QRV. I’d already missed two sessions of the 5 so it was all to play for with 3 session scores needed! Fortunately this series relies on PPK scoring only which suits my non summit Welsh site I decided to use. Also the early afternoon start is rather civilised meaning I could even have breakfast before setting out! I managed to win the last three sessions to win the series.
RSGB 144MHz Trophy.
This year some of our keener UKAC entrants wanted to enter the largest 144MHz contest probably in the world as the Hereford ARS. We assembled a good selection of antennas and operators and had a great support team. This was the most luxurious 24 hour VHF contest I’ve ever done. We operated from the top of Clee Hill which has a great take off.
Unfortunately our receive system was not ideal and we expected it to be not perfect but it was a little worse than we hoped. Transmit was very good however which was good. Improvements for next time!
We came 6th in the Open section which isn’t too bad against some of the bigger and more practised teams in this event.
RSGB 144MHz December AFS.
At fairly short notice HARS decided we would make an effort in this weekend event which needs 4 stations (at least ideally) to enter to make a full team of 4 stations. I went to my Welsh portable site but only had one yagi as my plans to use a pair were thwarted by the intended pole (my backpacking mast) to add to my normal portable mast was not man enough. However it was still an enjoyable contest not least for not suffering people moving in on my frequency or 500Hz away all the time (the normal perils of low power!). I did however manage the highest QSO count of all entrants, but not the big PPK of the G7RAU big station in Cornwall.
RSGB 144MHz UKAC.
This year’s 144MHz UKAC was a lot more challenging than 2017. After a good start with a win in January’s event the winter had other ideas for my progress. February and March I was defeated by snow trying to access my portable site. This meant I spent 2018 playing catch up. Mix in some favourable lifts for the East and North East coast, and South, meant some stiff opposition from Tony G8DMU and Andy G6DOD. It took me until October to get 8 ‘proper’ scores in and build a points lead to head the AL section. However two wins in November and December enabled me to pip Mark G6DOD for top spot!
RSGB 50MHz UKAC.
Like 144MHz the snow played a big part in this year’s 50MHz UKAC series for me. Also I started the season running in AR section. However I decided the club would benefit twofold from my entering the AL section, because I could hopefully get higher scores and also rob a few points from the competing guys at the top of that section. I failed to make the portable site in January and March and was away for October which meant I needed November and December to get the minimum 8 portable sessions in to be competitive. I did well in the events I was portable for, once the bedlam creating Es season had cleared off and brought us some nice flat band normality. It’s a nightmare being low power and in the path of most of the country beaming at the Es. You either try for the Es yourself and have multiple people start CQing on your run freq all night as they can’t hear you off the back or you beam inland and hope for the activity. But no-one is interested in IO82 when the Es are going.
RSGB 432MHz UKAC.
Only missed January’s session due to that pesky snow so this bad was a little more positive. I was still using the loaned yagi from Craig M0BUL which meant when using it I had a large chunk of metal in the radiation path. It finally dawned on me so I altered how I mounted the beam and then changed the mast itself to minimise the degradation to my signal. This helped me fight off very strong competition from G8DMU and M0GAV.
RSGB 70MHz UKAC.
This is the only band unaffected by snow access this year. However, not to be outdone, another hindrance was introduced. January was OK but since that event something was installed near my portable site that caused a solid S9 blanket of noise on all headings but 6°. It made my receive an embarrassing joke. People were still hearing me but the only people I could receive had to be genuine 59+ or readable when beaming near North. I gave it 3 months hoping it was temporary but had to accept defeat and move elsewhere. After much head scratching I decided to head to my GW site despite it being a longer and harder site to get to. There isn’t time in the week to reach the summit so I had to settle for a decent spot for North round to East. Takeoff there is fantastic so I can make up points with good PPK. Another downside is zero mobile internet coverage so no KST skeds. However, the fantastic takeoff and (usually) zero noise floor means I can usually hear everyone and anyone. That helped me get enough scores to do well on this band.
RSGB 1296MHz UKAC.
Managed to get to the contest site OK apart from March when I set up lower down where I could get to in the car. Hard work with only 2W against the 10W stations but I did manage a 2nd place which was pretty cool. However I started to take the transverter box apart in order to add a little gain block to get 10W out but time on other projects and part lead times kept me off air for a long time. I actually managed to beat Denis G3UVR and Bob M1MHZ in the December session, and with no Tony G8DMU I snatched a win with 2W. I think this helped me scrape a 3rd position on this band which I am fairly happy with as 2W is damn hard work on this band!
RSGB Overall UKAC Standings 2018.
Out of the 732 total entrants in the RSGB UKAC series in 2018 I managed to come 4th, pipping fellow club member Dave G4ASR into 5th place! I was however the top station only operating on 5 out of the 6 possible bands.
RSGB Local Club section UKAC.
Hereford ARS won the first 144MHz UKAC of the year putting us on the top of the Local Club section. We followed that up with wins in January’s 432MHz, 70MHz & 1296MHz and a 2nd on 50MHz. That meant HARS remained at the top of the table for the entire 2018 season despite some somewhat flexible interpretations of the rules to bump up scores. However, we raised our game with genuine numbers on the air and got some great scores. A fantastic achievement for a sleepy farming city in the boondocks.