RSGB 144MHz UKAC 5th July 2016

For this next instalment of the UKAC we have gone all posh. We are basically using the equipment we use in the Backpackers series with the slight exception we can use the full 5W power available from the FT-817. We are allowed to use 10W in the AL section and I think next session we are going to dig out the old Yaesu FT-225RD I have and used to use in the ‘old days’ to make use of that as we are finding 5W a struggle in these busier events. I have a month to make some mods to the 225RD to allow it to be used with my CQ caller mic which will save me also digging out the old (and large!) volatile RAM based CQ caller I still have that we used to use.

But the Armstrong rotator and lock system I have for the lightweight mast is designed to be used at ground level in a tent not sat in a car. Additionally with electric windows all round turning the beam is a bit of a pain with the ignition of car kept off. So I have bought a new Yaesu G-650C rotator to use. Whilst I do have 2 petrol generators I have only started one in recent times and that doesn’t run properly and needs a service. So I have bought a 150W 12V to 240V inverter and am running that off a small LiFePo4 battery. In use the rotator uses about 5A on the battery and about just under 1A when idle so I am turning the inverter off between rotations (when I remember anyway!).

Here is the set up, one battery for the FT-817 and one for the rotator:
battery powered rotator setup
Outside the rotator is sitting on the ground rotating the whole mast which saves having a stub mast and hoisting up a relatively heavy lump of rotator atop the mast. The currently in use lightweight mast is too thin for the rotator to be used on it higher up anyway. The 3 sets of guys on the mast are very low friction by design and the whole thing weighs less than 10kg so nothing for the rotator to deal with. Titterstone Clee Hill can be seen at the end of the road:
mast base mounted rotator
It’s all about evolving the station and future improvements will see a drive on base and the use of a single ali scaffold pole for the mast rather than the lightweight telescopic one. This is mostly to speed up assembly and take down.

Once all set up we seemed to have great North South signals but really deep QSB. Once under way we found the band very busy and also had other stations calling CQ contest on the frequency we’d been on for over an hour. Quite irritating and didn’t help our QSO rate as we couldn’t be sure if stations calling in were calling us or someone else.

Paul G1YFC took a short video of me working Phil M0NVS/P:

QSO wise we did well on squares North but I don’t know what we have done to upset PA and ON as we haven’t worked one for a few contests in a row now. Not a single European station worked this time!

Our QSO map:
G1YBB portable QSO map 5-7-16
Claimed scores (top 10):
Final scores (top 10):
Full result list (PDF)