Back in the 80s and 90s

These are old photos from the late 80s and early 90s.

I was very active as one of the 2 main ops of GW1VDF/P mostly on 144MHz. We entered most RSGB, WAB, and the PW QRP contests. Operating mostly from the Black Mountains, and later from Black Mixon.
As we were really only 2 main operators, myself and Kevin G1VDF, it was pretty hard work. 8 hour contests required a 4am start to drive out to the site and set up, and 24 hour contests were a sleep deprived marathon. Though nothing can compare to that moment when the rig noise and generator are turned off to reveal the peace and quiet (if not blowing a gale!) up the mountains.

Our first ever 144MHz contest was from Vagar hill. We came 17th, which wasn’t bad.
First PW QRP Contest
I think it was the next year we foolishly did the March RSGB 144/432 24hour contest.
We set up in sunshine and T shirts.
Setting up in March for the 144/432 24 hour contestBy 6pm however, there was about 2mm of ice on the windscreen and we woke up to this.
Snowing all Saturday
It did stop snowing on the Sunday luckily.
New covering of snow
But this was probably the coldest 24 hours I have ever spent in here. During the Saturday operating, snowflakes were often blowing up onto the table.
144/432 operating tent
We also worked 6metres, with a home made yagi of mine.
6m yagi
6m YagiOne 6m contest the wind was so strong even with all of the weight of G1VDF, who was a big tall ex body builder, holding and bracing the steel frame tent, the wind bent it. So we abandoned the tent and I carried on operating from the car while the other guys stripped the tent down.
6m in the wind
Tent abandoned
Our next tent was ex army and far stronger and warmer. However, it filled a 6×4 trailer on its own and took two people to carry the tent peg bag!
So we eventually turned to caravans. So much warmer and more civilised.
Caravan contesting
One of our last contests from the Black Mountains was probably 144MHz Trophy. This is a 24 hour contest that runs on the same days as a the IARU Region 1 event, so it’s a big one. It also runs concurrently with HF Field Day.
We had a really good contest coming 4th overall, and were the only station in the top 10 places using only 2 antennas (most 8 or more) and the only ones running 200W rather than (at least one) amps capable of well over the 400W licence maximum.
2x 19 element MET antennas on 60 foot mast
60ft mast with 2x 19 element METs
We erected the mast and forgot to attach the HF wire dipole. We didn’t fancy taking the mast back down, so I figured I could shin up the pole and attach it. The others thought it wouldn’t hold me but I knew it would s off I went, dipole in my teeth.
shinning up the mast
shinning up the mast
“Told you it would hold me”
Told you the mast would hold me
In 1993 we won PW QRP and WAB 144MHz QRP. In one of them, I think it was the WAB QRP contest, I’d been left on my own for some time so pal could take a walk and I noticed one of the main guys was loose. As it was a very windy day I immediately ran out to tighten it but it was too late. The mast came down destroying the rotator, 2x 19 element MET antennas, and bending an ali scaffold pole. There was still 1 hour to go in the contest, but it was all over for us. Luckily it turned out we’d pulled enough of a lead out to still win.

It turned out that ironically the prize for winning PW QRP this year was a 13 element Cushcraft Boomer!! How apt!
I’ve since built 2x 9 element DJ9BVs to replace the 19 element METs.

I still have all the kit, but haven’t been contesting now for over 17 years, as of June 2015.