2017 was was first full year back into VHF contesting (and some HF contesting too) since the 1990s. In 2016 I did the RSGB Backpackers series with Paul G1YFC and we achieved great success winning the series and I started doing the 144MHz UKAC series, initially as practice runs for the backpackers then it becomes kind of addictive.
Over December 2016 we tried to rally our local club Hereford Amateur Radio Society into joining us on the bands in the UKAC contests. Take up was encouraging and several members said they would come on the air for the club. Additionally the rules for the UKACs were changed to divide the ‘clubs’ into National and Local. So HARS would be in the section for ‘real’ radio clubs with members only eligible within a 35km radius of a designated central point. During our plans we thought it would be feasible and great if HARS could get into the top 10 of the local club category.
December was busy for me as I had decided to take part in the 50MHz UKAC series along with the 144MHz UKAC series. But to do so I needed a 50MHz beam! So I was busy buying aluminium and building. I finished the main build and tested it literally the evening before the January 50MHz UKAC contest!
144MHz PW QRP.
This is the one I really hope to win and this year we were hoping to repeat our success of 2016. The weather on top of the Black Mountains was evil. Wet and VERY VERY windy all day. It took us 2 hours just to set up the mast and antenna, then we bent my tent poles in the wind so I had to prop up the corner of the tent with my head and shoulders for over 7 hours. However we did well and managed to take the win again.
On 144MHz I hit the ground running as I used to do a lot of contesting on 144MHz years ago and of course had been active in the UKAC and Backpackers in 2016. After initially entering some 2016 UKACs with the FT-817 I started using the old FT-225RD as it is still the best receiver of the radios I own.
I started 2017 the way I ended 2016, with a winning streak. Competition is fierce on 144MHz but working hard I managed to win all but one of the 12 session, which I am well pleased with.
Myself and Paul G1YFC also took part in the 144MHz Backpackers series. We only managed 3 sessions of the possible 5 due to other commitments, but we managed to win those 3 sessions and retain the trophy we won in 2016.
I was pleased to be invited to the Isle of Sheppey to join the Blacksheep Contest Group to help operate their open section station in one of the biggest 144MHz contests in the calendar. I have done this in the past with Kevin G1VDF but it’s hard work running a 24 hour station. Blacksheep run a multi mast multi op station which was good fun to see and operate. Despite our best efforts though we were beaten into 2nd place by Parallel Lines CG.
This was almost a new band for me as we only did a few 50MHz contests in the 90s. I had to build a yagi for the band and literally finished (to a point it was usable) the night before the first contest! I had two inches of snow in that first contest but managed to win, which is a decent achievement being up against G4CLA who is rather good and successful. I lead my section for a while but finally succumbed and was beaten to second place by 65 points only!
I hadn’t planned to do this band this year but as the club take up was very good I decided I should help out! So I borrowed a beam from Craig M0BUL and started in March. I was much more enthusiastic after winning my first one! I didn’t win the next few but got the hang of the band towards the end of the year. Just enough to scrape winning the section by just THREE points.
This was another band I hadn’t planned to do but I borrowed a transverter and beam from Matt G8XYJ and started on the band in February, the first time ever on the band for me. I then bought my own Ukranian transverter (which are brilliant for the price) and built my own long yagi twice the length of the borrowed one. This helped me get great results and although I was only able to do 9 of the 12 sessions I managed to win the last few sessions and gain enough points to take the AL section win.
I had no intention at all of taking part on this band but as we went on through the year and were challenging Sheffield for 1st lace overall I decided to try and help us get more points on one of our weaker bands. I had no kit at all but first shared a station with Stuart G3WRA and later borrowed his kit when he wasn’t able to take part. Stuart’s transverter only generates 2W RF so taking part in the AL 10W section was quite hard work. I did manage a 4th place though in December!
I managed 37th place overall from 4 sessions.