After hoping to enter the previous two sessions of the RSGB 144MHz UK Activity Contest series but for various reasons failing to get on the air this time I finally succeeded. It’s 18 years since my last VHF contest. This time I could try out my newly finished and as yet untested on air 9 element DK7ZB yagi and lightweight portable mast.
I checked the past year’s results to see if my old (from back in early 1980s) site was being used in the UKAC series. As it didn’t seem to be I chose to try there for this contest.
The original plan was Paul G1YFC would also come up for the contest (we won our last contest in 1998) but he couldn’t make it so I slogged up the hill with all the gear on my own to the trig point on Graig Syfyrddin which is at a height of 423m which a clear take off though has the 400m higher black Mountains West of it:
Literally every radio item I would be using for this contest was new to me since the last contests I did. It was a pretty calm evening so setting up was fairly straightforward and I soon had the mast and tent up:
Once I had the Yaesu FT-817 connected up and the tablet fired up I worked a few stations before the contest getting good reports from my QRP station which was good to hear. I did learn it’s much wiser to operate from a hill you can pronounce the name of though. One quick check outside before the contest starts revealed a nice sunset:
Once the contest started activity was pretty good. For the first hour or so I was exceeding 1 QSO per minute and getting great reports. Things did slow down a bit and QSOs came in little bursts of activity. I made use of the 2nd VFO for some search and pounce but was mostly running. Logging was done on my Surface Pro 3 using Minos by G0GJV. What I should have done I think was also try the ON4KST chat that everyone uses. It actually never occurred to me on the night. This was a great shame as I missed a couple of leading big gun stations somehow that would have given me some valuable new multiplier squares. Anyway I got 120 QSO in total which seemed respectable.
Here is my QSO map:
Packing up as quickly as I could by headtorch I headed down the hill almost running at some points. Even rushing it was midnight when I reached the car and 1am by the time I got to bed.
My claimed score (before adjudication) put me in 3rd place in my section. 4 multipliers (2 UK new squares) would have put me top! Missing those big station multipliers was very costly indeed!
Overall I am very pleased with the first go out this century. It was meant really as a practice run for the forthcoming 144MHz Backpacking series of contests and also the PW QRP Contest which I have always been a big fan of. The equipment all seemed to work well apart from one small temporary issue with the keyboard on the Surface Pro 3 failing to respond which was very inconvenient. I did get it going but without know how or why it stopped working.