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RSGB Convention

Jimmy and I are doing three lectures in one of the streams on the Saturday afternoon. SOTA - general presentation about the programme, Pennine Way - our 2006 trek with radios, and GI SOTA - our adventures SOTAing in Northern Ireland.

http://www.rsgb.org.uk/rsgbconvention
http://www.rsgb.org.uk/rsgbconvention/rsgb-convention-2011-provisional-programme.html

I guess many readers of this site will have already seen some/all of these, so if you are going, and I don’t see you in the “SOTA Stream” (hi), I hope to bump into you during the days, or at the dinners. Jimmy and I will be there for the MLS Buffet on Friday evening, and Gala Dinner on Saturday night as well as throughout both the Saturday and Sunday.

I will have a small selection of SOTA merchandise with me - a few T-shirts, sweatshirts, polo shirts (limited sizes), and lots of SOTA stickers and enamel badges (the badges are superb and well worth the price). We have been permitted to have them on sale during the Saturday afternoon in the ‘SOTA Stream’. Of course, a much wider stock is available direct from Barry GM4TOE.

Is anyone else going?

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

I was delighted with my badge. However, at present we have a rip in the space time continuum in that I don’t know where I put it for safekeeping! I might have to get another until my original drops out of hyperspace into my hands :wink:

Or in layman’s terms: they’re really nice stuff.

Andy
M0FMF/p

Watched a couple of good lectures this morning, and had a go at the FOC Pile Up challenge. Three SOTA related talks/presentations by Jimmy M3EYP and myself went well this afternoon and seemed well received.

Over £50 worth of SOTA goods sold between talks and a few “keep the change” overpayment donations received towards the programme as well!

Now relaxing and contemplating a visit to the leisure club before tonight’s DX Gala Dinner! Happy days.

Possibly an activation tomorrow afternoon after the trophy presentations and raffle.

Tom M1EYP

Very much enjoyed the DX Gala Dinner on the Saturday night, plus various presentations and activities on Sunday. I was presented with the 50MHz Backpackers Trophy, on which my name and callsign is set to be the last ever to be engraved, following which I took part in the contest forum (featuring an angry lobby from JO02!). After the raffle, Jimmy and I headed south towards Aylesbury and our target summit of Wendover Woods G/CE-005.

We drove down the access road and paid the £1.50 parking charge, noting the gate locking time of 6pm. It was about 4.30pm, so we figured we had plenty of time. Wrong.

We set up initially in one of Marc G0AZS’s favourite spots, where a couple of benches overlook a view with a seemingly good take off. I went on 15m CW and worked - Marc G0AZS, but not the PY or 7X that were also on the band. Jimmy got two on 2m FM, one of them being Marc G0AZS! Marc, within minutes, was on scene to meet and greet, which was a pleasant surprise.

I gave up on the 15m and set up the 40m dipole, and then my contacts came quickly and easily on 7.032MHz CW. Jimmy still struggled, even when he had a go on 40m SSB. Bang on schedule, the Forestry Commission warden drove up and announced he was locking the gates in five minutes, so we had to abandon - from that site anyway!

We moved over to the other side of Aston Hill, close to the trig point and monument, and well within the activation zone, but crucially, outside of the now closed Wendover Woods Forestry Commission site! The struggle continued for a while, until Jimmy swapped the 2m handheld for FT817 and SOTA Beam. By this time, now into early evening, stations were popping up across the band, so he got the two he needed, plus one more. A rapid packaway as darkness quickly fell, and it was time to walk back to the car and drive home.

In summary I really enjoyed the RSGB Convention, but didn’t really enjoy my SOTA activation of Wendover Woods G/CE-005.

73, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

They’re still at it then. JO02 should try living in IOx5 and northwards!

I think you’ve shown how successful the new rules are!

73
John GM8OTI

Thanks John. The participation numbers don’t lie, and the number of entrants is growing rapidly. Since the rule change I work 4 or 5 JO02 stations comfortably before 10pm, while was previously I would get one in the last five minutes - if I was lucky.

So in terms of intra-UK activity, it is very good. And as they are called the “UK Activity Contests”, that’s got the be a good thing.

But, contrary to some of their claims yesterday, the contacts into Europe are far from “worthless”. A couple of DX contacts on a UKAC evening can make a big difference to points.

I have had a couple of contests this year in particular, where DX was heard near the start, but I chose to ignore it and concentrate on building up the UK multiplier total in respect of the M5 rule. Big mistake! The result was that I ended with 25 or so more QSOs than a competitor, and four more multipliers. But with no DX contacts, versus a couple into Germany (for instance) by my competitor, I was soundly beaten by a few ten thousand points! So even with the M5 rule, the DX can make all the difference.

So these stations can and should still work all the DX, but need to leave enough time set aside to turn their beams inwards to collect up the UK squares. No bad thing, surely.

Tom M1EYP

And then the world tips itself upside down and everything is wrong. Tuesday 11th October 2011 was a horrible night with the only variation in the weather being the difference between constant drizzle and heavy rain. Even inside my new 4 man bothy bag, the was a constant sense of damp and the ground beneath me churning up with every slight move to generally make everything filthy.

Problems continued. Relatively few people were out and about for the 70cm activity contest, meaning that I finished with a QSO total of only 46 - 44 on SSB and 2 on FM. Finding my 10 multipliers in amongst that lot was also hard work. Something wasn’t right in the system with the SWR indication on the FT-817 showing between 3 bars and 5 bars all night. I fiddled with various parts of the feeder and antenna, but couldn’t identify any problems.

I was hearing stations in JO01 and JO02 well enough, and they were giving me good reports, so I suspected the SWR situation wasn’t as bad as it looked. Nonetheless, it is something to take a proper look at. I don’t think it is anything to do with the feeder, which was perfect for the 2m UKAC the previous week, although it may not be an exact mutliple of half a wavelength on 70cm!

The headtorch and full waterproofs were required from the parking spot, and my outer shell was drenched by the time I crawled into the bivvy bag to connect up the FT-817. The local fellrunning club arrived on summit around 8.30pm and told me they had been speculating as to whether I would be doing my radio tonight. “No chance” they had all agreed! But they were wrong!

So a difficult, disappointing and unenjoyable evening, for a change. My second bobbins SOTA activation in a row. But still second place in the AL section claimed scores for the session, and in with a good chance of picking up another 900+ normalised points!

I’ll tell you how horrible it was last night though. At one point I even thought “I’ve already won this year’s 70cm UKAC series, why have I come out in this?”, and even worse, around 9.30pm I even considered packing up and going home early. I didn’t, but it is worrying that my resilience has weakened enough to allow such dark thoughts to materialise.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:
“You gotta be crazy, you gotta have a real need, gotta sleep on your toes and when you’re on the band you gotta pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed” with apologies to the immortal Floyd!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to M1EYP:

I have been so busy at work that I actually completely forgot about the Tuesday evening UKAC’s this week. I did have sneaking suspicion in my mind that I had forgotten something, but it wasn’t until I read your post earlier that I suddenly dawned on me.

I do like to try to be active in the 50MHz UKAC, despite my unfeasably high noise level on that band, & I do like to have the odd dabble on 70cms, which never ceases to amaze me, as I seem to be able to work GM with relative ease, even after shortening my 9 element Tonna yagi down to 5 elements due to the wind we sometimes get around here.

I do apologise for not being on the air, & the weather was indeed dire, but I genuinely forgot :frowning:

Congraulations on the 50MHz Backpackers result, well deserved in my opinion, although I would like to see this particular section return in future years, if only because F2 propagation on the band makes 5 Watts or less much more feasable at Solar maximum than has been the case over the past few years. I have only been active on 6 metres for the past couple of years when the Sun has been very quiet, but I have been active on 10 metres since I was first licensed, & I well remember the tales of the quite astounding DX worked by those who had really taken 6 metres to heart when we first got access to the band in the UK.

Surely, any planning of the future contest calendar should be based on at least an 11 year cycle, not just “recent years” as currently seems to be the case?

I am certain there is room for an internationally co-ordinated, QRP, 50MHz contest, with sections specifically for those who are truly " backpackers".

In my view, the contest should be held alongside one for full power stations, but with less overlap in timings. The last 50MHz backpackers contest I took part in was during a good lift, but once the “Major” contest finished, the band went very quiet. Maybe if once the “Major” contest has finished there should be a further hour (or so) where normal "high power " stations are not allowed to call CQ, & can only answer CQ calls by QRP stations (ie Backpackers). With additional & substantial “multipliers” available by working the QRP stations, maybe some of the big guns will stay active in the contest long enough to really see it’s full potential.

If nothing else, it would show who has “good ears”, rather than just a “big mouth”.

Very short term thinking by the RSGB contest committee in my opinion.

Best 73,

Mark G0VOF