QRP Club

QRP Club => Mike's Tavern => Topic started by: GM0LVI on January 01, 2016, 21:18:41 UTC

Title: The Past Year on the Bands - /P
Post by: GM0LVI on January 01, 2016, 21:18:41 UTC
‘RF RELECTIONS’ :  The past year on the bands - /P

Luckily now retired, as is my XYL, we spend a bit over three months a year away from home either visiting the remoter parts of Scotland in our motorhome or in a beachside studio on the Greek island of Zakynthos.

Our first outing was in very early April to a camp site near Arisaig on our west coast where we stayed for five days. It was also the first time I’d used my newly built 3 band trapless GP. The new antenna performed well but propagation was not all that good for DX and resulted in just 47 QSOs though I did manage a contact with QRPC member – LY5G Vitas and a couple of contacts across ‘The Pond’.

The second /P outing of the year was to the isle of Barra in late April. Barra is a very small island in the Outer Hebrides and the camp site is the most westerly one in Britain – nothing but ocean until the coast of North America. It was a perfect location for playing radio as our motorhome was parked just a few metres from the edge of the ocean. Propagation had improved on what it had been a few weeks earlier and I made 23 contacts with NA and 3 with JA. The transatlantic contacts were no doubt helped by the great location. In the 9 days I was QRV I made 197 QSOs and the mechanical construction of the new GP proved itself as it withstood two quite severe Atlantic gales with no damage.

The next /P operation was from SV8 where it was considerably warmer than the previous two outings. In the studio we usually stay at in June I don’t really have space for a full size GP and in earlier years have used a home-brew centre loaded GP adjustable for 10-20m. It worked pretty well but having invested in new very light suitcases for air travel I found it wouldn’t quite fit so bought a nice, small and very light Buddstick. For its size the Buddistick worked extremely well though initial tuning was a bit fiddly but I’d also invested in a YouKits FG-01 analyser and this really did make setting up the antenna much easier, and once I’d found the approximate ‘sweet spot’ on the coil tap and telescope section, final tuning was done by adjusting the lengths of the two radials I’d deployed. Operation was very much ‘holiday style’ with the odd hour or half hour most days, but I still managed 238 QSOs, best DX being two with JA on 17m. The only QRPC members worked, as far as I know were UR5FA and LY5G (again!).

A dxpedition with three other members of the GMDX Group to the Shiant Isles was to have been my next dose of RF fun, though not QRP. Sadly after 6 months of careful planning we had to cancel at the very last minute due to stormy seas. I and XYL ended up spending a very enjoyable week on a coastal campsite north of Ullapool –a really great place for playing radio, but I’d left the KX3 at home in anticipation of using one of the2 K3s the expedition was taking to the Shiants. I’ve still got the bruises from kicking myself for not packing it!

Late July found me on Tanera Mor in the Summer Isles, IOTA EU-092, in a rented cottage on an island with no roads, shops or internet and only a marginal phone connection. My expectations of cooking up a storm on this relatively rare IOTA island were dashed when the 10m fibreglass pole that was to have supported a 10 to 40m dipole snapped about 3m up from the base when I was raising the antenna. I ended up supporting the apex via line from a bedroom window with one end of the antenna tied off in a bush and the other supported by the remaining sections of the pole. I was kicking myself for not also bring my GP, but had decided the dipole would do the job alone. As it was, working with a low dipole proved quite an interesting experience as it worked very well for close-in contacts which are something that my HF2v Butternut at home isn’t good for and I worked more UK stations than I had for many years. I also made a number of contacts with western EU and Scandinavia, but it was a waste of time calling CQ on any of the higher bands. My problems were compounded by forgetting to pack headphones,  in a cottage that contained my XYL and her sister who hadn’t seen each other for a year and therefore talked rather a lot! I ended up with a rather pathetic 59 QSOs in the log though thoroughly enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of the island.

Early September found me back on Zakynthos SV8/GM0LVI/P, though this time in a studio where I could erect a full height GP for 20 or 17m with two radials laid on the floor of the 2nd floor balcony. This antenna comprises a 10m SOTA pole (the one that snapped, though now with a replaced section) minus the three or four bottom sections. I run the radiating wire up through the pole and secure it at the top and the base is set into a section of plastic water pipe with the connector for feed and radials about 30cm above floor level. The plastic pipe also doubles as a protective tube when travelling and just fits my suitcase. Propagation was fairly poor for most of the three weeks, 20m was generally better than 17m but I found that running QRP wasn’t ideal on 20m during weekends as there seemed to be contests over every Saturday and Sunday and my pipsqueak signal was overridden even on 14.060, so weekends I operated on 17m. Although I ended up with 304 QSOs in the log I didn’t work any stations to get excited about. Working NA or SA even under very good conditions is difficult from this location on the island and of the 304 contacts those that gave me the greatest satisfaction were the dozen with G/GM and about another dozen 2 way QRP (5 Watt) QSOs.

The final /P operation of 2015 saw me back near Arisaig on our west coast (I’d planned on being on the isle of Mull but a major car rally on the island put me off the idea). The weather for our seven day stay was absolutely marvellous and very unusual for that time of year. Propagation too was pretty good. I’d bought a CG Antennas PK-4 memory keyer as it is much smaller than the WinKeyer I use at home and doesn’t take up much space on the small table I use in the motor home. But, gremlins struck and I found that if I ran much more than about 4 Watts, RF got into the keyer and made it unstable. My seven days of fairly relaxed operating and just the odd half hour or hour QRV resulted in 73 contacts with seven into NA. Biggest kick was working ZF1DX who was immersed in a pileup and getting him on my second or third call and also getting 449 from PY2TJ.

My total /P QSOs for 2015 amounted to 963, a little bit down on 2014 when I just topped 1000.
Title: Re: The Past Year on the Bands - /P
Post by: AK0B on January 07, 2016, 17:56:15 UTC
Thanks for sharing.   Hope you break 1000 this year.

de Stan AK0B
Title: Re: The Past Year on the Bands - /P
Post by: GM0LVI on January 07, 2016, 21:34:29 UTC
Thanks Stan.
I might manage to break the 1000 /P QSOs this year if I don't break the pole again!!
Title: Re: The Past Year on the Bands - /P
Post by: GM0LVI on October 22, 2016, 23:01:07 UTC
Not been a great year so far as far as regards /P activity goes as our trips away have been restricted due to what seems to have been a lot of 'things to be done or attended to at home' preventing us making more escapes from home to the Scottish islands.
However I have just, only just, managed to break the 1000/P contacts having totalled 1026 QSOs which isn't too bad I suppose considering how poor propagation has been compared with the past couple of years.
Title: Re: The Past Year on the Bands - /P
Post by: DF5WW on November 04, 2016, 05:48:27 UTC
One of my "rare" SSB contacts .... Think it was EU-092 ... The last few days from my former QTH in JO30SO with 2 x 13,5 m doublet in the garden. Meanwhile in the new QTH in JO30TK i´m back to indoor antennas...

Title: Re: The Past Year on the Bands - /P
Post by: GM0LVI on November 04, 2016, 15:17:16 UTC
Yes I was on the Summer Isles - EU-092 we worked on 28th July. Was also a rare excursion to SSB for me too, I'd only made about 4 SSB contacts in the previous 4 years!