March 30, 2009

WPX Musings

This weekend's contest has been really enjoyable. After the disasters at the start of the month, we all needed some fun. As both our masts are now considerably shorter than they were and the Spiderbeam is still out of commission, we decided to work with simple verticals and to put up some low dipoles for 40, 80 and top band. The plan was to have some fun, play with the verticals and give the new members a taste of contesting. We were not planning on a serious entry.

There is a saying in the country about the month of March which says 'in like a lion, out like a lamb' which basically means if the month starts with strong winds and storms, it will end gently. Well when we put the aerials up the day before the contest, you would not have believed it! It blew and blew. It was also rather chilly!
Anyway, by the end of the day we had verticals up for 80m, 40m and 20m. The 80m was based on an 18m fibreglass mast from Spiderbeam. It was designed for our use on our Jura dx-pedition and worked just as well here. The 40m vertical was based on a 12m fibreglass mast from Spiderbeam and was a simple wire with 4 x 5m raised radials. This aerial was our best performer over the weekend but propagation was good on 40m. The 20m vertical was based on a simple cheap fibreglass pole using 4 x 5m raised radials.
These verticals were so good we did not use the 40m or 80m dipoles at all! We were also pleasantly surprised by the top band dipole which returned about 75 contacts over the weekend. Not bad for a half wave dipole whose centre was only at about 25 feet! We joked about it being a short beverage :)

Starting at midnight, the low bands did very well and VK, Greenland and Iceland went into the log in short order. The morning brought a beautiful calm day with sunshine whic was fabulous. We soon realised that we had nothing that would work 15m very well and had not really expected an opening. However we managed to use the 40m dipole to make a couple of contacts. This was rectified the following morning by throwing some more wire at another fibreglass pole.
It only took us about 15 minutes to make and trim this quick and dirty aerial but our first contact was Tanzania!

I think we were all astounded by how well the verticals worked and we now plan to look at phased verticals to give us some 'front to back' rejection.

40m was wonderful giving us several VK's, ZL, OX and other contacts in Hawaii, Andorra, East Malaysia and the States. But all bands were good and we had a ball. We finished on 753 Q's and just under 750k points in the Multi-Single category without the use of a second mult station which was a lot more than we expected. We broke several pile-ups with the verticals and a maximum of 400W (sometimes less as the bottles are getting a bit past their best in the 811!) most notably Andorra which had a massive pile-up..

All in all we had a great time and it just shows you what can be achieved with simple aerials and legal power. There was a good bit of banter between the group members on who had the best contacts and who slept far too long :)

Thanks go once again to Barrie, G1JYB for the use of a fabulous contest site and a really nice warm shed for the shack!


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