Hello from Adelaide Island!
Coming from an active contesting group, one of the things I'd looked
forward to trying out while down South was getting involved in a
contest, and being that rare DX! The summer season at Rothera is very
busy radio-wise, involving a lot of time running our Aeronautical Radio
Station (like Air Traffic Control, but we only make 'suggestions',
instead of telling people what to do.) Evening are taken up either by
late-night flying, or a round of skeds with each of our field parties,
with the result that there isn't much time when the radios aren't in
use. Fortunately, Rothera's summer co-incides with the off-season for
The ARRL International DX phone contest, the first major phone contest of the season, fell on a weekend towards the end of the summer season with a good chance of there being no flying out of base, so I decided to dust off my K3, hook it up to an Acom 2000 and one of the base antennas, and see how I did.
After finishing work on Friday, I started converting the tower into
a contest shack.
The shack, pre-setup
The shack, ready to go
There's nothing like starting a contest with a fully-stocked fridge!
I started calling on 20m a few minutes before the start of the contest to warm up, and worked W3LPL and LU1EEG. The first half an hour of the contest proper was quite slow, only yielding 5 contacts. However, patient calling (and the K3's voice keyer!) paid dividends eventually, and at 00:30 the pile-up started. I couldn't stay up too long, owing to work the following morning, but 178 Qs were logged before I finally called it a night.
Saturday dawned bright and blustery, and was taken up by a training session for Winters in the morning. The weather had calmed down by the afternoon, and I decided to take a break from base to head up to Vals, our local 'ski resort' for a few hours.
Looking down towards the ski hut from the top of the run
Skiing back to base
After formal dinner on Saturday evening, I sneaked off to the tower for another stint. I discovered that searching-and-pouncing was a complete waste of time for me, since no-one in the States seemed to be beaming in my direction (oddly enough!) I tried running again, but really struggled to find a frequency. Eventually I found a suitable spot and started calling, and before long was inundated again -- at one point working at a rate of over 200 Qs/hour, and finishing the evening with
379 contacts logged.
Sunday was a quiet end to the contest, with lots of other activity on base. Propagation didn't seem to be in my favour earlier on in the day, but I'd set myself the goal of 500Qs, and sat down for another stint in the evening. Unfortunately, 20m had turned into a bit of a zoo by that point, with everyone anxious to squeeze out a last few contacts. Without enough room to work split, and with everyone frantically calling, my Q rate was significantly down on Saturday's.
Final result: 524 stations in the log, in just over 5 and a half hours total operating.
All in all, not a bad start for a casual contest entry from down South. Unfortunately, CQWW WPX falls on the weekend of Last Call---the final ship visit to Rothera for the season. The RRS Ernest Shackleton is due to depart on the 28th, ushering in the official beginning of Winter, and no more contact with the outside world until late October, so I might not get much operating time!
One of the antennas in use, with a very rare Antarctic rainbow.
73 from Sands Contest Group, VP8 section!
Mike, M0PRL / VP8DMH