September 23, 2010

Hello Folks,

Thursday was not the best day for operating for either those staying on site and operating the DX-pedition stations or the people who decided to make Thursday their day out to explore the Isle of Arran.

This picture was painted by Sally Morton and hangs in the lounge where the 80m ragchew radio is located. The paintings are of the lighthouse and fog horn at Ailsa Craig.


The first Sota activation failed to reach its objective of activating Cir Mhor, a SOTA site which was attempted by Andrew G0LWU and Steve G1TLQ. Conditions during the climb deteriorated and it was decided to abort the activation.

A second activation from Goat Fell took place on Thursday. Unfortunately one of the team had to pull out at the last minute due to heath issues which left Hughie G4UME and Paddy to attempt the climb but a bad weather front moved in preventing them from reaching the summit.

Paddy is a seasoned and widely experienced walker and climber and made sure both Hughie and himself were clear of danger at all times in what can be treacherous walking conditions.

Hughie G4UME on Goat Fell on the Isle of Arran

The weather was fine when they set off but can change very quickly

Although they never made it to the summit, they managed to climb to 2,300ft before turning back to more sheltered land and an eventual pickup by Andrew G0LWU at a pre-arranged time.

These pictures were taken by Hughie and Paddy on Goat fell before the weather closed in.

Upon his return Hughie filled his bath to the top and had a much needed soak and Paddy went to the lodge for a shower and change of clothes before checking the progress of the evening meal

After a drink and warm by the fire Hughie settled down for some 80m activity before our evening meal.

Focus on G4UME

Over the course of the blogs I have had a bit of fun at Hughie's expense and he has taken it really well. Putting the fun to one side, Hughie is a much valued member of the group and a true amateur in every way. During the week he has been active in setting the antennas up, operating on most of the bands learning to operate the K3 and FT-2000D and embraced data communications with a passion via PSK 31.

He is no longer the self proclaimed elder statesman of Sands Contest Group but acclaimed by all. Hughie has a wealth of experience in amateur radio to pass on and if you have time for a story get a fresh pint, pull up a chair and prepare to be amazed.

Mobile operations

Steve and Paul from Workington went out to operate from a mobile site, something that worked well on Jura two years ago when they had to close down for a short time to let the equipment cool down! They told me that they were disappointed with their trip out mobile with only a limited number of stations worked.

On the plus side a much awaited vertical mast for 80m arrived Thursday morning and they wasted no time in getting the mast and antenna erected for 80m. They put the antenna to good used later in the day upon returning from mobile operations and it was not long before they had a pileup.

Focus on Damien G0LLG

Damien joined the group at the beginning of 2010 and he has embraced the activities of the group from day one. Damien joined the DX-pedition at the last minute and has operated most of the stations including some early morning activity on 80m. Like many of the members Damien has learned a lot from the DX-pedition but also in experimenting with new antennas not previously used by the group.


We have all learned a great deal from the overall experience of the DX-pedition not least from the skills gleaned from the guys from Workington who were more than willing to discuss their thoughts and knowledge on antennas and operating techniques. We must not forget Brendon our CW operator who also setup the IT for the DX-pedition along with Ian so that every station could interact with the log, see what other bands were in operation and use the Internet as needed.

This is the final Blog from the Isle of Arran itself. The majority of antennas will be taken down during Friday ready for our departure on Saturday morning but more will be posted on what has been a memorable experience when we get home.

Brian G0RDH
(The Reluctant Contester)

September 22, 2010

(And Now for something Completely Different)

Hello Folks,


I will hopefully be able to enter a report giving information about a SOTA activation on Goat Fell by our two elder statesman Hughie G4UME and Paddy on Thursday. Martin M0ZIF got up early with every intention of leading them but had to back out at the last minute due to ill health.

80m Mast Disaster

We had a disaster on Wednesday when the 80m mast broke as DX-pedition members tried to put it up. This was due to wear and tear and nothing to do with the winds or bad techniques in putting it up.

Focus on our cooks (Food Glorious Food)

The focus on this blog will be on two of the most important members of the DX-pedition Mark and Paddy who have fed the troops and acted as our rapid emergency response team.

Mark and Paddy have kept us well fed with a full English Breakfast to start the day, Sandwiches for lunch and a monster of an evening meal of which I would defy anyone to claim they are hungry after eating it.

My favorite has to be the Sunday evening meal in the form of Roast lamb which is marinated over night in an array of herbs to bring the flavour out. Here's some pictures to help you understand what I am referring too.

Paddy Prior to Roasting

Paddy's Carvery

Roast Lamb, Yorkshire Pudding, Roast Potatoes Carrot and Swede, Cabbage, Pea's and Gravy

Damien and Andrew getting tucked in.

Hughie wondering where to start.

For those of you who have worked him on CW, this is Brendan with his (You have got to be joking face on as he wonders where to start)

and finally
Ian who knows exactly where to start!

Sunset on Sunday Night

Ian Operating a cats whisker.

Ian giving Smudge a little fuss.... She still looks like a kitten but is in fact 9 years old. I am told that she had a litter a little too early and this has stunted her growth.

I spent a little time with her and she would roll for you on command which was cute.

Reports on Band activity so far.

At the beginning of the week Brendan started activity sending CW and things have been that busy with him you have to book an appointment two days in advance in the hope of getting a short interview..... That's not because he is anti social, just merely that he seems to be working so many CW stations..... However I have a theory that he's pulling the wool over my eyes by recording a a few hours of activity and playing it back through the headphones as a loop.

Ian reported that he had a good run on 15m during Wednesday with many stations from Japan and Asiatic Russia and a Stateside station. This was done over Marks K3 Station.

Focus on G0VGS and his station

Pictures of Ian's Station

Ian's station has been run successfully for PSK 31 and Ian, Andrew, and Hughie

Andrew working 20m on Ian's K3

Heres a you tube link showing Andrew working 20m on Ian's K3

This picture of Steve operating the 80m ragchew station was taken by Ian using his iPhone from a distance of around 15ft and its not bad at all.

Focus on Martin M0ZIF's Station

It has not for the want of trying but the VHF/UHF station using Martins equipment has been something of a disappointment for him despite him putting a lot of personal effort and expense into his station especially on the antenna side. although I have been able to relay information from people wanting 6m contacts too him. Here is a short clip taken by Martin M0ZIF showing his antenna array as he pans his camera.

Martins Station is a TS-2000 with an EP 925 Power Supply, LDG KT100 Tuner

LDG Tuner Specifications
• 0.1 to 125 watt power range (SSB and CW),
100W on 6M.
• 2000 memories for instantaneous band changing.
• Controlled from Kenwood Tuner button on the
• Works with any Kenwood radio that is
compatible with the AT-300 antenna tuner.
• Partial radio list: TS-50, TS-480, TS-570, TS-
690, TS-850, TS-870, TS-2000.
• Tuning time: 0.1 to 6 seconds full tune, 0.1
seconds memory tune.
• 1.8 to 54.0 MHz coverage. Built-in frequency
• Tunes 4 to 800 ohm loads (16 to 150 on 6M), 4
to 3200 ohms with optional 4:1 Balun.
• For Dipoles, Verticals, Vs, Beams or any Coax
Fed Antenna.
• Optional external Balun allows tuning of random
length, long wire or ladder line fed antennas.
• Includes Kenwood interface cable and coax jumper. Ready to use right out of the box.
• Small Size Enclosure: 6.5L” x 6.5W” x 1.25H”.
• Weight: 2 pounds

I refer to the DX-pedition as being a K3 Convention with K3's forming the backbone of our radio operations at Drumla Farm. Heres a picture of one of the Workington Amateurs Steve operating one of the K3 Stations on 18MHz

A Lift on 80m

As usual with 80m signals, there have been ups and downs but none more so than with Bill G0GNE which has to be one of the more unusual contacts. He was operating from his sideloading Forklift

I am not going to spoil things for Bill by posting any more of his pictures.... Take a look on under his callsign G0NGE and you can learn more about him.....

Thanks for the call Bill it made me smile to hear about your working conditions in Leyland.

And in the best tradition of News at 10 and the Two Ronnie's...... And Finally!

Most Wanted

Sorry Hughie, I could not resist doing something with this picture after reviewing the pictures of the day.

Hughie G4UME the self proclaimed Elder Statesman of the group waited for a break in the showers and went out by himself to break the mast down into its component parts.... Well done that man.

For those who are regular visitors to the blog you may have noticed that I have had a whole load of fun at Hughie's expense..... But he is a treasure always there to lend a hand when the call goes out and in true old school style lets you know if he thinks your slacking.

For those who miss the first picture here it is:

That's it from this Blog

September 20, 2010

More adventures from the Isle of Arran

Hello Folks

Monday has been a good day, not only for the wx but also the contacts. Ian G0VGS started the ragchew station by making contacts with the Coast to Coast net on 3.662MHz where he was able to make contact with stations back home and Scarborough. Ian went on to take over the frequency and worked a pile up from many areas of the country.


The day started with a good shower but once that was out of the way we had a gloriously sunny day. This allowed Martin M0ZIF to get his 6m antenna up completing a series of beams covering 2m 6m and 70cm.

The Weather today has been glorious with the last of the rain falling around 10am. This allowed for some more work on the antennas.

Martin M0ZIF and Damien G0LLG

The VHF Antennas

Pictured above are a couple of pictures of are some of the Antennas Martin M0ZIF is using on VHF/UHF

Martin has been running on a TS2000X on 70cm SSB and FM, 2m SSB and FM and 6m SSB. We have also been running 15m SSB from a K3 in the downstairs shack.

DXpedition Focus

During the course of the this event I am going to focus on one or more stations to let you see the setup.

I am going to focus on Brendan's CW station today to give you an insight into the equipment and activity. Brendan is the shy and retiring gentleman in the photograph with the sunglasses on.

Brendan's antenna (30m vertical) was one of the first to be put up on Saturday and he wasted no time in getting his station operational. Since then 2 beverages have been added for receive.

You will see from the blogs to come that the DXpedition has been close to becoming an Elecraft K3 convention with no less than 4 K3's in operation during the event. All operators brought their own equipment as a complete standalone station that could be setup by the owner and used by all 12 operators.

Begali Keyer

Brendan did not just bring this Key for show, he uses it on air and what a key it is to use. I first heard about Begali via Ian G0VGS who has owned one for a few years now. When he told me how good it was to use I had to give it a try and I was not disappointed. The key is a Rolls Royce of keys with very high standards of engineering.

The Simplex Mono is a single lever key with a heavy (1.4 kg or more than 3 pounds) gold or palladium plated base and gold plated components. This photo shows the palladium plated base - for a visual impression of the gold plated base and the dust cover, take a look at the Simplex on the Begali site. Like the other keys it is manufactured using NC machinery for absolute precision. Micro-threaded screws are used for all adjustments. The pivot uses ball bearings that are imbedded in the base and the moving components are made of a light-weight alloy. This key uses a novel approach with a segmented lever that provides decoupling of the two sides and an exceptionally well defined neutral position. The contacts are 925/000 silver. The key comes with a protective dust cover.

If you come from a history of using mechanical bugs or straight keys you may find the operation of a single lever key easier than the "squeeze" mode of iambic paddles. Even if you are using a dual lever key today you may want to get this precision key for its sheer beauty and the occasional diversion to create dits and dahs in a more old-fashioned way.

( This information was copied from the Martin Lynch & Sons Website where information can be found on a whole range Begali Keys )

Brendan also uses the Winkeyer to good effect where it works well with the N1MM Logging Software. Here's what looks like a unit un-boxed
  • WinKeyer2 Controller IC
  • USB Interface to any PC
  • Supported by all major logging apps
  • Key by paddle or by PC
  • Built-in iambic A/B and ultimatic keyer
  • Autospace
  • True adjustable weighting
  • Keying Compensation
  • Two output ports with PTT
  • Low power standby
  • Optically isolated, solid state relay outputs
  • HSCW and QRSS
  • Speed control 5-99 WPM

Elecraft P3 Panadapter

I have placed a link below so that you can see the Panadapter in action similar to the one used by Brendan. I understand that there are more downloads to come making this unit even more useful than it is now.

From my few days with Brendan, I have found he has a very good a sense of humour that shines out along with his personality. I only really get to speak to him at meal times because once the cans are on and he smells the blood of a CW contact, he's in the zone and making as many contacts as he can.

Well that's about it for now

Take a listen out for all the stations on air from Arran, and you will also find two more DXpeditions worthy of your interest taking place on the Isle of Mull and Isle of Skye


Brian G0RDH ( The Reluctant Contester)

MS0SCG Tales from Arran

Tales from the Isle of Arran

Hello Folks,

First of all please accept my apologies for the late start to the daily blog. We set off from Morecambe as planned around 7am with the local pickups completed by 07:30 on a wet and blustery morning. We joined the M6 just beyond Carnforth and headed for the DXpediton rally point at Gretna Services where we met up with the guys from Workington and grabbed some refreshments. We set off on the last phase of our journey to meet up with the final member of the team Brendon EI6IZ who was meeting us at the ferry to Arran at Ardrossan.

Pics from the car.

Brian G0RDH

I traveled down following the white van driven by Ian G0VGS. The van was filled up the day before with all the masts, antennas, food and may of the suit cases.

In total there was one Van and two cars taken from Morecambe, Workington took two vehicles and Brendan came with a van and his CW station which was to prove so effective.

Pics from the ferry.

We joined the 12:30 sailing from Ardrossan

Maneuvering to leave port


As you can see we had a a calm crossing although there was a bit of a wind up on deck

Steve, Brendan, Ian, Andrew and Kev are all shown in this picture.

All credit to Kev G6FKE who for the third DXpedition of the group has faced problems with with sailing.

Our DXpedition base for the week. The lower floor is the Whins which has the 80m ragchew station in the lounge and the VHF/UHF station in the large kitchen. We had one set of bunk beds one of which was used by Martin, one double room used by Andrew and Steve and one single room with en-suite used by me.

Entrance to the Willow and Beech apartments where the CW and 20m stations are located via three K3s.

All our meals are prepared by Mark and Paddy in Rowan Lodge where Mark, Paddy, Kev and Damien have their rooms.

Antennas setup on Saturday.

Once we had the accommodation sorted, the guys got busy setting up putting the Nest of Dipoles
covering topband, 80m and 40m (They will also cover 20m and 15m). The 40m phased array was assembled as well as the 17m 5/8 vertical.


Today we made a 30m vertical, a 20m phased array. We also ran out two 100m Beverages, one running North to South and the other East to West. Both are working exceptionally well.


The antenna rigging crew set to work this morning on a 15m vertical. The 6 metre beam was also assembled. The only vertical we have not yet put up is the 80m antenna due to strong winds.

Looking for a good fishing spot.

Phased Verticals on 20m

Damien having a little fun whilst setting up the 20m phased Verticals on Sunday Morning

Martin M0ZIF setting up the 6m beam