September 07, 2010

RSGB SSB Field Day 2010

RSGB SSB Field Day

This years RSGB Field Day was full of drama as we prepared for the Big Event. Like all contests it starts with preparation.... Finding out who is available, deciding what equipment you need to take and organising an antenna rigging crew.

The crew this weekend were: Hughie G4UME, Martin M0ZIF, Damien G0LLG, Andrew G0LWU with Brian G0RDH looking after photography. As you can see from the pictures below it was a beautiful morning with a mild breeze, the sort of weather anyone doing field day dreams about.....

The sunshine stayed with us until mid-afternoon when the sky grayed over and we eventually had a downpour that started around 8pm.... A shame because we were looking forward to watching the International Space Station fly over at around 10:15pm.

Damien & Martin

Problems warts and all

I strongly believe in posting information on both our successes and our failures.... why you might ask? The answer is simple provided you address it..... In every failure you can learn how and why it occurred, a process that can only make you stronger.

We planned to use a doublet for the contest but things did not go quite as planned. Our thanks go out to Hughie who spent time sourcing the parts and building a 80m-10m Doublet using plans by G3RWF. Nether the plans nor Hughie were at fault but the antenna didn't quite work out and we did not have time to experiment with the contest start time looming ever nearer.

The original idea was to suspend the Doublet in free space between two masts with the feeder dropping from the centre of the antenna. I opted for using a single mast to support the centre of the antenna. My thoughts in doing this was to save collecting two masts with the ultimate aim of cuttting down the time needed to erect the anntenna, in hind sight this was a mistake, I had not taken into account the adverse effects the alloy mast could have with the feeder being so close even though it was pulled away from the mast.

Since the event we have had the time to do a postmortem, and we will try the antenna again sometime soon. There is a positive side to this tale of woe, hopefully my candor in explaining this problem will be something for other contesters/prospective contesters to think about and give them food for thought when experimenting with antenna's.

The day was saved by Stephany G1LAT with a Windom constructed by Barrie G1JYB for SOTA operations.

Logging software
There was a glitch with the SD logging software that was eventually sorted out, but this was down to human error and not the software.

Field Day Station:
Our Generator and FT-920 HF station was supplied by Damien G0LLG and both provided excellent service to our base at Hancock's Hut.

The generator was small but purred like a kitten supplying all our power for the event.

The last time the group used an FT-920 it was for the Abolition of the Slave Trade special event station at Sunderland Point. This model made a welcome return as a contest station in the restricted section for Field Day, it was a dream to use with its well laid out controls, great receiver and transmitter.

Our Shack for field day was Hancock's Hut which is located in a fenced off garden area at the back of Barrie's house. The impressive StepIR on the mast was not used for the contest, our antenna is located in the Meadow you can see in the foreground. Hancock's hut is a double skinned shed which keeps us warm and helps with noise reduction of the wind and rain, should it visit.

Band Conditions.
Band conditions were fairly good no doubt helped by the zero noise floor at Oysterber Farm.

Operators for the weekend

We did well for operators during the weekend with

Andrew G0LWU

Martin M0ZIF

Hughie G4UME

Damien G0LLG
you can see a short video of Damien operating during the graveyard shift by clicking on this link

Mark M0DGK
Other operators were Joe 2E0JEX and Brian G0RDH and Stephany offered to operate if needed.

Guard Sheep:

Our resident guard sheep...... makes dogs look like pussy cats...... Don't mess with the sheep!.

Evening Meal:
Barrie and Kathy were good enough to invite us in for our evening meal.

Main Course
Stephany cooked individual Shepherds Pie served with garden peas, red cabbage and cherry tomatoes that had been nicely marinated in herbs and balsamic vineger. Not knowing anything about this dressing I took a look on the internet and borrowed the information below.

What is balsamic vinegar?

How does a lowly vinegar come to reap such praise? As far back as 900 years ago, vintners in the Modena region of Italy were making balsamic vinegar which was taken as a tonic and bestowed as a mark of favor to those of importance.

Although it is considered a wine vinegar, it is not a wine vinegar at all. It is not made from wine but from grape pressings that have never been permitted to ferment into wine.

If you would like to learn more about this subject and read the full webpage I can highly recommend the source of the information above

A few went back for seconds of everything..... No names, no pack drill :)

Our sweet for the evening was a s
easonal apple and blackberry crumble filled with fruit freshly gathered from Barrie and Kathy's apple trees and blackberries picked that afternoon by Stephany around Oysterber Farm. The crumble was served hot with chilled double cream.

Fun and High Jinx

Hughie operated the radio on numerous occasions during the contest and we dived for the first aid kit when a station asked his age..... In fairness to Hughie the contact did not identify himself as a Working all Asia contest station.

During our off time from the radio we would either try and get a little sleep or chat for a while before our next stint on the radio. Poor Hughie was trying to get some sleep in Hancock's Pit but found it strangely difficult as Damien and I went into a little windup routine guaranteed to spike Hughie's interest.... and it was all Martin could do not to laugh as he was working contest stations.

As you can see Hughie finally managed to get some sleep in Hancock's Pit after his bedtime stories but lacking his full 40 winks was to cost him of what he holds dear.... his money! More later!

Breakfast was a little late

Breakfast was a little late served at + or- Watson time

I was QM for the event and made the traditional Sands Contest Group Breakfast; sausage, egg, bacon, freshly sliced mushrooms and tomatoes, all delicately placed in a large Bun/Barmcake.

We were joined by Mark M0DGK who arrived just in time for the last meal before taking over the radio to give us a break.....

In foolhardy; nay dare I say uncharacteristic outburst, Hughie surprised us all by announcing " Right Mark, get on that radio and I'll give you a pound for every contact made!" Sanity was soon restored as our very own Private Frazer came to his senses upon hearing Mark rack up 8 contacts. Hughie in a weak, feeble, terrified and slightly pleading tone of voice said "Now slow down son, I've only got a wee pound coin in my pocket you understand, only a wee pound coin ye hear!"

All in all it was a good weekend. We won't be anywhere near the high scoring stations in the contest but all who took part will remember it fondly for years to come.

Below are a few pictures I took over the weekend but if you would like to stay at Oysterber Farm click on the link below and you can see inside the accommodation. There is also a small caravan paddock with mains power available and other amenities. Oysterber Farm is a Certified Location of the Caravan Club.

If you would like to see some video, Chris M5XYZ has done a great job using a model helicopter as a platform for some nice aerial shots.

Well that's the end of this blog. We're now getting the equipment ready for our DX-Pedition to the Isle of Arran to activate IOTA along with a few SOTA activations. We're on the Isle of Arran for one week starting on the 18th of September, our callsign is MS0SCG.

We hope to have nearly all modes in operation running via six stations with the aid of Workington ARC who will be operating from our base and on the road mobile from time to time. Brendan, EI6IZ is joining us from Ireland. Brendan will be operating CW and Andrew and Martin will be doing both SOTA activations and operating data modes. You will find me on 80m running a ragchew station via the FT-2000D so draw up a chair with a drink of what you fancy and come and join us.

I will be keeping a running blog each day so don't be a stranger or as they say in Scotland, "Hast Ye Back". Information will also be available on if you look under MS0SCG

73 for now

Brian G0RDH "The Reluctant Contester"

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