As summer gives way to autumn the group sets to work preparing for the last major contest of 2010. Its always a time of uncertainty for us because the Wx is so changeable and we have to be prepared for a last minute change of venue in the event of bad weather, however the weather was kind to us and we were privileged to witness an autumnal mosaic of colour as the countryside and animals get ready for winter.
(Please note that if you click on the images they are enlarged for a better view)
This is the first contest we've been involved in since returning from a highly successful and enjoyable DX-Pedition to the Isle of Arran in September. Damien G0LLG has taken on the responsibility of Contest Manager and although not in the best of health, with the help and support of his partner Annette they have lead by example in so many ways.
Antenna's masts and accessories were collected from storage and we headed up to Oysterber Farm arriving in the early afternoon on Friday, the day before the contest. A small group of members set to work putting the masts and antenna's up for the 2010 CQ WW SSB Contest which once running lasted for a full 48 hours.
This picture shows Damien instructing the team on which of the guy ropes to either add or release tension on before tying them off. under his guidance the mast will have a good vertical length without sections bending out of shape. This is the mast that will support the nest of dipoles Topband, 80 and 40 metres.
A welcome place for rest and relaxation
Damien and Annette's Caravan along with the big tenty thing were sited in a fenced off paddock at Oysterber Farm for touring caravans. Whilst Damien and the rest of the team got busy with the antenna's, Annette set to work pumping the inflatable mattresses up ready for contest operators to get some much needed sleep away from the station. The Caravan was also a place where members could meet and socialise away from the contest. The antenna seen in this picture is our 20m phased vertical.
Technical and Antenna Team
Damien G0LLG, Faris M0ZFA, Martin M0ZIF, Paul M6PEW, and Hughie G4UME were joined by Ian G0VGS to set the antenna's up and many were just finishing off at 7pm. Faris set our internet link up and Ian made sure the computer was setup with the N1MM logging software..
We have found an effective way of adjusting ground-planes that can be seen in this picture. We purchased packs of electric fence posts from the internet. They are fairly cheap, offer a number of height settings for the wire and very lightweight.
Antenna's used for this event were:
- Nest of dipoles: Topband 80 and 40
- 20m Phased Vertical
- 40m Vertical
- 15m Vertical
One of the funniest things we saw whilst putting the masts up was Hughie walking down the field with a flock of sheep following behind in perfect pace.... if Hughie stopped, they stopped. Sadly I could not get the camera out in time to catch this. The picture above was taken the following day of our very own Dr. Doolittle.
Damien did a sterling job organising operating slots so that the event was covered, operators worked for two hours before another member took their slot. I started the ball rolling 1am till 3am....
Hughie arrived well before his allotted time, but he came baring a freshly made flask of coffee and biccy's that are never turned down. Damien took over from Hughie and later set too as QM for the event preparing breakfast.
Bacon, Irish Sausage, Tomatoes and Free Range Eggs. Ian has been very passionate about us using free range egg's and Damien and I learned why as Ian related his experience as a BT engineer.
Ian told us of visits he had to make to sites where battery hens were kept and how upset he became after each visit at the conditions these hens had to live. I'm not on any crusade in mentioning this but both Damien and I were touched by his sincerity and feelings as Ian relayed his experiences.
Looking back down the meadow towards Hancock's Hut..... The beam antenna was not in use by the group, but Barrie has enjoyed some good contacts on it over the last few months.
Hancock's Hut and a lovely holly bush overloaded with red berries.
Operators during the day were on Saturday:
Hughie G4UME, Brian G0RDH, Damien G0LLG, Ian G0VGS, Faris M0ZFA, Andrew G0LWU
A lovely view taken in the early morning from the front of Oysterber Farm. If you enjoy activating the SOTA summits you can see one in the distance behind the tree's many will have climbed.
Saturdays Evening Meal:
Barrie Kathy and Stephany treated us to a great 3 course meal on Saturday night. Ian stayed with the Station to keep the points coming in and I took over operating at 9pm.
Starter: Homemade Potato and Leek Soup
Potato and Leak soup made by Barrie with plenty of double cream. (Those bowls are larger than you think, there was no skimping on portions)
Lemony-garlicky lamb stew with a Greek influence
Have you ever seen a happier man!
The link below shows the recipe Barrie used
Barrie also gave me a few tips in area's he had modified from the original recipe seen below in a green font.
I also added a generous helping of Black Greek Olives, a tin of Tomatoes and of course a couple or three glasses of Wine, I used Red as I had no White, I have done it with both and it doesn’t matter.
The real secret is to marinade it at least overnight and if possible I like to leave it for 2 nights in the Fridge, of course stirring it regularly.
2 hours in the Oven is fine, I have also done it using the Slow Cooker, even better, there was too much on Saturday to do it that way though.
The rice was cooked by Barrie's wife Kathy and cooked to perfection complimenting the rest of the meal perfectly. Kathy works tirelessly behind scenes in the kitchen playing such an important part in making sure the evening is an event to remember.
Sweet: Apple and blackberry pie
This was made by Stephany with fruits she collected from the farms apple trees and hedgerows.
Barrie bringing our sweet to the table with Stephany wondering how she managed to make such a big pie.
The pie was served with double cream, much needed to keep the graveyard shift a little warmer in the night.
I can taste this sweet just by looking at it.... beautiful!
Whilst we were all enjoying the meal, Ian opted to stay with the station and get a few more points in the contest.
I took over at 9pm to allow Ian to get some food and rest. Ian returned at 11pm to give me a break.
I took over from Ian again operating into the Wee small hours of the morning when I was joined by Damien.
Damien worked the rest of the night until the daytime operators arrived.....
It's Breakfast time again!
Here's a few pictures of our vertical masts and antenna's
Ian used a new pole bought the at the GQRP convention a week before the contest, this was broken by one of the sheep who thought it made a good scratching post. Around a foot was broken from the base but we were able to carry on. Since the event our Elder Statesman Hughie has modified the base of the masts with UPVC overflow pipe which works great.
Over night a few rams managed to get into the meadow which is fenced all round either by fencing or thick hedgerow.... Its a mystery how they got in and they were not all that eager to leave.
Back to the contest
Sunday was another good day for contesting operators for the day were:
Damien G0LLG, Ian G0VGS, Chris G4LDS, Martin M0ZIF, Andrew G0LWU, Kev G6FKE
This has been a good contest with many parts of the world worked, all the bands were good to us and Kev particularly enjoyed his time on topband which was new territory because the group have been working all the other bands.
Damien and Annette were good enough to treat the group to Steak Pie and Chips for Sunday nights meal.
Our thanks go out to Barrie and Kathy for hosting the event and supplying another feast for our Saturday evening Meal.
Damien and Annette for all the work they put into the event both as Contest Manager and hospitality.
And of course thanks to all the stations who worked G1T (Golf One Tango) during the contest.
And thanks to everybody who takes the time to read my ramblings during the course of the year.
This is the last major Group contest for 2010 but we will be active during the RSGB Sprints and other contests during the festive season.
The next Blog will cover the GQRP Convention
73 for now
(The Reluctant Contestor)