March 03, 2012

ARRL International DX Contest 2012

Hello Folks,

Please check back with this blog for updates on the contest.

Before chatting about the contest we would like to congratulate Paul M6APB  on successfully passing his Intermediate examination this last week. Regular readers of the blog will first have seen Paul taking part in the ARRL CQWW Contest at the end of March last year where he was pretty much like a rabbit caught in the headlights as he took to the air for the first time.  It did not take him long to get used to contesting and at times it was difficult to prize him away from the Mic :)  Pauls new callsign is 2E0CKC but not for long, a little later in the year he will be studying for his full licence with his Tutor Kev G6FKE who has taught him so well.

It's Contest Time!
Well here we are at the start of a new contest season getting ready for the first major contest of 2012.  Our day started at 9am with a small group of us collecting the antenna's and equipment needed for the weekend before setting off for Oysterber Farm.

The sun was shining and I saw my first Spring Lamb which always makes your feel good!

Looking back to Hancocks Radio Hut
The guys are putting the mast up in these pictures for 160m
It's hoped that we will have some success on top band and glean a few more points 
Paul 2E0EET, Paul 2E0CKC, Hughie G4UME and Ian G0VGS

We had a full array of antenna's in the air by the end of the day covering all the bands we could use in the contest. With the exception of the 160m dipole all our antenna's are verticals.
The Sunset around 6:15pm.  Its hard to believe from these picture that we were in for a stormy night followed by rainfall until nearly lunch time.
As the sun sets over Oysterber Farm most of the team made for home to enjoy a good nights sleep ready for what promises to be a good contest during the day.

Kev G6FKE was due to come back to Hancocks Radio Hut for the start of the contest, something he was looking forward too but due to illness had to stand down in favoure of getting a decent nights sleep ready to join the group on Saturday.

Damien and I worked the graveyard shift between us.  The bands were very busy 80m being practically impossible for us to use at the start of the contest.  40m was more forgiving and we did our best under the band conditions.

Hughie G4UME and Paul 2E0EET started the daytime shift off and Andrew G0LWU called in to do some operating. 

 Damien G0LLG
Along with operating Damien was our contest manager, He cooked breakfasts and Sundays evening meal and provided a place were members could rest and sleep if needed and the caravan was also used for members to socialise when not on the air.

Brian G0RDH
 Some rare pictures of Faris operating around 10am

The pictures are rare because Faris does a lot of work with voluntary rescue organisations in Cumbria and the Lake District where as well as putting his Networking skills to good use his skills in the area of communications are used to their full extent.  This normally means that he misses out on a lot of the groups activities due to training and exercises needed to keep his skills honed and of course working as a member of a team.

Stephany did some operating on 15m during the afternoon which was great.

 Ian G0VGS joined us on Saturday afternoon along with Kev G6FKE

 He was in contesters heaven with a pileup late on Saturday afternoon when 15m opened up for a short time.

Kev has his first taste of the contest just before our evening meal on 15m

 Paul was good enough to pop down around 6pm to operate for a few hours

This allowed everyone else to join Kathy,Barrie & Stephany for a fantastic evening meal

We were treated to a fantastic evening meal starting with homemade Tomato Soup made by Barrie that was served with grated cheese, sesame seed bread, Garlic bread filled with cheese all of which went to make a great starter.  The main course was cooked by Stephany's son Spencer in the form of a proper good old fashioned Meat and Potato Pie served with seasonal vegetables.  He also made the sweet a Lemon Rulard that was first class.

Joe 2E0JEX took over from Paul 2E0CKC.  Joe operated on an off for quite some time during the late evening 

 Brian durning the 00:00 spot hunting on 40 & 80m
Kev Enjoying some free time before the start of the Graveyard Shift.  Earlier in the night Kev got a good view of  the stars and recognised a few planets not normally seen from home.

Damien and Stephany also saw a shooting star that was much talked about in the main news nationwide the following morning.

The Beast of Oysterber Farm

All remote places have their folklore and it would be remiss of me not to tell you about "The Beast of Oysterber Farm...... No its not Barrie, Kathy has him well house trained and doesn't let him out during the full moons. 

Its quite spooky in the wee small ours of the morning when all normal people are tucked up in a nice warm bed but your just stepping out of Hancocks Radio Hut making your way across the farm towards what you hope to be a nice warm caravan.   You have not taken many steps before you hear a russel in the hedgerow and a cold chill trickles down your spine....... Your not frightened its just flippin cold at 3am in the morning!

However you cannot shake that feeling that your being watched.... you hear movement but see nothing.  

On entering the caravan you feel more at ease  Hughies in one bed and mine is ready to climb into on the opposite side of a set of draws......  Hughie could hear me shivering even when I got into bed all covered up..... Now for the Mystery of the Beast of Oyserber Farm....... Whilst warming up I could feel an animal of some sort brush against the side of the caravan not one but twice.

Hughie got up at 5am and after all the fun I have made of him over the blogs he put his Blanket over my Duvet to help keep me warm...... He's a real caring gent.

I saw Barrie later in the morning and after confirming he had not snook out when Kathy wasn't looking I told him my story..... Barrie said,  It could have been a fox or deer both of which frequent the farm from time to time.

Mystery Solved or is it?

I ran my usual Sunday 2m net thanks to the use of Barries station and set off home mid afternoon.... more operators were due to cover much of the remaining contest time.   I will get more information on the latter part of the contest and report back on the blog with more details.

Heres a youtube link of Ian G0VGS operating a rare pile up for us in the contest on 15m late Saturday afternoon