April 16, 2012

Wray Scarecrow Festival GB4WSF

Well here we are again, it's time for the Wray Scarecrow Festival and for those of you who have never been to this event, you will be quite surprised if you pass through Wray between the28th April and 7th May. Every house is adorned with a scarecrow of some description, you will even be more surprised to see a 15 foot scarecrow walking down the middle of the road towards you, of which there are at least 6 This event is attended by thousands each year.

Bank Holiday Monday is a real family day and enjoyed by young and old. There is ample parking on the field, although please be aware it will be very busy! There is food available in the village institute, marquee on the field and the cafe at the end of the village.

This year it is their 25th Anniversary, so we have been asked to put on a special event station. The call sign is GB4WSF. It is also about B4RN (Broadband For the Rural North), a community project to bring superfast fibre optic broadband to the rural areas of Lancashire, so it will be a joint venture.

We have the call sign from 26/04/12 to 08/05/12. The main day for operating will be on Bank Holiday Monday 7th May and we will be operating from a prime position on the main field where all the events and rural craft demonstrations take place.

We will also be operating on other days for short periods on most of the HF, VHF, UHF bands in the vicinity.

Please see our QRZ.com page GB4WSF and follow the links to see images taken by me at previous year's events, the diary of events which take place through the year and also for QSL information.

Please come and visit our station and make yourself known to us and most of all enjoy the event.

Stephany G1LAT

April 02, 2012


Hello Folks,
Sadly I was not available to take part in this contest as my XYL dragged me kicking and screaming off to the West Coast of Scotland for a glorious holiday. So I asked members of the group who were there to send me a few words on the contest along with any photos.

Contest Manager Ian G0VGS

Antenna working Party
The aerial party was Ian G0VGS, Faris M0ZFA, Paul 2E0CKC and Hughie G4UME.
Unfortunately, last minute illnesses saw us being short handed for both days but everyone rallied round and put in the hours. We all had a great time although we had great difficulty finding run frequencies. 15m was very active and stayed open late. 10m opened occasionally but not enough to stay around. I guess we were a little to far north for the propagation. Despite not working the night shifts we still put in a good effort and everyone exceeded their normal numbers.

Picture by Stephany G1LAT
Kev G6FKE has not been well for some months now and much to his disappointment he had to stay home but the doctors think they have got to the bottom of the problem and he is starting to feel better. Kev and I normally do the graveyard shift that sets everything up for guys during the day but sadly this was not to be.

Hughie started the contest at 05:00 and worked for 6 hours solo.
Ian G0VGS is operating here with Paul 2E0CKC waiting to take over as needed
Photograph by Stephany G1LAT

I have been asked to put some thoughts together on the recent CQ WW WPX Contest. Being a member of Sands Contest Group, I always look forward to these events not just for the contest but also for the company and Barrie's hospitality.

I arrived at Oysterber around Saturday lunchtime and duly setup my motorhome in the field adjacent to the antenna farm, I did notice that we seemed to be short of our usual multitude of antennas? The weather was superb and the first real sunshine of the year, the lambs were in the fields and it felt like a glorious lazy summers day, not late March in Yorkshire!

After making the short walk to Hancocks hut I discovered why we seemed to be short on Antennas. This as explained by Ian (G0VGS) was down to two reasons, firstly on many contests we have a full crew to man the station day and night but no operators had booked in for the midnight onwards slot (Kev's (G6FKE) favourite time). I am sure Kev is related to the Strigidae! Unfortunately he was unable to make the contest. This meant that 80m and 160m were not going to be utilised so there was no point in going to the effort of constructing them. The second reason was an unfortunate accident with the vertical mast (I believe it now fits in the boot of the car better now though!)
In my experience by about 11pm, 20m has collapsed and 40m is unworkable. My slot was booked for 9.00pm to midnight to take over from Paul 2E0CKC so apologies to any contacts made during this time, both to contacts badly made and errors in the log made by me.

After yet another truly astounding meal by Barrie and his merry crew. The menu for the evening was homemade Cauliflower & Broccoli soup, Cottage Pie (and especially the sugar high inducing cake disguised as lemon roulade)

Homemade Lemon Roulade
Barrie made the soup, Stephany made the cottage pie and Stephany's son Spencer who is a fantastic chef provided the lemon roulade.

Paul 2E0CKC
Photograph by Joe Jex 2E0JEX

I was set to take over from Paul. Paul was having great success on 20m and had a run frequency with many contacts made during his slot. I decided to stay on the same frequency and started a search and pounce routine ensuring I hit the multipliers, then at least my score wouldn’t look too dismal.

The band was solid wall to wall contesters and space was at a premium. I think it was the first time I had heard the band that crowded. Once I narrowed the filter down on the exceptional Elecraft K3 it was like shooting fish in a barrel, pulling out signals so close to each other that without the filter and frequency shift it sounded like a thousand people shouting all at once. This continued well beyond the time I would expect 20m to still be available but by 11pm I was still contacting America with the usual comments of “Booming Signal”, Excellent Audio” and “Golf One….. Ha Ha… I get it” I was even working EU and Inter G stations were audible. The weather and tropospheric conditions were in our favour!

By 12pm, I was conscious no one was taking over from me, so had a quick check to see what 40m was looking like, (my ears were also trying to recover from the constant barrage on 20). 40 was indeed dead. N1MM and the cluster only showed 5 stations active as opposed to over 100 on 20. Should I sit on 40 and open a run frequency with no activity but loads of space or go back to 20 and make a couple more contacts? I decided to take the easy option as I knew if I moved to 40 I was going to commit to at least 3 hours of operating and the roulade levels were dropping!!
So a quick switch back to 20m and it was utterly dead!

A quick switch back to 40m (mainly to ensure I had selected the right antenna :-)) and the entire world and his dog had moved lock stock and barrel to 40, it was almost a complete mirror image in the space of exactly 6 minutes!
I am glad I experienced that phenomenon as words simply don’t explain how one band can shut and another one open so drastically. I am disappointed however that Kev was unable to make the contest because he would have loved working the band that night (and increased our score considerably)
Many thanks to all members of the group for their hard work and dedication in arranging and facilitating the contest, but above all a friendly, welcoming and fun group of people to be around!

Chris Baker G4LDS

I arrived at the contest site around 08:45 (BST) with the sun breaking through the mist making the verticals shine, the lambs & ewe in the fields were bleating away, the curlews were singing and the muffled voice of Hughies " Gulf ONE Tango".
After a brew of tea, we stood in the sun dicussing the work being carried out on the FL2000B linear then the moment Ive been waiting for, "Wanna do some operating?"
After a very quick intro on the software & how to track down worked stations in the log I sat down, logged on and tuned the K3. A check on 20m found lots of stations but most worked. A quick check & a couple came into the log.
Looking at the time, USA should be coming through on 15m so a quick QSY and some great signals. A tune around, dropped Gulf One Tango and worked my first Ever Chinese stations (just wished it was under my own call :)).
A QSY to 10m found the band opening & worked Australia, Thailand, Nambia and 5V5 (look that up) After a while, I ran out of stations to work, not enough activity to try a CQ and create a run list so back to 15m. So time to leave and go home and let Ian take over. So worked a few stations some juicy DX/countries and gained a few points.

Faris M0ZFA

Other members taking part in the contest were: Faris M0ZFA and Stephany G1LAT

A final word from G0RDH
As many contest stations will know, contests do not just happen. Its not just a case of members turning up on contest day and sticking the headset on and pressing the PTT.... It takes Organisation, Motivation, Planning and Commitment.
We are really fortunate and honoured that Barrie and Kathy have allowed us to use of their property to literally set up an antenna farm in a meadow that is currently looking after some sheep and new born lambs. We also have a purpose built Shack where equipment can be setup and used safely in all weathers.
Someone has to set the antennas up ready for the contest in this case and many before them Hughie, Faris, Paul and Ian took up the task but other members have helped in the past, work commitments allowing.
Sands Contest Group use members radio equipment. More often than not we use Ian's Elecraft K3 but other sets have been used in the past. Thanks to Linda for allowing the group to use her linear for the event and most of the events in the past. Without it we would have been whistling in the wind with contacts harder to make against the stations many of which were running 1kW.
Barrie, Kathy and Stephany always surprise us with some real gastronomic delights on the Saturday evening. It's an evening where members can relax in each others company whilst sipping a quality wine or other drink of choice and its something that I always look forward to.
Other meals take the form of a Contesters breakfast of Sausage, Bacon, Mushrooms, Tomato, fried egg all cooked on the George Foreman hotplate and delicately arranged on a large bun, bap or teacake depending on where you're from.
Group Ethos
The ethos of the group is that members attending Contests, Special Events and DX-peditions enjoy themselves. Each member may have a personal goal they wish to achieve but most important of these is that they enjoy the experience, anything less then what should be a pleasure becomes a chore.

Just to prove a point Barrie G1JYB sends this offering of Ian enjoying some down time......
Boys and their toys eh! :)

At the beginning of this blog I mentioned that I had asked for the views of members taking part. I would like to thank those who sent contributions by way of reports or photographs .

Sands Contest Group will be at The Norbreck Amateur Radio Rally in Blackpool on the 15th April. If you can attend, stop by and say hello. Ian, Kev and Mike Clarke who recently came back from a second tour in Antarctica will have a display of the KX1, K1, K2 and K3 on display and they will talk the socks off you...... There will be a display table of Sands events, a selling table and I will have a display table of mainly WWII military equipment.

The next radio blog will be from a special event we are running from the village of Wray. We will be operating from a field at the Wray Scarecrow Festival, our callsign for the event will be GB4WSF

The Wray Scarecrow festival is a great day out for all the family and well worth a visit. All the villagers take part in what is truly a village event. You will find often humorous scarecrows made by the people of the village along with ice cream and traditional home baked products in the village hall if you fancy a break... Don't forget your camera. For more details about the festival a quick google search will tell you all you need to know.

Please add the address below to your favorites

Brian G0RDH
(The Reluctant Contester)