September 23, 2012

IOTA 2012 from Sunderland Point

Hello Folks,

We are privileged to be back at Sunderland Point for IOTA 2012 on what turns out to be a glorious midsummers evening.  This contest was more eventful than normal for us and at times darn right spooky especially after sunset but more on that later.

I have started this posting with some of the picturesque views taken from the end of Terrace One mainly looking back towards Overton and Lancaster.

The first picture taken at the End of Terrace One

Looking inland towards the village of Overton

The City of Lancaster is on the far right looking across the River Lune

Sunderland point is where the river Lune meets the sea.  The original name was the River Lune was Loyne 

Because the size and bulk of the ships they had to anchor in the area of Sunderland Point where they could off load smaller goods to be carried into Lancaster and surrounding area by horse and cart at low tide, however Larger goods were lowered into boat and rowed up river.

This picture was taken from the entrance Terrace Two of looking 
back towards Overton and Lancaster

If you would like to learn more about the History of Sunderland Point there is an excellent 88 page book written by John Cunliffe "The Story of Sunderland Point" The book is easy to read and full of factual information including the much visited "Sambo's Grave" the book can usually be purchased at Sunderland Point. You may also be able to get a loan copy via your local library, sadly there is no isbn number available to help with this.

The causeway and path leading to our base of operations looking out from Terrace One

As we leave Terrace One we have a steep narrow drop down to sea level that is best taken slowly especially if your vehicle is fully laden with masts and equipment.  This was full tide leaving the pebble and shale road clear for us to access Terrace Two.   Just above the road is a well kept path for those on foot or bicycle.

Heres some of the kit including our coiled coaxial cables

The event started as normal on the Friday evening with the setup of the the antenna's, in all the 8 years we have covered the event we have had to take into account the time of the local tides and to make sure we got them right Peter Gilchrist has given us the local perspective not only of the time the causeway would be clear but the type of tide and where it is safe to park without your vehicle being swept away.

This year high tide was not a problem full tide is known locally as a toucher where the waterline stays clear of the causeway or at the very most washes gently over the causeway leaving just a little surface water.

Antenna's in use were: 20m, 40m Phased Arrays, 80m vertical, 10m vertical.

Here we find Kev G6FKE checking the 80m vertical is ok before its fed into the station

There was a slight problem with the impedance but was remedied by lowering the feed point 

 This picture looks out to Terrace Two our home for the weekend
and you can see the 80m vertical is erected 

The last two pictures look out to where the River Lune joins the sea

So onto the IOTA contest.

The antenna's for IOTA were Phased Arrays for 20m, 15m, 10m and we had an 80m vertical.

We were limited in what we could do because of the lack of space for erecting antenna's.  The grass in front of the houses on Terrace Two belongs to the house holders and used by them for sitting out and family activities.  All our antenna's were fibreglass verticals that were sited as close to the pebble beach as possible so that area's could still be used by the householders.

Radio Stations in use:
The stations in use for the contest were Elecraft K3s belonging to Mike and Ian.  The main station benefitted from the use of Damiens Ranger 811H linear.  The main station worked on a spot frequencies for most of the contest running 400w and the second station ran at 100w looking for Mults. This station also had the benefit of the Elecraft Pan Adapter that worked a treat.

Mike M0PRL's Station running 100W

Morse Keys
The main station had Ian's Begali Simplex key in line with it and its a dream to send from. The best analogy I can think of is the difference between driving a budget car and a Rolls Royce.  The Simplex is fitted with gold contacts

YO3LIW Marquesas Island operating the Begali Simplex Key via the K3. you will see that the K3 has the ability to read morse scrolling across the bottom of screen, it also allows you to monitor your own morse going out.

The Begali Traveller on Mikes station has magnetic contact fitted.

Sorry folks but I could not resist the temptation of adding the rolling pin key by OH6DC you'll never be able to do speed morse with it but it is fun to see.

Operators during the weekend included:

Joe 2E0JEX,  Kev G6FKE, Mike, Paul 2E0CKC, Ian G0VGS, Brian G0RDH

Paul 2E0CKC

But all was not plain sailing during the day unknown to me because I was getting some sleep ready for the graveyard shift through the night things got rather spooky with flickering lights and other electrical devices suffering.... Was it a case of our equipment drawing too much from the ancient/historic mains supply?  We knew there had been a great deal of work done on the electrical side of the building with trip switches replacing the old fuse system and the mains sockets had been changed throughout the building.

As the evening went on the problems got worst to such a point that we checked the mains supply board which by this time was too hot to touch, everything was powered down and Joe came to the rescue by getting in touch with the electricity provider who were out to us in less than an hour. The electricians confirmed that there was a problem with the mains box and had a brand new up to date mains box fitted and tested in around 30 minutes.

It was time for Kev G6FKE and myself to get busy on the graveyard shift, sadly Kev felt it was better to close down and get some sleep after around 40 minutes because his logging program experienced a conflict with the MS Vista operating system. on the laptop.  I had a fun time on the main station operating on 40m throughout the night, I missed the briefing that the problem with 80m was resolved and thats my only regret..... I could have worked so many other stations.

Ian and Mike enjoying some off time on their computers

We had a few Visitor to the event over the weekend.  It was good to see Linda and Bob come and spend some time with us on Saturday, and a new G4 to the area Tim called in to see us twice on the Saturday and again on Sunday when he arrived with Mary to show her what we were doing.

Barrie and Kathy came down from Oysterber Farm to see us as part of their normal Sunday ride out on their the bikes. Barrie was responsible for the special event station promoting the Tour-De-France a station you may have worked at some time.  It was no short ride they embarked on to visit us being over 50 miles for the round trip it was fantastic to see them.

Food for the event:
  • Food for the event took the form of sandwiches for lunch
  • Kev prepared a spicy concoction that started out with sausages with extra's thrown in.... This was a little rich for my stomach but enjoyed by all the members.
  • I warmed up some salad potatoes I had pre-cooked, sweetcorn, carrots, fresh tomatos and a Lamb Shank that that been marinated in Rosemary and Thyme.
  • With all the excitement of the failing electrics a few members set the George Foreman Grill and hotplate up and broke into the supplies for breakfast in order to have a midnight feast before settling down for the night. 
  • Breakfast took the form of our tradition contesters breakfast: Bacon, Sausage, Free range egg, Mushrooms and optional fresh tomato delicately slapped between each side of a Lancashire Oven Bottom Barmcake.
The morning contacts worked out nicely for us and as each band closed, there was a team taking down the antenna's and packing away equipment.  Sunderland point relies heavily on special events they put on to raise funds and just before the contest finished at 1pm a team of volunteers headed by Peter and his wife came in to start setting tables up, for the homemade cakes etc.  The weather forecast was a little unclear for the weekend with the possibility of showers..... The day was fine up until this point and they were keen to have us out of the reading room a.s.a.p....

Now were no slouches at breaking a station down after an event but they helped us out with such speed Nora Batty would have given it her seal of approval and probably asked for a few tips on where she wear she could improve her skills.  On a serious note it was a rushed ending to the event, but we hope they made plenty of money which is much needed to maintain a unique and beautiful area of our coastline.

My next Blog will cover the GB4GBO stations that were run to celebrate the whole of the Olympics.

73 Brian (The Reluctant Contester)

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