A dark cold evening in a layby

True to my last post I drove out to some higher ground to operate portable for the 70cms UKAC on Tuesday evening.

Several hours sitting in the car on the side of a deserted road in the dark and cold was worth it. Despite some initial trepidation I really enjoyed the experience until I got spooked at the end.

Like the last time I operated from this location I put the small yagi approximately 3-4 metres up on the top of my ‘painters’ telescopic pole stuck in to a parasol stand. I sat in the car and reached out the open window to rotate the pole as required. I wrapped up well and had a blanket over my legs and a woolly hat on and kept surprising warm despite it being just 1°C, turning the courtesy light on only when I needed to write in the log.

It was nice to be noise free and I made 29 contacts, nothing earth shattering but with a modest set up and operating in the AL section (10W max) I was more than happy and got my first contact in the Isle of Man.

From the reports posted on line it seems conditions were flat and activity was low. Frustratingly several times I found a distant station only for it to be drowned out by splatter. I know some of this is down to my radio and the antenna but the source is nearby and so strong that even turning the beam makes little difference. Ironically being higher up meant the signal was even stronger than I experience at home.

The annoyance is compounded by the operator’s habit of regularly changing calling frequency seemingly with little regard of who is currently operating there. This SDR screen capture shows an example of the same contesters signal during a recent 2m UKAC. Captured using a vertical collinear several strong clean(er) signals are clearly visible even with the mismatched polarisation. Sadly it is not a one-off and I have observed similar splatter from this source during both 70cms and 6m contests.

It was very dark and eerie on the quiet road and I’m afraid I got spooked with 20 minutes of the contest left, a 4×4 drove past slowly and appeared to shine a spotlight at my car. I was midway through a QSO writing in the logbook so I only caught it out of the corner of my eye so wasn’t sure if they did. But a while later I saw what looked like torch beams moving in the nearby field that seemed to be getting closer. In retrospect it was nothing untoward when I checked the map later there are farm buildings in that direction but I’ve seen one too many horror films so decided not to hang about so threw everything in the car and headed home with out looking back..

you can’t get rid of the Babadook
…. you’ll see him if you look 

Operating /P for the 432MHz UKAC tonight

The 432MHz UKAC contest is usually a pretty dismal experience for me, low elevation, local noise and a mediocre antenna makes for a difficult evening. Last weekends VHF/UHF contest and some tests with fellow club member Stewart​ (M0SDM) on Sunday evening convinced me to try operating portable this week.

I have a small Moonraker 7-element ZL-Special on the main antenna mast, purchased originally for monitoring satellites and was pressed into service for SSB when I got licensed. It has never wowed me performance wise and I have been intending to replace it for quite a while but since I only use it one day a month it hasn’t been a priority. So the mast came down last night and I removed it so I can take it out with me to operate portable from some higher ground tonight.

Using the 2m delta beam in June 2014

Last year I had a go at operating portable from the car and posted a write-up. It is my intention to repeat this exercise but with the 70cm antenna on top of my ‘painters pole’ mast. I have serviced the antenna and fitted a new short run of quality coax and spent a far amount of time with the AW07A analyser adjusting the antenna’s tuning capacitor and have got the VSWR right down to 1.1:1 on 432.200MHz so things should be optimal.

I am looking forward to this evening, hoping it pays some dividends.

As I mentioned the 24 hour March 144/432MHz VHF Championship contest took place last weekend. I took part to give away some points just grabbing a few short sessions with the radio. I concentrated on the 2m band due to my issues on 70cm.

In my AW07A analyser review I mentioned some issues with my 2m LFA YAGI, thankfully these have been resolved. The use of some wire wool to remove some corrosion and a hacksaw to take 10mm from the long elements of the loop allowed the end elements to ‘trombone’ in sufficiently to get the antenna resonant and the VSWR is down to 1.2:1 on 144.300Mhz.

I only made 18 contacts, but was happy with the distances achieved with 30W, getting a lot further south than I normally do, given I am 18m ASL. There was also some local wideband noise (I captured a screenshot on the SDR) and the conditions gave some interesting fading.

M0NRD QSO map March 144 VHF

Noise across the band

   

144MHz Backpackers Contest

I had a great time today competing in the 2nd RSGB 144MHz Backpackers contest. I entered the 10W Hill Toppers (10H) section since I could operate from the comfort of the car and I could use the FT857 as the Hill Toppers section in the RSGB contest allow operation up to 10W.

The Backpacker (3B) section and the concurrent Practical Wireless 144MHz QRP Contest are limited to just 3W. Normally the FT857 can only be lowered to 5W but by applying a negative voltage to the transceivers ALC line via the accessory socket the transmitters output can be lowered. This method is detailed here it is a simple circuit and I will make one up in due course, I didn’t have the parts to make one in time.

Anyway I digress, firstly I had to find a suitable hill top that wasn’t too far from home. I wanted somewhere quiet and minimised the risk of any confrontation with societies undesirables. A quick look on the local Ordnance Survey map and I spotted a viewpoint symbol.

1:50,000
1:25,000

It isn’t exactly a mountain at just 82m above sea level but is nearby and seemed quiet when I drove out to inspect it. It is the Maplebeck View Point and has a metal plate highlighting hills and structures that can be seen from the ‘summit’ sadly the overgrown hedges did limit the view but it did seem a decent spot with an off road parking area and picnic tables.

The viewpoint
The information plate on the viewpoint

I now needed to sort out the equipment. Operation from a motor vehicle is permitted but all equipment used during the contest must be battery, wind or solar powered. So I made a trip to grab the spare leisure battery from our caravan and the cast iron parasol stand to act as a base for my pole, the antenna would be the Sandpiper 3 element Delta Beam I used in the Lake District.

battery wedged behind drivers seat
Parasol stand and painter’s telescopic pole
Operating from the passenger seat, FT857 on dashboard
Antenna up

I had the FT857 on the dashboard and sat in the front passenger seat, the pole was within easy reach out the window and I had fitted a small pointer on the pole so I knew which way the antenna was pointing, so could turn it by hand.

I was initially quite nervous setting up as it turned out the road was actually quite busy and I was getting a lot of quizzical looks from passersby, but once I got going I just ignored them and enjoyed the contest a lot. A number of walkers asked what I was up to and it seemed the viewpoint was a stop off on a MG owner’s outing this morning.

I made a reasonable amount of contacts, given most people were operating QRP with some decent distances. I did suffer one brain fade and missed another potential locator square when the other station repeated my report back and I blindly wrote it down and then lost them before I was able to correct it.

At one point I thought I would have to pack up as I was getting huge static crackles and pops which were due I think to some nearby high tension electricity pylons and what appeared to be a gathering storm, there was some brief rain but it quickly dissipated.

Next month I am looking forward to the VHF National Field Day and the 3rd Backpackers Contest as a number of members of the South Kestevan ARS are keen to have a serious attempt.

Planning some more /P and /A

All too quickly and the holiday is over

Apart from the UKAC on the Tuesday night I didn’t do anything else with the radio, I did have the HF antenna up but the trapped nerve in my back meant I was in a lot of discomfort after being out and about during the day and so rested and zonked out on painkillers rather than struggling to set up the rig.

I must sort out a proper portable station that I can just open it up and start operating, I am impressed with Charlie’s M0PZT porta-pack frame idea being an excellent solution especially for back packing.

In the past the wife and I used to be keen walkers, tackling many of the peaks in Cumbria, Snowdonia, the Peak District and elsewhere. We completed the Coast-To-Coast Walk back in 1991 and The Cleveland Way the following year.

Dipping my boots at Robin Hood’s Bay in 1991 at end of the Coast-To-Coast

Sadly I am too overweight now to be a serious Summits On The Air (SOTA) operator but I plan on getting back to a reasonable level of fitness. As it happens if I’d been more prepared our walk of Latrigg last week could have been my first Wainwright On The Air (WOTA) activation.

Next month we are off to the Isle of Skye. We are staying in a self-catering cottage with plenty of room so rather than being /P portable I can be /A alternative and will be able to set up the rig in the cottage so can use it as and when I want.

I’ve already mentioned the holiday coincides with the 50MHz/6 Meter UKAC and am currently toying with the antenna choice, one advantage of being so far North is I won’t need to rotate it as pointing it South South East should cover most of the UK. From the photographs of seen the cottage is reasonably elevated with clear views across Loch Bay in that direction. There are mountains ranges to contend with but who knows with propagation? I’ll be in the rare IO67 locator square so might even have to contend with a pile up!

I will almost certainly operate as 2E0NRD rather than M6GTG for that week as using just 10W might be a bit optimistic.

IO67 Locator Square

I got somewhat excited last week when I received an email announcing the RSGB First 50MHz Contest results I was down in 35 place in the SF section but with a rosette next to my callsign? Wow I’d got an award! Pleased with myself I jumped on twitter to spread the news…

Gobsmacked.. pic.twitter.com/sGDI4jDh1W
— Andrew Garratt M6GTG (@nerdsville) June 7, 2014

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been quite as quick to brag as it appears I was the only Foundation Level entrant!

Still I managed 4 verified QSOs on what by all accounts was a very difficult contest, with low activity and poor conditions. In fact I almost missed the contest altogether and was only alerted to the contest by a tweet by Robert @G1ZJP and was late starting as I needed to get the antenna up. I actually made 5 QSOs but one was broken because I mistakenly put 59 in as the serial number.. Doh!

This weekend is the 2nd RSGB 144MHz Backpackers contest and the Practical Wireless 144MHz QRP Contest Unfortunately the FT857 is too powerful for the QRP contests as the limit is 3W but I could have a go at the Hill Toppers section in the RSGB contest which is limited to 10W and as luck would have it I am left to my own devices this weekend so might take a drive in the car..

First time working portable

Have taken one further step up the amateur radio licensing ladder, passing the Intermediate exam and assessments. A big thank you to Grantham ARC and Alan and Keith for invigilating and congratulations to my fellow candidate Mark Orbell who also passed.

My new callsign is 2E0NRD

Current QTH

I am currently writing this blog entry while on holiday sitting in the caravan watching the sun rise over the Lake District. I have brought the rig along with a M0CVO magitenna for HF and not wanting to miss out on the 144MHz UKAC tonight have a Sandpiper 3-Element Delta Quad.

It has already caused some strange looks on the campsite while I built it up and tested it last night and I hope I won’t have any RFI issues as caravans are often fitted with wideband TV amplifiers! Thankfully the site is currently very quiet as the school holidays have finished.

Testing the Delta Quad last night

Initially was going to make a Moxon for 2m but I messed up my first attempt and ran out of time to make another so at the last minute ordered the Delta Quad from Sandpiper. It is a well built antenna I just had to cut the three loops and solder them up, the instructions were very clear. It is easily dismantled and seems ideal for portable work so is an investment for the future.  I hope to use it during July’s VHF NFD.

The antenna has an excellent VSWR match and when testing I clearly heard a cw/jt65 beacon around 144.480MHz which must have been GB3NGI on the Slieve Anorra Mountain in County Antrim, Northern Ireland (IO65VB)

I will be operating as M6GTG/P tonight as don’t want to upset my UKAC scores and I am not really sure what to expect as surrounded by mountains in most directions here but should be fun. I might even rope in Boris to give me a hand

Boris not looking too impressed

Last Tuesday (27 May) was the 50MHz UKAC. I had intended to do some operating over previous Bank Holiday weekend and with reports of Sporadic E propagation picking up on 6m I had put my homebrew Moxon back up on the pole with the new rotator. Unfortunately the operating was curtailed due to the discomfort I am currently suffering due to a trapped nerve in my back.

That weekend saw some horrendous weather and it rained heavily for several days, indeed it had rained most of Tuesday, checking the VSWR in the evening before the start of the contest I was shocked to see it had risen from 1:1.5 to nearly 1:3!

I knew the bad weather was forecast before putting the antenna up so had made sure all the coax connectors and the feedpoint were properly sealed with self amalgamating tape so was somewhat perplexed. In the end I decided what I thought the issue was, the moxon frame was untreated softwood and in the bad weather had become very wet and damp and suspect it was affecting the resonance.

Despite this I decided to carry on as I was only running 10W and had a productive few hours despite some local noise.

I
27 May 2014 – M6GTG 50MHz UKAC QSO Map

Anyway time to put the kettle on and I will post an update about how I get on tonight.

Been a busy boy

Been very busy with the day job and too busy playing radio so this post will be a bit of a catch up!

JT-65HF
I have been using my newly built datamode interface in anger.

As well as running WSPR on occasion I have also been active using JT65-HF.

JT65 is a communication mode developed by Joe Taylor, K1JT, (specification here) originally intended for amateur radio communication with extremely weak signals such as Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) contacts on VHF it has gained popularity on the short wave bands using JT65-HF an adaptation of the JT65A protocol.

Being restricted to 10W it is an attractive method of making contacts. The protocol includes error-correcting features that make it usable even when the signals are too weak to be heard or are being subject to interference.

There are several how-to guides available
Get On the Air with HF Digital (from the ARRL)
JT65-HF — an ‘Odd’ but Fun Digital Mode (from eham.net)

A number of software packages support JT65, the most popular being JT65-HF originally developed by Joe, W6CQZ. Sadly Joe is no longer developing the software, but the last version released still works, and is available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/jt65-hf/ 

Thankfully the project was open source and Beat Oehrli, HB9HQX as developed his own version with the catchy title JT65-HF-HB9HQX-Edition, available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/jt65hfhb9hqxedi/ This is the version I have been using with great success, the colour coding and simple button pressing makes a QSO straight forward and the built in logging and exporting make uploading to QRZ, eQSL and HRDlog painless.

Whilst to a traditionalist amateur operator it is perhaps a little slow, remote and impersonal (each exchange occurs during alternate minutes) I really like it! One advantage is I can set up the radio in the shack with CAT control via HRD and then have QSOs while VNC’ing into the computer from the laptop whilst in front of the TV with the wife and the dogs! (Thanks Tim G4VXE for that suggestion!)

I have been active on the 10/20/30 and 40M bands over the past few weeks making contacts with Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine, USA and Venezuela.

Contesting ‘DX’ Headset and Interface

I have become hooked on the RSGB UKAC VHF contests, operating on a Tuesday evening on different frequencies (50MHz, 144MHz, 432MHz depending on which week of the month) Whilst my results are small-fry compared to the big guns I have been more than happy with my modest antenna set up and less than ideal location (previous blog posts)

I soon appreciated that using headphones rather than the speaker made life easier but I was still using the stock supplied hand microphone. Several times I have found it difficult to make myself understood and suspected that not only am I plagued by my ‘Black Country‘ accent and poor enunciation but maybe the microphone wasn’t quite cutting it.

Not able to afford or justify the purchase of a Heil headset just yet I took inspiration from Charlie M0PZT and his recommendation for a budget solution using a £10 computer headset from CPC (product AV21444).

On the Yaesu FT-857D the microphone connector is a 8-pin RJ45 socket which is behind the removable front panel with the lead coming out of one of a number of openings. Whilst the panel is easily removable I didn’t want to keep removing it when switching between microphones, also re-purposing an obvious CAT5 network lead was problematic as they are often thicker than the openings.

The lead removed from MH-31, RJ45 on interface

A quick look at the supplied Yaesu MH-31 microphone revealed it can be unplugged, so what I needed was a interface box where I could plug in the headset and the microphone lead. This would also allow me to try different headsets in the future.

Mic lead connected and headset
The budget ‘dx’ headset

My solution as pictured above is quite simple, I won’t include any pictures of the interior as it is a bit messy and not my best work! It is built from salvaged parts, including the box. The RJ45 socket came from an old network adapter, but beware some sockets are only 6 pin not the 8 as needed here. The headphone part of the headset is a simple connection to the rear socket on the FT-857D (the grey cable on the picture above)

Yaesu FT-857D mic socket as view from front

Most microphones designed for computers use electret elements which require a bias voltage, this is quite simple as the Yaesu microphone connector supplies 5V, so a simple resistor (8.2K) will supply this, also by using a couple of different capacitors and a switch I can select a ‘thin’ higher frequency response (for DX work) or a more normal ‘fatter’ response. A circuit can be found on George Smart’s webpage, the bias is simply applied to the tip of the microphone jack.

The box also has a PTT switch, this could have simply grounded the PTT line but I wanted to have a LED indication on the box and again I could have just wired a LED and resistor to 5V and to the PTT line so it would light when the switch was closed, pulling PTT to ground and completing the circuit. I opted to use a simple transistor open collector switch to add a little isolation.

The interface works well and I used it for the first time last night in the 50MHz UKAC with my homebrew MOXON antenna…

6M/50MHz MOXON
My first contest back in January was the 50MHz UKAC and as I blogged I made a solitary contact due to antenna issues, i.e I didn’t really have one!

I missed the February contest so this month I really wanted to have a decent stab at it which meant building an antenna. I decided early on that a Moxon was probably the easiest to construct, so I downloaded the MoxGen program to calculate the element lengths.

Using 1mm diameter ‘garden wire’ for the driven element and reflector. I had various bits of flexible plastic pipe kicking about and decided to use them to construct an x-shaped spreader, unfortunately the pipe was obviously from different batches and as soon as it was tensioned by the wire it bent into all sorts of strange shapes due to the different elastic properties so I abandoned that design.

I had left the build to the last minute and needed a quick solution, so yesterday morning plan-B was to go an get some cheap timber from the local B&Q on the way to work and build a simple frame to wrap the wire round.

Moxon on garage floor
Coax and common-mode choke, and sturdy support!

I impressed myself by completing the construction of the frame in the short time I had at lunchtime!

One thing I hadn’t appreciated was just how big the final antenna was, it wasn’t heavy just big! So last night an hour before the contest started I fitted the choke balun and coax to the terminal block. To be safe I removed the other antenna from the mast and hoisted her up.

Up in the night sky

Moment of truth, thankfully the VSWR was around 1.5:1 at 50.2MHz, rising to nearer 2:1 at the top end of the band. Not ideal but close enough. The VSWR measurements would suggest that the Moxon is a little bit long, interestingly some online Moxon calculators suggested dimensions for a slightly smaller Moxon than the downloaded Moxgen program did? Something to tweak/experiment with possibly using some thicker wire to increase the bandwidth.

50MHZ UKAC 25 March 2014
I was sorted! Moxon antenna up, contesting headset and interface plugged in and a quick scan up and down and I could clearly hear several stations testing and setting up. I poured myself a beer and soon the contest started.

Time between QSOs for a ‘selfie’

I finished the night with just 14 QSOs, more would have been nice and it wasn’t through lack of trying I could hear many more operators but simply couldn’t make myself heard either because the antenna was in wrong direction or due to low power and getting lost in the pile ups to stronger stations.

I was not disappointed in fact I was quite happy with what my 10W, my new headset and home brewed antenna had achieved. The Moxon showed great promise and directional characteristics but for some reason just couldn’t get south as the map indicates.

Out of interest I wondered what the line of slight view from my mast looked like so I strapped a camera on to the moxon this afternoon..

Need more height I think, especially if pointing South and a rotator would be nice!
Well that wraps it up for the moment.. 73

432MHz UKAC – 11 February 2014

Another enjoyable evening getting familiar with my radio and competing in the RSGB 432MHz UKAC.

I rewired the 7-element ZL-Special on Monday night, and adjusted it to get an excellent VSWR of nearly 1:1 and mounted to the pole.

Setting up last night I raised up the pole around 19:30 and a quick check showed the VSWR was over 1:2!

Yesterday it rained and sleeted very heavily, as suspected the culprit was where I joined two pieces of coax. I had used plugs and a coupler but had run out of self-amalgamating tape to waterproof it, so had resorted to wrapping it in insulating tape… bad idea! Removing the tape it soon became evident that everything was very damp, I quickly dried all the connectors down and gave it a quick blast with a hot air gun. All sorted, the VSWR was back to just over 1:1 (must visit Screwfix for some more tape)

I was much more relaxed for this contest, it was an enjoyable but difficult evening and made just 8 contacts, claiming 762 points. I heard quite a few calls but just couldn’t make myself heard. I kept popping out the shack to turn the antenna, listening to other QSOs I was able to use the locator to determine the optimum bearing.

One observation I made was the apparent poor front to back ratio, some calls coming in loudly despite the antenna being in the opposite direction which suggests the phasing isn’t quite right.

The map below shows my results.

A night off next Tuesday as it’s the 23cm contest, but hoping to be better set up for the following weeks 50MHz contest, hopefully getting better results than I did last time.


View UKAC 432MHz 11-Feb-2014 in a larger map

Second contest, getting the hang of it.

Spent a fun evening in the shack taking part in the UKAC 144MHz contest. It was nice and warm with the heating on and I a few bottles of beers on standby!

I was a bit more organised than the 50MHz contest last week. I got the computer running the Minos logging program. Just before 8pm I raised the antenna and double checked the VSWR and had a quick listen around on the band before the start and heard a few operators setting up. All looked good and then before I knew it we were off!

Due to my inexperience I operated in ‘search and pounce’ mode rather than calling CQ. I kept going outside and turning the antenna in a new direction and then spent several minutes searching up and down listening out for CQ calls.

I soon made a few contacts and fumbled along but my confidence increased as I got the hang of the exchange required.

I was jotting down the information and almost made the mistake of relying on the computer logging till I made an error and when attempting to correct it end up in a total mess due to my unfamilarity with the software. Thankfully I was able to sort out the log and carried on, but lost some time doing so. 

Thankfully the rain held off but the wind was blowing quite strongly and the antenna was waving about a little so didn’t have it at full height, not that full height was particularly high anyway and more often than not I suspect my antenna was pointing in the wrong direction!
  
At the end of the night I only managed 10 contacts, but was pleased none the less, scoring 930 points.

 I have made a map of my QSOs and as expected they are limited by my surroundings 


View UKAC 144MHz – 4 Feb 2014 in a larger map

Many years ago I experimented with a PMR eQSO gateway (detailed here) and when doing that I created a couple of terrain maps were created using GEOG. Geog is a suite of programs written by Andy Talbot (G4JNT), some of which make reference to a database of UK terrain heights, to provide useful information for radio amateurs (and others interested in point-point working) The software is still available on Andy’s new site

Interestingly the contacts appear to follow the direction of the Trent valley, while the surrounding hills have a masking effect. The contacts to the west in the Peak District are probably due to their height!

Roll on next week for the 432Mhz contest.. another antenna I have to sort out properly.

Antenna up ready for UKAC 144MHz

The antenna this morning

Back in 2011 my brother won a Innovantennas 4-element LFA at the National Hamfest, he couldn’t make us of it back then so I adopted it. I have used it for reception but until now not for transmission.

I should say my brother has took his foundation exam and has the callsign M6GTD, so am expecting him to ask for his antenna back at some stage! 😉

This evening is this months 144MHz UKAC contest and I spent yesterday evening getting the antenna set up properly so I could take part. Unfortunately the antenna was damaged just before Christmas and I have now replaced the boom insulators and straightened the bent director element.

It took a while to get the antenna VSWR down to a satisfactory level, not due to any fault but simply I had the adjustable sections of the active element loop too far out. They are now almost fully in, but at 144MHz the VSWR is a little over 1:1 and across the entire 144-146MHz the maximum is around 1.3:1 so I am hoping it preforms reasonably well, even with 10m of RG-58.

As suggested I have a ‘ugly’ rf-choke inline, which you can see on the photo. The antenna is clamped just under the vertical collinear, and hopefully this won’t affect its performance.

I can put the pole up to around 5m, but the top section isn’t that substantial and has a reasonable loading with the yagi and the collinear on it, but the pole it is securely guyed so for temporary use should be okay. Well that is what I thought till I saw the weather forecast

The wind speed and gusts look a little worrying, peaking at around 40mph between 21:00 – 00:00!

The only saving grace is that I will be manually rotating the antenna I will be out checking on it regularly during the contest!

Best of luck everyone taking part…

My first contest

Last night I attempted my first contest, the RSGB 50MHz UKAC

I am a complete novice at using HF, in fact I am a complete novice at transmitting anything!

My Chinese Baofeng handhelds have pretty much collected dust since getting my licence. However with the purchase of the FT-857D I must, despite my trepidation, step up to the microphone.

I had hit a snag when testing out the new radio, my antenna was showing high VSWR on 6m, even with the ATU I was struggling to get it to 2:1, therefore I decided to construct a simple dipole and sling it up with an ugly choke ‘balun’ I had constructed.

Due to some unexpected delays I was running out of time but eventually did manage to get something up, it was only around 2 meters off the ground and the VSWR still wasn’t ideal, but I was ready.

At the appointed time, well nearly an hour late I started turning the dial and was met with a load of static, wasn’t hearing anything! This continued for a quite a time then suddenly I started hearing “CQ Contest  CQ Contest” I listened in for a while to try to get the gist of the exchanges, wandering up and down the band.

Then I decided to have a go at a QSO, giving my callsign out, I waited nothing! “QRZ CQ Contest CQ Contest” another go.. still nothing.. and so on..

Changed frequency to another stations, tried again and I was heard, but they couldn’t make out my call sign despite several attempts.. another change of frequency and the same results.

Now I know I had only got it set a 5W, the lowest I can till I get some confidence in my set up and am not going to damage anything! But I was a little disappointed, but I persevered until suddenly I was in the middle of my first contest QSO and my brain turned to jelly..

Thanks to M0MDY and his patience and prompting I successfully completed the QSO, details suitably written down. I carried on with no luck and called it a night just after 10pm, and went back in the house and manually entered the details of my solitary contact on the RSGB Contest website www.rsgbcc.org

Checking this morning and there I am at the bottom of the list, but not the very bottom, with a whopping 48 points.

http://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/claim.pl?Contest=50MHz%20UKAC&year=2014

Roll on next week, it is the 144MHz UKAC and I have a proper 2m YAGI… just got to work out how to mount it up on the poll and how to rotate it..

73s