This is my first dx-pedition with the Camb-Hams, so I thought I’d spend a short while this morning writing about my experiences yesterday when we first arrived on Arran. There will be plenty of photographs and descriptions of the wonderful location we have on the island, but I’ll try to concentrate on the radio.
The VHF and Satellite antennas were being built outside, so I started building the HF stations in the shack (kitchen) with M0VFC and G1SAA. We setup the Kenwood TS-590S with the Linear-Amp UK Challenger as HF1, the Icom IC-9100 with Linear-Amp UK Ranger as HF2 and one of the IC-756ProIII’s as HF Data station.
IC-9100 – HF2 Station
The ‘Shack’ in the kitchen with G1BXF sitting at the 6m/4m station. HF1, HF Data and HF2 on the far table. The Satellite station is now setup next to 6m/4m.
The 20m vertical went up just behind the house, attached to a fence post, with 4 raised radials and the coax run in through the kitchen window. The 40m vertical went up on the grass next to the patio and the 80m vertical just slightly lower down on another grass area. You’ll see from the pictures that they all have a great view down the hill and across the water. We hoped they’d work well and they really do !
The 20m Vertical set up behind the house
The 40m and 80m verticals
M0VFC put out the first HF call at 16:30 UTC on 20m and worked HA7JDV. I started calling CQ on 40m at 17:37 and worked Keith GR6NHU, who also follows us closely on Twitter. Keith was really helpful, staying around for a chat while I got the IC-9100 setup the way I liked it and also spotted us on the dx-cluster. As soon as I finished with Keith, the pile-up started and was absolutely constant from then on. Anyone who hasn’t experienced being at the ‘business end’ of a dx-pedition pile-up should really try it sometime – it’s fantastic. A wall of noise, where you have to pick out anything which will identify a single station calling – and they try to stop other stations calling while you get the rest of the call and actually work the station. It does take some discipline and you have to try and keep some control, but it really is great fun. Mostly european stations on 40m but really, really busy.
I switched over to 20m at 18:58 on the IC-9100 with the Ranger. Still plenty of european calls but also some great DX with JE1FQV coming in at a really fantastic 59 showing that the band was opening for us. Plenty of US stations on the log and the number of QSO’s was starting to build really nicely.
I had some food, which had been cooked just behind the 20m station (remember that the shack is in the kitchen) and then came back to finish off setting up the HF1 station for 80m. The TS-590S and the Challenger were tuned up nicely to the 80m vertical and I started to call CQ. This was by far the biggest pile-up of the day and it just didn’t stop. The TS-590 was working really well and I was getting some great reports. G1SAA started operating 40m PSK just to my right, with 2E0SQL operating 20m SSB to his right. All stations running at full speed. I found it really good to vary the QSO rate, working quite a few stations with just a 59 73 QRZ?, then stopping for a chat and exchanging all the station info and describing the operating setup, before running again for a while. This seemed to give everyone the chance to get all the details while they were listening, then to get in the log with the minimum of delay. I hope it worked ok for everyone trying to work us?
I finally called it a night on 80m 23:12 UTC, finishing with OE3EVA and climbed into bed.
Up early this morning, to find another wonderful day, have a shower and a coffee before stating this blog.
Back to the radios now …