Why is 80m working so well ?

May 4th, 2011 | Posted by M1ACB in General - (0 Comments)

I spent another fantastic evening on 80m from GS3PYE/P last night and was asked many times why we were putting out such a good signal. I thought I’d go out today and take some pictures which might help to explain it.

The antenna is a vertical, based on a Spiderbeam 18m pole, with lots of radials. It’s ‘planted’ in the lower lawn, just next to the stream which runs through the garden.

80m vertical antenna

80m vertical antenna radials

80m antenna planted next to the stream

The antenna is great, but the view that the antenna has is fantastic. I took a walk up the hill behind the house this afternoon and took a panorama shot to show the whole 180 deg of water that we see from here to the west. I think this was a major factor when I worked so many US and Canadian stations on 80m on Monday night (using the Kenwood TS590S).

80m vertical antenna has a great view over the water

Last night I was using the Icom IC-9100 on 80m and had a huge pile-up. I called CQ once at the start, and then again after 3 hours – all the time in between was full of stations calling – great fun. I’m looking forward to having another go on 80m again tonight.

IC-9100 was in operation on the 80m vertical last night

MM0MJH/PM works VK7

May 4th, 2011 | Posted by M0MJH in General - (2 Comments)

Yesterday evening (03/05), Mark (M0MJH) emailed 3 station in VK7 (Tasmania) that had been worked by GS3PYE/P with a view to setting up a sked on 20m longpath this morning (04/05) somewhere between 0600 and 0730UTC using his QRP HF backpack setup. A few hours later he had received emails back from VK7ZE (Laurie), VK7AC (Norman) and VK7XX (John) who all agreed that they would do their best to be on the air to call Mark. The time and the frequency of 14.342.5 was set.

Mark managed to drag himself out of bed at 0530UTC (0630 local time) this morning, grab his backpack, head out of the house and wander down the driveway away from the house so not to wake those still sleeping. He started calling CQ VK longpath on the agreed frequency for 5-10 minutes with no response and then heard John VK7XX saying that there was a lot of QRM from a station on a nearby frequency and to move up. The frequency was changed to 14.347 and Mark started calling again, this time he was greeted by an S8 signal from John and was informed that he was being received at 5 and 5 in VK7.  John asked Mark to stand by for a minute whilst he called Laurie and Norman on 2m. A couple of minutes later Laurie VK7ZE appeared with an even stronger signal (S9) and told Mark that he was S7 at his QTH. Mark chatted with both stations for around 10 minutes with solid copy on all sides of the QSO before Laurie and John had to go QRT. Thanks were passed between all stations and they parted company.

Mark’s QRP HF backpack consists of a Yaesu FT817ND, an LDG Z11pro Automatic ATU, a 16ft (5m) long Racal whip and a 16ft long trailing counterpoise wire. These are mounted on an RT320 Clansman radio frame and the power is drawn from a 12v 7aH battery mounted on the bottom of the pack. Photos to appear later.

Many thanks again to John VK7XX and Laurie VK7ZE and it was a shame that Norman VK7AC wasn’t able to turn up.

While setting up the shack on arrival quite a few of the members got involved  in setting up the 6m and 4m beam antennas on the group’s trailer mast. The antennas are both YU7EF designs with the top antenna being a 6 element EF0606 for 6m and the lower antenna a 7 element EF0407 for 4m.

Stations in full operation

May 3rd, 2011 | Posted by M1ACB in General - (0 Comments)

We had an excellent day on the HF bands yesterday with huge pile-ups on 20, 40 and 80 and lots of great DX. We built the Spider Beam and put it up on the pump-up mast and also added a 160m dipole. So we now have antennas up for 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10m on HF and 6m, 4m on VHF as well as the 2m and 70cm satellite system.

Personally, I spent a few hours on 40m in the afternoon, and worked through a great pile-up but the band wasn’t as good as the previous day. Lots of fading with stations disappearing into the noise very quickly. The band improved later in the afternoon with Rob M0VFC working the never-ending pile-up.

Colin G8TMV and Pete 2E0SQL worked 80m during the afternoon and evening, and I worked the late shift from around 21:30 until 02:00 UTC this morning. A really excellent session and I worked a great number of US, Canadian and South American stations in the early hours. Gavin M1BXF was working 40m while I was on 80m and we were able to pass the frequencies to the calling stations so that they could work us on both bands. I really enjoyed the runs of stations mixed with a bit of a chat with stronger stations, spending time to describe the operation here on Arran, and then trying hard to dig out the longer DX. A really great evening.

Martin G3ZAY started operating 80m again at 03:00 UTC and carried on working the DX.

Things are back in full operations again now, with 80 40, 20, 15, 6 and 4m all operational here on EU-123.

The G3PYE/P shack in full operation this morning

Gavin M1BXF on 6m and 4m

Pete 2E0SQL on 40m

Pete 2E0SQL on 40m and Lawrence M0LCM on 20m

Terry M0VFC on 15m

Bob G1SAA setting up one of the shack video cameras through the window


Timelapse highlights of Day 1

May 2nd, 2011 | Posted by m0lcm in General - (0 Comments)

Setup and first 8 hours of operating GS3PYE/P  

The panorama from GS3PYE/P

May 2nd, 2011 | Posted by M1ACB in General - (2 Comments)

This is the fantastic 180 deg view we have from GS3PYE/P on Arran.

Blog post to test comments

May 2nd, 2011 | Posted by M1ACB in General - (6 Comments)

Please help us test the blog by posting a comment below …. 



First day on 20m, 40m and 80m

May 2nd, 2011 | Posted by M1ACB in General - (0 Comments)

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.

Kenwood TS-590S – HF1 Station
Icom 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 …