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Author Archives: Gavin, M1BXF

Sunday – April 19th 2009: 1650pm (By GM4HUN)

April 19th, 2009 | Posted by Gavin, M1BXF in Uncategorised - (0 Comments)

Today a team of us: Allan MM1BJP; Seamus 2M0OVV; Neil GM4HUN; Jim the chef and "Other Neill" started the week’s SOTA activities. In true "Allan" – style we started with the biggest hill on Harris, Beinn Dhubh- at 1661ft (Or half a Monro as Allan pointed out). The climb started from sea level – and took about an hour and a half to ascend. At the top the Trig point was surrounded on three sides by a low dry stone wall – which meant we could all hunker down and get some shelter from the wind. Allan hit 40m, Seamus took 2m FM and I tried out my 5MHz setup for the first time in anger. Although HF wasn’t in brilliant shape we all managed valid activations. We enjoyed a packed lunch admiring the stunning views of the north Harris shoreline, before heading back down. Once back at the car we spent another three quarters of an hour just sitting looking at the coastline, and basking in the warm spring sunshine. Thankfully (Like last year) we have come early enough to avoid the midges

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(Allan MM1BJP, Seamus 2M0OVV, Neil GM4HUN & Other Neil Climbing

Back at base the HF station now has the Spiderbeam available, and we have been busy notching up over 300 QSOs on 20m. This evening we’ll be back on 80m for another run – but only after roast turkey and trifle: thank goodness for Jim!

Sunday – April 19th 2009: 0030am (By MM1BXF)

April 19th, 2009 | Posted by Gavin, M1BXF in Uncategorised - (2 Comments)

Well, Neil G4HUN is still hammering away on 80m after Rob M0VFC did a good stint from around 18.05 till 20.55 UTC. As I write this we have managed QSOs totalling 173 on 80m, 1 on 6m and 5 on 2m. We have a realtime live logbook on our webpage here where you can see who has worked us and when and and what band and mode. You can also sort it by callsign, mode, band and operator – this was all written by Rob M0VFC who is, as I write this, coding a new logging interface as we have found our beta version of HRD ‘buggy’. The VHF setup seems to be working really well although there have not been much takers, hopefully that will change tomorrow.

Here are some pictures to give you a flavour of the setup here.

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(The Camb-Hams trailer mast with the 2m and 4m/6m beams)

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(Setting up the fullsize G5RV – across the sea loch!!!)

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(Gavin M1BXF at the 4m/6m and 2m station)

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(Neil G4HUN operation the HF station on 80m)

Time for bed! Some of us have been up since 2.30am yesterday…

Saturday – April 18th 2009: 1745pm (By GM4HUN)

April 18th, 2009 | Posted by Gavin, M1BXF in Uncategorised - (0 Comments)

Well this has to be a Camb-Hams first – what a brilliantly successful first day!! Albeit after a very short night with negligible sleep (As usual!). Bob, Geoff and I set off from Gavin’s mum’s at 0308am for the long drive to the port of Uig on the Isle of Skye. The road was absolutely clear – apart from the odd deer – and we made excellent time, arriving an hour early at Uig. The views as the sun rose over this magical isle made getting up so early seem very worthwhile.

The others duly pitched up, and we all enjoyed a good breakfast on the ferry crossing to Tarbert on the Isle of Harris. The sun shone and the sea was a mill pond. Things were going well. They went even better!

We arrived at Liceasto expecting to have to wait until 4pm before we could get into the cottage, but we got in straight away. So at the time of writing we’ve got the G5RV strung over the loch; the 6BTV vertical up for HF Data modes; the Tonna and 6/4m Yagi up on the mast, and we’re about to make a start on assembling the Spiderbeam.

We’ve good internet access and Rob, M0VFC has done a splendid job getting the online log system running. So you can work us, and pretty much see the entry in the online log straightaway.

We’re underway on 6m datamodes and 80m SSB at the moment – running full power throughout.

The others are planning their SOTA’s and we’ll let you know what’s planned ASAP; Voi has been out mobile – working HF and into this weekend’s GlobalSET exercise.

Jim – the team chef has made a great start in the kitchen, with some wonderful cooking smells wafting around the cottage already.

The only downside is that mobile phone coverage isn’t great. But, hey – can’t have everything.

Friday – April 17th 2009: 2320pm (By GM4HUN/Portable: on a sofa – not SOTA)

April 17th, 2009 | Posted by Gavin, M1BXF in Uncategorised - (0 Comments)

The English contingent arrived safely in Scotland, and we met at the Tullie Arms for a meal this evening. Alan, MM1BJP, his XYL Vicky MM3somethingorother, Jim – the Chef, Gav’s mum, were all there – and we had a great time.

We’re now hunkering down for a few hour’s kip before heading off for Skye in the morning. Gavin has just pumped up his bed with what looks like a used breast-pump. We’ll see how long that lasts! Night, night all – speak to you from Harris.

Friday – April 17th, 2009 (by G1SAA)

April 17th, 2009 | Posted by Gavin, M1BXF in Uncategorised - (0 Comments)

I have set up an online GPS tracker using a mobile phone that will be in my car for the trip north, this will give near real time tracking. You can see where we are here.

Friday – April 17th, 2009 (by M1BXF/M)

April 17th, 2009 | Posted by Gavin, M1BXF in Uncategorised - (1 Comments)

Well the dx’pedition has started. Bob G1SAA, Geoff G0DDX and Gavin M1BXF left Melbourn at 06.28 this morning only to promptly return an hour later to collect Gavins wallet which he left in his other pair of jeans! We are passing Peterborough as I write this on my netbook, an hour later than we hoped, not to worry as we won’t be late for anything at Helensburgh.

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(Gavin M1BXF enjoying his traditional 06.30 am Camb-Hams beer)

Rob M0VFC and Neil G4HUN will be following on at around 12.30 from Cambridge and we will all meet up in Helensburgh later.

Wednesday – April 15th, 2009 (by M1BXF)

April 15th, 2009 | Posted by Gavin, M1BXF in Uncategorised - (0 Comments)

We all got together yesterday and done a final equipment check. We also made up a good run of cable for the VHF rotator as we thought it necessary to upgrade from the light duty one we used last year. We only got our hands on our new (literally new, it was still in the box when bought) Ham IV rotator last week.

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(Gavin and Bob attaching the Ham IV rotator to the base made by Geoff G0DDX)

The trailer was also fully packed yesterday and all the antennas firmly cable-tied on. Bob G1SAA’s radio and amp are with Voi for transport. Gavin M1BXF’s radios and amp are now ready for collection by Voi tomorrow. I’m glad the radios were packed yesterday as last night a big thunderstorm came through Cambridgeshire at 3.30am! There is more lightning tonight but further to the north as a write this.

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(All this needs to go onto or in the trailer)

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(Amazingly all that did fit on or in the trailer)

Also, as promised I’ve done the plots for the bandpass filters;

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(80m / 40m / 20m / 15m bandpass filter plots)

Only one more day to do till we leave!

Easter Monday – April 13th, 2009 (by M1BXF)

April 13th, 2009 | Posted by Gavin, M1BXF in Uncategorised - (0 Comments)

Today the Cambridge boys got together and started to sort out bits ready to pack up and load up the trailer and cars tomorrow. The spiderbeam came down and dismantled OK but we had to think about how best to keep the wire/string elements in an untangled and orderly state, step up food bags… The new for the dx’pedition 17 element 2m F9FT beam was still in its box so we had to open that to check all parts were there! There aren’t many hardware radio stores, never mind ham radio outlets on the island so we thought we best check before we left. We put the the elements onto the beam to help speed up assembly when we get to the island and checked we had all the brackets and fixings, check. The 4m/6m jaybeam is down and in bits ready to go, all the ropes, guy stakes, pegs, cable ties, duct tape (can’t forget the duct tape) and brackets are in one place ready to go into the trailer too.

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(Voi next to the Camb-Hams trailer)

Rob M0VFC appeared after the hard labour of the afternoon but soon got his laptop out and made up for it by writing PHP/HTML code to allow us to display the dx’pedition HRD logbook ‘live’ on our webpage! This is a feature of the new HRD logbook which is still in alpha testing. We should manage to update the online log around every 15 minutes which will allow searches by callsign, date, band, mode and Camb-Hams operator.

Rob also handed over the bandpass filters for 80m, 40m, 20m and 15m. A quick check on the miniVNA shows them to be good for each band! Well done Rob (and your dad, G3VFC)! I’ll try and post the plots of them tomorrow if I have time after packing the trailer.

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(The 80m bandpass filter)

Easter Sunday – April 12th, 2009 (by G4HUN)

April 13th, 2009 | Posted by Gavin, M1BXF in Uncategorised - (0 Comments)

The countdown has started! This week sees the group loading up ready for Friday’s start on the journey to Harris.

Several of the team members have been putting in huge amounts of preparatory work: Gavin M1BXF and Bob G1SAA have built and tested a Spiderbeam, which will be used on 20m, 15m and 10m. It has now been fine-tuned, and has an excellent SWR in each part of the three bands that we aim to be using. Robert M0VFC and Geoff G0DDX have been finishing the filters. The T-shirts have been printed. Here at HUN Towers the Hustler 6BTV six band vertical that is my main HF antenna has been labelled and dismantled ready for loading, and generally things are being pulled together in one place. But there seem to be boxes of stuff everywhere – I hope ‘VFC has a big enough car! I’ve been busy with the laminator – there are Great Circle DX maps centred on Harris; WAB maps of the island (Thanks to the sterling efforts of Dave M0VMC); and lists of frequencies used for IOTA and WAB. We seem to be a lot more organised than last year.

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(Spiderbeam plots for 20m / 15m & 10m)

Tomorrow we’re getting together for a final run through – then on Tuesday we pack the trailer.

The plan is that Bob, Geoff and Gavin will head off with the trailer early on Friday morning, around 6am with myself and Robert following a little later in the day. First stop will be Gavin’s mum’s QTH at Helensburgh near Glasgow. We’ll be kipping there and meeting up with some of the Scottish contingent for dinner on the Friday. It will be an early start on Saturday – we plan to leave there at 3.00am; we have to get to the ferry terminal on Skye for a 9.40am sailing! Unfortunately we can’t get into the cottage until 4.00pm, so don’t expect to hear much from us on Saturday although some of the team will try and participate in GlobalSET. Once into the cottage it will be a race to get some aerials up, and hope to have some sort of operation going by the evening.

So the question is – “Will I need more than one pair of pants”?

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Mull 2008

April 30th, 2008 | Posted by Gavin, M1BXF in General - (0 Comments)
  • For an overview of the Mull 2008 DX’Pedition please look here.
  • Check out what we are up to is the Mull 2009 diary.