The Westlakes Cup contest was on last night and I went to the local footy oval and strung up a 1/2 wave dipole, about 12 metres in the air. I had been along early in the day and thrown the centre rope up in the tree so it would be easier knowing I had to set up in the dark. This proved to be a good idea as dark is really dark at the site. There are no lights nearby and I couldn’t see the branch the rope was over. I hauled the balun, coax and wire up and then ran the wires out to the left and right. As is so often the case with antennas in trees the wires were running through some other branches.
Once the antenna was up I set my FTDX100 on a card table at the back of the car and powered it up from my sealed lead acid battery.
First check of the SWR on 3.600 MHz showed 2:1. A long way from ideal but workable on a rig with valve finals.
I checked above and below 3.600 and it showed that the antenna was too long. This is strange as I have used this antenna many times before and it hadn’t been this bad. I tried lowering one end to shorten it by folding the wire back on itself but it wouldn’t come down as it was stuck in the branch of another tree. I just had to run with 2:1 SWR.
Listening to the pre-contest announcement from the club station VK2ATZ showed that the antenna was working OK but band conditions were going to be a real challenge. No stations were really strong and there was lots and lots of lightning crashes. Must have been some big electrical storm somewhere in VK last night.
The contest started and contacts were slow and tough. I was thinking about giving it away and going home but one station told be I had a thumping signal, and he was likewise. That gave me the confidence to keep going. The overall participation last night was down on last year with the highest reported score of 22 from VK2VV. I claimed a score of 20 which looks like placing me second, again.
There was at least 3 stations that I just heard but was unable to work due to the noise. I can’t help thinking that if the SWR had been a little better then it may have let me work a couple more stations.
I will go back to the park in the daylight and get the antenna better tuned.