Yesterday and Saturday was the running of the second annual VK shires contest. After last year’s contest I considered going mobile, or ‘rover’ as the rules call it, and working from 3 or 4 different shires, using my trapped dipole in the trees. A few weeks ago I even head out and looked for some suitable places to set up, not with the dipole though, just with my 20/40m squid pole ground plane.
I thought I had found three places, in three shires, that were reasonably quiet and away from noise sources but when I got home and checked the map, two of them were in the same shire, albeit by only 150 metres. I had still hoped to go out and work from the field but the recent rain and the lowered external temperature convinced me not to bother.
So I worked another contest from home, along with the inherent noise and antenna problems. I started late in the contest as I thought it started at 6 pm local time so I started after dinner only to find the contest had started at 4 pm. I had missed any chance of 20m contacts during the early stages.
I also found a new problem – my son’s stereo amplifier system. Whenever I transmitted he could hear me. Not a big problem during the evening as he just turned it off but when I called my first ZL station at 7:15 on Sunday morning, it woke him and my XYL. The problem was soon fixed and it was due to him using a balanced output from the mixer into an unbalanced input on the amplifier. The inter-connecting lead was working quite well as an antenna and picking up the signal from the dipole that is only 4 metres away.
Having solved that problem I was free to work on with the contest but having S8 noise on 40m and S9 +20 dB noise on 80m I am sure there was lots of stations that I just couldn’t hear.
I managed to make only 90 QSO, which is one less than last year, and my points total is 180 less than last year as well.
One station that didn’t seem to be having any problems was Mark, VK4ADX, who was running mobile in Central NSW covering more than 500 km and 7 shires. I managed to work him in six of those. Mark was set up in a Land Cruiser utility with a 7 foot whip on the roof bar and a friend driving while he operated. I will be looking out to see how well he has done.
Another station that was working well was Wayne, VK7FWAY, who always has a thumping great signal into here.
I sent my log off by email, 29 minutes after the contest finished, and now I will wait and see how I went. Perhaps next year I will get away and work from some place quiet.