Yesterday was the last day of the Scout Radio-Active award and we had organised for a special net on 40m at 7pm and 80m at 8pm. In addition to the HF nets we also advertised that we would be listening on VK3RSR and VK6RFM and Echolink.
I was undecided how I would approach this net as I knew working from home would be a problem due to the limits of my antenna and the high background noise levels.
I had been looking around for places to work from where I could string a 40/80m dipole, access VK3RSR direct and still be close to home. I had settled on the car park at One Tree Hill in the Dandenong Ranges. But when I heard the weather forecast was for rain and strong winds I decided to stay home.
During the afternoon I loaded Echolink on to an old PC that I use in the shack and, after a bit of messing around, I got it to work 100% on Echolink.
About 20 minutes before the net I turned on the FT757 and, to my dismay, found a noise level well over S9 on 40m and 80m. My chances of running a successful net with this noise level were slim. But at least I had Echolink.
I called for about 10 minutes on 40m but had no response. John, VK3ZX, called me on the telephone to ask if the net was happening and I tried a couple of times but he couldn’t here me. I made a few contacts on Echolink and then tried 80m at 8pm. The noise was a similar problem and I couldn’t hear anything on the sked frequency.
The Waitakere Sprint was also on 80m starting at the same time as our net, so I tuned around seeing if there was any stations working the contest. I worked a couple then decided that I couldn’t beat the noise so I should give it all away.
I shut down the PC and, just as I was about to turn of the FT 757, the noise went away. The source of the noise was the PC.
With the PC now off I was able to hear a lot more stations on 80m in the Sprint.
I tuned around and worked about 20 stations and then called CQ myself and worked a few more.
My score is nothing fantastic but at least I gave it a go. I was logging on paper, which I haven’t done for a while, but since the sprint only ran for one hour, and I was late starting, it didn’t matter.
As for the Scout Radio-Active net on 80m, it was abandoned as a contestant in VK2 had set up camp on 3.650 MHz and was working well.
I’m told on very good authority that the Scout Radio-Active Award will run again next July.