VHF Field Day 2002 - From Wales as GW6YB/P

Report by Geoff G4FKA

The Bristol Contest Group decided almost at the last minute to enter VHF NFD 2002. Planning started less than 3 weeks before the event and consisted of one trip each to those bastions of contest arrangement, the Rose & Crown in Wick and the HTV social club in Bristol. From this alco-chaos order emerged and a team was finally dragged screaming together and by chance or design off we went to Gadair Fawr in the Black Mountains.

Who was in this intrepid band of maniacs? They were Geoff G4FKA, Howard M0XXX, Dave G6FFB, John G0JLF, Andy M1EBV, Steve M1AHH and Wilf M0WLF.

We decided on balance that the Restricted section was the best to enter, although this did require some last minute purchases, including a 432MHz amp, Heil headsets (with an adaptor that only arrived the day before we went), footswitches and lots of cables to be made up. Low power was also viable and is worth trying in future years.

We found ourselves up at our storage farm on the Friday afternoon with a general list of things required and a pile of stuff which a few of us had sorted out a couple of days before. This was duly loaded into the wagons with the firm knowledge that much of the equipment had not been integrated before the event – risk mitigation at its worst.embers of the RSGB Bristol Contest Group entered RSGB CW NFD as G6YB/P on 6/7th June. The location was near Marshfield in Wiltshire. Weather was fine and we had a great weekend. Well worth the effort !

Off we set in convoy down the M4 and then the fun began. Differing views on the best route led to us splitting up and reforming on several occasions. The benefit was that we got fish & chips in Risca, but of course we shouldn’t have been anywhere near Risca! Anyway we did finally get to the mountain but it was 11pm and very damp and foggy so all we could do was plant some tents and go to sleep.

VHF Field Day

Constructing 2m Beam: (L to R)Geoff G4FKA, John G0JLF, Andy M1EBV, Howard M0XXX

The Night Shift at NFD 2015

Next morning the fog had cleared and the task was to find sites for stations amongst the bog and rocks and of course get it all working by 3pm. This challenge amused the midges who came out in millions and bit us all nearly to distraction. We just about survived but extra strength insect spray is already on order for next time!

Setting up the bands varied significantly, from the mature 50/70MHz stations provided by Howard and Dave to the 144/432 “build from scratch” concoctions provided by the rest of the group.

50 MHz was definitely the star band of the weekend. Based around the FT-847 with an 8 ele beam, the band gave good conditions to western Europe with best DX down to CT at nearly 1700km. The station was on for the full period, caused no problems and seemed to be very loud everywhere. For about 80w out, the scores were well up on many other entrants and at last count were beating many open section entries!

VHF Field Day

Howard M0XXX

144 MHz was as ever the bread and butter band, comprising FT-736R plus pa and a 17 ele beam. However a disaster nearly ensued as a 5:1 VSWR was discovered only 30 minutes before the start. Very rapid lowering of the mast revealed an open circuit balun in the antenna. Some very deft soldering fixed the fault and we were ready with just 15 minutes to go. Nearly lost it all early on Sunday morning when the mains plug fell out of the generator and the computer log disappeared for a while! Propagation was good on north-south paths to Orkney, Spain and best DX was SW France at over 1100km. East-west paths were less favourable and we certainly didn’t hear the OZs/OKs worked from the east coast.

432 MHz got going 30 minutes late due to amplifier problems. Two amps, including one only purchased the week before at Longleat failed to integrate with the FT736 and the 38-ele, leaving us with only 20w and no pre-amp! Almost gave up altogether after the Saturday night; slow going, poor conditions, no working pa or pre-amp and to cap it all a VSWR which rose to 10:1. Left it until Sunday morning to take it down and fix it. We’re glad we did as the day produced some remarkable DX (including EA and DL) for just 20w and brought an air of respectability to the score.

What did we learn from this little spasm of activity? Well our mountain site is certainly good for all the VHF bands and we should continue to exploit it. Also plan earlier, get more people, integrate the kit beforehand and take a very large pot of insect spray. Full claimed scores can be found on the Blacksheep.org web site.

Result: First in the Restricted Section

Individual Band Scores

Band Pos. Score QSOs Best DX km
50MHz 1st 51672 239 CT1HZE 1688
70MHz 3rd 13832 76 MM1CXE 473
144MHz 1st 84824 329 F6KBR/P 1133
432MHz 1st 15254 69 EA2CN/P 976