CQWW (CW) 1998 from PA3HBB

Updated 04-Dec-98 Mosaic of pictures from CQ WW (CW) November 28/29 1998 - PA3HBB

Date: November 28/29 1998

Callsign used: PA3HBB

Operators: Dave, PA3HBB and Gernot, DF5RF

Equipment:

Antennas:

Setting up the station

Two weeks before the contest I started setting up the antennas. The first to be assembled and tested was the 160M dipole, positioned 12 Metres from my 80M dipole, offset so that one of the legs of the 160M dipole acted as a director for the 80M dipole and created a very effective 80M 2 element Yagi beam. Both of these antennas were tested and the SWR readings recorded.

The 40M Inverted Vee was hoisted into to a tree in the garden to a height of about 12Metres and the legs were spread out and tied off. The 40M Linear loaded Vertical was already installed next to the house and had been well tested over the past year.

The 20M 3 element beam was designed (according to formulae created by W6SAI) and then hoisted to hang in free space about 10Metres up by 4 ropes and 4 tall trees in the garden. This antenna was positioned to beam slightly north of west. In order to have a good signal to the north and south, a 20M dipole was erected in two other trees at a height of about 10Metres.

The 15M 2 element Yagi beam was constructed from aluminium tubing on a 1.7M boom as a 'plumbers delight' design (all the metal work is at ground potential). The beam was designed as a Driven element and a Director. The matching was done using 12.5mm aluminium strips designed as a Delta match with a co-axial 4:1 balun which was taped to the boom. The beam was put up to 10M on my pump-up mast for testing (plan is to use this pump-up for the 10M beam), as the mast for 15M was not ready. (also, it is much easier to test antennas on a pump-up mast).

The same matching mechanism was used on the 10M beam, but the antenna was designed as Driven element and a Reflector and the boom was 2M long. (DL6WU design).

The Cushcraft AP8A 8 band vertical was adjusted and assembled in the middle of my 50 square metre groundplane about 35 metres from the shack. (Read about the groundplane in my article on A Linear Loaded Vertical for 40/80M).

The last antenna set up was the Rx-loop. This was made from about 260 metres of wire which ran around the perimeter of the garden and feed with about 20M of co-axial cable. It was connected to the transceiver by a relay operated by a push button. This was a last minute arrangement which worked quite well. While receiving, pressing the red button switched the rig to the Rx-loop. The relay box was placed between the transceiver and the amplifier, in case an accidental transmission was made. This protected the amplifier and the rig shut down because the SWR was terrible.

The first problem to deal with was the mast for the 15M beam was not going to be ready before the contest, so I decided to build a 'quick and dirty' one from lengths of 50mm square wood. A shopping trip to the local DIY shop brought me five 2.7 metre lengths of clean cut 44mm square posting (2"X2"X8') and some long carriage bolts. These were bolted together to create a 9.9M mast by overlapping the sections and putting 2 bolts through each join. The base was a double section to provide greater strength. The top was filed into a round shape to take the rotator.

There were now 9 different coaxial cables coming into the shack through the skylight window. Each band was given a different colour and marked with electrical tape. The bands on the amplifier were marked with the same colours and a chart was made for the wall. Hopefully, even in the middle of the night we would check the colours matched throughout the antenna system. There were no ATU units needed for any antenna.

Testing, before the contest

Most of the antennas were tested on-air two weeks prior to the contest. Everything seemed to perform well. However, some minor adjustments were made to the 160M dipole and the 20M 3 element beam. All the SWR readings and the settings for the amplifier were recorded and a chart was stuck to the wall of the shack. The 15M beam was set on the ground, because I still did not have the mast at this time.

The following week, I had to work in Frankfurt, Germany (well, you have to do a bit of work to pay for all this contesting stuff).

On Thursday the 26th of November, Gernot, DF5RF, joined me for the trip back from Germany to Holland to stay for the contest. It was a long slow drive back because the weather was really quite bad, and I was hoping that all the antennas were still up. We arrived in the dark and the first thing Gernot wanted to see was the antenna farm. So we grabbed out coats and a powerful torch and, to my relief, all the antennas were still up.

In the middle of my living room, there was the home made 9.9M mast, folded in half to fit into the room. On Friday morning, the first task, after breakfast, was to assemble the mast and get it erected. By lunchtime, it was up and working properly with the 15M beam looking happy on top of it. We decided to move the 3 element 20M beam a bit, as it was too close to the 80M beam and with 400Watts on 80M we were getting sparks from the 20M co-ax in the shack.

Now, moving a wire beam which is only supported by 4 ropes is very hard with one person, and not much easier with two people…By dinnertime, it was moved to its new location about 3 metres from the 80M beam and this seemed to cure the problem.

That evening, we tested the antennas a bit more, especially the low band ones. The best report came from a G station who gave us a 599+100db report on 80M with the beam! Also, on 80M we got a 599+20db from a W6 station… even the 160M dipole seemed to function well, bearing in mind it was only about 10M high but we only had 100Watts on that band.

The contest starts...

00:00 GMT the contest starts, and we started on 160M to get some multipliers on that band, as we knew it was our poorest performing band.

We worked 69 stations in this visit and changed to 80M at 02:23 GMT.

We worked on 80M until 05:10 GMT and worked 152 stations and then moved to 40M.

At 07:27 GMT we had worked 120 stations and paid another short visit to 80M.

We worked only 7 more stations in 26 minutes on this band, but 4 USA stations made the visit worthwhile. So, now it was time to visit 20M.

We stayed with 20M until 09:58 GMT and worked 108 stations. We noted a big problem with the 3 element yagi beam and we were also getting RF in the shack from the dipole, so this restricted our 20M operations to the AP8A vertical… Our next move was to 10M.

Now, I could test my beam in a real contest…Boy did it work well, we stayed there until 16:14 GMT, working 242 QSOs. We moved down to 15M and time to test my other beam…

15M was also a good band for us and, in only 1hour and 25 minutes, we worked 74 stations before trying to make a better score on 20M.

This visit to 20M was short and sweet, we worked 10 more station in 14 minutes before moving down to 40M for the second visit there…

Another 71 stations on 40M in 2 hours 30 minutes… time for another band, this time we choose 80M.

This time, not so good on 80M we only worked 33 stations in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Perhaps 20M would hold some stations now… so, off to 20M again.

Oh dear, 20M still not working much better for us, we worked 17 stations in 1 hour and decided to try 160M again.

160M was better we worked another 40 stations in less than an hour (it was now 00:33 GMT) and we QSYed to 40M again, looking for more DX and multipliers.

We found them, 43 QSOs in 1 hour 15 minutes before QSYing to 80M again… boy we LIKE this 80M 2 element beam…

Another session on 80M produced another 177 stations and in less than 3 hours. It was now 5:10 GMT and time to change band again. This time back to 40M for the morning DX.

Well, a couple of new multipliers and countries, but only 22 QSOs in an hour, so we went to 20M to beef up the score there… without much success…

The 20M antennas were still acting up a bit, so back to the AP8A vertical and we picked up another few QSOs (another 5 stations in only 15 minutes) So, off to our favourite band again - 80M…

This session on 80M produced another 60 contacts in an hour. Now, back to 20M to slog it out again.

This time 20M was much better, though not brilliant, 50 contacts in one and a half hours. Next we tried 15M again.

We spend most of the early day on 15M, it was working quite well, we made contact with 167 stations in 3 hours and 26 minutes. Then we moved back to 10M to see what was around.

The time was 14:00GMT and the band was alive again. We worked 205 stations and stayed on the band until 16:46 GMT. We tried 20M again, just to improve our QSO number on this band.

The next 2 hours were spent on 20M and we made 82 QSOs, much better than previous visits. We had a short visit (11 minutes) to 15M - but the band was dead except for a couple of LY stations. So, we changed again, after waiting the required 10 minutes, to 160M again.

On 160M we made another 17 QSOs in an hour before moving back to 40M for another session there.

Another 61 contacts on 40M in 2 hours, then off to 80M and that wonderful beam again.

For the last 30 minutes of the contest we picked up another 16 QSOs on 80M.

And the contest ended at 23:59:59 GMT.

The Contest Ends

We were tired and pleased at the same time, we had done it, just the two of us… we probably will not win any awards… (but, perhaps we have the highest score in Holland) but it was great fun and we learned a few things to make the station even better for the next contest.

We hope to make a QSO with you…

73 es BEST DX de Dave, PA3HBB and Gernot, DF5RF.

Lessons Learned

We need more operators to score well, we kept dozing off in front of the rig. (contact me if you are interested DRCP@compuserve.com).

We need a higher antenna on 160M, and an amplifier (possibly a vertical as well).

We need a rotatable beam on 20M.

The 2 element beams on 10 and 15 were pretty good as they don't need lots of turning.

The 40M Linear loaded Vertical outperformed the AP8A and the Inverted Vee everytime.

The 80M 2 element beam performed unbelievably - even US stations - one call = QSO.

The 'quick and dirty' mast worked very well indeed, needs must when the devil drives (or something like that)

The RX-Loop was invaluable on 160 and 80M, but the switching could be improved.

More antenna switches are needed, we lost a lot of time QSYing to other bands, because we had to manually unscrew the antennas and fit the new ones, then tune the amplifier.

Thanks

My thanks to Gernot, for coming up from Frankfurt to operate the station, and to my landlord for allowing me to assemble my 'antenna farm' in the garden.