Second contest, getting the hang of it.

Spent a fun evening in the shack taking part in the UKAC 144MHz contest. It was nice and warm with the heating on and I a few bottles of beers on standby!

I was a bit more organised than the 50MHz contest last week. I got the computer running the Minos logging program. Just before 8pm I raised the antenna and double checked the VSWR and had a quick listen around on the band before the start and heard a few operators setting up. All looked good and then before I knew it we were off!

Due to my inexperience I operated in 'search and pounce' mode rather than calling CQ. I kept going outside and turning the antenna in a new direction and then spent several minutes searching up and down listening out for CQ calls.

I soon made a few contacts and fumbled along but my confidence increased as I got the hang of the exchange required.

I was jotting down the information and almost made the mistake of relying on the computer logging till I made an error and when attempting to correct it end up in a total mess due to my unfamilarity with the software. Thankfully I was able to sort out the log and carried on, but lost some time doing so. 

Thankfully the rain held off but the wind was blowing quite strongly and the antenna was waving about a little so didn't have it at full height, not that full height was particularly high anyway and more often than not I suspect my antenna was pointing in the wrong direction!
At the end of the night I only managed 10 contacts, but was pleased none the less, scoring 930 points.

 I have made a map of my QSOs and as expected they are limited by my surroundings 

View UKAC 144MHz - 4 Feb 2014 in a larger map

Many years ago I experimented with a PMR eQSO gateway (detailed here) and when doing that I created a couple of terrain maps were created using GEOG. Geog is a suite of programs written by Andy Talbot (G4JNT), some of which make reference to a database of UK terrain heights, to provide useful information for radio amateurs (and others interested in point-point working) The software is still available on Andy's new site

Interestingly the contacts appear to follow the direction of the Trent valley, while the surrounding hills have a masking effect. The contacts to the west in the Peak District are probably due to their height!

Roll on next week for the 432Mhz contest.. another antenna I have to sort out properly.

Andrew Garratt, MØNRD, is a regular contributor to and writes from East Midlands, England. Contact him at [email protected].

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