Martlesham DX & Contest Group

CQWW SSB 1998 from England as M8T

This page gives overview information with Andy's usual Soap Box comments on 15m and in general with Steve, G0AEV, giving his views on VP6TY on 10m.

My thanks to Andy and Steve for the text.

Here are some pictures of what went on. Pictures Pictures Pictures ... and some more are here.

The M8T Summary for 1998

Raw score - subject to log merging etc......

                    CQ WORLD WIDE DX CONTEST -- 1998

      Call: M8T                      Country:  England
      Mode: SSB                      Category: Multi Multi
      Zone: 14


      160      683      727     1.06     10      66
       80     1340     2024     1.51     27     104
       40     1674     2356     1.41     30     133
       20     2791     5629     2.02     39     178
       15     1995     4813     2.41     40     180
       10     1083     2439     2.25     31     155

     Totals   9566    17988     1.88    177     816  =>  17,862,084

(Initial) Station Description : 

160m (Ops : G3XTT, G3WGN)
FT1000MP + PA + 45m vertical + Dipole @ 30m. 

80m (Ops : OH6YF, G3WGN)
FT1000D + PA + 4 square + Delta Loop @ 27m

40m (Ops : G4VMM, G0CYB)
FT1000MP + PA + 3 element yagi @ 30m + 402CD @ 24m

20m (Ops : G4BUO, G4TSH, G4JVG)
FT1000D + PA + 204CD Stack @ 18/30m + 204CD @ 24m

15m (Ops : G4PIQ, G4TSH, G4JVG)
FT1000D + PA + Extended 155BA Stack @ 18/30m + Extended 155BA @ 24m

10m (Ops : G4BWP, G0AEV, G0KRL)
FT1000MP + PA + 105BA Stack @ 24/31m + 105BA @ 24m

Spotting / Helping : G4BAH, G0WCW, G0OZS, G3PJT, G4JVG, G0HSS, G0AFH. 


Story/Soap Box on M8T and 15m - by Andy Cook, G4PIQ

We're putting the "Band" back together ...

In 1996 we did our last multi-multi entry as M6T in CQWW SSB from our old site. We had to move from that site because the landowners wanted to plant the land with trees rather than towers, and we missed out on the 1997 event because we hadn't found ourselves a new home. About 6 weeks before this year's CQWW SSB, Bob, G4BAH, rang me to say that he thought we may have found that new home for the station. However, there seemed to be a huge uphill struggle in front of us moving all the kit from the old site to the new one, and recovering from an extra year's neglect on the towers. However - the flux was rising, high band conditions were definitely improving and there seemed to be some enthusiasm to have a crack this year. Telephone calls and e-mails went round which bore quite a resemblance to the Blues Brothers saying 'We're putting the Band back together'. As it turned out, quite a few of the normal crew were not available, either because they were contesting elsewhere that weekend, or because they needed more than 6 weeks to sort the rest of their life out to free up enough time for the contest weekend! However, we were joined by a few new faces (like Harry, OH6YF; Dave, G3WGN; Steve, G4JVG; and Justin, G4TSH) and by a couple of people who we hadn't seen for a few years (Don, G3XTT and Paul, G0CYB) and they filled the gaps marvellously.

Spear chucker Dave ...

The whole contest is done field day style, and after a few weekends of hard work, the steel luffing and raising ropes on all the towers (all crank-up tilt-overs) had been replaced. Also, the operating trailer had been moved and there was a big heap of aluminium, cable, and ropes sitting on the ground at the new site! An extra year passing us by also meant that we'd forgotten rather more than we realised about how the station has gone together on previous occasions. All this extra maintenance work meant that, as the contest approached, we were consistently behind schedule. However - come darkness on the Monday before the contest, all the 20m and 15m antennas were on their towers, the 10m stack was in place, and 2 verticals of the four square were standing up. The Monday prior to the contest also brought our Casualty party for the year, with Dave, G4BUO spearing his hand on a guying stake, but thankfully nothing more major.

Need more power ????

As one or two people started to arrive for the contest on the Wednesday we were able to get the 402CD on its tower and make the first steps towards putting the station together. The generator arrived that day as well. You know your generator is big enough when you have to use a spanner rather than a screwdriver to connect it up! The fact it is about 10 times the size we needed is beside the point - it means that the capacitor input HT supplies on the amplifiers don't sag - even when everything comes off 1 phase!

Let's get it up ... CT as well as antennas!

Thursday brought most of the team to the site and some more antenna fun and games - starting to wind up a couple of towers, setting up the single 10m yagi, adding the two other 80m elements, putting together the 45m tall vertical for 160m, sorting out a dodgey match on the single 15m yagi and so on. Also we managed to get the first of the stations together on Thursday (15m) so we actually managed to radiate a little RF that day - a milestone!

After some fun and games in previous years sticking extra serial ports into PCs we'd decided to go with Ethernet networking this year because it would be so much simpler......... OK - a few simple lessons to learn here I think. If you're going to do this, make sure you have the right drivers and configuration utilities for your Ethernet cards and that you test everything thoroughly! Several cold nights had been spent getting the network together in the operating trailer over the previous weeks, but it wasn't until the Thursday night that we'd started to address putting the DVP cards into the PCs as well. All did not go smoothly and I believe that the guys left the trailer at about 2am when they finally thought that they had a working solution after playing with memory exclusions in the memory managers and all that stuff. I have to admit to being Mr. Un-Popular that night since I'd promised (some while ago) to go to the theatre that night and felt I ought to honour it!

Friday - crunch day

On Friday, it was time to complete the repairs to the full size 3 element 40m yagi which had an element damaged in the storms the day after CQWW 1996. After a day's hard work by Steve, G4VMM and Paul, G0CYB, the yagi was on the tower and ready to go up in the air by dusk and thankfully it all seemed to work fine. Friday was also a day of winding up most of the towers, laying radials for the 80m 4 square and the 160m vertical and putting most of the station together. Very unusually for late October in the UK, late that afternoon we had a thunderstorm roll through with torrential rain - just adding to all the mud which was already on the site - it has been a wet month!

It was all a bit touch and go, but by about 1 hour before the start we had fully running stations (less a DVP cable or two) on all bands except for 15m - and that just needed one rotator cable extending. What we discovered at this point however was that CT would sometimes crash when the DVP was used. Another 45 minutes or so was spent playing with the memory management, but in vain - it looked like people were going to have to do it the hard way - no DVPs! In fact, after a few hours we'd sorted out some other solutions like Yaesu DVS-2s (which blow your ears off with sidetone unfortunately!) and some homebrew keyers. Anyhow - at the start of the contest we were up and running and could then concentrate on getting the spotting station together. The Ethernet network actually held up very well and after the contest all the logs were much more consistent than they had been with serial networks.

00:00 ... lets rock! (and pray)

Conditions on the Saturday morning were pretty dreadful. 15m opened to Europe on scatter, but never really opened to anywhere north of east at all. I worked a few JAs and other Pacific long path, but no short path JA at all. Pileups for some multipliers were dreadfully hard to break - I felt like I was in the low power section! As Saturday morning drew on, the wind got up, and the 12m long lorry trailer from which we operate rocked in the gusts. The wind got stronger and stronger and everytime we went through a particularly severe gust, someone would poke his head out of the trailer just to make sure that everything was still there. Around lunchtime, my 15 stack seemed to start to behave strangely and I asked someone to take a look and tell me where everything was pointing. They came back and said that the bottom 15m yagi was pointing downwards at about 45 degrees! A little later after one very strong gust one of the guys came back and said that the 40m tower carrying the 3 element had folded over at the top of the 3rd section and the top had gone from the 160m vertical. What had actually happened was that the 40m yagi had crashed down the top guy wires for the 160m vertical and bent and broken the sections above the tower. Thankfully no one was hurt - the tower was a long way from the operating position, 40m could continue on the 402CD and the 160m vertical even still worked! This also lost the delta loop for 80m, which ran between the 40m and the 15m towers.

Dave, G4BUO, me and Steve G0AEV then spent an hour in the driving rain going round all the towers, double staking critical guy stakes checking the guy tensions, re-working a few, and hammering in any stakes which had moved a little. We also balanced up the views of the various weather forecasts, some general ones forecasting 130 km/h winds, other more local ones only saying that they would stay at around the 110km/h peak which was about what we had already had.

While all this was going on, Fred, G4BWP was operating on 10m and managed the best rate of the whole contest - an hour just short of 200 on 10. On the lower bands the US opening didn't run so well, but part of that could have been due to the loss of the 15m stack (only an antenna at 30m available) and some slightly distracted (and very wet) operators!

The wind wound down a little through the late afternoon and early evening, but then picked up again, at least as strongly as before. Again - a few visits were made to the towers to make sure everything was still solidly guyed. Some of us turned in for a couple of hours sleep in the wee small hours (in the cars - luxury!) and felt sure that when daybreak came, everything would not still be standing. However - thankfully - we were proved wrong - the only additional damage was a part element, which flew off the single 15m yagi, and the driven element on the bottom of the 20m stack going at 60 degrees to all the other elements.

Sunday ... 40 zones on 15 and 20?

15m on Sunday was a little better than the Saturday, but there was still no decent run of JAs and I was still feeling very ineffectual in some pileups - having people CQ in my face - amazing! However - what did brighten the day a little was the prospect of getting 40 zones. After sitting in the pile for AL7O and getting no where - sincere thanks to KL7AC for calling me for the 38th zone, and then when UA0JH called in from zone 19 there was much jubilation - just zone 31 to go! However, we went through the US opening, and a fairly mediocre West Coast opening, with no sign of any KH6. We knew where KH7R was, but not a whisper of him with us. Whenever he appeared on the cluster, I'd check, but hear nothing, and so, as the US opening started to fade down, I was settling for a round 39 zones. Then at 1830, he was spotted again, but this time by a GI station - and he was there - 40 zones. I'm told that people heard my yell of jubilation through the mic of the 20m station! 20m was feeling particularly down at that point since they'd missed out on zone 6 of all things and were desperately looking for an XE station, but none could be found or passed!

Andy, G4PIQ, chuffed at 40 zones!

VP6TY .... just occasionally you get surprised by all this!

At about 1900 15m looked like it was on its way out, but oddly both 10 and 15 came back to the USA at about 2000 enabling another couple of hundred QSOs to be put in the log. The most remarkable QSO in that period had to be VP6TY calling in on 10m for a new double mult. He was a pretty new amateur - this was his first QSO with G, and we managed to pass him to 15 for mult #179 there!

(Steve G0AEV gives the low down on how this all happend below!)


So - overall a pretty successful contest at getting things back together. We survived the storms with working but somewhat reduced systems, managed 5 band DXCC, broke ZD8Z's 178 country total on 15 (only to have PJ9B claim 181!), and were just 7 short of 1000 mults overall. The short time between deciding to do the contest and the event itself combined with the amount of work needed to move and renovate everything meant we were in even more chaos than usual at the start. However, it all hung together, and what's missing the odd night's sleep here and there anyhow!

Next year we can start to do some new things and move things forward, and lets hope that conditions are a little more co-operative. Also, lets hope that it isn't such a stormy weekend in the UK for a few years - twice in a row is quite enough thank you!

Andy - G4PIQ.


Steve, G0AEV, describes how VP6TY turned up at on 10m

I never got round to taking any photos. But stories is another matter. Pitcairn is mentioned by Andy, and I suppose it was a highlight - for 10 at least. This is how it happened ...

The scene is the 10 metres shack, getting late on Sunday (2150z). The 10m "Band Captain" had gone home hours ago when the band had appeared to close - naturally his departure knocked the band back into life again. To start with the first hour (18z) was very slow with 2 Qs only, but included TF8GX for a double mult. Subsequent calls to the north went unanswered until KZ5MM at 1935. The stack swiftly came round to the USA bringing in a couple of nice runs of W’s, some of whom had been passed on from 15m (thanks Andy!). A break in the middle brought GJ3YHU via meteor scatter for a country multiplier, followed by a protracted marginal QSO with an XE who I tried to persuade to go to 20m to give us the last wanted zone on that band - after several minutes I eventually established the XE as single band only... (oh well)

By 2130 the run from the USA began to slow, and even the few strong W4 stations left on the band began to fade. This time it looked like the action was really over and I would be reduced to picking up the odd tropo QSO to the Netherlands. But I continued calling on 28.333 with beams to stateside when I was called (2150z) by an English-sounding operator at S5 - stronger than any of the remaining Ws - and signing Victor Papa Six Tango Yankee. So this has got to be a local joker, right? Thought I’d better log it anyway. As we were running CT with an old country file, the VP6 prefix wasn’t recognised and I didn’t make the connection with the old and more familiar VR6 prefix. To make things worse I copied the report as 59 22. There was no way 10m was open to zone 22 so it looked very much like a wind-up.

I nearly passed this one by. But every QSO should count so I asked for the station’s location and back came the answer "Pitcairn". And the stations zone again? Zone 32. A glance at the propagation chart on the wall showed that there was a small chance of South Pacific at the time - it had been such a long time since that was last a possibility I needed the check. So the guy was genuine! VP6TY logged, 21.50z. Double Mult!

Gab messages appeared at once - "10m Wow!" was one. Was-VP6-really-Pitcairn type messages moved across the screen when I realised with horror that I had forgotten to try and pass this rare one down the line. "VP6TY are you still on frequency?" Luckily he was and I started to persuade him to try 15m. No he couldn’t go to 15, where was M8T located? It turned out this was his first QSO with England. Well he could go to 15 but he couldn’t operate above 21.200. A request to 15 for an appropriate frequency was very swiftly replied (21.195) before the VP6 had finished his over (the speedy Ethernet network showed its worth then).

And at 21.57 VP6TY appeared in the 15m log.

And that was just about the end of 10m for M8T - just one SP6 via sporadic E and one LA2 via meteors. But plugged away until 2359 as usual - but it seemed a easy stint with the VP6 in the log.

Steve, G0AEV.

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1996-99 Darren Hatcher