Monday, July 27, 2009

Contest University UK 2009 details

Via Mark, MoDXR comes news of this year's Contest University programme:

Taking place at the RSGB Convention in Wyboston near Bedford, England, on October 10th 2009, Contest University (CTU) UK is not only the place where you will learn all the skills and secrets into getting you well under way with your contesting activities, but it also offers experienced contesters the opportunity to learn from others and possibly pick up on some new tips to gain that winning edge over others!

Sponsored by ICOM UK, the event is based on the highly succesful Dayton CTU and will address a UK audience of wannabe, novice, and experienced contesters throughout a double stream programme of classes (Multi Sessions) and interactive workshops (Small Groups). This is the second CTU UK, following a succesful launch in 2008 which saw 125 participants.

This year's programme will be split between Multi-Session (Presentations) and Short-Groups (Workshops/Interactive Sessions). Topics and presenters are as follows:

Multi Sessions

Contesting for Beginners, Lee Volante G0MTN
Building a Successful Contest Station, Tim Duffy K3LR
Field Day and Portable Contesting, Dave Lawley G4BUO
Introduction to Contest Antenna Applications, Steve Nichols G0KYA and Steve Knowles G3UFY
Logging Software for Contesting, Simon Pearson M0CLW
SO2R Technology and Techniques, Don Beattie G3BJ
DXpedition Contesting, John Warburton G4IRN
Getting Started in RTTY Contesting, Roger Cooke G3LDI
Hints and Kinks for Contesters, Justin Snow G4TSH

Small Groups

The IOTA Contest, Don Field G3XTT
CQWW Contest, Roger Western G3SXW
Getting Started in Contesting, Lee Volante G0MTN
Antennas and Propagation, Steve Nichols G0KYA and Steve Knowles G3UFY
Station Design, Paul Beecham G6PZ
Operating Techniques, Chris Tran GM3WOJ
VHF Contesting, Andy Cook G4PIQ
Contest Adjudication: Behind the Scenes, Jim Martin MM0BQI

To be part of CTU UK 2009, just turn up at the RSGB Convention. Cost for admission to the Convention allows you to attend as many of the sessions as you wish (see ). All students will receive presentation material on registering on the day. To ensure your space at the lectures and that you receive a pack, turn up early!

Attend at least 5 of any of the sessions to receive a certificate of graduation from Contest University UK!

Thank you, and I hope to see you at CTU UK 2009!

Mark Haynes, M0DXR

CTU UK Director

Contest University Website

Sunday, July 26, 2009

GW4VXE/P portable from Pembrokeshire on HF

Julie and I have just got back from a wonderful week's holiday in Pembrokeshire, the very western part of Wales (GW). I took some simple radio kit over there and set it up from time to time, on a picnic table overlooking the sea.


The video shows a little of how it worked on HF. I listened on 50 and 144MHz too. No contacts made, but I could hear the Cornish beacon, GB3MCB weakly on both bands, just using a short vertical antenna.

What was interesting was 10m. Each time I listened, there were some weak signals coming through - generally from somewhere like Italy - but it was notable that I was hearing those signals when there wasn't a breath of activity on 15m or some of the lower bands.

Oh, and on the soundtrack, I say that the battery is a dry cell. Obviously it's not! It's a Lead Acid one!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

IOTA Contest this weekend

If you're an IOTA enthusiast you won't need any reminding that the IOTA contest takes place this weekend. There will be lots of activity from odd islands around the globe.

My friends from the Cray Valley RS will be operating from the Scilly Isles - take a look for them!

Team Thunderbox Gathering

I was pleased to receive an e-mail from my friends at the Team Thunderbox group about their forthcoming activity this week. Have a listen out for them!

Team Thunderbox will be operating greenly from the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire between Saturday 25th July, until the following Saturday 1st August 2009.

We will be celebrating our 4th birthday as a group together, and will be operational on all bands with activity on them!!

We shall be giving the odd point or two away in the IOTA contest, and will also be on 2m perhaps sending the odd SSTV picture.

We look forwards to any of you calling us over the week, and callsigns to listen out for are M0KGV/Clive, M0OZD/Rob, 2E0DBD/Jon, M3XGE/Gary, M6USB/Steve, and perhaps the odd guest.

Hopefully, you will join us on air if you hear us.

Kind regards.

Team Thunderbox.

Sunday, July 12, 2009 Just for the record

Around the time when I decided to stop writing the Sport Radio column in Radcom, I decided also, that it was time to step back from involvement with the RSGB's Contest Committee. Not because of any falling out, but simply the same as with the column, that it was time for me to move on.

As one of the 'loose ends' that I alerted the Contests Committee to, around 6 weeks ago, was the fact that I had paid for the internet domain in recent years, but on renewal, which was due this July, I would like the Contests Committee to take this over or make other arrangements. Since that time, other than a quick question about the redirection of e-mail addresses, there's been no mention of renewing the domain and indeed no contact from the Contests Committee.

So I was interested to have a call this evening from a local amateur who wondered what was going on and whether I'd forgotten to renew the domain!

Just for the record; I'm happy to renew it at RSGB's expense, transfer it or let it lapse. But they'll need to tell me what they'd like to do! I can read fast CW, but not minds...

Friday, July 10, 2009

The WA1ZMS Transatlantic beacon

For as long as I've been interested in VHF Dxing, which is over 25 years (how did that happen?) people have been talking about the possibility of making a contact across the Atlantic on 144MHz.

It really ought to be possible, particularly if you look at paths from the Eastern Seabo(a)rd of the US to locations like the Azores, Spain, France and Cornwall. It will just take a combination of the right propagation and people trying out the path.

Good news, then from Brian Justin, WA1ZMS who has installed a high power beacon in Virginia, USA located on Apple Orchard Mountain in FM07FM at an altitude of 4200 ft ASL. The WA1ZMS beacon operates on 144.285 with an erp of 1400W.

No reports of the beacon being heard across the pond so far, but it can be heard 600 miles away on a flat band, so it's working well.

Pie in the sky? I don't think so. There have been various reports of Band I FM from North America being received in Europe and the 50 and 70MHz multi-hop Sporadic E paths are well known. Next time there's a good Es opening to North America on 50MHz, point your beam to North America and listen on 144.285.

History is waiting to be written.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

UK Callbook data

I noticed the other day that Ian, G3ZHI had made the UK Callbook data available from his website. Ian had applied to OFCOM to release the data under licence and his application had been approved.

The data can be downloaded in Excel format, so I quickly downloaded the data and imported it into an Access database which allows me to run queries on the data (eg by callsign, or by postcode).

For a bit of fun, I added some functionality that you can press a button on the screen and it will draw a map of where a particular station is, based on the postcode.

No big deal and I'm sure that others will have done the same sort of thing. If you enjoy this sort of challenge, you can download the callbook data from Ian's website.

A bit more on 50MHz mobile

Over the last few weeks, particularly in the evenings, I've been putting one of the VFOs of the FT8900 on the 6m FM calling frequency 51.510.

The results have been quite interesting, though I've not had any QSOs as yet! Several Spanish stations have been heard; EA4DS/M seems quite a regular as does EA7/G0WHX. So far, I've not heard either station at the sort of strength that I would expect to be able to have an easy contact - but it's interesting.

And there's been a few snippets of other stations coming through - so if you have FM on 50MHz in the car, why not have a listen as you're driving around?

Bristol 50MHz repeater GB3ZY on air

Listening to Des, G0RBD this morning on GB3TD, I was excited to hear that the new Bristol 50MHz repeater is on the air and I called in to get the details, which he very kindly gave me.

Actually located on Dundry Hill, GB3ZY's output is on 50.800 with the input 500khz higher and uses a CTCSS tone of 77Hz.

Having arrived at my destination of Didcot station's car park I quickly programmed up the FT8900 to look for GB3ZY and was delighted to hear it at around S3 (there seemed to be quite a bit of aircraft flutter on the signal, with the Green One airway overhead). I tried calling through without success, but I may well have missed something in the setup! I'll try on the way home and I'm guessing that the repeater will be stronger up around home.

View GB3ZY 50MHz Repeater in a larger map


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