Category Archives: Contests

PW 144MHz QRP Contest 2023

On Sunday 11th June 2023 club members went up to our usual spot up the Yarrow/Ettrick “Middle Swire” (aka Witchie Knowe) to operate the station for the Practical Wireless 144MHz QRP contest.

Weather was decent, starting off as mostly cloudy in the morning and a light breeze, becoming less cloudy, more sunny and hotter by the afternoon. The heavy rain through the night before had passed over.

John GM7NVA, Mike MM3NTX and Brian MM7OYD arrived first, then Dave GM0KCN with the antenna and radio. Some chatting between us and playing with HF radio for a time while waiting for Colin MM1APS to arrive with the mast, which he did around 1040 after having to clean up from one of his dogs making a sick mess of his livingroom carpet through the night.

So we got the antenna set up on the mast, and Dave and Colin started operating the contest on radio and logging with John turning the antenna as needed. Some time was spent chasing other stations, and some sitting on a frequency calling CQ. Mostly on SSB but occasionally chasing locals on FM.

John GM0NYD and George GM1OPO arrived around lunchtime and Jim GM7LUN a little later.

Around 1530 (local time) we decided to call it a day as there was only 30 minutes left in the contest and the only stations we were hearing were those we’d worked before. Radio propagation seemed to be starting to fade.

All in all it was a good day operating, the weather held out contrary to earlier forecasts of thunderstorms. Our logs showed 035 as the last serial number used, but on later inspection we found that the numbers went from 022 to 033 then 034 and 035. So 25 contacts made, and a note was included when Dave KCN submitted the logs to the organisers. The logs corresponded to the information sent over the air, so nobody’s logs will be inaccurate, we just omitted serials 023 to 032, possibly after a battle getting the serial 022 copied by the other station.

For those not operating the contest station a chance to get out and experiment with other bands and antennas away from home QRM.

Many thanks to Dave and Colin for operating the station again this year, and hopefully we’ll maintain our streak of Best Scottish Station and Best in IO85.

Photos by Mike MM3NTX, John GM7NVA and Dave GM0KCN.

PW 144MHz QRP Contest 2023 – Sunday 11th June 2023

Again members of the club will be going up the hill to operate a portable station for the Practical Wireless 144MHz QRP contest on Sunday 11th June. We will be using the callsign GM4YEQ/P.

(See next post for how it went.)

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PW 144MHz QRP Contest Sun 12th June 2022 Report from MM3NTX

Myself (Mike MM3NTX), my dad George (GM1OPO) and Brian (MM7OYD) got to the site at about 0915 local time, coming through some light rain showers on the way from Peebles.

The wind wasn’t as strong as expected at the top of the hill.

We manoeuvred the vehicles and initially mounted the antenna pole base under the van wheel, but the poles were going to be too close to the (brand new) van bodywork when swinging in the wind, so we switched to mounting the antenna base under the wheel of dad’s Honda Jazz, then built up the antenna and mounted it on the poles.

Nigel (GM7GRH) arrived with a car battery and cable for connecting to the Yaesu FT-991A. We did have some 7Ah sealed lead-acid batteries but with a receive minimum current draw of 1A a bigger battery would be more suitable.

We set up the table and chairs in the back of the van, and set up the FT-991A. Slight panic when pushing the power button didn’t do anything, but then we found the crocodile clips weren’t gripping the battery terminals tight enough to get contact. Small adjustment and we had a lit screen and familiar SSB background noise through the speaker.

Tuning around 144MHz we immediately we started hearing stations and made our first couple of contacts, including a 5/4 report from the JO00 square East Sussex/Kent. I did like when finishing our first QSO, another station called in “GM4YEQ, can you QSY to .350?” and gave us another good QSO in IO84 (5/9 both ways). If only they were all that easy!

A few other contacts were heard that we weren’t able to get contact with, but otherwise the band seemed really quiet. I expected there to be dozens of stations heard while the antenna was pointing roughly south or southeast. So the bands seemed disappointingly quiet. I thought after previous days of VHF E-skip there’d be signals from all over England and even into Europe.

It is annoying when you’re 5 or 6 QSOs in, and then every time you hear a signal and zero-in on it, it’s a callsign you’ve already worked. Nothing heard while pointing north or northwest into the Highlands or even Edinburgh, Fife or Glasgow.
A couple of instances of hearing a QSO then both stations disappear into the QSB then never come back. We also heard what sounded like 2 simultaneous QSOs on the same frequency.

I did spend some time sitting on a frequency and sending CQ calls but nothing heard back.

It did really help that we were able to operate from inside the back of the van when there were frequent, sometimes heavy, showers and some gusty winds at the leading edge of the showers. It also saved any logging paperwork being blown around in the wind or smudged with raindrops.

Logging was done on paper, with a scratch sheet for taking the initial details of the QSO, then those details copied into the main log sheet. This meant that I could listen to a station talking to someone else and note down their callsign, locator and signal strength all ready for when I had my own QSO with them (if they heard me) and it just meant confirming the details I’d already overheard, adding the signal and serial received from that station, then adding the time logged.

I did have a logging spreadsheet on my tablet but ended up not using it as paper worked fine. If we’d had a higher volume of contacts (or daresay a pileup) I’d have switched to the tablet.

Operating with the Yaesu FT-991A was easy once I’d figured out the menu options for audio filtering. The waterfall display wasn’t as useful as I’d hoped as only the strongest of signals were showing up on the display and no sensitivity adjustment available (unless there was a setting I missed), so it was back to mk-I earhole and listening to the whistles of passing signals while tuning around. The voice keyer was useful though, recording a CQ call with callsign in letters and phonetics with locator square, then just needing to hit a button to send the call, leaving a few seconds to listen for any reply. It saved the voice and also avoiding tripping over words when repeating the same phrase over and over again hundreds of times.

Around 1330 we started to transfer stuff to cars and pack up Brian’s FT-991A as he had to leave early for family duties, so we moved to the Honda Jazz dashboard and my dad’s Yaesu FT-817 running off 7Ah SLA battery. Still sheltered from the continued heavy rain showers and wind gusts. No voice keyer so manual CQ calls done every minute or so for a while when not scanning around the band. I did send some CQ calls out on FM simplex channels in case any local club members were scanning around but with no response. Maybe using a non-directional vertical antenna would have been better for FM.

We didn’t make any more contacts after switching to the FT-817 (or even the last 20 minutes with the FT-991A) so by 1530 (local time) we decided to pack up while we were in a dry spell between showers, so the radio and antenna was dismantled and packed into the car.

It was disappointing that we only made 9 contacts, in 7 squares but I got my first experience operating the club station in a contest. Usually I’m helping with logging or just assisting as other members set up and operate the station but this time I was operating so I learned a bit about that. It was also recent club member Brian’s first experience seeing the club station operating a contest, giving him some new knowledge and ideas in mobile operating and amateur radio in general when seeing my dad doing some HF operating with the Yaesu FT-817 and Alinco DX-70.

Many thanks to Brian for letting us use his new FT-991A and his even newer van for working in, my dad George for the antenna, poles, and the FT-817 backup transceiver, and Nigel for the big battery with cable, and guidance for when I was on-air, and basically everyone for helping get everything set up and running with no hitches. We even remembered to plug the coax onto the antenna before erecting it this time!

It would have been better with bright sunshine and no wind and we’d been able to operate outside, and of course if band conditions were more favourable, but it’s always good to get out operating and catching up with with club members for the day outside our normal 2-hour meetings on Wednesday evenings.

Hopefully with the RSGB VHF field day at the start of July we’ll have better weather, better propagation and more club members out with us.


Location: Yarrow/Ettrick Swire IO85MM
Rig: Yaesu FT-991A (also Yaesu FT-817 but no contacts made)
Antenna: 2m 7-element ZL Special Yagi

Unfortunately didn’t get a chance to take photos of the station in the back of the van.

Yaesu FT-817ND on the Jazz dashboard. Paper sitting over the radio to reflect the sunlight as the radiant heat was slowly baking it during the brief spells between showers.

PW 144MHz QRP Contest 2022 – Sunday 12th June 2022

Some members of the club will again be going up the hill to operate a portable station for the Practical Wireless 144MHz QRP contest on Sunday 12th June. We will be using the callsign GM4YEQ/P.

The contest runs between 0900-1600 UTC (1000-1700 Local/BST). We’ll likely be on site from 0930 (local) if not slightly earlier for setting up.

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Railways On The Air 2021 – GB0WHR – Sat/Sun 25th/26th September 2021

Some of our club members again activated the Whitrope Heritage Centre near Hawick in this year’s Railways On The Air event.

Different callsign from usual WRH, which no doubt created some confusion when the QRZ page corresponding to the WHR callsign gives details of another station.

A good weekend was had by all, despite drizzly rain most of the first day then heavier rain on the Sunday afternoon.

74 QSOs were made over the weekend.

Station operating from the carpark of the centre. Thanks to Dave H MM0HTL for use of the caravan and awning.

Transceiver: Kenwood TS-430S
Antenna Tuner: Yaesu FC-902
Amplifier: Yaesu FL-2100B putting out about 200w peak.

Antenna: UK Antennas End-fed multiband antenna (40/20/15/10m)

Dave S GM0KCN with bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label on table
“Johnny Walker was present and pleasantly enjoyed.”

Many thanks to the Waverley Route Heritage Association for allowing us to set up in their carpark at Whitrope again this year. Thanks also to Dave S GM0KCN, Dave H MM0HTL and Steven MM0ILC for organising, helping set up, and operating the station for the weekend, and other club members visiting during the event.

QSL cards will be on their way to stations contacted.

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