Practical Wireless Low Power Contest 2006

It is so nice to receive a write-up from somebody rather do then myself and as you can read they are a lot better!  A big thank you to Elisabeth Stratmann M0ELI for this information on the 2006 Practical Wireless Low Power contest.

Final published results of our day out

G2XV/p made 1785 points with 85 qso's and 21 squares worked, our table position 8th/63.  An excellent result.

IO92xd or the elegance of QRP contesting

I never really questioned the concept of the PW 144MHz QRP contest.  But this year, we got the support of SWL Thiemo, and this was his introduction to the dark side of the hobby.  At first we got a blank look: why restrict ourself to less than 3W when we have equipment that does more?  More is clearly better, isn't it?  And why paper logging - we surely have a computer or two for the job?  I could have asked the same questions only four years ago... had I heard about contesting and QRP, that is.

JB taking a photo of me etc.

So, why QRP on VHF?  For me, the point of the Practical Wireless contest is not to get the most possible DX contacts in a given time.  The point is clearly to maximise the fun with the lightest possible equipment.  And we did really well!

Marcus and Daniel

Our station was minimalistic, and indeed, there is elegance in that concept!  As can be seen on the photographs, we had brilliant weather.  Actually, it was one of the hottest days of the year, but with plenty of water, or even ice cold tea in the thermos as in Ralf's case, we pulled through.  And we really needed the Gazebo to protect us from the sun! - We got the odd sunburn anyhow.  The rest of the equipment were a camping stove to prepare fresh tea and coffee, a table, chairs, ... and yes, a small Yaesu FT-290R, a light mast with a 9 element Tonna, a battery and a solar panel to keep the battery charged.  No computer, as our laptop went up in flames during last year's PW contest.  Better so, computers need precious battery power, and the monitors are useless in bright sun.  All in all, a truly portable station.

Aerial rotator

For us, this was the first VHF contest of the year, so it was a good warm-up for the contests to come, especially the VHF NFD in July.  We tried as hard as we could and, despite the fact that it was a bit slow at times, were rewarded with more points and more squares than last year.  It is always a surprise how well we can do with only a small antenna and 2.5 Watts output.  But it wasn't skill (at least not only skill), it was the fabulous site we were allowed to use.  Fortunately, we didn't set up our station next to the public bridal path where we were last year, but some fifty meters out of the way.  In the afternoon, six dozen horses with their riders rushed through in an orienteering race.  If you ask me, it was far too hot for horse riding...sitting in the shade, microphone in hand, was much better.

Solar power

We were called by a lot of friends including G3EDD, M1KTA, G4RLF/P, G3UUT, G7VJR and G3XBM.  Interestingly, we also got a call from special event station DR2006N (probably to remind us that we were just missing a couple of football matches in the world cup).  And shortly afterwards, we had a small pileup from the Netherlands and Germany!  No sporadic E, unfortunately, but the tropo carried our signal up to 580 km.  Quite impressive for a humble station.  How can we do better next year?  One solution would be a big mast (or two) and a couple of stacked long yagis.  But then we no longer have a lightweight and elegant station.

The team consisted of Elisabeth M0ELI, John G0GKP, Ralf DL5RB, Marcus G0IJZ, David G6KWA, Daniel M0ERA and SWL Thiemo.  David G8JKV also came by for moral support and to say hello.  Everybody else missed a great day out, a real highlight of this summer.

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