2007 Trophy De-briefing report
We were lucky with the weather, a stiff breeze from time to time but not cold overnight in the tent because of the central heating provided by the linear.
An excellent attendance with probably two thirds of our club members coming to site during the weekend along with visitors, in some cases making long journeys. Graham Hanson now Chairman of the Fareham club, joined us staying overnight. Some such as Ron Whitby & Brian Wilson are old hands from the Castle Camps days.
John Bonner G0GKP and David King G6KWA spent Friday afternoon at the site preparing the sectional masts with lifting gin pole. I made an error in the top guy rigging position and sadly on Saturday when we lifted the structure for real the mast failed. Nobody was hurt, but what a fantastic photo opportunity, you can see an example on the members section under "opps" and in due course many more photographs of the weekend will appear on the contesting pages. John Parmenter G0TIL kindly returned the broken masts and rigging to G6KWA's house for further reflection on how well the 65 foot mast would have worked had we succeeded in getting it aloft.
Saturday morning the turnout for the set-up was the best ever seen, it was a problem to find jobs for people with enough experience to do. We did manage to get the station on the air for the start of the contest, just. There was a lot of interference and wideband noise S9 at times and the usual tiresome failures of patch leads and power supplies and corrections to aerial rigging etc all added up to a short period of fuse blowing by the contest organiser (normal for the silly sod).Calm restored, the interference, which from the sound of it was for sure from an amateur station, disappeared and our fantastic signal caused comments from everybody, how loud, clean and narrow it sounded. Processed, yes, as a good contest station should be. With the generator power conditioner and the linear with an easy 600 watts true linear, no control grid current, heavy loading and the screen meters just venturing into positive territory, (all as per GM3SEK) we were off.
Gerald Gardner G0HEM and helpers lowered our second aerial, a 17 element Tonna, after a fault occurred on the connections from the feeder to the aerial balun patch lead. Then some two hours or so later we had reports of RF feedback. A quick decision was made to remove the RF speech processor which had not given these problems before. The PEP meter was made visible to the operators so that they could make adjustments to the drive level depending on their voices keeping the power at the 600 - 650 PEP level. (400 watts PEP at the aerial).
Martin G8OFA periodically reported that the signals were fine at Salisbury, he has taken on the role of our quality controller, which is very useful indeed. The Linear tripped once during the night, as soon as I tried to get some rest of course, but otherwise no other problems, the signal was loud but good and the tent was warm! At about 9.30 Sunday morning there were reports of a loud bang from the Linear with the loss of the screen volts. The power supply was in shut down mode self-protecting so indicating something bad had happened. The reserve Linear, our old faithful NAG was brought into service and off we went with 200 watts PEP. Clearly there was a serious problem with one of the aerials causing much stress to the NAG (modified in the same way as per GM3SEK) and an overheat situation and loss of output was noted. The 9 over 9 stack had failed, the problem could be clearly seen, the feeder was detached from the Mutek pre-amp. OPPS indeed. Belinda M3VSF continued operating on the 17 element aerial while repairs were carried out and the mast raised again. She operated to the end of the contest, very well in fact.
The take down was also well attended and especially with people who has cameras because an excellent record has been made of when we destroyed one of the 9 element Tonna aerials, still on the pump up mast with the tent outer wrapped around the assembly, with Steve Norman M3MVB somewhere underneath. Memo not to remove the tent guys and pegs without several people hanging on when a stiff breeze is blowing.
Thank you to the people who brought food and fuel and the other things that make a radio activity weekend such a success, special mention to David Leary for towing the trailer and Mike Addlesee for the loan of the generator.
Our initial view is that activity was low but there was some very good DX to the South. Follow the progress of our entry at the - RSGB contest Committee - under the claimed score section, where you can read other entrants notes and scores.
A most successful weekend full of problems, all overcome and with a good entry it looks like. Prize goes to Belinda M3VSF and a resounding 10/10 for the club. In this day and age when many have given up we at the Cambridge Club can put on a show like that. Fantastic Amateur Radio and great training as well.
So what do we do now? Its time to think of next year all ready. The Linears will be fixed and connectors changed I am sure. Do members want to form a contest group within the club? How will we fund this? If we do VHF again (I hope so) we must have a proper WI-fi Cluster link for the Trophy (the rules allow this). We probably need a new aerial or two!! Different sort of activity weekends? An H.F. contest in summer? The list could be endless.
Just to remind you, this year we: entered the 80m Club Championship series of contests (18 short contests in all), ran a Mill-on-the Air station over a weekend, entered the Practical Wireless low power contest, had an H.F. station at the Wimpole family day out and the above fantastic contest. Not bad at all.
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