Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Video from the CQWW CW 2012 contest (EI2KC)

This is just a short video showing my operation during the closing stages of the CQWW CW 2012 contest on Sunday evening after 21:00 hours. The band was busy at that stage, because many multi-band ops were coming down there from the higher bands when they closed. Great fun.

Monday, November 26, 2012

CQWW CW 2012 - EI2KC claimed score!

I have just finished my participation in the CQWW CW contest 2012 and I have to report that it was fantastic for me. With just a 26-foot Butternut HF6V multiband vertical antenna, I managed to work 580 QSOs over the course of the weekend on 80 metres alone. I was participating as single band high power assisted on that band. I worked 65 DXCC and 15 zones. I think my zone count could have been a little bit better but I have no regrets with a claimed score of 60,560.

I just checked my log and it turns out I managed to work five new DXCC on 80m during the past 48 hours, bringing my total worked on that band to 123, so I am chuffed with that. I used the N1MM contest logging software and the interface is the CG Antenna SB-2000, which worked flawlessly.

The work I did on the Butternut on Friday paid off. The antenna can be made to resonate on any portion of the 80m band by sliding the 80m coil up and down. With a flat SWR of 1:1 the Acom managed 1,200 watts at one stage with 0 watts reflected.

Saturday evening was quiet on the band, but Sunday evening was a different story! As all the higher bands began to close, with the contest finishing at midnight, the multi band ops found their way down to the low bands, including 80m, where I had significant action at times. I ran a couple of pile-ups during the course of Sunday evening, and at one stage my rate was 88 QSOs per hour. Very nice, especially for this modest station in a small garden in the middle of a housing estate!

Anyway, I hope that those of you who participated enjoyed yourselves. It certainly was a great pleasure for me, and because 80m is generally poor during the day. I was able to spend some time with the family too!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

CQWW CQ - the story so far

Just a brief update about my participation on CQWW CW 2012. I am only taking part on 80 metres, with a view to increasing my DXCC worked/confirmed on that band. I am in the category 80m single op high power. I did search and pounce from midnight on Saturday morning for about two hours, and then a mixture of run station and search and pounce last night, on and off from about 5pm in the evening until 3.30am this morning.

My old Butternut, which is over 20 years old, was a bit grubby
so I cleaned around the capacitor assembly in advance of the
contest and it's working brilliantly.
At this moment in time, my totals are as follows (bearing in mind that I intend to return to the contest after dark this evening): QSOs: 329; Zones worked: 15; DXCC worked: 61. Total claimed score so far: 36,100.

The band is completely dead now. There's not a single signal to be heard on CW. That's how it was yesterday too, allowing me some time to do a bit of maintenance on the antenna. It is nicely resonant now, 1:1 where I need it, and I was able to get 1.2kW out yesterday with the Acom 1000 with only 1 watt returned!!

Some nice DXCC worked: P40F, PJ4A, HK1NA, J75Z, ZF1A, P40W, VP2V/AA7V, C5A, D4C. I may or may not enter a log. I didn't intend to enter the contest in a competitive capacity, rather just for enjoyment, and to get my DXCC count up on 80 metres. So we will see . . .

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Starting to get back to normal maybe?

After a prolonged period dealing with all the issues around the publication of my second book, I have started to become a wee bit more active again on HF. During the past week I have been catching up with the PT0S Dxpedition to St. Peter & Paul Rocks in the Atlantic, and I'm glad to say that I now have nine band slots, making me the third best EI behind EI9KC on 11 slots and EI2CN on 10 slots. I still need 15m SSB and 10m CW so hopefully I will get those slots before the expedition finishes.

A photo of my old Butternut HF-6V
Last night I put some RF into the Butternut vertical on 80 metres for only the second or third time since last winter. I also added a 66-foot radial under it (last year's two radials were both damaged by the lawn mower HI HI!!) and managed to get an SWR of 1.5:1 on the CW portion of the band. And that's where I caught some nice action in the early hours of this morning.

In the space of about an hour, after midnight, I managed to nab FOUR new DXCCs on the 80 metre band. They were, as follows: VP2V/AA7V, British Virgin Islands; P4/R5GA, Aruba; PJ2/DF9LJ, Curacao; HT9H, Nicaragua (regular prefix YN). Because the Butternut is only a 26-foot tall vertical, ground mounted in the middle of a housing estate, it does not hear half as well as an elevated dipole cut for that band. Hence it is difficult for me to work new DXCCs on it. So it turned out to be a really great night, bringing my total DXCC worked on 80 metres to 118. It's a band I would dearly love to do more on, and to enjoy more regularly, but it is a big challenge for me. Last winter was very rewarding because I got over the 100 DXCC mark for the first time. This winter I will just try to nab more new ones, and try to bring my LoTW confirmations on 80m from 89 up over 100 hopefully.

I have one issue with the Butternut that is troubling me though. After a while, the SWR suddenly jumps from 1.5:1 to about 3:1, and I have to adjust the linear. Then it will, after some time, come back to 1.5:1 again. At least 3:1 is manageable with the Acom 1000 but it's annoying me that the SWR is changing during the course of the night. If there's anybody with any suggestions as to why that might be happening, or indeed with any experience of Butternut SWR issues, I'd be glad to hear from you.

In the meantime, I got some nice contacts this morning, including Lord Howe Island again, this time on 17m CW. VK9/OH3JR was just in the back of the box, and working simplex, so there was considerable QRM. But I heard him calling "EI2?" and got him logged after a minute. PJ7I on 12m SSB was a new band slot and C6AUM in the Bahamas on 10m CW just a short time ago gave me DXCC #210 on that band. Here's my band stats now:

160m: 64 / 47
80m: 118/94
40m: 177/130
30m: 188/127
20m: 239/169
17m: 237/149
15m: 224/130
12m: 214/133
10m: 210/134
6m: 72/53

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lord Howe Island in the log on 21 Mhz CW

As many of you will know, I have been relatively inactive on HF lately, only sitting in the PT0S pile-ups occasionally. I haev been busy launching my Newgrange book, plus I have started writing my next book!!

St. Peter & Paul Rocks, where the PT0S dxpedition is based.
Anyhow, I managed just now to log Lord Howe Island on 15 metres CW. VK9/OH3JR is in the log after about 15 minutes of trying here. He is working a small split, up 1-2 KCs, and is barely lifting the needle on my Icom IC-756 PRO at the best of times. However, as many of you keen DXers will know, that's all that's needed most of the time!!

I only worked VK9-L once before, on 30 metres, with 100 watts. It's a great pleasure to work this rare one again!

Since my last update, I have managed to work PT0S, St. Peter & Paul Archipalego, on six band slots in total, so I am very pleased with that. The latest slot was 17m SSB.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

PT0S St. Peter & Paul Rocks in the log

I am glad to report that yesterday I got PT0S into the log on two different bands, having been quite inactive on radio for the past couple of weeks. I worked them on 20 metres SSB at 09.34 and then, after only a few calls, on 12m SSB at 17:34. Very glad to have this new one in my log. PT0S is a dxpedition to St. Peter and Paul Archipelago, which is located off Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean.

Famous Meath man Sean Boylan launched
'Newgrange: Monument to Immortality' in Navan.
The reason for my inactivity on radio is that I have been busy preparing for two launches of my new book, 'Newgrange: Monument to Immortality', which was launched in Drogheda last Friday evening and then in Navan, County Meath, on Wednesday evening.

I wrote the book during 2012, having started in January. I have been researching the monuments of the Boyne Valley and their associated mythology and astronomy for many years. I was previously the author, with Richard Moore, of 'Island of the Setting Sun: In Search of Ireland's Ancient Astronomers' in 2006, reprinted in 2008.

You can read more about the new book and see photos from the launch at the following links:


Monday, November 5, 2012

John EI7BA on making a good RG58 connection

This is a short video showing John EI7BA demonstrating how to make a good mechanical and electrical connection for RG58. His simple technique involves using copper house wire to strengthen the connections for both the braid and the centre core. John is well known to Irish and international radio amateurs as our country's foremost DXer. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

PT0S - the next "big" one - St. Peter and St. Paul

The Dxers of Ireland are awaiting the next big dxpeditions, which are PT0S from St. Peter & St. Paul Archipalego, and ZL9HR from Auckland Campbell Island. The first of these dxpeditions is imminent. Here is the latest update from PT0S:

PT0S, ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL ROCKS (Update). As per the PT0S Web page dated October 31st, from George, AA7JV [edited]: "Most of the PT0S team is now in Natal. Fred, PY2XB, is going to join us on November 3rd. All our gear has made it and is being stored at the local radio club. Because importation into Brazil can be difficult and slow, we feel that we have passed one of the most worrisome hurdles we've faced. We are now procuring supplies and items that we decided to purchase locally, such as car batteries, camping gear, etc. Local HAM-s, especially Mauricio Barreto, PS7RK, have been incredibly generous helping us to buy supplies and make the final preparations.

We are on schedule to leave for St. Peter and St. Paul Archipelago on November 5th. The weather forecast is favorable, which is good news, as seas can be rough along the 620 nautical mile passage. We -- and all our gear -- will be travelling on the 70 foot fishing boat Transmar II, along with 8 fishermen. It will be tight and the lighter the seas the more bearable the passage will be.

We are hoping for a good and productive operation, where in addition to getting a lot of calls into the log, the entire community will have fun. 

We will soon start publishing operating tips and advice on how to
work us best. In the meantime, please keep the following in mind: 'THE
DX'ERS CODE OF CONDUCT'." -- which is listed on their Web page at: