GB5HQ - 15m CW - 2003

Roger G3SXW, Nigel G3TXF, Ian G3WVG

A multi-operator, multi-location GB5HQ entry was made in the July 2003 IARU Contest. The full details of this first major effort in the National Society section of the IARU Contest by the UK's RSGB can be found on www.GB5HQ.com The main GB5HQ website includes details of each of the twelve stations operating as GB5HQ.

This page describes the operation on just one of the twelve band-mode slots : 15m CW, which was operated by (l to r in shack photo) Nigel G3TXF, Roger G3SXW and Ian G3WVG.

Some 1,200 QSOs were made on 15m CW during the IARU Contest. Propagation conditions were relatively poor with a major solar event only a few hours before the contest began. More details on the overall GB5HQ claimed scores will be found on the GB5HQ website in due course.

The 15m CW GB5HQ station during the 2003 IARU Contest operation was located in North Devon. The operators used three separate screens:

1. The left-hand position was the main 'run' operator position which had just WriteLog on the screen. There was no separate 'mult' station.

2. The middle screen was used for the specially set-up GB5HQ DX-Cluster and for chat messages (mainly multiplier alerts and server related info).

3. The right-hand screen was linked to a remotely located FT-847 which acted as a computer controlled 'QRM-free' in-band spotting receiver.

The 15m CW GB5HQ station used a single FT1000MP feeding into an Alpha 89 amplifier. The output of the single run/multiplier-working station was manually switched between two 4el 15m yagis. The beams were mounted on 80ft mobile towers. Conditions at the beginning of the contest were poor and there was barely any 'direct' propagation with North America during the Saturday evening/night-time. The major path was South-West towards South America, where it was possible to work North America, the Caribbean or even some long-path Asia-Pacific stations. The QTH in North Devon used for this operation is particularily good for the South West with a 250m drop from the site (on top of a hill) down to the sea in less than 800m.

The W6EL Propagation Program was used to determine the openings on 15m during the 24-hour contest. The 'frequency map' was set to 21MHz. This proved to be most useful in determining the likely openings for a given K index (mostly 3) and SFI (122). Most of the night was spent CQ'ing towards the SW which provided a continuous slow trickle of stations (and useful distant multipliers) through various skewed propagation paths.

Loud "clunking echos" confirmed that this was a good direction to be calling while searching for stations on, what was otherwise, a 'dead 15m band'.

Ian G3WVG provided all the necessary hardware for the four main 'computer' services for the 15m CW GB5HQ station. There was a considerable amount of 'computery' which took several weeks to set up.

The logging software used was WriteLog (because of its Internet server logging features). None of the three operators was familiar with WriteLog prior to the contest. By the end of the contest none of us was particularly excited about this logging software either. Time and more practice would possibly increase our overall appreciation of WriteLog. [However it has to be said that all three are diehard CT users/fans for the past fifteen years!]

The other computer related activities which Ian G3WVG sorted out for the 15m CW GB5HQ station were:

1. access to a special GB5HQ DX-Cluster,

2. access to a GB5HQ "message-reflector"

3. access a remotely located spotting receiver. The remote spotting receiver (located in Ian G3WVG's shack 200 miles away!) was successfully controlled over a normal dial-up Internet service.

Ian G3WVG, Nigel G3TXF and Roger G3SXW stand behind the live 11GHz satellite mobile base-station.
It had been planned to take advantage of the high-speed Internet access available through a mobile satellite system, which had been kindly loaned to us for the event. Although the mobile satellite system provided higher-speed access, for some reason (which we were never able to discover) it was not possible effectively to 'share' this higher speed with own local network.
The 15m CW GB5HQ operation from North Devon was the first time that the group had participated in a major RSGB-led entry for the IARU Contest. Roger G3SXW provided the main-stay of the operating as well as key input on multiplier chasing and propagation forecasts etc. Despite the awful HF conditions during the first half of the IARU Contest, the group had fun participating in such a major national event, as well as learning about many useful new applications that the Internet can bring to the world of HF Contesting.
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