CQ World Wide CW Contest 2004
The story of my radio operation in Ireland, 24-28 NOV 2004
Click on photo to enlarge in separate window
|Just after my arrival in Ireland||Some more equipment on the table||I packed everything perfectly after I had seen the damaged amplifier at the airport during the TX9 Chesterfield Dx-pedition (Web page TX9)||A few kilograms of aluminium tubes and other elements. My brother's boys: George and Peter are in the background|
before CQWW contest
The decision of my CQ WW CW 2004 contest trip to Ireland was settled when I decided to go to Brussels in Belgium for International Conference of Electrical Engineers (EUREL). My older brother Wojtek has lived in Maynooth (25km from Dublin) in Ireland for many years. I have never been to Ireland before. For the contest - the greatest one in the world I chose Single Operator All Band Low Power category. So there was a lot of radio equipment to bring there. Wojtek and our father were going together to Dublin from Poland a week before my bussiness trip to Belgium. So they took a lot of equipment (mast, antenna and station). The Conference of EUREL in Belgium was on Monday and Tuesday in the week before the contest weekend. I spend a nice weekend in Belgium before. I came from Brussels to Dublin late in the evening on Tuesday to be ready to make the contest station on Wednesday morning. My brother welcomed me at the airport and said: “Welcome to Ireland, I just came from Madrid a few minutes ago'. 'What a perfectly organised guy he is', I thought. I only had 3 days to the beginning of the contest .
of the equipment was wrapped up in soft material to avoid damage in
the equipment I brought to Ireland (over 40 kg) was left at my brother's
All wires of antennas: green and grey: guys (light, hard PCV line), brown two copper rollers for Beverages (0.6mm - old 15 kV trafo), red: 2x38.5m Inv. V 160m, brown: 2x20m Inv. V 80m, light blue: 2x10m rotary dipole 40m, spiderbeam: red - 20m, blue 15m, black -10m
|Small elements - very important during assembly|
On Wednesday morning with my father who helped me a lot, we began setting up the antenna system. The construction of the Spidearbeam was easy and pleasant. All was prepared very perfectly at home (thanks to Gene SP4JCQ and Chris SP4AQD for their great help during the tests of the antenna and their advice and for Toly SP4CPB who lent me a balun). But the main problem was to put up and down the telescopic mast. It started from diameter 70mm to 30mm. Unfortunately those last two sections were too thin to carry up the rotor and antenna mast. I decided to put up only 5 sections each 1,5m in length. It needed drilling and boring holes. How thoughtful of me to have taken some spare parts like screws,or aluminum pipe. We were not in a hurry. All this took a few hours but it got very dark very quickly (winter time in northern hemispere).
|Connectors, antenna switching box, isolators, baluns, main part of mast||Rotator, 50 m of coax H155 (for spiderbeam) and 150m of RG58 (other bands), 50m of control cable, base switch box for Beverages||Before hard work||After nice job - Antenna before putting up|
So we finished our work outside and we went to set up the station in the operation shack. The antenna was 2m above the ground but I could work Americans and Europe on 20m and 40m band. SWR of the antennas was good on all bands (Con’s DF4SA descriptions and information are excellent). Wojtek and his three sons (George, Peter and Luc) and their neighbours were very interested in my very technical hobby (by the way, Wojtek inspired me to this hobby in 1976 in our primary school in Lapy whenre a club station SP4PBI was located) . But he has never been licenced radio amateur). One of the neighbours could not believe to hear a station from PEI (Prince Edward Island in Canada) so loud. There live his grandparents. Who knows when I come to Ireland more often they may become ham radio boys.
Next day (Thursday) I decided to put up the antenna mast with the spiderbeam to check Inverted Vee antennas for 80&160m installed below. It was very hard to erect the mast. It has only one point to block each section - fully extended. I could not block them when the mast was in not exactly vertical position. It was all the time sloping around so I needed more people to help. The two of us (me and my father) could not fix the problem. Brother Wojtek and his young boys were out of home. We had to wait. While I was sitting in the garden drinking coffee and thinking a lot, I decided to take a few more photos of antennas and mast details.
|The Inv. Vee box for 80&160m||Boom assembly method and two spreaders of the spiderbeam|| The
spiderbeam balun, the support PCV lines 1m above. On top the fishpole
mast with 40m rotating dipole
|The most important segment of antenna system|
I was thinking how to put up the mast, when my sister-in-low Rossalyn
came back home earlier and found me so frustrated. She said: “Wiesiek, do not
be so sad, go to see Maynooth and after that we will drive to pick up the
children from school (which is 10km away in Kilcock). I'll show you Ireland a
little. It's your first visit. Do you want to spend all the time in the
garden?” She did not realise how important for us ham radio is – the contest
is coming soon and the antennas are
on the ground. But in this situation she was right: the rest of the day was
spent with my family. During the drive I remembered one of the lot of nice views
she showed me. It was a small wonderful church in an almost empty field where
she had married Wojtek a dozen or so years before. I was so fascinited by it I
forgot to take any pictures of this.
|Relaxing before the contest - some impressions of Ireland||A big King's Castel in Maynooth area, 25 km north-west of Dublin||Always green golf fields like the whole Island of Ireland|| Myself
in a sailing port of Howth near Dublin
On Friday morning, Wojtek (I think Rossalyn spoke with him about that
earlier – you are a lovely girl of sense – thank you so much) said:
“Today I have home office day, I will be free at 10 am”. Exactly at that
promised time we all looked around: “Yes, we'll do those things with the
antenna system in the late afternoon very easily” he said – “Now we
can go for a trip to see Dublin and its area first”.
|It was easy to find the way to Dublin - just follow the bus...||...or after an old vehicle||With my father: Christmas time is coming soon||My brother with our father - thanks Wojtek for your hospitality and help|
was a fine and warm sunny day. For few hours I forgot about contest, but
thinking sometime if we managed all problems later.
In Dublin, there we could not see many things – there were no time
to do that – but Ireland is wonderfull: Large studs with many horses on
green fields (in spite of winter time), old historical middleage churches,
castels and towers, Irish Sea with high tide and wonderfull port of Howth,
Centre of Dublin with old historical places and impresive 128m high
stainless spire – a sign of our ages. Many people were in hurry coming for
a weekend. And on the other side Ireland is a high technology country: main
Intel Corporation headquarter
for Europe, big Hewlett Packard Company for the world (I saw them because
they are located close to M4 highway ), IBM, Oracle and others. Oh well, now
it’s time to back brother’s home.
of 128 m stainless spire - good vertical in centre of Dublin? Where are
| Where is the end of that spire?
the main post office building
|Time for a pint - Yes! Guiness was good solution during the contest, Friday: 8 hours to go! Am I ready?|
With 4 more people (Wojtek and his sons - thank you George, Peter and Luc)
in big light reflectors during the evening we put up the mast. But we did it
many times forgetting some wires or other things. Every one who was hold the
rope of the mast had to pay attention to follow our instructions to keep the
mast in a vertical position. Now it was time for a late lunch and short
sleep before the contest.
|YES, I am ready: All antennas are working OK (white flag shows directions)||Small and reliable ICOM706mkIIg with CW 500 Hz filter (it was suplied by very lihgt power supply SEC 1223 of Samlex)|
00:00 UTC (also the same local Irish time) the CQ WW contest began: I
started to work on my favourite band - 40m, but I realised that it was not
the same band like on my 3 element full size yagi at home in Poland with a
high power station. I was running only 100W. I had to work more S&P
method instead of running pile-up. I spent 3 hours on 40m with only 100
contacts (QSO). The pile-up started on 80m increasing the rate of contacts
rapidly. North America was loud (I am almost 1500km more to the west than my
own QTH – much closer to NA) and stations from there were calling me too.
Next 3 hours – almost total 300 QSO are in the log. Now it was time for
top band (160m). Multipliers (new countries) were growing up (VY2NT from
Canada was unbelievably strong) but I could not run CQ (calls for all
stations) much longer without any answer. Antenna for 160m tuned very
narrowly for the IC706mk2g transceiver. Only 20kHz, centering on 1830kHz,
did I have full power (I did
not use an antenna tuner at all). I came back to 80m for an hour and then to
40m at 08:00. It was close to sunrise in Ireland. I was very suprised 40m
again: no USA – only single big gun stations.
At 08:43 with 380 QSOs I went to 20m for the first time with spiderbeam. Just looked around making Brazilian PS2T first, then CN2R (Marocco) and D4B (Cape Verde) and a few other loud DXs. I turned the antenna to the east making good EU pile-up. For the next 2 hours I forgot about other bands but the total score increased to 522 QSOs including the only one and last station from Japan JH5PHC during all the contest (the short path to Japan from Ireland is very close to North Pole). How is 15m? – yes, the Europeans are loud there. It is 10:45 - too early for North America so I was beaming the antenna still to East. First K1IR from USA on the back of the antenna was at 11:19. What to do: turn the spiderbeam to NA and then all Europeans will be back of the antenna or stay to the east? I decided to keep beaming east. But no far East Asia and Pacific came into the log except Alan VK8AV from Australia during the next two hours. The solution was: I came on 15m band too late to work them from that part of the world. Checking 10m with only a few QSO from selective areas (VK9AA from Cocos-Kelinng in the Indian Ocean was a nice surprise) opened for short time and losing a lot of time to do that, I came back on 15m running North America, a pileup now. Of course I tuned left and right the knob of the transceiver to find good double multipliers. At 15:00 I changed the band to 20m with nearly 800 QSO in the log. Not so bad: 53 QSO per hour. 20m was also good for the next 1,5 hour. After that something stopped. 10m was closed, 15m was very hard (but good VP8WWW – Falklands Island and CP6WW – Bolivia QSO) slowly closing down. I felt the aurora effect. Made a few more contacts on 20m and I definetly went to the night bands at 18:18 with the total of 957 QSO.
40m band was fine for 1 hour, running Europe I tried to call many far East stations I heard but no chance. Europe is in the way to reach them. I could see some directivity effects of the rotating dipole on top of the spiderbeam (SU9NC from Egypt with first call in a big pileup).
At 20:50 with 1040 QSO I
started on 80m. Unfortunately the antenna did not work. Did Murphy come to my
station? Big SWR, no power and no answer from the called stations. What happend?
I went outside and saw that one leg
of the Inverted Vee was lying on the ground. Yes, Murphy is happy: it was too
tense, like a rope of the mast and it was broken at the top of the mast in some
gusts of wind. “Is family ready?”, I asked. Their help was necessary again.
I lost more than an hour of the contest to repair the 80m antenna. I chose 160m
first after that with 50 QSO more in
the next hour and then I used the repaired 80m antenna. Pileup started here
again ending first day of the contest with 1102 QSO. I was still on 80m when
RY9C (Siberian station) asked me to QSY on 160m. I agreed and logged a double
mult on 160m (zone 17) immediately. 80m was the best of the low bands till then.
I checked 40m only once: the worst hour of contest: only 17 QSO logged with few
mults. I preffered 80m. At 04:00 with 1275 contacts
I went to sleep for 2 hours. It was a good decision even though I did not
feel very sleepy but wanted to be in a better shape for the higher bands in the
next day of the contest.
After a “long” sleep at 06:17, I started the operation from 160m, next 80m, stopped on 40m longer with a good double mult: ZL6QH via long path (we can always make New Zealand from Europe counting on that team). But no other DXs logged. Two hours passed: another 100 QSOs in the log. This time at 08:44 I started to work on 15m counting on far East. Two hours earlier than yesterday. Bad decision: the band was awful, no Japaneese or any other Asians at all. After 20 QSOs I chose 20m for the next 2 hours logging a few more QSOs on 10m in the meantime (e.g. VU2WAP from India for a double mult). It is 10:45 – now 15m is much better: just like the same time on the first day. Trying to find more multipliers on 10m I was there till 14:00 with the score of 1500 QSOs and about 900 kilopoints. The old Irish CQWW all time record in SOAB LP category was beaten – but I have 10 hours to go. Wes: do not slow down! I jumped between 20m and 15m band staying tuned on 20m with a good pileup from North America. At 19:00 when 20m stayed definitely closed I logged 1726 QSO close to the magic 2000 QSO for a low power operation.
|Score is close to 1 milion points: All time CQ WW record in SOAB LP for Ireland was broken: http://cqww.com/europe_c.htm||Wes SP4Z after 34 hours of contest (Guinness beer and energetic drink Lucozade was holding me in a good condition all the contest)|
5 hours to
go: Can I reach that 2 kQSO? No, it was the worst hours of my CQ WW contest. No
USA on 40m again. No pileup even on 80m. Heard many double mults but no chance
– Aurora was much stronger than yesterday. The best one of hearing, not
working was 9N7BCC from Nepal called RZ9AYA in Ural Asia with two way QSO on
160m - very long distance to Ireland. He was strong. It is a new one on top band for me –
but i had no lucky.
I also ate last
supper with my family (my flight to Warsaw was at 07:00 tomorrow morning).
During those last 5 hours I logged only 100 QSO finishing with the total of 1823
(with dupes) contacts and 1.23 mln points.
Just after the 00:00 we pulled down the mast. Then I took a good relaxing shower, shaved and took a short sleep. At 5:30 we (I and my brother Wojtek) left home to go to the airport in Dublin. We had aeroplanes at the same time from the common gate 27 and 28: I went to Warsaw, he went to Malaga in Spain on a business trip (do you know a better master of planning than my brother is?). We shook hands saying goodbye and his aaeroplane departed just before mine. Our father stayed in Maynooth with the boys and spent the whole day disassembling my antenna system. Thank you both. Thank you Wojtek's family and especially you Rosy, as the only girl in the family.
It's a pity - next day my father had to disassembling that nice portable all band contest antenna
It's time to go home
I already was at Warsaw airport at 10:00 on Monday, when other contesters were sleeping like a log.
10 hours after the contest I was 1500 km away from the place I could work for my first but not last, I think, ham radio DX-pedition . Where do I go next? Maybe to my younger brother Ziggy in New York? Keep the fingers on your key.
I am satisfied with my total score, sorry about 10m condition I could not try 4 el spiderbeam in pileup (congrats to EI5DI Paul’s score, also high, in the same category like me – Paul do you remember Wojtek and me?)
worked very well, I could compare its features with my experience with a lot
of yagi antennas
is difficult to establish a pileup with 100W from that too far north area (compared
to EA7 South Spain stations)
difficult situation to work Asians from the far west of Europe
Fine long path to VK and ZL on 40m and 20m band.
will have to make a good antenna switch to avoid trasport of all the coax
cables for each antenna (50m of RG58 weighed about 0.8 kg)
is a better solution of rotating the antenna: my rotor can carry all the
system when it is placed on the ground: almost 4 kg less to put up all the
mast should has blocking system on its each height. Then you can set up
contruction by yourself (see http://www.teleskopmaste.de/e_prod_rund.htm
- tnx DF4SA for info)
God that there were not typical Atlantic strong winds and storms on the
Island of Ireland during my operation
a European from the continent (like me) it is a nightmare to see a car but
no driver inside - we rather expect the driver to be sitting on the left. Sometimes
it looks as if there was going to be a crash the moment the car is going on
the left side of the road before a turn.
Total Score: 1,238,813
|North America CW||1||42||32||178||119||1||373||20.5|
|South America CW||0||1||7||11||15||2||36||2.0|
Thanks for reading my story.
73, Wies³aw SP4Z (ex SP4EEZ till Jan 2003)
Any question about spiderbeam please mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Please see pictures of my home antenna system in Lapy, Poland at:
my club station located in school when I work as a teacher
It is good to back home safely after long journey. My wife Maria and children: Peter, Renate, Paulina and my parents-in-low.
Other pictures of Spiderbeam antenna