EI/SP4Z 

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

Preparations  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 .

 Some of the equipment was wrapped up in soft material to avoid damage in aeroplane luggage

 

  All the equipment I brought to Ireland (over 40 kg) was left at my brother's QTH

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

    It 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.

 Base of 128 m stainless spire - good vertical in centre of Dublin? Where are the radials?

 

 Where is the end of that spire?
Outside 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) 

Contest operation

    At 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.

 
My operation shack  Another view of my 48 hours contest operation place

    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.

    In my opinion:

  1. 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?)

  2. Spiderbeam worked very well, I could compare its features with my experience with a lot of yagi antennas

  3. It is difficult to establish a pileup with 100W from that too far north area (compared to EA7 South Spain stations)

  4. More difficult situation to work Asians from the far west of Europe

  5. Fine long path to VK and ZL on 40m and 20m band.

  6. I 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)

  7. There 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 antenna system

  8. 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)

  9. Thank God that there were not typical Atlantic strong winds and storms on the Island of Ireland during my operation

  10. For 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.

Summaries 

BAND QSO PTS PTS/QSO Zones Countries
160 137 143 1.04 7 41
80 409 533 1.30 11 54
40 319 434 1.36 19 74
20 529 972 1.84 24 78
15 394 728 1.85 20 73
10 25 51 2.04 12 20
Total 1813 2861 1.58 93 340

                                                                                                   Total Score: 1,238,813


Statistics:

Continent 160m 80m 40m 20m 15m 10m ALL Percent
North America CW 1 42 32 178 119 1 373 20.5
South America CW 0 1 7 11 15 2 36 2.0
Europe CW 134 346 261 309 229 12 1291 70.8
Asia CW 1 15 9 16 19 4 64 3.5
Africa CW 3 5 10 13 13 4 48 2.6
Oceania CW 0 0 1 6 1 1 9 0.5

Thanks for reading my story.

73, Wies³aw SP4Z (ex SP4EEZ till Jan 2003)

Any question about spiderbeam please mail to:   sp4z@poczta.fm   sp4eez@poczta.fm

Please see pictures of my home antenna system in Lapy, Poland at: 

http://www.sn0hq.org/foto/view_album.php?set_albumName=sp4z

and my club station located in school when I work as a teacher

http://www.sp4pbi.webpark.pl

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