Summer VHF/UHF Field Day 2014
On the weekend of the 11th and 12th of January, EMDRC competed in the summer VHF/UHF Field day contest 2014 as VK3ER/P. We headed to the normal location of McLaughlin’s Lookout in the wombat state forest around 80km west of Melbourne.
The team arrived around mid afternoon Friday and began to the station setup. Operating tent first, then the yagis for various bands and the microwave gear. The team comprised of Peter VK3QI, Mike VK3AAV, Jack VK3WWW, Jonas VK3VF, Steve VK3TAS and Andrew VK3BQ, with a special guest appearance by Marshall VK3MRG on his way past saturday afternoon.
Jack and Andrew started with the 2m and 70cm poles and arrays while mike and peter built 6m before we all moved onto the microwave gear, then the tent setup and connection.
Setup takes a number of hours, but the team has done it so often, they are well versed in the process. The weather was rather hot, the sun very strong, so we took our time having short breaks. With everything ready to go by around 8pm.
After dinner, we set about making sure the radios were working properly, having some test contacts with some of the other stations getting ready, listening to beacons and making sure the logging network was working well. This contest we had a mobile network 3G modem router/hub, and the networked logging computer were able to access the internet as well, this was a handy addition to the setup.
Saturday morning we all awoke and continued to tinker with the gear, testing the setup, and working a lot of VK5’s as conditions were very good. The station was working well. The contest looked like being a good one.
We all eagerly awaited the start, and before long midday arrived and we were off. Conditions were fantastic, with decent contacts over the weekend on all bands, 6m had e’s openings to VK4 and ZL with is always a nice bonus. Tropo on the lower vhf/uhf bands saw contacts to vk5, vk7, vk2 and vk1 and the microwave gear worked very well. Early sunday morning was the best time with some very very good contacts made. Including a contact with vk1da on 23cm, he had forgotten his 23cm yagi, and we worked him a 2m vertical he had laying sideways on his tent, read about it at his blog.
The event didn’t run without our small band of issues, late saturday afternoon, the 70cm rotator stopped turning. A quick check of the power/ cable, and a spare controller still wouldn’t make the box turn, luckily we had a spare, and swapped out the gear (the benefit of quick connect cables at both ends) and were back in a spin!
And then around 10pm saturday night, It appears we accidentally put a short burst of 50MHz through the 144MHz preamp. As a result of this action, we let the smoke out. Andrew vk3bq was operating 2m and had heard a suggestion some vk7’s were chatting on 145MHz FM, and went looking for them, not being super familiar with the 2M radio setup, it appears he had got lost in the memory channels and used the VFO to tune up from a 6m memory, however, the radio was setup in such a way that repeater offsets used the split function, thus, when he moved to 145MHz and hit TX, the radio switched to 50MHz and zap. Luckily we had a spare and a quick operation saw the 2m array dropped down and the faulty unit replaced. The replacement was down a fraction in performance, but we were back on the air. Below images show the damage, and subsequent fixed board, thanks jack. We know what not to do next time and will ensure band specific radios are programmed only for the band they are on!
Sunday afternoon, and with the contest over we began the pickup, this is a quicker job than setup, and by 3pm we were all seat for the trip home. The team had their best ever field day result, we were very pleased with our results and score. The weather was perfect, mid 20’s, a light wind, excellent propagation on all bands, and only a couple of small issues we have learnt from, we all had a great time. Now we wait to see how we placed in the contest. and we look forward to the John Moyle field day 15th and 16th of March at Mt Cowley.