Thursday, August 04, 2011

A day by the lake

The fine weather we have enjoyed for several weeks was forecast to change, so on Wednesday Olga and I decided to take the bus and go for a picnic lunch by Bassenthwaite Lake. For radio entertainment I took the UV-3R (in case of any SOTA or WOTA activations) and the FT-817ND.

HF conditions were pretty dire - WWV has been predicting blackouts - and I initially heard nothing above 20m. But even though I called the loudest stations that weren't calling "CQ DX outside Europe" no-one even acknowledged my existence. (What's wrong with working stations inside Europe, I'd like to know, especially when no-one is replying to your CQs anyway?)

The antenna I was using, the Wonder Wand L-Whip, could have been better. It does, however, have the advantage that it is small and light. At the moment I can't carry much, needing one hand for my walking stick and the other for balance, so everything has to fit in a small shoulder bag. So I didn't have anything else suitable.

The UV-3R produced a contact with Terry, G0VWP/P activating Walla Crag, the lowest Wainwright, prompting Olga to comment that the small radio was better than the big one!

After lunch I tuned around some more and heard some activity on 15m and 17m. And whilst tuning 17m I stumbled across this. Actually, that's what I heard a couple of minutes later after I'd dug my smartphone out of my jacket pocket to make the recording using Voice Recorder. What I heard first was ZD8D (Ascension Island) calling CQ. Repeatedly. With no takers. He was not very strong - about S4 on the '817 S-meter - with some QSB, but perfectly clear. Clearer in fact than in the recording. I called, but needless to say he didn't hear me.

As I've said before, I have little interest in working stations just to tick countries off a list. But I have a particular interest in the British colonies of Ascension Island and St. Helena as I visited both places during a "trip of a lifetime" in 1999 but have never worked either of them. Just my luck to come across a DX station calling CQ with no pileup when I'm surrounded by mountains and running just 5W to an extremely inefficient antenna!


Paul Stam PAØK said...

Hi Julian, I know what you talking about. For me it don't mind where my opposite station lives, I like to make qso's with anyone. Next week I am on an island (Ameland EU-Ø38) and I will see what I can do with my FT817. Just try my luck, 73 Paul

VE9KK said...

I was on the radio Monday and Tuesday and there was nothing on this side of the pond either Julian. As a side note I was looking into getting the Wonder Wand. It is compact and if there is nothing around to string up this antenna is great. I do have the Miracle whip but it has lots of battle scar's and I hear the Wonder Wand is better than the Miracle whip as well.

K9CHP said...

Hi Julian,
I'm glad to hear you feel a bit better. Look up aluminum rollator. This is a wheeled walker, on three nice large wheels, folds flat, so is easy to load on a bus and it could give you stability and a way to transport more/better/bulkier gear for your ham excursions.

Keith GW4OKT said...

Surprised you didn't have the spinning rod out Julian....some good pike & perch in Bassenthwaite lake, me and my Missus were at the pheasant for a couple of nights last week!


Keith GW4OKT

Roger G3XBM said...

Good to see you out in good weather: here it has been pouring down with rain all day. Interested to hear you visited St Helena and Ascension Is. I had a love affair with Tristan da Cuhna at one time!

Anonymous said...


Glad to hear you are getting out and about end enjoying yourself.

As to "DX". This summers Es openings on 6 meter where rather interesting. As you know contacts are usually short and sweet - signal report and grid square and on CW all of about 10 seconds in total. I had the unfortunate displeasure of meeting a couple of Hams on the air that where calling CQ DX. Well they where in the US and I am in Canada and that is DX is it not? Anyways, they simply refused to give a report and grid square but did in fact take much than the simple report would have taken to repeat over and over again "DX, DX only DX DX only DX DX only".

Takes all kinds and when I hear stations calling DX only I will still answer when they are obviously not getting other replies just for a quick report and wish them good luck.

cheers, Graham ve3gtc