March contest 2013 - OK1TEH & OK1VPZ in JN79OW (unplugged)

Due to the fact that our contest QTH at Spaleniste in JO60JJ 1040m ASL isn't in the winter accessible because of 2m layer of snow on road until mid of April and more there is no guarantee that our one phase power line survived icing, initially we were thinking about to run a contest for a fun from the comfort of our sweet home. Nevertheless things were going in different way.

As the contest was approaching, on Tuesday in Prague we enjoyed excellent tropo propagation on 2m and 70cm to LA and Mr. Hepburn predicted that good condx should be steady even for the contest and more, weather forecast looked favorable too so we started thinking about the possibilities of taking a part in March contest somewhere from sunny Elbe lowlands. And of course we had many more reasons, for an example near to city Clumec nad Cidlinou we have parked our contest caravan loaded with our contest equipment, the surrounding hills aren't so high so there is no danger to get any "winter kicks" from Mother Nature and what's very important this area is far away from the many QROO clubs as we know for an example in Prague thanks to very close distance from OL3Z.. But the question was which hill should be chosen. Such a hill should have top free of high trees of bushes because we wanted to get up only small mast, not much mud if possible and hill must be accessible by caravan... On the other hand few days before contest I caught bad cold so I was considering if running a contest in winter somewhere on hill would be a good idea..

I was considering tradition hills in Elbe lowlands such as hill Oskobrh, Lipansky pamatnik or Krechor near to Kolin but in the end I choose hill Vysoka (in Czech it means High hill) in JN79OW which is located only five km west of old mediaeval city Kutna Hora. Hill Vysoka despite of it's name isn't in any way the the first class hill for contesting, it has altitude only 471m ASL with near higher hills on south and the peek is full of trees.. Near to the hill top is also located ruins of  baroque summer residence called Belveder built in 1697 and new lookout tower + geodetic tower which is contest QTH of radioclub OK1KKH (by the way this is the place where was achieved the first MS QSO in OK on 70cm in 1986). Unfortunately the tower caught fire by lightning strike few years ago which caused several damages so at the current situation tower isn't possible to be used for ham radio purpose.. Finally, after a discussion with Michal OK1GHZ (tnx), considering profiles at heywhatsthat.com and thank to new asphalt road we had identifies the only possible place where we could run a contest at the northwestern edge of the forest which is about 11m below the summit but it's the only place with free horizon to DL and OM while the top of the hill with the forest cover almost the whole direction to SP (sorry Jurek, SP2DDV).

First, we wanted to run a contest under club callsign OK2KKW but in the end other club members decided to prefer weekend with their family or run a contest from their home or visit near club for operation on 2m (as Lada OK1DIX did by visiting OK1KLL). The important arguments were the facts that in March contest it isn't bigger activity on 70cm and especially our caravan is too small place to support sleeping of the 2 masochists hi. Unfortunately be active on more bands wasn't possible because we were limited by using only small 2kW Honda gasoline generator. So in the end our small expedition was reduced only to me and my dad OK1VPZ who decided to help me with erecting of mast and run contest for fun on 2m with 4el yagi and 50W from the 2nd FT847. On Friday, 1 day before the contest, we visited our house where we park our contest caravan and let "gettr" PA with GS31b. On Saturday we woke up early in the morning, had lunch at the pub Kopicak and 1 hour later we arrived to hill.

Just after arrival at the hill me and my dad had started building the antenna and mast. Antenna is 24 years old home made 33el K1FO (75 Ohms) and mast consist of 4 tubes 2,5m long. Temperature in 460m ASL was around zero, wind was blowing chilly air and on the ground was laying 1cm of snow however sky was deeply blue without any clouds. Although we were only two 70cm antenna was setup quickly and I started connecting rest of cables. Meanwhile we got visitation from Jarek, OK1KN, David, OK1RK with Lenka and his son Vasik and they brought us an important addition to our tube PA -> bottles of beer (TNX!). I was a little delayed with connecting the equipment because of various generation of contest equipment and I could start the contest with 18 minutes delay. Meanwhile my dad put his 4el OK1KRC yagi in 3m AGL on our old wooden tubes which we used for erecting of the mast and before he started his pileup on 2m with 50W he began to chat with new visitor Josef, OK1VKC, who seen our spot at QRV list so he arrived from Kolin city to shake our hands.

Start of contest

Already during first few contacts I found out that Vysoka is obviously very well opened QTH in direction to north Germany. Despite of the delayed start and PA with reduced power to 200W I was called by several DL stations with strong signals from JO43 area and they were shortly replaced with PA stations like PE1RLF 680km, PA2CHR 667km, PA2V 785km and PA0GUS JO23 747km!! After turning the antenna to the opposite direction I was called by our friend Ivan YU1LA from Belgrade, despite the distance of 702km he was loud as local station, next was Vlado OM3CLS and surprisingly I4CIV from JN63FX, QRB 695km. During first 2 hours of contest and delayed start I logged about 70 QSOs and lovely 20564 points, almost as much as I used to worked during whole 24h contest from Prague. During next hours my log was filled by many more contacts from YU7, 9A and S5 such as IQ4AX/4 697km (operated by Marco IK4WKU), YU7NIK 577km with QRP, Gabi HA8V 530km, big surprise was great signal even from Boris, US5WU, KO20, QRB 649km and UT5DV KN18 535km. After achievement of 100th QSO I looked though the band for results of the (imaginary) competitors. to make some comparison. Guys from OL7M had 2 QSOs less, OK2C had 9 QSOs more and OK2M had only 2 QSOs more which looked very well, the only station with much greater result was OL3Z with 37 QSOs more however while they don't use only 33el single antenna like me but 552el group and many GS35 PAs it wasn't surprise.

And how looked the QRM situation? I was naturally most concerned about the QRM from OL3Z because their station lie in the most interesting direction 276 degrees and only some 55km away. In Prague where I was using very similar equipment and OL3Z was too close I had often terrible QRM from them all over the band however this time I had no problems at all and more it was possible to run CQ only 25kHz below them! The reason why I had no problem with OL3Z is probably thank to path profile with hills 100m higher so first Fresnel's zone was disrupted how it's well shown at the attached picture generated on web heywhatsthat.com. This assumption is confirmed by David, OK1RK who gave me points from Prague with his small wire antenna and FT847 and he reported OL3Z's signal all over the band.. It's simply physic, even if the signal is clean it's so strong so average TRX located in the same city must be heavily overloaded (in OK we have power limit 3kW RF).

However much worse situation I had with OL7M. They were located in even bigger distance and had the same signal strength like OL3Z on my Smeter (S9+60dB) however they generated terrible S9 spletters over 150kHz wide even if their operator claimed to turn antenna sideways.. When they turned antennas perpendicularly to the South it was possible to work with YU and DL station however when they turned antennas directly to me I had no chance to work even single QSO.. It's obvious that part of my interference problem was caused also on my side because I use old FT847 with bad stopband and 23 years old h.m. LNA with MG1302 (gain reduced to 15dB) however the profile of signal path between OK1TEH and OL7M is definitely not straight line of sight so such a strong QRM on such a big distance shouldn't be caused in any case... Anyway I must thank to OL7M's operator who moved after my warning 100 kHz up. On the following picture you can see path profiles from JN79OW to OL7M and OL3Z.

But let's turn back to see what was going on in the contest. When I tuned the band I hit booming signal of PI4GN from JO33, QRB 699km and I must say that they were without any doubt the strongest PA station in OK. Next logged station was well known Matthias, DL8DAU on 442km and finally I worked even Theo, PA1TK, QRB on lovely 781km! I was also called by HB9CXK however QSO NC so from HB I worked after sked only HB9FX QRB 592km. At the DX cluster I saw ON6SX and ON4PS unfortunately Pierre wasn't logged at KST chat and random contact wasn't successful. The last worked QSO before break for sleep was DB8WK from JO33 on 642km, despite his low power he had excellent signal like a local station just a pity that activity from JO33 area was so low.. Sleeping in caravan was little bit problematic. It was possible to find the place where to lie however bigger problem was with temperature. During transmitting I had been using contactor in PA with special circuit which is driving the 1kW electric heater which is running only during the RX period (so less CQ means more heat hi) but the heat rises up and cold goes from the cold floor. Outside temperature in 1,5m above ground is -3C however ground temperature is much lower and gets into a decent winter shoes. Fortunately the obtrusive cold is reduced enough thank to usage of propane-butane heater.

After about 4h of sleeping I wake up and slowly start the 2nd part of contest. The band is still quiet and empty so only possible way is making skeds at ON4KST chat. At 06:24h UTC after several attempts I finally succeed in QSO with PI4Z from JO11, QRB 817km, mni tnx for patience! In second browser window I'm monitoring the traffic at the chat's GHZ room and I note that IQ1KW just logged in. Thank to QRV list I know that they are also QRV 70cm however I'm very skeptically if QSO is possible because of near hill Zandov (old 160m QTH of OK1RD btw) which is 100m higher. Skeds is done and almost suddenly I hear them however signal felt in noise and several minutes stay in noise. Fortunately signal go up again and finally QSO is logged with nice 73 in the end, QSO with QRB 843km is my new ODX, tnx! At the DXcluster I see next Italian station IZ3NOC/3 and after tuning on their QRG I hear them S9+, QRB "only" 595km however signal much stronger then any other local OK station! Soon after this QSO I try OZ9PZ however this direction is closed with trees and only 10m high mast is too low so QSO NC. However nice surprise is unexpected QSO with Torben, OZ3ZW, QRB 595km. Meanwhile the local weather is getter worse, yesterday blue sky is now covered by dense clouds and chilly wind is getter stronger, I guess would it be the end of good conditions to the West?

Before noon I notice that Moravian station are receiving reports from PA on distance over 1000km so I focus to PA direction again. I'm doing some nice contacts to JO31 area and time to time I got nice report from Theo, PA1TK who copy me with my much better signals then yesterday, in peek over S7 and put me at DX-cluser, MNI TNX! I'm afraid that the most of active PA stations are already written in my log so I'm truly shocked when from noise pop up SSB signal of G8EOP IO93 on distance of 1227km! Unfortunately QSB is huge and QSO isn't complete... However now I'm sure that path is opened even from Elbe lowlands so I'm boosted by new energy. Next station in log is Marc, F5SVQ QRB 600km and finally at 11h UTC I was called by G5B from IO92, QRB 1109km! and QSO is completed without any problem. Well what else could you wish more, maybe just some another stations from UK hi. I made sked with John, G3XDY but he didn't hear me. Sked with G4KUX from IO94 who was worked by OL3Z isn't successful too however he heard me weakly for a short time. At 12 UTC condx in my low altitude suddenly get worse and I'm able to work only weak DL stations. At that time I observed one funny thing. I had sked with 9A6Y and suddenly I was called with perfect signal from my old friend from EME Hans, OZ6OL, QRB 638km, I guess was that caused by some reflection from an near hill covered by snow on southeast? One hour before end of contest I worked easy QSO with Alfred, IK2FTB/6 QRB 710km, he has only 25W and 9el yagi (!) and after few more local contacts I finish contest with (for me) magic result of 235 QSOs and 75 500 points. Satisfied is also my dad, OK1VPZ who had fun on 2m with QRP 4el yagi and made several fine contacts such as 3 contacts with HB9 stations. Two hours later we have packed all anchors, pipes and antennas and 2 hours later we enjoy shower at our home in Prague.

For conclusion I must asses contest as one big success and although after contest I'm not able to do objectively evaluate how good QTH is hill Vysoka but I have feeling that certainly it isn't bad hill and sometimes we'll have to get back. Except well opened horizon to DL I was pleasantly surprised with well opened direction to Italy, 6xIK worked on 70cm in such a contest isn't bad indeed. Somewhat worse was direction to HB however I think that lower number of worked stations was caused by bad winter conditions on hills and therefore lower activity. Conditions in HA/OM direction were below normal thank to near Zelezne hory (in Czech "Iron mountains" ;), the QTH of OK1KPA, however worse conditions were compensated by shorter distances to HA.

And that's all folks.

Thank you all for contacts, 73 and hope to hear you in May 2nd Subregional contest as OK2A

Matej, OK1TEH


CQ Contest by OK1VPZ

 

Although during last 38 years I was QRV almost in every contest oddly I never take a part in such a big contest on 2m with my private callsign. In case I was QRV on 2m it was during some small contest like Czech Activity Contest but my main band is 70cm when I was QRV in almost every March subregional contest which I won under my callsign OK1VPZ 9x times. However since the activity of OK1TEH I was focused in technical issue and did contesting only in our club OK2KKW/OK2A. Therefore my presence on 2m in March contest is quite unique, hi. How did this happen?

My son OK1TEH was asking me during last 2 month to support him with March contest run somewhere in nature. He wanted to participate in this contest from hill Vysoka near to Kutna hora which has one essential thing - it's the closest hill usable for contest to our old grandparents house in the Elbe lowlands where we have parked our contest caravan. Although I resisted for a long time - you know run contest from house with warm hamshack few downstairs far from bed isn't bad idea indeed - but in the end my son persuaded me to don't get bored and as OK2IMH called me comedian from Prague I took 2nd FT847 and simple 4el yagi which we have borrowed from Vlado, OM3CLS.

Compared to another contest we take from barn only basic equipment - over 23 years old GS31 PA and 33el home made K1FO made in 1989 (tuned for 75 ohms), 75 Ohms thick cable and on Saturday morning we were on the way. Because our house isn't so far from Prague, some 1 hour later (around Saturday noon) we had arrived on the meadow covered by rest of snow with mud on southwest hillside of hill Vysoka (JN79OW). Antenna on 10m high mast was soon at the top and Matej had started playing with PTT cables because over 2 decades old equipment had to be paired with the new interface which we use at home and club. The amplifier was originally operated with GI14b tube made in 1953(!) and for last 5 years we use it with GS31b but this tube need to be driven with little bigger power so we took 100W driver and had to getter the tube PA since the Friday evening. However all run correctly and some 20 minute after start of contest Matej's callsign OK1TEH was on the air. During first hour he used only 200W however some time later when all was fried and thermally stabilized Matej was able to use PA with full power out of 700W which is the maximal possible power due to usage of our small gasoline 2kW Honda generator and low anode voltage in PA (2,4kV).

When all was running smoothly I started later lunch and before darkness felt around 6 hours I put on the 4el yagi, 15m long Chinese RG214 and small 3m long mast + FT847 and began operation on 2m for fun. The main target was to give points to old friends on the band and after few years of very low activity on 2m (3 QSOs per year or so) put my callsign on the ether. I told to myself that 100 QSO would be more then enough and while I have 70 QSOs worked even in the evening I decided to pack TRX and notebook to make empty place for sleeping. The night was quite cold because of chilly wind from the West and -3C. On Sunday I unpacked TRX after 9hour in the morning and around noon I finished my target of 100 QSOs. However when I saw OK1TEH running contest with boosted energy from improved condx I decided to make few QSOs more and reach the the border of  20 000 points. This target I succeeded after 2 hours of slow contest operation interrupted with lunch so I decided to pack all 2m equipment. The final result was 117QSOs and ODX 676km.

QRP operation on 2m from hill Vysoka was big pleasure indeed, nobody disturb me with any QRM, only one stronger station OK1KCR was only 30kHz wide and the rest of band was relatively quiet. 2m band is unlike the higher bands more friendly because of the bigger signal stability resulting in smaller mental exertion after several hours of operation (in case of minimal QRM indeed). I hadn't to spent several long minutes to find out which calling station is hiding in the noise and only bigger problem was to catch attention of stations with my QRO signal. So I was very happy with relaxing contest operation and maybe I'll repeat it soon. I definitely prefer to run a contest from Elbe lowlands before go to some first class hill like OK1KAD at Klinovec hill and make there bad result for which I would be ashamed.

My positive impression of this contest "for fun" was reinforced with good result of OK1TEH on 70cm and speedy arrival to our home because we arrived at home at the same time when we used to have at our club in JO60JJ all equipment packed.. After contest I was only "lighter" on the payment for 18 liters of gasoline for generator.

And this is the end of my report. If you would like to ask me for QSL cards for contest QSO please send me QSL via direct and I'll answer. Frankly I don't collect QSL cards so please save our forests :-) Hope to hear you in next contest under our club's callsign OK2A (OK2KKW)!

73, OK1VPZ


Results:

 

 

 

Callsign     : OK1TEH
WW locator : JN79OW
Band      : 432 MHz
LOG: Atalanta Locator ver. 12.29 (used only for statistic, in contest I used VUSC log)
Number of WWL  : 63 

25xJO70   12xJO60   12xJN89   10xJO61   10xJN79    9xJN88      QSO vs QRB       
 8xJO42    8xJN99    8xJN97    7xJO50    6xJO31    6xJN69      ----------------
 6xJN58    5xJO62    5xJO51    5xJN68    4xJO90    4xJO80            < 100  34x
 4xJN95    4xJN86    4xJN59    3xJO71    3xJO53    3xJO52        100 - 199  37x
 3xJO43    3xJO41    3xJO40    3xJO32    3xJO22    3xJN76        200 - 299  54x
 3xJN75    3xJN48    2xJO81    2xJO73    2xJO33    2xJO30        300 - 399  34x
 2xJN98    2xJN87    2xJN63    2xJN57    2xJN47    1xKO20        400 - 499  22x
 1xKO10    1xKN18    1xKN07    1xKN06    1xKN05    1xKN04        500 - 599  32x
 1xJO91    1xJO72    1xJO65    1xJO54    1xJO23    1xJO11        600 - 699  13x
 1xJN85    1xJN77    1xJN65    1xJN55    1xJN54    1xJN49        700 - 799   6x
 1xJN38    1xJN34    1xIO92                                      800 - 899   2x
                                                                 900 - 999   0x
                                                                     > 999   1x
                                                               ----------------

Hour   QSO Points  AVG  DX  Callsign        N  NE   E  SE   E  EW   W  NW
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
14-15   35  10526  300  785 PA2V            1   3   5   1   -   1   6  18
15-16   33   9825  297  702 YU1LA           3   2   6   8   6   5   2   1
16-17   22   5507  250  697 IQ4AX/4         1   -   3   5   1   2   8   2
17-18   17   4369  257  577 YU7NIK          -   -   3   4   3   3   2   2
18-19   15   4935  329  649 US5WU           -   -   4   6   -   2   -   3
19-20   12   3304  275  699 PI4GN           1   1   1   1   2   -   2   4
20-21    9   2621  291  582 DG1KJG          2   -   -   -   -   1   5   1
21-22   14   4425  316  781 PA1TK           -   -   1   -   -   2   6   5
22-23    5   2119  423  604 DF0MU           -   1   -   -   -   1   -   3
23-24    5   1255  251  348 SQ1HMA          1   -   1   -   -   2   -   1
00-01    1    642  642  642 DB8WK           -   -   -   -   -   -   -   1
04-05    2    992  496  532 DK2ZF/P         -   -   -   -   1   -   -   1
05-06    2   1011  505  594 DL0LN           -   -   -   -   -   -   -   2
06-07    5   1771  354  817 PI4Z            -   1   -   -   -   1   1   2
07-08    5   1989  397  843 IQ1KW           -   -   -   -   1   3   1   -
08-09    4   1142  285  595 OZ3ZW           -   1   -   1   -   -   -   2
09-10   15   4804  320  619 DK0PU           2   -   -   3   -   1   3   6
10-11   11   4983  453  777 PD7RKZ          -   -   1   1   -   -   3   6
11-12    8   4724  590 1109 G5B             1   -   -   2   1   -   1   3
12-13    8   2734  341  710 IK2FTB/6        -   -   3   -   2   -   2   1
13-14    7   1791  255  548 DD8DW           1   -   -   1   -   -   3   2
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total  235  75469  321 1109 G5B            13   9  28  33  17  24  45  66

 

March 2013 IARU subregional Contest - OK1TEH on 70cm unplugged - Contest QTH Vysoka nr. Kutna hora JN79OW 460m asl.
And a short video: here, here, here

Thank you for all QSOs and hope to meet you in the next contest on 23cm!