March 144/432MHz Contest

March 7th, 2011 | by M0VFC |

This was the first time we’d entered the March 144/432 contest – indeed, looking back at our logs, it’s not quite a year ago that we first started playing in the VHF contests to begin with.

The usual suspects of M0LCM, M0VFC and M1BXF were joined in Flossie by the slightly less local but very much welcomed Jimmys 2E0SQL and M0MJH – thanks guys. We also received a steady stream of non-operating visitors, amateur and otherwise. Amusingly, all the non-amateurs who asked what we were up to invariably also asked how much power we were running. On hearing “3 to 400w”, they universally declared that to be “oh, not that much then…”

Most important was our early QSO with David, G8IDL. Whilst only netting us 12 points, it did mean that along with the report, serial number, and locator, he also got our coffee orders, and duly delivered these to the site. Thanks, David!

We weren’t initially sure whether we’d be able to get antennas for both bands up on the mast at once, and a few of the 2m elements ended up vertically polarised temporarily as a result of the lifting operation, but that was soon resolved, and the array went up nicely. The absence of wind meant that no guying was required – mind you, with the weight of M1BXF’s 2m linear in the van, I’m not sure much could have toppled us. The 70cm linear that failed in 432MHz AFS had a new cooling fan fitted, and this time performed admirably. There were, of course, a few last minute adaptors that needed making, but it seemed rude to start the contest on time in any case. One TFT monitor let its magic blue smoke out, but for some reason, M0MJH just happened to have a spare one in his car…

Being more familiar with the UKAC contests, we weren’t sure what to expect in this one, much less have anything you might call a strategy. After a good initial run towards the north and north-west, we turned our attention to Europe. This proved rather effective, accounting for about 40% of our QSOs on 2m and of course some decent distances as well, though at 838km ODX, nothing to rival some of the other claimed scores.

Opting for the 6-hour session meant that we managed to pack up and still find an Indian restaurant willing to serve five rather muddy guys who wandered in at about 11pm on a Saturday evening – spot on!

Claimed scores (6O section):
2m: 171 QSOs, 49,540 points
70cm: 59 QSOs, 13,464 points

Update: results are now out!

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