2011 Remembrance Day Contest

13/14 August 2011



How many contacts did you make towards your state's total in this contest held in recognition and memory of those who served in Australia and New Zealand's armed forces and paid the ultimate price ?? Lots ? None ??


I almost didn't operate in this year's event but a few circumstances left me with some spare time to devote to doing my bit for Queensland.  The XYL was away for a "scrapbooking retreat" for a few days so that left me a reasonable opportunity.  The desk in front of the radio gear was cleaned of clutter, VKCL updated to V3.1 and checked to make sure it was communicating to my IC-7400, the main station transceiver, and also the IC-706Mk2G, the radio that normally goes out on field days with me. One of the things I did not do was to pre-check the antennas.. more on that shortly though.


My master plan : use VKCL3 to manage the separate logs required to operate in both the HF and VHF/UHF sections.


At 6PM local time on Saturday evening, the contest started with me operating on HF, on the 40m band, making interstate contacts, and strangely the radio on 146.500 was quiet. Unusual, as that is the primary FM frequency used during events like the RD Contest. Not worrying about it, I continued on HF working subsequently on 80m and then even 160m.


Did you note my comment about not having pre-checked the antennas ?  Well I should have. The SWR on 40m was a bit high around the 7100 KHz mark, decreasing as the frequency was moved down towards 7000 KHz. Similar story on 80m, lowest down towards 3500 KHz, terrible at 3620. On 160m, the SWR was atrocious and I ended up making multiple trips outside with a torch trying to find a better "raw SWR" so that the autotuner in the IC-7400 would find a match.  Eventually I found one so 160m was working to the point that I workd 7 stations on that band, VK4's plus interstate - which means that I had more-than-doubled all previous contacts I have ever made on this band in 35 years on HF.  There wasn't anything I could do about the 40m and 80m tuning though - then I remembered that I had actually tuned this antenna with the tower wound up - with the centre point much higher than it is normally set - so that is probably why the tuning on those bands are low. I wasn't going to go through the rigamarole of raising the tower at this stage, I will just have to re-tune those legs for the "tower down" position - it's normal height.


One anomaly that I did encounter relates to VKCL3. I worked VI40BOR at Port Macquarie (NSW) on Saturday and the software wouldn't credit a point to the contact. My guess is that it saw the first number (4) and said that it was thus a VK4 station and since within-state contacts are only allowed on 160m and 10m on HF, and all VHF/UHF bands, it was an invalid contact. I tried a /2 after it, no go. I emailed Mike 3AVV, the program's author, about it on the Sunday morning just in case it was something he was unaware of. I even mentioned it to him when I worked him on a few bands during the event and he said he would get back to me.


The long and short of it was that I stopped operating at 5PM on the Sunday afternoon after various operating periods, alternating with using a paintbrush to repaint a bedroom, and on attaining 250 contacts in the log, with still one hour of the contest period remaining. The brain was "squishy" by then, the XYL was home so I backed up my log and turned off the equipment.


It was only afterwards when I went back into that room that I noticed that I had disconnected the coax feeder from the IC-706Mk2G and not replaced it - hence no signals on 2m or 70cm. At least that explained why no contacts were made on those bands - rather than there being a fault in the radio.


An email back from Mike 3AVV suggested that I use a VK2/ in front of the VI40BOR callsign (since in this case the station was located in NSW) and all would be well. He indicated that he would update the help file and the web site to recommend this technique in any future uses of VKCL where special event callsigns did not log correctly.


The submitted HF log contained 250 contacts totalling 257 points, the additional 7 points being gained from those 160m contacts.  


What was your contribution ???