A simple approach to VHF contesting

By | October 15, 2016

The UK Activity Contests (UKAC) are a series of VHF contests that happen every Tuesday night. There is a different band each week. The general set up is a signal report (genuine, not a 59 default), serial number and locator. The locator is used for multipliers. The calendar is as follows:

Every 1st Tuesday 2000-2230 (Local) 144MHz
Every 2nd Tuesday 2000-2230 (Local) 432MHz
Every 3rd Tuesday 2000-2230 (Local) 1.3GHz
Every 4th Tuesday 2000-2230 (Local) 50MHz & SHF
Every 5th Tuesday 2000-2230 (Local) 70MHz

So, its a pretty full calendar. I participate in the low power section, which is <10w but I actually run 5w from my FT817nd. Almost always portable and at most the 6m, 2m and 70cms sections. Antenna’s have been a mixture with some pretty substantial beam’s (for /p anyway) but my preference is for the now defunct Sotabeams SB270 for 2m and 70cm’s and a Nuxcom lightweight 6m yagi. I have moved away from heavy telescopic poles to a Harris 5m telescopic decorators pole.

The theme is to simplify some things but with a view to focus my spending on lightweight improvements. I find that this keeps my interest in building up as well as operating. Lets make this very clear, I’m not in it to win in, but to make use of the normally quiet VHF spectrum for some fun. DX is unusually no further than the south coast or the north of Scotland and the occasional trip a little bit further but conditions need to be exceptional.

So the latest addition is a more appropriate support for the pole. I was sick of using a drive on plate that was frankly destroying my £16 investment in a decorating pole. My car has a tow bar. I bought a ball attachment several years ago as it was right in front of me and very cheap. I now have a use for it.

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The tow bar mount is made from a few off cuts of 47mm x 100mm (or 2″ by 4″ if you prefer) and a piece of rough sawn timber that was being used for shuttering for the summer house foundations. I used a 38mm hole saw so that the base is snug, but the upper support needs some kind of removable wedge.

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It has been painted with Wilko’s timber paint left over from some other work (which is very good). I’ve yet to try it out but I’m impressed how quick it was to make. Let’s see how it performs, its certainly a lot simpler than buying an expensive drive on plate.

It remains to be seen if this is a worthwhile addition but it only has to deal with a little over a 1Kg in static mass so chances are even the most severe winds. In which case I won’t be out /p anyway. Next stop the antennas. To increase gain or not to increase gain, that is the question. I kind of know the answer really.

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