On Saturday a group of club members along with friend to the club, Ian Hope 2E0IJH arrived at Manston Spitfire Museum to set up a station for an entry in the 6m contest starting at 1400 UTC. We had a very old 6ele beam which had been rescued from a hedge during the recovery of kit from the garden of a Silent Key. It is likely it had lain in the hedge for the past ten years. But, M0LMK & 2E0DUE had cleaned & fettled it, leaving us with a pile of parts to reassemble ready to put up on the mast.
Matt climbed the mast removed the 2m beam & replaced it with the 6m beam, we rove a new feeder to it & were pleased to get a very nice VSWR reading on the analyser. (2m beam will be returned later.)
Stuart, M0IUG very kindly drove down in his camper van, towing his Landy on a trailer. The Landy then was driven off the trailer, which was then hitched behind it & off he went leaving the camper for us to use as a shack, thanks Stuart.
Matt then decanted his TS590SG & amplifier along with SDR, computer & screen to form the station. All was eventually set, tested & ready for the contest to begin.
So, taking advantage of the lull I took Maddie, my dog, off for a walk & on the way back to stop in via the Merlin CafÃ© for a spot of lunch. Lunch was that good I missed the start of the contest!
Well I didnâ€™t miss much! It was a slow start, it seemed ages before we had the first ten contacts, but none of us knew the 6m band very well & it gave us time to learn the kit, logging etc. Itâ€™s amazing how small, simple techniques can enhance capabilities, for example when logging many people will use a mouse to move the cursor into the field they wish to fill, but in the pressure of a contest it is easy to lose the cursor position & it is slow & data gets entered in the wrong field. By instead using the tab key to move fields, it is quicker & more precise leading to less errors (but not eliminating them!).
But then it all changed! The panadaptor display at the start had shown a rather sparsely filled waterfall, with the few really strong stations & occasional â€˜ghostsâ€™ of weaker stations from which we could identify their frequency & turn the beam onto until we could work them. Certainly, an improvement of moving from high to low, low to high, just hoping to find a station to work. All of a sudden, the display started to show more & more signals with increasing strengths. The Sporadic Eâ€™s had arrived in spades, we pointed the beam SE & worked one after another Eastern European station atÂ Â between 1600 & 1900km. Many stations were on the same frequency & it took some effort to ensure you confirmed the exchange with one before working the station who youâ€™d ignored a moment previously. It was gloriously chaotic, stressful & fun, all rolled into one. Then almost as quickly as it had started the panadaptor display emptied the band quietened & it was hard work to work a station in Surrey! Six Meters is truly a â€˜Magic Bandâ€™. When its flat it is truly flat, but when some form of propagation is enhanced it can really open up.
With less than an hour to the end of our contest with the threat of rain we pulled the plug to pack up in the dry, which we just succeeded in doing.
Hereâ€™s a quote from a participant, â€œHad a great 6 hours at the 6m contest and witnessed a fine example of sporadic E reception, this was my first time on a 6m contest. It was quite intense at times, but I would encourage members to get involved. Phil. 2E0PGCâ€
Link here for a map of our entryâ€¦.