I operated EI8GQB between 22nd March to 2nd April 2014 from a caravan using green energy.
I am now operating Single Operator 2 Radios (SO2R) with 6 different antennas in portable conditions like disaster/emergency situation, It represents 40 hours of work in order to be fully operational on 5 bands.
With my contest callsign EI1A, I maked part to the CQ World Prefix SSB contest during 29-30th March 2014 in order to maintain my European leading position.
My objective was to run this competition using green energy only.
March 2014 EI8GQB/EI1A CQ WW WPX SSB contest activity with green energy FETHARD CLONMEL IRELAND
GREEN ENERGY :480 Ah produced - CONTEST CLAIMED SCORE: 5.021.909 POINTS/ 2370 QSO/ 1007 PREFIXES : Probably a new top European position.
Day 12_02/04/2014 Last hours of work in the field under heavy showers and I will back to the civilization and business. Very happy of this experience and I am already thinking about my next venue in July for the IARU HF, CQWW VHF and IOTA contests. And I am still in the field this evening, the farmer's 4x4 vehicle never succeed to tract the caravan and the antenna trailer out of the field, I will spent one more night in the mud. He will come back tomorrow morning with a tractor.
Day 11_01/04/2014 (72 Ah wind) I had a good day of work yesterday with no wind and rain. the high band antennas are packed and the trailer is ready to be tracted to the farm. The weather will stay dry today, which is good as no wet material will be stored in the caravan until my return in July. According to the weather forecast it will rain a major part of tomorrow, so I decided to load all the equipment in the caravan today. It was a little more work than planned but less stress for tomorrow. I just ran out of gas, I used for my stay a full 25kg gas cylinder feeding fridge, heater and cooker. Fortunately I always have a small 5kg gas cylinder as backup. In my previous expedition I already experienced this and I decided to get backup small cylinder as this first experience was not very happy . See above only a part of the equipment ready to be loaded in the caravan, and my special rope dryer ;-) at the left side of the picture.
Day 10_31/03/2014 (24 Ah wind) Yes, Yes, Yes, I made my best ever contest of my live, 2370 QSO/1007 prefixes and a claimed score of 5 millions (last year I claimed 3 millions and was 1st Europe and 6th World). The propagation was perfect. I had all the contest a target rate of 60 QSO/hour, with a nice pile-up from JA stations in the morning and wonderful runs to NA on 10 and 15m bands in the afternoon and the evening. I added a pedal to my second transceiver and SO2R operation was also physically simpler, but with 2 pedals one for left foot (RUN TX) and one for right foot (SEARCH TX), it becomes like driving a car ;-). I now have a good sleeping strategy that gives a lot of pleasure and good result; For the 2 runs 19h and 17h I start, with flakes and one coffee, then only water and bananas. No sugar at all as this make sleeping. Regarding green energy, I only ran 26 hours on the 36 with green energy (70% of the time) as I had not enough wind/sun to refill the batteries during the contest. I had to start the power generator for 10 hours. Now, it is the less motivating part of the expedition as I have to spent 2 days to work in the field to remove the antennas.
Day 8_29/03/2014 and Day 9_30/03/2014 (60 Ah + 26 Ah) CQ WW WPX SSB Contest : After 19h of non stop operation in the CQ WPX Contest, I take my break, I already have 1361 QSO / 726 prefixes and just above 2 millions points, on a very good way to improve my last year result. I stopped 10h and start now for 17h non stop and plan to stop one hour before the end of the contest to fulfill my 36h of operations.
Day 7_28/03/2014 (50 Ah wind) Lazy day today, I will finalize the shack for SO2R operation, and re-check all antennas mechanic and electric aspects.I will say hello to the in laws family and go to sleep at 6 pm. I will wake up at midnight and start the contest at 1 UTC. As single operator, we are only allowed to operate 36 hours. Therefore I never start at the beginning of the contest, people are too excited and I prefer to enter while the game is running. You can also spent time to listen before starting, it helps to choose the good band to start. And a good start in the contest is a lot of psycho points. Then almost 19-20 hours non stop operation up to the next day. See my sleeping strategy analysis made two years ago, well below on this page.
Day 6_27/03/2014 (24 Ah) Yes ! Wake up early (6 am) no wind at all, therefore also less energy produced today. And I was able to raise the Spiderbeam mast alone. A big physical effort. The complete antenna parc is now finally operational. Propagation is very good, I can hear JA,YB and NA stations on 15m at the same time. I spent a lot of time to listen to the band and made a very good run on 15m to NA at the end of the afternoon. This is the best period in the contest as you add a lot of new prefixes (NA stations) while beeing very tired after 15 hours non stop traffic. If you miss this (by not finding a good running frequency) you loose points and psycho for the rest of the contest. Ho ! yes ! I forgot, I also enjoyed my first shower.
Day 5_26/03/2014 (32 Ah Sunny) Blue sky all the morning and beautiful and important day. I raised the TA33 Mosley 3 elements beam on the trailer mast.It is fully raised. The SWR is ok on the 3 bands, I tested it on the air and I got a good answer rate on 15m this afternoon from North American stations. I repaired and reassembled the broken Spiderbeam. Tomorrow morning there is a "now wind" window where I can try to raise the mast alone. Yes, finally with the TA 33, I am at last QRV on the higher bands.
Day 4_25/03/2014 (55 Ah wind an sun) This morning I waked up early to take benefit of a small "no wind" window in order to put down the Spiderbeam mast. See the broken tube on the selfie picture. I also finished to assemble the TA33 Mosley 3 elements beam. I will test it tomorrow as I need to solder connectors. While testing the power generator this evening I will connect the soldering iron. Finally I prepared another Spiderbeam fibber glass tube. Weather conditions are now better and better.
Day 3_24/03/2014 (40 Ah Too windy) Stormy conditions this morning, It was difficult to do something outside, rain and very heavy wind. During this kind of event, the wind is so strong that the wind generator enters in brake mode regularly. Conclusion, I do not produce energy, frustrating isn't it ?. All the antennas are suffering. I saw the Spiderbeam moving and bending in all direction, ready to broke AND ANOTHER BROKEN SPIDERBEAM. I am a Spiderbeam killer ! Fortunately I still have 5 days to repair it. I also assembled the TA 33 Mosley beam and I installed the beverage antenna in the afternoon when the rain stopped.
Day 2_23/03/2014 (58 Ah Sun and small wind) It was the second best weather conditions I experienced to set up the antenna park. No rain all the day and no wind at the end allowed to raise easily the Spiderbeam (one rebuilt with the 2 broken antenna from St Jude storm in October 2013).
Day 1_22/03/2014 (40 Ah windy) Well arrived on the hill it is windy and cold. I flew from Brussels to Dublin this morning, then 2h30 driving to the location. I started to setup the caravan and I am now full green energy. It was not possible to raise a dipole on 40m before darkness. This year I studied a solution for replacing one Spiderbeam by a 3 element aluminum tri-band antennas. I will install it on top of my telescopic tower and still use one Spiderbeam on my telescopic mast. My choice went to the Mosley TA 33 JRN. The antenna has been delivered to Ireland in February. See below the antenna comparison.
3 Elements tri-bander beams comparison :
EI1A 2013 Contests Results :
(Low Power / Single Operator / Non assisted category)
1st Europe CQ WPX SSB (6th World)
1st Europe IARU HF SSB (3rd World)
1st Europe IOTA SSB (1st World & World Record)
4th Europe CQ WW VHF (6m)
16th Europe CQ WW DX SSB (broken antennas by Saint Jude Storm)
EI1A results 2013
EI1A in the NEWS
Media Previous expeditions
How to assemble a Spiderbeam in 2 minutes ?
Green energy and portable contest antenna park
Bere island expedition EJ8GQB THE MOVIE
October 2013 EI8GQB/EI1A CQ WW DX SSB contest activity with green energy FETHARD CLONMEL IRELAND
GREEN ENERGY 400 Ah produced - CONTEST CLAIMED SCORE: 942.840 POINTS/ 1608 QSO/ 93 ZONES / 295 COUNTRIES
Day 12_30/10/2013 Last day and it is now time for appraisal of the expedition. First, I generated more than 400 Ah/ 5KWh green energy and used only 15 liters of petrol during the 10 days stay. I experienced a new low band inverted V dipole to improve SO2R operation on low band with now 3 different antennas (18m vertical for 160-80-40m, inverted V 3 elements beam for 40m and 160-80-40m inverted V dipole). I broken my 2 Spiderbeams antennas 11hours after the beginning of the contest, therefore I was not able to score a top 3 Europe result as planned. I also experienced high SWR on 10m on one Spiderbeam during the stay. When I removed the antenna, I opened the balun box and saw a broken connection, I was then running on "one leg" on 10m band (see picture). I also decided for the next activity to use a metallic 3 elements tri-band beam antenna to avoid 2 broken antennas at the same time.
At the end of this expedition, I was very disappointed by the difficult conditions I experienced. I suffered from very bad weather conditions, I broken the 2 high bands antennas and therefore got results very far from what I planned. I asked my self if I will continue this kind of activity in the future; I sometimes suffering physically and it cost me money and day off. And after the expedition, I received so many support and compliments from the amateur radio community that my motivation comes back and I am now ready again for new challenges.
Day 11_29/10/2013 (40 Ah windy) The temperature is going down, I had to add a second cover and I also had to put my head inside the cover as it becomes really cold. I think this storm announces the winter.The second Spiderbeam on the aluminium mast was still raised this morning and I had to wait until the end of the afternoon that the wind stop to blow. This was my last difficult (insecure) task. I also removed the vertical and the beverage antennas and started to load the caravan with boxes. I spent around 5 hours in the wind and rain, I feel happy this evening as the main work has been achieved.
Day 10_28/10/2013 (78 Ah windy) Despite the situation I have been able to realize 1608 QSO (2690 last year), contacted 93 zones (97 last year) and 295 countries (341 last year). Not so bad in only 20 hours of activity. I contacted so many JA ,ZL, 10m was fully worldwide opened. On 160m band, I worked several NA stations, in 5 years of contest, it was the first time that I was called by NA stations or when I called them they answered me. Yes I feel that the propagation was absolutely wonderful. We see on the illustration (right) that there was a lot of solar flares M level during the whole week-end, it seems the sun solar activity is on its way to reach the second maximum activity peak. I spent today the whole day in the fields to remove antenna park.
Day 8_26/10/2013 (92 Ah Storm) & Day 9_27/10/2013 (33 Ah windy) CQ WW DX SSB CONTEST 2013 :Wind higher than 80 Km/h broken the 2 Spiderbeams at 11:00 UT on the first day. With already 900 QSO I was on the way to my best performance ever with outstanding propagation conditions.
Day 7_25/10/2013(19 Ah) Just waked up and I am checking the bands; 15m is full of JA/ZL what a propagation we have this week, unbelievable. I also see that the sun activity is back with X1.7 solar flare. I finished to prepare the contest shack and made some test, SO2R operation needs careful preparation.
Day 6_24/10/2013(46 Ah wind only) The antenna park is now finalized and all 5 antennas have been tuned, tested. On the low bands, I compared the antenna bandwidth between the multi-band inverted V (NEW in red) and the vertical 18m high (32 radials 20m long) We clearly see on 80m the small bandwidth of the Inverted V. On 160m band I moved down the resonance frequency of the Inverted V in order to have a system that allow me to transmit from 1830 to 1885 with SWR below 2/1. As reference, a SWR of 3/1 is a lost of 25% of power, it is best to minimize that if you play in low power category. It is near midnight local time and I can still hear a lot of NA stations rag chewing on 20 meters. By the way rag chewing is totally the opposite to contesting Those guys have only 24 hours left before the chaos on the bands and they will be obliged to give points or to give up.
Day 5_23/10/2013 (64 Ah mix of sun and wind) This morning I can see a nice blue sky, sun will be there all the day and it will be colder. This morning the 10m band is full of pile-up from Asian countries, and the sunspot number raised 220 !!. I am sure we will have a very crowded 10m band during the contest and huge pile-up to break with my low power conditions. I really don't like that as it decreases your rate, but it is part of the game and what a feeling when you hear your call back after one or two call. Today I erected the trailer mast with the second Spiderbeam and the inverted V 160/80/40m. All antennas are working perfectly despite very narrow band on 80m and 160m. You can see on the picture below the mast head with the switching unit. I remotely control the switching box via a non used wire in the rotor cable. The ground is provided trough the coax cable. This night I heard a D44AC station on 160m with both antennas.
Day 4_22/10/2013(40Ah wind only) Stormy weather during the night with heavy showers and antennas are still there, the weather will be dry during the 2 following days, I setup the beverage and assembled the second Spiderbeam today.
Day 3_21/10/2013 (47Ah wind only) I checked the Spiderbeam antenna on 15m and the signals are very strong, I got good rates to NA yesterday evening and to East this morning with VK stations answering to my calls with S9 signals. The propagation seems to be very very good on the higher bands. I have a problem on 10m, I cannot tune the antenna correctly with SWR up to 3/1. 20m is okay, I think that I inverted the dipole connection on the balun for 10m and I cannot correct it as it was already very difficult to raise it at 16m AGL with external help and I will be alone all the week. This is not a major problem as I plan to raise a second Spiderbeam on the antenna trailer to operate SO2R. Today it was rainy and windy, I made food shopping and added all the radials at the base of the vertical.
Day 2_20/10/2013 (23 Ah wind only - half day) Today I erected the wind generator, the Spiderbeam 1 and the vertical, there was heavy gusts in the morning and I had to wait the end of the day to raise the Spiderbeam with less wind but the weather was clear I only got one or two showers and a magnificent double rainbow. Here dusk happens around 18:00 UT, I should be on air from this moment as I cannot work outside anymore. I now have filled the water tank, and start to find some comfort. Temperature are good with 13-14 degrees during the day.
Day 1_19/10/2013 Good journey from Brussels to Ireland despite very heavy showers on the road and beautiful rainbows. In the afternoon the weather was good to start the setup and I only erected the 3 element inverted V before dusk in order to operate 40m. I do not have yet the wind generator fully installed, the mast is ready, and it is now dark.I will run on batteries only during the evening. The 40m band was crowded due to German contest and it was not easy to find a free calling frequency as signals where well above S9.
Expedition preparation : I scored 5th European station in the CQ WW DX SSB contest 2012 and I have some major questions in order to define areas of improvement to reach my Top3 objective:What are the strength of the other competitors and what are my weaknesses ? To answer this,I made some analysis based on last year results logs in order to understand winners strategy and pinpoint areas of improvement.
On the graph (left) we see the number of QSO made by band for the top 5 Europe stations CQ WW DX SSB 2012.In black the average of the 5 stations. I circled in color when there was a negative (red) difference or positive difference (green) with my result. We see that my strengths are on higher bands like 15m and 10m and that I could do better on 160m and 80m and 20m.
On 160m and 80m my low results are only due to too much sleeping time in the Saturday / Sunday night.Low result on 20m are due to crowded band and difficulties to find a calling frequency. It is indeed easier to find a free frequency on the higher bands, specially when 10m and 15m are fully opened to North america, this is why I spent more time on these bands and get one of the best result on 10m.
The graph (right) illustrates the number of multipliers (Zone + Countries) amongst top10 Europe and we clearly see that I have the lowest multiplier result with 428 multi well below the 523 average. This is the result of not enough time on the low band where I can easily contact new countries and zones. I must also take more time to hunt multipliers and put a priority on the SEARCH station by contacting only new countries/zones.
Remark : More time on the low band means also that I need to improve my low band antennas, not improving efficiency but allowing me to take full benefit of SO2R operation. Currently I have one top loaded vertical for 40/80/160 and the 3 elements inverted V 40m. I cannot operate full SO2R on 160/80 as it is on the same antenna.Current SO2R antenna combinations are 160/40 and 80/40. I really need to add 160/80 by erecting an antenna on one of these bands.I still have a Kelemen 160/80/40 multi-band trap dipole antenna as spare and I could install it on the top of my antenna trailer mast (16m) supporting one of my Spiderbeam in inverted V configuration. I also have a remote coaxial relay that will allow me to use only one 50 ohms feed line for both antenna. With this configuration I expect to be able to improve the number of multipliers at the condition that I do not sleep too much during the night.
In order to address this main point,I realized a small software to analyse logs in order to highlight the periods with no QSO during more than 15 minutes (in gray). I calculated the sum of all those no activity periods (the total is illustrated at the right of the callsign). You can also see the time of the longest period of no activity which must correspond to the sleeping time (in black).
We see that the winner OE4A, slept only 2 times 40 minutes !! This is certainly the price to win. On the other side, I (EI1A, red circle) slept 8h31 minutes, it is certainly the major point to improve in my strategy for this next contest.
In the middle of the results, we see LY9A and DJ5MW who slept both around 3h40 minutes at the same time period around 1h00 to 4h30 UT. It is the strategy I want to follow with 2 complete sleeping cycles. We can also clearly see that the score position is immediately linked to the sleeping duration.
Another point to improve is the number of gray periods (> 15 minutes no QSO). I must reduce it from 11 to maximum 4-5 in my case (EI1A). Those gray periods corresponds to bad band change, going to loo, eating, visit of the farmer .
Improvements to do :
1/ Add a new antenna for 80m and/or 160m band.
2/ Adapt my SEARCH strategy and look in priority for new multipliers.
3/ Spend more time on the low bands to collect more multipliers.
4/ Sleep 2 full sleeping cycles (2 times 1h30) from 1h00 to 4h30 UT.
July 2013 EI8GQB/EI1A IARU HF + CQ WW VHF + IOTA contest activity with green energy FETHARD CLONMEL IRELAND
GREEN ENERGY :1833 Ah produced .
IARU HF CONTEST CLAIMED SCORE: 1.198.000 POINTS/ 1666 QSO/162 Mult/ 82 ITU Zones. Result: 1st Europe & 3rd World.
CQ WW VHF CONTEST CLAIMED SCORE: 30.456 POINTS/ 282 QSO/108 GRID/ 31DXCC. 4th Europe on 6 meters.
IOTA CONTEST CLAIMED SCORE: 2.119.000 POINTS/ 1320 QSO/199 Mult. Result: New World record (1st Europe/World).
Day 27_01/08/2013( 22 Ah heavy wind and heavy rain) During the stay, I produced with solar panels and wind generator almost 22 KWhour of energy and had never experienced any power problem, same after 24 hours contest. The weather conditions were optimum with a clear sky during the first 15 days and very windy at the end of the stay.
Day 26_31/07/2013( 50 Ah heavy wind and heavy rain) removing antenna park
Day 25_30/07/2013( 96 Ah heavy wind) removing antenna park
Day 24_29/07/2013( 75 Ah covered heavy wind) "OMNE ANIMAL POST COITUM TRISTE"; this sentence reflects my current feeling regarding these 3 last weeks of radio. Everything was above my expectations and my personal objectives. This not only on technical point of view and contest achievement, but also on social and human aspects with nice talk with some OM, specially on 40m band and also locally. The weather was also outstanding at the beginning and as expected at the end. The removal of the antenna park has now started , one Spiderbeam and the vertical antenna are already removed very early this morning as showers are expected during the day; the main problem is to store equipment dry.
Day 22_27/07/2013( 22 Ah overcast no wind) and Day 23_28/07/2013( 57 Ah overcast no wind) Participation to the IOTA Contest with EI1A callsignin SOABLP SSB non assisted category., I ran the contest using only green energy from batteries, sun and wind !!. The strategy was mainly to call on 40m band to have the maximum UK stations with 15 points, 40m is also the best frequency to contact PA/ F/ OZ islands from EI unless very short skip on higher bands and in that case 10m is open. This is what happened on the Sunday morning with a very good run on 10m. On Sunday morning 10m opening is for me the IOTA cherry on the cake after a full night of operation. A lot of EI stations on the air this year rendered the competition harder. No more World multi-category, conclusion less stations on 80 meters, additionally, big thunderstorms on the continent, created noise on 80m but also a lot of European stations had to disconnect antennas. I improved my last year world record and hope to have few errors to establish a new world record above 2 millions points. Finally, I found the contest exchange too long for islands with the RST, the serial number and the IOTA reference. I would propose for Island only the IOTA reference and for world stations a serial number; this should allow higher rates and less voice problems
Day 21_26/07/2013( 98 Ah some sun and wind) Today I was not active at all. Before a contest, I never spent my time on the air, I just start 15 minutes before the contest. Usually I sleep before and check all the antennas as well as the temporary shack/water/coffee/food. I also prepare energy backup with a power supply connected to a power generator fully filled and ready to start in case the batteries cannot support the requested load. It takes me less than 2 minutes to switch on the power generator. This may happen some times during a 48 hours contest but never during 24 hours, 500 Ah battery bank system are enough.
Day 20_25/07/2013( 55 Ah rainy and some wind) Today,I had a big problem with my N1MM log and lost a big part of the data;I had to wok in the .mdb database file to recover the table and import it to xls. I then formatted the data to create an ADIF file from scratch and imported back into N1MM software. It took me a half day to do this, so now all contact information are back to a new N1MM database and also sent to my QSL manager Harry. I also removed the 5 elements 6 meters antenna and replaced it with the second Spiderbeam antenna for SO2R operation for the IOTA contest next week-end. So 6m is over for me this year and after 8 days of activity the results of the 6m operation are 900 contacts/ 41 countries/ 230 grids.
Day 19_24/07/2013 ( 40 Ah rainy and some wind) Today I experienced one of the best 6m opening. I started at 8:45 am and stopped at 14. The skip was very short with PA and ON stations 20dB over 9 and stations answering from all Europe. I ran more than 250 stations during 5 hours non stop operation.
Day 18_23/07/2013 ( 42 Ah cloudy and some wind) It is 4 UTC and I am testing the 3 elements Inverted V wirebeam on 40 m, in direction to NA. Comparing to my vertical 5/8 Lambda, I have sometimes 5 to 15 dB better signals. Today I processed my CQ WW VHF contest log and I am claiming 30.456 points with 282 QSO/108 GRIDS/31 DXCC including 7 QSO in JT6M; for a very first experience I am happy despite average propagation conditions.
Day 17_22/07/2013 ( 21 Ah cloudy and no wind) As I said weather is changing and the 21 Ah reflects this change comparing to previous conditions. Today was a maintenance day, emptying toilets cassette, refilling water tank, going to laundry. so almost no radio activity today. My mind is now focussed on the next week end, I remind that I plan to reach the 2 millions points and beat my previous record.
Day 16_21/07/2013( 45 Ah cloudy and no wind)I ran the contest during a part of the night and made 6 JT6M Meteor Scatter QSOs. This morning I had a very nice opening, closing around noon, but allowed me to work more than 250 stations and 100 grid squares. The sky is covered and temperature are around 20 C and it is still warm in the caravan. It is also the worst day regarding the energy produced. Yes, the weather and conditions are changing.
Day 15_20/07/2013 ( 125 Ah sun and wind ) I think 125 Ah is the maximum energy produced for a long time good wind + sun and the weather is now changing, high pressure leave Ireland to go to north Scandinavia. Tomorrow it will be a normal Irish summer with 20 c max and sometimes rain. Regarding radio I started the CQ WW VHF contest, no big propagation opening despite I have been able to contact more than 45 squares and stations. I also confirmed MS QSO's but a few.
Day 14_19/07/2013 (109 Ah sun and wind ) I made my first Meteor Scatter QSO in JT6M on 6m, many thanks to OZ1AXG who was my 1st station and SP7SZG to confirm that I was not just lucky. I need to manage this kind of QSO for the CQ WW VHF contest tomorrow during the night and or in case of no Es opening.
Day 13_18/07/2013 (91 Ah sun only) I made some video test with the AR. Drone Parrot and you will find my first tests in the video showing a panorama view . Nice location isn't it ?
Day 12_17/07/2013 (58 Ah sun only) I started the day with a small 50 MHz opening to Scandinavia, worked on the configuration of my new MiniVNA PRO as generator and made my first step with the remote control of a Parrot AR. DRONE, my objective is to take HD movie from the sky of the antenna installation and also make the VNA generator flying in order to be able to measure the antenna radiation pattern. It is a long dream and I am now close to the reality ( See former expedition edition below where I cover this aspect).
Day 11_16/07/2013 (62 Ah sun only) Yesterday I replaced the Spiderbeam by the 5 elements 6m beam but it still does not give a good SWR, minimum is 1.8/1. When I wanted to work on the antenna and solve this I checked the band before and saw it fully opened. It was the opening I was expected since last week. I ran 145 QSO and 100 QRA locators. The antenna proved it worked correctly despite the SWR.I really enjoyed the opening.Here is a visual map of the opening made from my ADIF file uploaded on http://www.levinecentral.com/adif2map/
Day 10_15/07/2013 (53 Ah wind mainly) See above the details of my contest results made using green energy only!. I found good running free frequencies specially to North America (5 points per contact) on 20m in the evening and also on 40m band in the morning. For the first time I tried just before and after sunset on 40m calling with the 3 elements inverted V in direction to NA, this gave me dozens of US stations. It is very difficult to call during the night as the band is fully crowded by big guns stations. I am low power and same if I reach S8-S9, it is sometimes not enough to be understood. You see very good hourly rates specially the last hour on 10m. The band was fully opened to central Europe and also with very short skip, I have been able to contact the east coast of UK, which is less than 700 Km. This is my best result ever made for a 24 hours contest with the higher hourly rates achieved. This thanks to short report (RST+ ITU zone). For the IOTA contest, at the end of this month, same if I will become a multiplier, I do not think to improve the hourly rate as the report is longer (RST + Serial Number + Island reference).
Day 9_14/07/2013 (98 Ah sun mainly) and Day 8_13/07/2013 (103 Ah sun only) Participation to the HF IARU Worldchampionship with EI1A callsing in SOABLP SSB non assisted category. I ran the contest using only green energy from batteries, sun and wind !!!
Day 7_12/07/2013 (122 Ah sun only) No clouds at all, I oriented regularly the solar panels and reached, I think, the maximum possible energy produced by 2 times 90W solar panels. Today I replaced the 5 elements 6 meters by the second Spiderbeam in order to operate SO2R (single operator 2 radios) for the contest; it takes me the half day to do it as it was very very hot and any physical effort was difficult. I also finished the beverage and prepared the shack for tomorrow. Next week I will have more time to add more pictures and movie of the set-up. I am quite tired by the work and heat. See you during the contest with EI1A.
Day 6_11/07/2013 (50 Ah sun only) This morning I left early to visit my family at the coast and spend the day on a crowded beach. I left earlier than expected in order to look for a 12V to 220V converter. I found one and it is now working as I can recharge the PC and update the blog, but it creates more RF interference as the burned one. Fortunately, after a complete check, the explosion did not created any other damages on connected equipment(PC charger, rotator and battery booster). Regarding the 50 Ah , it is really a low energy production today because I left the solar panels directed to the morning sun direction and forgot to modify it to noon. We clearly see that we can loose the half of the energy produced if you do not optimize the direction of the solar panels with the sun position.
Day 5_10/07/2013 (123 Ah sun only) Another great day, sunshine, blue sky and 30 degrees, I spent the day wearing only a short. It is another world or planet regarding last year weather conditions where the field was so wet that I had to wait to install the caravan. Last year it was Club Mud, this year it is Club Med in Ireland. Today, I assembled the second Spiderbeam antenna ready to replace the 6m antenna on the 18m Versatower for the week end contest. I also started to install the beverage antenna. I am only working in the fields from 6 pm as it is really too hot, and this is not a complain !!. At the time I am updating the blog, my 12V to 220V converter just exploded, a big bang, no fire and no injuries, just a big burn smelt. I need to find a new one for the contest otherwise no rotator and PC recharge. It is part of the game. Regarding radio operation, I am still waiting for a nice opening on 6 meters. I made also QSO's on 40m with 59+10 to 20dB signals to center Europe.
Day 4_09/07/2013(82 Ah sun only) When I waked up this morning, I checked the solar panel/wind generator charge controller and it displayed 8 Volts instead of 12V.I reset it and still get that voltage. Once I disconnected the battery charge separator, the voltage came back to 12V. I bypassed it in order to protect the other batteries and will make the selection manually until I solve the problem.I operated 15m band with a dozen of JA stations with good S7-S8 signals and a good run on 20 meter band too At the end of the afternoon, I erected the vertical antenna for the lower band with the 32 radials lying on the ground.
Day 3_08/07/2013 (93 Ah sun only) I made some shopping in town, and also operate some QSO with EA on 6 meters (shy opening) around noon. I tested the 1st Spiderbeam with good signals on 20 meters. I waited the evening to build and to erect the 40m 3 elements inverted V. Again I just finished the installation just before darkness. I tested the 3 elements during the night and it performs very well as usual. I now start to live during the night as temperature is fresher.
Day 2_07/07/2013 (40 Ah sun only) I am measuring the daily energy produced and will indicate it after the date of my daily report. Today,I worked almost 12 hours under the sun, my neck is burned and I succeed to raise the first Spiderbeam as well as assemble the 5 elements 6m and raise it on the Versatower at 8 meters; I still need to fine tune the hairpin dimension as the SWR is not better than 1.8/1. I finished just before darkness and I continued to work inside the caravan up to 2 hours in the morning, enjoying fresher temperature. I think to work in the field during the evening only as it is very hard during the day. We have more than 28°C , no wind and clouds, it is the best conditions I ever met in Ireland since 5 years.
Day 1_06/07/2013 Well arrived in Ireland, perfect journey and weather conditions (30C blue sky, never experienced that since 5 years). But when I wanted to open the caravan door, I remarked that I forgot the keys on my desk at home. ( not very proud) but as any previous expeditions, the game is to fight any problem, conclusion, with a screw driver, I succeeded to open a window and enter into the caravan, I also asked that someone in Belgium send me the keys by post. Second challenge, the farmer forgot my venue (after 3 sms.) and I will not be able to install the caravan in the field and start antenna installation before tomorrow morning. As I use the field during 3 weeks, the farmer asked me to let the cows in the field to finish to eat all the grass and fill it with cow mud, this is why I am so lucky during the contests ;-). I will only be operational tomorrow evening.
Expedition preparation -This year, I am celebrating my 5th HF contest activity anniversary. Within this time period, I became a green energy top contester, probably the most ecological in the World !!! (see my results above). I am now preparingmy longest radio activity ofthe year inIreland in order to beat newcompetition results andmaybebreak mylast IOTAworld record.
Recently, I jumped into VOACAP radio propagation software and I can now visualize the propagation evolution, see some results below (click on the pictures to see the animations).
During summer period, sporadic E propagation is very often possible and I need more understanding at it can make a big difference in contest result. A 28MHz Es opening during a contest gives a lot of new multipliers. According to the height and density of the Es clouds, we can define 2 circles around the station position where radio signals will be refracted back to the earth's surface. The first "reflection area"show distances between 781 to 2140 Km, data based on the 400 QSOs I made during the years 2009 to 2012 IOTA contest operation. The year 2010 has no QSO on 28MHz due to no opening. See the picture below.
For 40m band I used the bidirectional pattern of my 3 elements inverted V beam; for the higher bands I used the Spiderbeam antenna pattern diagram (best vertical profile for 360 degrees); SSN=80 and RX antenna is isotropic antenna, TX power is 100 Watts.
The 28MHz simulation illustrate the propagation and QSO made during the IOTA contest between 2009 to 2012.
March 2013EI8GQB/EI1A CQ WW WPX SSB contest activity with green energy FETHARD CLONMEL IRELAND
GREEN ENERGY :800 Ah produced - CONTEST CLAIMED SCORE: 3.133.000 POINTS/ 2000 QSO/867 PREFIXES. Result: 1st Europe & 6th World.
Day 12 _03/04/2013 : The antenna farm is now removed, only the 3 elements inverted V is still raised for a last radio evening on 40 meters. My contest log has also been sent to the WPX. Regarding the green energy, 800 Ah (9.6KWh) have been produced by the wind generator and solar panels in 11 days, an average of 70 Ah per day due to constant east wind and 2 full days of sun. I was able to run SO2R operation during the contest mainly using green energy. I only used the petrol generator during the last 5 hours of the 48h as the batteries voltage went down below 11 Volts (my personal level of protection for the batteries).
Day 11_02/04/2013 : I started to remove the antenna park. We see below the good RUN on 20m and 15m, the best ever to Europe, but to North America, I made a better run in 2011 on 15 meter band due to better propagation conditions.
Day 10_01/04/2013 : The contest is now over and again another very good result with big improvement from last year (3.1 millions versus 2.2, 2K QSO versus 1.6K QSO and 867 prefixes versus 767 last year). The propagation was worst than last year specially on Saterday. On Sunday, I was able to find good calling frequencies in the evening on 15 and 20 meters and achieved very good runs to NA, this gave me a lot points and new multipliers. Below a post analysis of the QSO rate and band usage where we see the good RUN on 20m and 15m bands to European Saturday and to North America on Sunday.
Day 8-9 - CQ WW WPX SSB contest.
Day 7_29/03/2013 : The 2nd mast and Spiderbeam are now raised but I broken 4 fibber glass tubes while installing the antenna on the mast, I did all the job alone and it was a big physical effort, the day just before the beginning of the contest. Not a good idea but I had no choice. The shack is now ready for the contest SO2R operation; I also rented a power generator just for the weekend in case I run out of battery during the contest.
Day 6_28/03/2013 : I found a way to place the rotor at the head of the mast, mechanics is now OK and I assembled the second Spiderbeam today.
Day 5_27/03/2013 : Already the 5th day and my second Spiderbeam is still not yet up and operational. I plan to install it on my new trailer 18m Versatower mast. I had a Murphy day, my petrol generator is not working well, I started it in order to solder the connector of the new rotor and every 5 minutes it stop to run. I spent almost 1h30 to solder 7 pin on a connector. I can't use my 12V to 230V power converter for this task. Additonally, I ran out of gas, it is 4C during the day and -2C during the night, I had to go to the city in order to refill my spare gas cylinder, another hour lost.
Day 4_26/03/2013 : I prepared the erection of my new 20m Versatower antenna trailer delivered here in January. It is a refurbished model and some small mechanics was missing. I lost a big part of the day to look for missing pieces and find a solution to install the rotor at the head of the mast. No so radio active as I visited my in laws during the evening.
Day 3_25/03/2013 : Today I put 32 radials at the base of the vertical and built the beverage RX antenna, both are working well as usual. Another nice evening on 40 meters, 2h30 non stop pile-up and 194 qso mainly from Europe with 2 nice surprises VK2AC and JH1AJT. QSO rate is 1.29 QSO/minutes, no so bad for a EI station with 100W !! Regarding my green energy installation, in 2 days of working, the wind generator produced 150Ah, a 3.14 Ah average, the best result I ever experienced due to continuous east wind around 25-30 Km/h.
Day 2_24/03/2013 : Heavy field working day; 8 hours non stop in the wind and cold to erect the Spiderbeam antenna (see video below), the vertical and the 3 elements inverted V 40m. I operated a nice 3 hours pile-up on 40m, the inverted V is a booming antenna with 213 QSO. Around 1.18 QSO/minutes, the kind QSO rate I am looking for the contest next week-end.
Day 1_23/03/2013 :Well arrived on the hill and due to flight delays (2 hours), only the wind generator has been installed (darkness is coming quickly) , antennas will be raised tomorrow. It is windy (35kph) and very cold (3C), gloves are mandatory. I checked the wireless internet connection quality and tested video streaming. It is not so bad , as I am in the middle of nowhere; see my first test on ustream.tv channel.
Expedition preparation -Following my continuous improvement approach before any competition, I have started some studies in order to improve my signals on the higher bands by finding the best antenna height, secondly modify my home made tunning box to increase the bandwidth on the lower bands (80 and 160m) and finalize my SO2R hardware locking system to avoid the possibility to transmit on both TX at the same time.
1/ What is the best antenna height for my 2 spiderbeam antennas according to my main traffic target areas : Europe and North Amercia/US ?
In order to answer the question, the first point is to understand the effect of the vertical radiation pattern according to the antenna height above the ground level, I therefore made a lot of simulations on 4NEC2 software in order to visualize the different lobes appearing according to the antenna height. Simulations have been made over flat terrain profile and using pastoral, low hills, rich soil ground parameters with dielectric constant = 14 and conductivity =0.01 S/m.The 4NEC2 file of the Spiderbeam can be downloaded here :4NEC2 Spiderbeam model. In the 4NEC2 software Edit window, frequency and antenna height are defined as parameters and can be easily changed. I created 3 animation .gif files for 20m,15m and 10m bands with heights evolving from 8 to 22 meters.
20 meter band
15 meter band
10 meter band
With HFTA software provided with the ARRL antenna book, I made several simulations using different terrain profiles and the results show that the maximum and nulls are in majority located at the same angle as with a flat terrain. This is quite logical as the main interaction happens with the ground just below the antenna. Generally, the terrain is only changing the maximum of the first lobe and not the main shape. Additionally the nulls and maximum are located at the same angle independently of the number of elements of the yagi/dipole.
Now we have learned that the vertical pattern is changing with height, we must now understand the concept of arrival/takeoff angle (TOA) according to our target areas. To visualize it, the work done by N6BV (available in the ARRL Antenna Book CD) shows the statistical probability (% of the time) of the optimum TOA angle for various propagation paths, in my case from EI to EU and EI to NA. The TOA signal distribution is different according to the frequency band and change with the distance. We can see that Europe has 2 different levels of TOA and is more spread than signals coming from North America with more concentrated lower angle, this is logical as the longer the distance, the lower the angle to reflect on the ionosphere layers. Click on the picture below to see animations between antenna height and take of angle distribution.
The main objective of my study is to find the best match between TAO and antenna lobes in order to choose the optimum antenna height for the different frequency bands and target areas, I have created a figure of merit to weight frequency/target area versus antenna height. I currently own 2 telescopic masts 12m(1) and 15m(2) and I am looking for a 18m Versatower antenna trailer solution + 1 meter mast =19m (3) for my 2 Spiderbeam antennas.
The next step of my study is to take a decision on position (1,2,3) according to my previous contest traffic, I analysed the last 2 years traffic log contest for the WPX(March/red) and WW(October/blue), and there is a major difference we can see on the graph below.
We clearly see that traffic to NA10m is very different from March (WPX/red) to October(WW/blue). October is well known for the East-West propagation path and the band during high sun activity is usually fully opened on 10m with traffic up to the 29MHz frequencies, it is for a low power station like mine very easy to find a free calling frequency. In March (WPX/red) the band is not opened to NA and major traffic happens only on 15m band. If you cannot find a good running frequency on 15m (which was my case in WPX2012) you have no other choice to hunt south american station on 10m band, March month is the best period to south-west path propagation.You can also see that running NA on 20m is also not easy during all the contests as the band is fully crowded with big gun power contest stations. For my antenna height decision, I must therefore take a priority on 15m band for NA and 20m for EU. Position 2 and 3 fulfill this choice.
As this study is only theoretical and experience on the field must be done to confirm the approach. I plan to measure my antenna lobes with a helium balloon or kite or quadricopter supporting a light weight RF generator. I plan to record the received level via a receiver connected to the antenna. The measurement will be collected with W8WWV S Meter Lite software. Decision is not yet taken on the elevation method and the light weight RF generator is still under construction. I plan to measure the antenna lobes diagram during my 2013 one month summer expedition.
2/ How to modify my tuning box in order to increase my bandwidth on 80m and 160m ?
My current home made tuner is using a T520-2 amidon core to support the inductor in the adaptation circuit. I plan to change the inductor by an air wound one to decrease the Q factor and hope to get a bigger bandwidth than 32 KHz for SWR 2:1.
3/ SO2R hardware locking system to prevent 2 transmitted signals at the same time.
New contest rules oblige the SO2R operators to set up a hardware protection system in order to avoid 2 transmitted signals at the same time, in my case, as I am using green energy and batteries,I already have "hardware" limitation by my battery booster to 30 AMPS, so transmitting with the TS2000 and K3 is impossible and could destruct the battery booster. But rules are rules and I decided to study a simple solution. You will find below the illustration of the system. The TS2000 when transmitting provides 12Vdc on PIN7 of the remote connector. This voltage is converted to 5Vdc via a 78L05 system and a1KOhms resistor limits the current. The K3 PIN 7 ACC connector inhibits the K3 to transmit when the state is high. The K3 must be configured for this behaviour via the K3 function TX INH set to High. The TS2000 is master and K3 slave. This means that the K3 cannot start to transmit while the TS2000 is in TX mode. If transmitting on K3, and the TS2000 starts to transmit, the K3 will switch to RX state. All the components are inside the DB15 connector.
October 2012 EI8GQB/EI1A CQ WW DX SSB contest activity with green energy FETHARD CLONMEL IRELAND
GREEN ENERGY :350 Ah produced - CONTEST CLAIMED SCORE: 1.988.280 POINTS/ 2690 QSO/ 97 ZONES / 341 COUNTRIES Result : 5th European score
Here are the conclusion of this new wonderful expedition : regarding my 3 objectives :
-Running green energy objective is achieved at 95% as I only ran the power generator during 10 hours during the contest. The batteries voltage when below 10.2V and I did not want to destroy them. But all my stay and a major part of the contest was supported by sun and wind producing 350 Ah (4.2 KWh).
-Inverted L 160m experimentation is not really a success, as it totally de-tuned the vertical, so I removed it. But the vertical performed very well during the contest as only 2 stations 3V8BB and CN3R never heard me. I also heard on the beverage 3 north American stations but to weak to work.
-Score amongst the TOP10 Europe should be achieved with almost 2 millions points score and I may expect to enter in the TOP5 Europe.
Regarding the radio operation you will find below the details of the contest activity:
Day 11_30/10/2012 :I removed the Spiderbeams, vertical and beverage yesterday, today, the 3 elements and the green energy installation. Then I will store all the equipment in the caravan, transmitters excluded in a safer place. The caravan will be covered and prepared for the winter. I plan to let one solar panel on the roof in order to refill the batteries for my next venue in March 2013 for the WPX SSB contest.
Day 10_29/10/2012 :Too tired to update the blog, but this contest was a new experience in SO2R and thanks to the wonderful propagation (we will reach the solar peak in mid 2013) , stories will follow. I am claiming 1.997.280 points - 97 zones - 341 countries with EI1A for the CQ WW SSB contest 2012 (according to the 2011 score results, I can expect a top5 Europe position). Now stop to dream, I have 2 days of hard work in order to remove the antenna park and I will be on Air on 40m Monday 29th evening. By the way , I ran out of gas, I never expected to use a 5kg gas cylinder within 2 days. So no more heating, but I still have 2 small camping gas cylinder left from the Saltee Islands expedition in order to get hot water for coffee. My eyes cannot stay anymore on the screen, I shut down.
Day 8-9 CQ WW DX SSB contest
Day 7_26/10/2012 :Last day before the contest, I am doing some maintenance of the caravan, the wind blows and the sun is shining, very low temperature this morning around 2-3 °C. I took some picture of the electrical installation see below. Last day I have been able to produce 70Ah ! After collecting my wife and my twins daughters at Cork airport, I checked the station, changed the gas cylinder as it always happen that I need to change it during the contest, refill the water tank, nothing can interfere with the operation of the contest. I got my first sunset of the week, as the week was cloudy. See you during the contest and look for EI1A. My next update will be Sunday after the contest.
Day 6_25/10/2012 :Every day I spend almost 1 hour to update this blog and process the measurement of my green energy production. The measurement system collects a sample every second and every 24 hours I run a home made software to calculate the hourly Ampere hour (Ah) produced. I also collect every day the weather forecast from Windguru.cz in order to fine tune my prediction model and find a correlation between forecast and measurements. This morning, I checked my new power generator to be sure it will start if the batteries are empty during the contest. I also removed the inverted L and fine tuned the vertical for the contest. This afternoon I added the TS2000 in the caravan shack and prepared the station for the contest. The shack is now ready for the contest.
Day 5_24/10/2012 :Today I worked in the fields to build and tune the inverted L 160m, at resonance I got 16.3 Ohms in comparison with the simulation 14,8 Ohms, it seems I have very good ground losses 16.3-14.8= 1.5 Ohms, thanks to the 40 radials and the wet ground here in Ireland. I will check tomorrow the same measurement on the vertical. Unfortunately, the Inverted L modifies completely the tuning of the vertical, I have been warned about this effect. But the de-tuning is so strong that I need to modify my tuning box completely. I do not have enough time for this, as 2 days left and the contest starts. On Friday, I will be busy to collect my wife and my twin daughters at Cork airport. See below the experimentation and results. I will remove the inverted L for the contest. The CG3000 is not tuning correctly on 160m, I am a little bit disappointed by the quality of this tuner. The wind is back and since last Saturday I have been running only with green energy.
Day 4_23/10/2012 :I spent my morning to Clonmel for shopping, I mean buy a new hammer, refill the gas cylinder and collect my new power generator in case weather conditions do not refill the batteries. I also operated 10m and 40m in the evening with a constant pile-up for 3 hours with 1 QSO minutes. Lovely conditions and the 40m wirebeam is really performing well. I also cooked coconut chicken with green curry, eating well is also part of the expedition. Tomorrow I will start the experimentation of the 160m inverted L antenna. Wind is expected to come back during the night.
Day 3_22/10/2012 :The antenna installation is now finished and the 2 Spiderbeams are now erected and operational. I am tired and have pain to my back. Regarding energy production, I only produced 4 Ah, it is just enough to supply my portable PC during one hour. I checked the 10 meter band propagation and got a nice pile-up from north American stations, mainly from the west coast with 59 signals, running 80 contacts in 90 minutes with a nice answer from E51CG from the South Cook Islands, a new country for me. One of my 220 Ah battery is now below 11.5V and the weather forecast (see below) is not the best to guarantee full green energy activity for the contest. The wind generator is starting to produce from 2.2 m/s and I get 2 amps when the wind blows at 5 m/s.
Day 2_21/10/2012 : Today, with my friend Peter, we raised the 3 elements 40m and prepared the main Spiderbeam, but due to wind gusts up to 9 m/s, I decided to postpone the erection of the Spiderbeam (15 meters high) to tomorrow as there will be no more wind. It will be easier to raise the mast. So I will not be QRV on higher band before 22nd October dawn. I produced today 30 Ah from a mix of wind and sun and I spent the late evening on 40m to check conditions and test the 3 element 40m wirebeam, thanks to Gerald (PA3GEG) you can hear my traffic on 40m band : http://www.vandenbalck.eu/webdata/EI8GQB_PA3GEG.mp3 while scanning my blog.
Day 1_20/10/2012 : Well arrived in Ireland, the journey was very nice, despite heavy turbulence during the flight. The caravan has been towed to the fields and antenna installation started. This evening the vertical is erected as well as the wind generator, but there is no wind for the moment and according to the weather forecast, there will be no wind during the week. Tomorrow, I will install the solar panels, but cloudy weather expected too. I think, unfortunately, I will have to use the power generator. The positive point, there will be no rain at all during my stay, which is very unusual for Ireland.
Below the description of my preparation analysis for this new expedition with the answer to 3 questions !
Question 1 : How to improve my 160 meter band conditions ?. In 2009 , I designed and built the 5/8 lambda 40 meter band top-loaded vertical, see the details (French only) at http://vandenbalck.eu/webdata/3semainesenirlandeet2contests.pdf.I used the antenna during the major HF contests and, on long distance contacts, it performs very very well on 40 meter and 80 meter. With my 100 Watts low power conditions, when I call, strong signals are usual from all part of the world, people are often surprised when I detail my 100W low power conditions. My location is also playing a major role too. But on 160 m band, the bandwidth is so narrow (32KHz < 2:1SWR, 18 KHz < 1,5:1) that my transceiver tuner must adapt SWR higher than 3. This means at least 25% lost of radiated power. I have tried to use the CG-3000 antenna tuner to tune the vertical on 160m, but the system never found correct adaptation and low SWR. I think the antenna resistance is to low for the tuner. As my strategy is to gain any possible decibel in the transmission chain, I decide for this new expedition to try an Inverted L antenna for 160m described with the graph below. Does this configuration improve the bandwidth and what is the radiation pattern difference versus the vertical antenna ? Does the tuner will work ?. With 4NEC2 antenna simulator, I will try to answer to these questions in order to take the best decision while I will be testing the antennas in the fields. Additionally, I will study 2 different L antenna design, one based on antenna resonance (fres= 1.85 MHz with jX=0) INVL1/4 and one based on impedance Z=50+jX, INVL50. The last one can be tuned easily with a series capacitor =-jX. The first one need a 1:4 unun balun or a matching network to provide with a good 50 ohms line adaptation. The use of the CG3000 is just for antenna comparison testing purposes as I plan to modify the 160m band matching system in my home made tuner if the bandwidth is wide enough.
Horizontal length L
Gain (incl matching losses)
0.51dB @ 21°
0.63dB @ 21°
We see that the longer horizontal length of the INVL50 antenna impacts the radiation pattern to the sky (2dB @ 90°),with the widest bandwidth (51 KHz). The best compromise is to choose the INVL1/4 model where bandwidth (34KHz to 43 KHz) and impedance(9.26 to 14.8 Ohms) increase vs the vertical; This will allow the automatic tuner to support this low impedance. Additionally, it can also be adapted with a 1:4 unun balun.
The 2 graphs represent the number of contacts made with other continents during the 48-hour contest. The data are recorded every 30 minutes. When I contact Europe it is worth 1 point. However, when I contact other continents, it is worth 3 points. In order to have the best result, I must operate when it is the best moment to reach the other continents and sleep when activity is lower (between 1 and 2).
With the time, I have learned that I can operate the first 24 hours non stop. I do not leave my post during these 24 hours, so I prepare one 5-litter bottle of water for drinking and another empty one to avoid having to interrupt radio operation !. On the graph, we clearly see that contest activity has been very different in 2010 and in 2011. In 2011, I still remember the wonderful opening to North America and the rest of the world on 10 meters band, ending with KH6(Hawai) and ZL(New Zealand) stations, unbelievable conditions!. But in 2010, due to lower solar activity, 15 meters band was the highest band opened to expect a high contact rate. In 2011 due to higher sun activity, the higher bands closed later (1) than in 2010. Also, year 2011 peaked with 19000 QSO in 30 minutes versus 12000 QSO in 2010.
On both graphs, we clearly see that the traffic decrease (lower contact rate) is always linked to the end of the 20m band opening (1) with some variation due to the sun activity. I planned 6 hours max of sleep starting from that moment. Then wake up (2),later, when daylight comes (3), it is mandatory to show your face to the sun in order to switch your body into daylight mode. And another day of calling "CQ contest." and hunting for new countries and multipliers trying to improve your score from last year.Then, darkness comes back again and with the lack of sleep, you start to enter into a second stage where your brain is disconnected from the reality and only bands and callsigns (worked or not yet worked ?) are the energy to drive you to the next stage, the shaman level (4). And when the contest is over,it is impossible to sleep and you continue to comments the claimed result and conditions on the air, until the bottle of wine you opened to celebrate your new contest record definitively bring you to bed. The 2 following days are very hard, not due to the wine, but due to the physical work needed to remove the temporary antenna park from the field and store the equipment back in the caravan for the next contest activity.
Question 3: I have 32 radials, 19m long. What is the distance between radials ends ?
As I install 32 radials below the vertical antenna, I do this 3 times a year and, each time the question is, what is the distance between radials end ? Specially for my friend Peter who helps me with this task, I can now answer 3,7m. See below the calculations.
July 2012 EI8GQB/EI1A HF IARU and IOTA contest activity with green energy FETHARD CLONMEL IRELAND
GREEN ENERGY :500 Ah produced - IOTA CONTEST CLAIMED SCORE : 1.820.780 POINTS/ 1211 QSO/ 188 MULT : 1st World and world record.
Best moments :
July 14-15th: EI80IRTS callsign activation on 40m SSB with Bernard EI4II on 20m CW as HQ (Headquarter) station during the IARU World Championship.
July 21st-22nd: EI80IRTS callsign activation. The special callsign,celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Irish Radio Transmitters Society. Operation under green energy only in order to gather experience for the IOTA contest.
July 28-29th: EI1A, my new special contest callsign activated during the IOTA contest. I ran with solar panel and wind generator only. I scored 1st world in 2009 & 2011 and I am claiming a new IOTA record with 2 millions points.
Day 23_29/07/2012 End of the IOTA contest 2012 with EI1A. I am claiming a 2 millions score result (1247 QSO/201 Islands) in SOABLP unassisted island category, this is a new world record, last one was 1.6 millions see IOTA Hall of fame. I operated 22 hours non stop, without moving from my seat and slept 2 hours only. This edition was mainly focussed on green energy and another confirmation of the efficiency of the 3 elements inverted V 40m wirebeam antenna. The wind and solar panels supplied more than 6 KW/h energy during my stay (500 Ah), I also took a lot of measurement to better understand and forecast the production for my next challenge, run the 48 hours CQ WW DX SSB contest in October 2012 only with green energy. Last but not least thanks to all of you who followed me via the blog and via the radio. A special thank to my in law family, to Gabriel, the owner of the field and to Peter, my local support friend. Without their helps this activity would not be possible.
Day 21_27/07/2012 The weather was fine today and I took the opportunity to update my usual panorama view as well as a New Video on YouTube. I received the 2*210AH gel batteries at 17h00 and worked on the installation wiring up to 23h00 PM. It is now 2:00 AM and I am finishing the preparation of the contest. I will wake up very late tomorrow in order to gain sleep hours as I expect to operate 24 hours non stop during the contest.
Day 20_26/07/2012 Today it was sunny and windy at the end of the day and I was able to charge with peak up to 10 Amps constant. I made the final panorama picture of the complete installations. The shack with the second TX TS2000 is now ready for the contest and I hope to receive my 2 *220Ah batteries tomorrow (I cross the fingers). I also calculated the amount of energy produced by the solar panels under covered sky, it represented 22Ah on 25/07, see the graph below :
Day 19_25/07/2012 The second Spiderbeam is now raised, the antenna park is fully ready for the contest. I got a visit of 11 calves trying to join their milk cow mothers who are now in the field nearby my location. The cows are very interested with my antennas. I also measured the current provided by the 2 solar panels, unbelievable the amount produced under covered sky, measurement data will follow later.
Day 18_24/07/2012 I was busy with my family during the last 2 days but also very radio active during the evenings and nights, mainly on 40m to EU and 20m to NA with very nice pileups rating 2-3 QSO /minutes. It is now Thursday evening (20:00 UTC) and I am listening to some traffic on 10m with a nice sporadic E opening to Europe, this is the cherry on the cake for the IOTA contest to gather new additional multipliers. I am checking this band everyday but the sun is very lazy for the moment. I also added two 90W solar panels and with a covered sky, I was able to get more than 2-3Ah during almost 10 hours, enough to refill the battery for listening, recharging the computer and the caravan business. But no wind for the moment, I can therefore measure the solar panel production alone. I will need the power generator to transmit. Tomorrow I will raise the second Spiderbeam and start to install the second transmitter. Second important learning, do not under estimate the potential of solar panels in a non sunny country like Ireland, you can get up to 20-30% of the full panel capacity under full cloudy sky.
Day 16_22/07/2012 I activated EI80RTS this week end and realized 750 QSO with a lot of fun to manage the pileups. I got very good moment during Saturday night with a nice opening to the American continent. I will remind me this opening for the IOTA contest as I achieved more than 2 QSO minutes during 2 hours =240 QSO. My daughters enjoyed the stay in the caravan and will be back Sunday night. The wind is also back and I do not need power generator any more, I am measuring the energy production on long term with one sample per minute and will process the data when I will come back to Belgium begriming August. It is very important for me to be able to predict correctly the energy produced based on forecast, mainly for the 2 big 48 hours contest in March and October where wind is blowing all the time, sometime too much and broke my antennas. I will be close to the family begriming next week. I plan to raise the second Spiderbeam on Wednesday and prepare the contest station with the TS2000 on Thursday including setting the N1MM log for SO2R and check that everything is working well. I also plan to make a video of the complete installation.
Day 15_21/07/2012 Visit of my 5 years old twin daughters Clara and Lily in the caravan. In order to activate their dreams we travelled around the world by radio waves before going to sleep, a nice sharing experience. I will spend the morning with her and start the EI80IRTS activation from Saturday noon. see you on the band. Unfortunately for my green energy experience, no wind and no sun since 2 days, I must use a power generator. First important learning, full green energy cannot be done unless you invest in a huge battery bank system and backup power generator is mandatory to supply service continuity with less investment. The positive point regarding this experience, I lived one week in green energy without using any backup and wind comes back next week.
Day 14_20/07/2012 Early morning in order to check 40 m propagation to US. I replaced the 110Ah dead battery (< 10.3V) with a 75Ah backup one. Still no wind. Clara and Lily, my 5 years old twin daughters will sleep in the caravan, I may be a little bit active in the evening to show them radio operation but before, I plan cleaning operation and maintenance (refill water, empty toilets, vacuum .).My local battery dealer informed me that he will not be able to receive the 2 gel batteries 220 Ah before the end of the month !! He is looking for another provider, but the order will not be sent before Monday, hoping I will be able to receive the batteries in due time for the contest, otherwise my green energy IOTA operation may be compromised and I will have to use the power generator. Anyway I will part to the contest with EI1A.
Day 13_19/07/2012 I started wind Current/Voltage data collection measurement with PWRcheck system. I will measure the energy produced in order to fine tune my production forecast model. Since noon, no more wind at all.it was not forecast at that time. , it is frustrating as here the wind is always blowing I am very well exposed and I never experienced that since 2 years I will unfortunately have to rent a power generator to recharge the battery for the weekend in order to activate EI80IRTS.
Day 12_18/07/2012 I have been very active with my family the last two days, visiting old Irish castles and will be more radio active from now. The weather is more and more sunny and I expect to install my 2*90 Watts solar panels in the following days, I got peak up to 15 amps with the nice wind I got since 2 days. (Nice wind means not enough to concern antenna but strong enough to get a good energy production to refill the battery).
Day 10_16/07/2012 The wind generator has been raised this afternoon, it is the achievement of 4 months of preparation work and I am very happy. It is still under test with one 110 Ah battery supplying all my needs, caravan and radio. It is amazing to see the battery's voltage raising while I am listening and recharging PC and mobile phone. Stay tuned for more pictures and details.
Day 9_15/07/2012 EI80IRTS activity during the IARU HF World championship, Bernard operating 20m CW and myself on 40M SSB. You can see on the picture, the presence of a P3 Spectrum, it gives a new and additional sense in contesting as you can see the activity of the band, additionally with the waterfall view, it is really easy to find a free frequency or a less interfered one during heavy contest traffic. I also used a new software for the K3 that allows to manage the transceiver from the PC keyboard, it is called K-KEYSand is very usefully. Regarding the results of the contest, I contacted 847 stations, 19 ITU Zones and 34 countries with 100 Watts in single band only. Next week I will concentrate all my effort on my family first and secondly on the installation of the wind generator. I dare to show you a picture of my twins daughters Clara and Lily in the caravan, listening to the world (they will spend 1 or 2 days with me in the caravan) and a video of the wind generator erected and working. Now, I go to sleep after 24 hours of radio activity.
Day 6_12/07/2012 Another rainy day and I took the opportunity to build a universal switch control box for the antennas, see the picture, I was active mainly on 40m during the evening with booming signals to Europe with the 3 elements. I also fine tuned the beverage, now with 2 directions. The system needs a -12V to switch direction, not easy to create when you use only 12V batteries. I found an interesting module that converts 12V to -12V , it is called Negatron and is mainly used in the robotic domain.
Day 5_11/07/2012 Today was a family day, I collected my wife and my twin daughters at Cork airport from Brussels, so only a few radio activity today, I will also operate during the night on 40m to check the propagation.
Day 4_10/07/2102 I have been active on 40M and 20M with very good signals to North America, I also built additional shelves in the caravan, and still try to make the fridge and heater working on gas. I got a confirmation from IRTS that I can operate the HQ station (EI80IRTS) during the IARU HF contest on 40 m SSB, Bernard will operate the 20M CW band. And it is still raining.
Day 3_09/07/2012 Welcome to the Club Mud, !! it rained almost all the day, the entrance of the caravan is only mud. and I spend my day to hear splash splash in the fields, it is unbelievable how the ground is saturated by water. The beverage and the Spiderbeam raised at 15m are now operational after another heavy outdoor work day. I am tired and will sleep early. I will be very active tomorrow (Tuesday).
Day 2_08/07/2012 PM Yes ! the caravan has been installed in the fields and after 12 hours of heavy outdoor work, the vertical and the 3 elements wirebeam are now erected and operational. The weather was rainy in the early morning and then dry all the day. I have made 50 QSO this evening in an hour time with strong signals, the 3 elements is a very nice antenna. I used only 80w to save the battery. Tomorrow, I will make some shopping (10mm˛ section cables for connecting the wind generator and some food) and build the first Spiderbeam as well as the beverage. See below the first installation I used this evening.
Day 2_08/07/2012 AM Early wake up after a first night in the caravan. I charged the caravan battery with the car engine and added 12V-220V inverter, I can now recharge the PC. This morning , there is a small rain and I cross fingers, hoping that the owner of the fields will be able to move the caravan today. Nevertheless I will start the antenna installation this morning as we already placed all the antenna equipment in the field. I could be on air on 40m band this evening with the vertical antenna.
Day 1_07/07/2012 PM Well arrived in Ireland, I am lucky as it is the first day without rain since almost 3 to 4 weeks, but the ground is saturated by water, when I walked in the fields it is like walking on the beach, splash! splash!, therefore impossible today to bring the caravan up in the field, I have to wait tomorrow morning. I expect to benefit from the water saturated ground for the antennas ground. Second problem the caravan battery is dead and empty, I am using the car engine to get light in the caravan and hope that the battery will refill and relive. It is a bad start for green energy, but I do not expect to run 100% green before 17 July. Solar and wind generators are still in the box, just delivered, and I am discovering my new second hand caravan, there will be a lot of work on the following days.
Day 1_07/07/2012 AMI leave Brussels to Ireland today and I should start the low bands vertical antenna installation on Saturday afternoon and the wind generator in the evening. I only have for the moment the 100 AH caravan battery and a 75AH backup one.
04/07/2012 Preparations continue with a new development to create a Live Information Banner on top of my QRZ.COM page, I can now from my computer update messages and information like frequency used. It is an iframe object linked to a web page where I update the banner.htm file automatically see atwww.vandenbalck.eu/banner.htm. If you are looking for me, you will be able to check the frequency I am using or get the latest news.
27/06/2012 Preparation is going on and several equipment deliveries were made. The second-hand 4 bed caravan, the Silentwind wind / solar generator system as well as my repaired Elecraft K3 transceiver and a new P3 spectrum panadapter are now delivered in Ireland. Regarding the P3, I really want to experience the frequency spectrum vision sense during a contest. Specially when the band is opening, you can jump immediately on the viewed used frequencies without having to scan and listen to the complete band,I am sure to gain time while hunting signals. I also made a first cabling design of the electrical installation, see below : (The power generator is used as last backup or during use of electrical saw,drill works for the building of the electrical installation and furnishing of the caravan).
10/04/2012 To dimension wind and solar installations, only monthly average data are available. In the case of a short period of operation (10 days), this information is not precise enough. I decided to develop a sun/wind energy production forecast model based on detailed weather forecast like hourly average wind speed for the wind generator and hourly clouds cover for the solar generator, The data can be found on www.Windguru.cz. I expect to measure a real installation and challenge the model as a few information are available about the clouds effect on solar panel power production. At the same time, the installation will supply my everyday energy needs and amateur radio contest activities during whole month of July 2012.
FORECAST MODEL INPUT DATA:
SOLAR PANEL NOMINAL CURRENT:10A
SOLAR REGULATOR EFFICIENCY:85% (Solar regulators have 15% losses)
WIND PERFORMANCE TABLE(Table with Ah versus wind speed, this is depending on the wind generator)
SOLAR RADIATIONTABLE(Table with solar radiation variation due to the season and earth position)
HOURLY CONSUMPTION(Table with Ah usage, I calculated 14 Ah to supply SO2R contest operation)
I decide to use the SPRECO 580W Wind–Solar–Hybrid–Set 12V system composed with a Silentwind wind generator, two times 90W solar panels and two times 200Ah batteries plus one 75Ah.
According to my stats, it can power SO2R operation during 24 hours, this installation will be experimented in July during the IARU HF contest and during the IOTA contest.
My final objective is to be able to run 48 hours contest by adding 2 other 200Ah batteries, this will be experimented in a second phase in October 2012 during the DX SSB contest.
EXAMPLE RESULTS: week - Monday 9th April to Sunday 15th April.
SUN+WIND ENERGY PRODUCTION FORECAST (Monday 9 April 2012)
The daily forecast allow me to better dimension my power supply needs for contest activities. In the report above, the daily green energy production (Dark Green) is well above my daily needs.
In the graph below we see that Wednesday and Friday, low wind and covered sky do not allow me to support my 14Ah needs during 24 hours with a negative result. I will be obliged those two days to reduce my power needs (from 100W to 80w) for example. On Friday, due to clear sky, the sun production allow to supply my needs, this is the advantage of the sun/wind hybrid solution.
SUN+WIND ENERGY PRODUCTION FORECAST (Week 9-15 April 2012)
Day 9_26/03/2012 See the results above, I should be in the top 10 Europe for sure, I got nice surprises during this contest, amongst the stations who answered to my calls, there was T6MO on 10m (Afghanistan), and the second was XU7BAN (Kampuchea) on 20m but he was lost in the contest jungle. and never gave me a report/serial number, therefore not in my log. Was he a pirate or not use to contest ???. 2.4 millions points realized this year and 0.17 millions points improvement from last year. Regarding contacts and multipliers : from 1324 to 1664 QSO and from 674 to 788. I expected to obtain a better points score, the reason comes from the difficulty to find a free calling frequency on 20m and 15m in order to work enough North American stations with 3 points instead of one for Europe and very often a new prefix multiplier. It was really hard to race against kilowatts/big gun antenna stations to run a frequency. I therefore decided to search on 10m bands for south American stations, I succeed to contact more than 100 of them but not enough in comparison with north American potential.
I want to thank all of you who followed me on this blog and subscribed or sent comments on ON4EI's You Tube channel. Many thanks also to YO3CZW,S50A,RW1CW, RL6M and RM5D operators who creates the challenge and motivates me to do better each time in order to reach their results and experience. I will come back next year with new learning as I still did not reach my maximum of competence. See you this summer in July for the IARU World Championship as HQ (Headquarter) station for Ireland, I hope, and during IOTA (Island On The Air) contest where I will try to beat the world record in single operator fixed island low power all band unassisted category .
Day 7_24/03/2012 PM 22:00; I stopped operation according to my planning at 21:30. 22:00 hours without sleeping, I am tired, I realized my best result ever made. I reached 1000 QSO and 1 millions points in 20:30 of activity, this represents in average, 1 contact every 1 minutes 13 seconds. A new interesting objective for the future would be above 1 QSO per minute. The bands are currently wide open from japan to north America, I cannot stay more awake, my eyes are closing.
Day 7_24/03/2012 PM 15:00; A status in the middle of the contest. I take the opportunity to update the blog, as when I wanted to refill the power generator (working), some petrol leaked on the generator. I decided immediately to stop it. I cleaned it and when I wanted to restart it, the rope used to launch the motor, stayed in my hand. I had to open the system and replace the broken rope. It took me 25 minutes and I decided to stop 1 hour to eat and update the blog. It is now 15:31 UTC and I already made 720 contacts (my best result ever). I am on the way to my objective if no more problems occur. The wind blew this morning up to 50 Kph gust and all the antenna resisted well.
Day 6 - 23/03/2012 Last hours before the begriming of the contest, adrenaline increases, a lot of traffic already on the bands and the 10 meters band is wide open, good sign for tomorrow. Today I made maintenance : refill the campervan water tank, empty toilets, prepare the petrol for the power generator and food for 2 days, I will go to sleep around 17:00 UTC and be ready for 00:00 UTC. See you during the contest.
Day 5_22/03/2012 I finalized today the antenna park, you can see on the new video below the complete installation ready for the contest.
Day 4_21/03/2012 Yesterday, I spent the day to rebuilt the second Spiderbeam, it was well broken. The antenna is now at 3m high and ready to be erected at 12m. I had also a problem with one of the 2 relays I expected to use for the bidirectional switching of the 40m 3 elements. As I am in the middle of the fields, I cannot place it. I give up, but the 3 elements will be directed to Europe during the contest (almost 20 dB stronger than the vertical 5/8 lambda). The difference with the vertical antenna in the North American direction is not so strong sometimes no difference sometimes just one S meter point 6dB (4 times the signal). This is due to the low height (11m) of the inverted V wirebeam that as less gain on low angle (longer distance than Europe).
Day 2_19/03/2012 Second day of antenna installation, today it was the hardest one, the erection of the 15m mast supporting the main Spiderbeam was physically very hard. At the end of the day, almost all antenna have been raised, in the following days I will rebuilt the last and second Spiderbeam broken during last contest. Bernard (EI4II) visited me today with his son Alex, they helped me to rebuilt a new 4 arms support for the second Spiderbeam, you can see on the epicures below, Alex holding the broken support. In the background the first Spiderbeam under construction, the vertical antenna raised and far, some white poles supporting the beverage antenna. I made a lot of QSO today, a nice pile-up from Europe with signals up to 35 dB over S9 and peaking up to 3-4 QSO per minutes. It is a real pleasure to operate the 3 elements 40m inverted V wirebeam.
Day 1_18/03/2012 Well arrived in Ireland, I spent the first night in the campervan amongst boxes, antennas and masts. I will be checking the vertical antenna this evening around 19:00 PM on 40m.
16/03/2012 I leave Belgium tomorrow morning, in Ireland the weather forecast is the best I can hope. No wind, no rain, a beautiful clear sky is forecast during the week. I think this week will be another wonderful experience. Yes !!. Bernard EI4II , my Saltee EJ4II expedition fellow (see blog at http://www.qrz.com/db/ej4ii), will visit me during the week, we are also planning in July, another experience together during the HF world championship to operate IRTS HQ station EI0HQ.
09/03/2012 One week left and the Spiderbeam spare parts to replace broken fibber glass tubes from last October contest have been delivered in Ireland.
11/02/2012 I am starting the preparation of the WPX 2012 expedition. During winter, I made another design of 40M 3 elements wirebeam direction switching system.I also analysed the logs of the Top 10 European stations (WPX 2011), my objective is to understand when and on which band they operates and when they sleep. Optimizing my sleeping period during low traffic period is one of my objectives as single operator are only allowed to operate 36 hours on 48 hours. See below the details of those two new improvements.
New mechanical design 40m 3 elements wirebeam 180° remote direction switching
The switching system allows instant 180° direction change between 100° East (Europe-Asia) and 280° West (North-Central America). I used in the first design (see blog October 2011 CQ WW DX) a box with an inductor placed at the top of the 12m fibber glass masts, but it is too heavy regarding the diameter dimension of the last section mast. In case of wind there is a risk to break it. I decided to use, in this new version, a loop of wire 2 times 1.1 m long and spaced by 10cm. A small relay switches between a short cut (act as director) and the wire loop (act as reflector).It is a chance to operate from Ireland as I can cover the major contests areas with only 2 directions. If the signals come from North and South, I will use my 5/8 lambda vertical on 40m as usual.
I compared the patterns of the different antennas used during contests, the 3 elements wirebeam is performing better on all the interesting takeoff angles, additionally the noise is much lower due to the directional pattern. Experienced during the CQ DX SSB 2011 contest, to F/B allowed to shut down Europe signals and work north Amercian station with signal up to S9+20dB. Beaming Europe, some signals went up to S9+40dB !
Calculated with 4NEC2 antenna modelling software, the maximum forward gain reaches 9.75dBi @40° elevation and the front to back ratio varies from 12dB to higher than 30 dB on all the 40m SSB band part.
The 4NEC2 new "loop" design is available here : http://vandenbalck.eu/webdata/40MWB110LOOPVERSIONOPTIMSEGMENT.NECthe number of segment is high, as I optimized it, To compute quicker the frequency sweep, you must reduce the segment number of the main elements. This is the final design (I hope) after almost a year of optimizations.
I also calculated the length variation of the different elements to tune, this helps a lot during the tuning of the antenna.
WPX 2011 Results Analysis
Based on the WPX 2011 TOP10 European station results (SO AB LP Unassisted), I made some diagrams to better understand their contest strategies. Here are the results and my comments to build my contest plan.
Band distribution analysis and location of Top10 Europe stations
The map to the left show that the majority of TOP10 stations are located 1000 to 2000 Km far from the centre of Europe where the population density is the highest, this corresponds to the first area where signals goes down to the earth after a first reflection on the ionospheric layer. The signals are therefore very strong same with 100W output power
In the WPX contest, as multipliers are the callsign prefixes (ex: ON4, ON5, ON6 are 3 different prefixes for Belgium, or the same for Ireland EI4,EI5,EI6),every participant is almost a multiplier.
You can see in the results table, amongst 2 contacts (QSO), one is a multiplier(WPX). Targeting mass contact number which means using in priority the most used bands 15,20,40m,where Ham radio can easily deploy antennas is a very good choice.
You see that YO3CZW has the best QSO distribution between 40,20,15m bands. If you look at his antenna (this linkYO3CZW), you understand that he operates very well, with his combined antenna (2 element 40m/3 elements 20m and 3 elements 15m). But the most important antenna park amongst TOP10 Europe is own by S50A (this link S50A) and you will easily understand that my temporary portable antenna park is very humble.
Band diagram 10 minutes periods
To define my operation strategy, I have build a 10 minutes traffic band distribution based on the top 10 European station logs. We clearly see 2 low periods of traffic, the first from 21:30 to 06:30 and the second at the end of the contest starting at 21:00. As mono operator, we are allowed to operate maximum 36h on 48h, I decided to plan my sleeping period around the first period and stop early at 21:00. But I will continue the fun during the last 3 hours of the contest with EI/ON4EI as checklog. I will spend several days to set up the antenna park and I need a good return on this effort. Based on this graph, I have also defined my RUN band and my SEARCH band planning.
Day 10_31/10/2011 It is now 1.30 AM, 1h30 after the end of the 48 hours contest, I cannot sleep and I take the opportunity to update the blog. I drink too much orange juice, coffee and red bull, I haven't sleep since 20 hours. I am very satisfied about the result despite the weather conditions I have experienced this year. 4 hours before the begriming of the contest, a big big storm happened, like the one experienced on the Sunday (gust up to 100 kph), but the weather forecast under estimated the wind, they said said only 60 kph but it was above the forecast value and to my opinion nearby 100 kph. Conclusion, what I expected happened. If you want to see how broken Spiderbeam antennas look, I give you 2 for the price of 1.See below .
On the Saturday morning and thanks to my friend Peter, I rebuilt one antenna with spare parts in order to be able to operate on the higher bands. I lost almost 4 hours of operation ( minimum 120 contacts), the wind and the rain were heavy and we erected again the mast with success but at 10m instead of 15m high. Despite this major problem, I have increased my results by 20% according to last year, I reached 1.2 millions points and 1500 contacts. The propagation was the best since 10 years with nice contacts with Hawai, New Zealand, and more than 800 contacts with the American continent.
Spiderbeam antennas broken 4 hours before the contest
Day 6_27/10/2011 After almost 40 hours of hard work in the fields, I am almost ready for the contest, the antenna farm is now ready, as expected according to my design. I worked during 5 days very hard to setup all the 5 antennas with help of my local friends Peter, I thank him very much as without him this would never be possible. I would like also to thank Gabriel, the owner of the field. A phone call and the fields are mine, with a lot of cattle dung, I think this give chance when you walk on it, therefore I should play lotto when I come back to the Civilisation . Anyway, if I do not win I hope to score in the top 15 Europe for the cq WW DX SSB contest with a minimum of 1500 contacts during the 48 hours. I also added a new video of the antenna farm and you can see that I am very close to the 3D animation. See on the blog or on YouTube ON4EI's channel. The 3 elements wirebeam is working as expected giving more than 3 S meter points regarding the 5/8 lambda vertical, I had some nice pile up with Europe and nice chat with north American stations. The remote system at the top of the mast to reverse the direction of the antenna cannot be used as the fibber glass poles cannot support correctly the weight of the boxes in case of wind, I decided to change the mechanical design by adding a piece of wire to each parasitic elements tuned for director. With this, I add wire to make a reflector.
Day 4_25/10/2011 The antenna park is built at 80%, I still need to build the second Spiderbeam antenna. Since Sunday I have worked 26 hours outside in the fields, eating only in the morning and in the evening without any pause and walking all the time in the cow dung and mud.The 3 elements wirebeam 40m has been erected and tuned perfectly. It gives outstanding signals, 10 to 20dB over the vertical 5/8 lambda 18m high with toploading. I also added a video of the inside of the campervan. See on YouTube ON4EI's channel.
Day 3_24/10/2011 See my video blog on YouTube and select ON4EI's channel.
Day 2_23/10/2011 I am well arrived in Ireland, the campervan is loaded with my 350 kg of equipment, the second Spiderbeam has been delivered and is ready to be built. But there is a bad news and a good news. The bad one is the heavy rain and gust up to 90 km/h today for starting the antenna setup, the good one is the weather improvement for the following days as you can see on the picture below.
I arrived on Bennesthill at 11:00 AM and started to build the vertical, at 15:40 PM just after I raised it and installed the 32 radials, I had to lie it on the ground, the wind was so strong that I decided not to be QRV this evening. I will make some preparation and soldering inside the campervan. It is moving now like a boat.
20/10/2011 Since 1 year I am trying to improve my 40 m antenna system that consists of a 5/8 lambda vertical 18m high with top loading.
In October 2010, I tried the spitfire concept ( see link here) . I never reached the expected front to back result, additionally, I also broken the fibber glass mast due to heavy wind gusts up to 80 km/h. This for the second time after October 2009.
In July 2011, I tried a 3 elements vertical array with the same frustrating results. I am looking for some more forward gain (I am only using 100W) but certainly a better front to back ratio to shut down Europe signals when I am working North America during the contest.
This time, after 2 unsuccessful results, I will put all my energy to fine tune the 3 elements 40 m inverted V beam.
The 2 switching boxes with the 2.3 µH inductors including relays have been built (see picture and design below) and are ready for testing.
Regarding the weather for the week, it is not the best, very windy and rainy and I am already psychologically prepared to break antennas as weather forecast during the week plans gusts up to 90 km/h.
Day 10_31/07/2011 The contest just finished 5 minutes ago and I am very tired as I did not sleep at all. The begriming was hard to manage SO2R and fortunately good moment in the early evening on 40m to UK, but the propagation I experienced during the week before to North America on 20m never happened and instead central America/Caribbean was open almost all the night but with poor activity from this area. During the night, I really struggle against the sleep and on the Sunday morning, after a lot of UK stations worked, again on 40m and 2 hours before the end of the contest, a nice 10m opening happened.This helped me to stay awake and add a lot of new island multipliers as well as 15 points.The opening started from Scandinavia and then moved to DL,SP,OK and finished in the center of Europe, this happened also in 2009, where I made my highest number of contact ever made with EI/ON4EI and won the contest in my category with 1020 QSO/118 MULT/ 661.272 POINTS.
This year I did not reach the 1000 QSO as well as my first objective of 1 QSO minute during 24h, but I almost double my points result with a claimed score of 1.125.168 POINTS with 176 MULTI and 903 QSO.
My strategy to stay mainly on 40m with the inverted V as RUN station in order to work UK and get 15 points per contact was the good one. They were attracted by my calls like bees on honey. I am sure I will be placed in the TOP 3 world in my category.
By the way if you want to see how we look after one week of no shave, I got only the razor blades and 24 hours without sleeping. See the picture below.
I also added another picture of the 10 element inverted V antenna, around 1 Kg weight and a size smaller than a lady bag. After 15 hours of non stop work to remove the antenna park. I took the energy to take a picture and make a comparison with a camping chair. Raised, the antenna is horizontally 34 meters long
Thank you to all of you who followed my expedition, this blog had more than 2800 visits in 1 week, see you in October 2011 for the CQ WW DX SSB contest.
Day 9_30/07/2011 Just a few word this morning as the contest start in 90 minutes, I have to make a last check of the antenna park, tighten ropes mainly as the weather forecast plan more wind and rain. I wear my favorite contest T-shirt, it is the T-shirt of the Brussels fire brigade. I am not fireman but I am gonna put fire in this contest !!! And a strong M9.3 solar flare took place this morning at 02:09 UTC, see www.solarham.comand see you on the band.!!!
Day 8_29/07/2011 This morning between 01:00 and 03:00 UTC, I again experienced a nice pile up from North America with the 10 elements wirebeam reaching easily the 1 QSO per minutes for more than 100 contacts. I waked up late 11:00 AM, I try to move my cycle for the contest (it start at 1:00 PM). I have also coffee , energy drinks, C vitamin and orange juice and it is clear, I will not sleep at all and operate 24 hours non stop. I made today a lot of maintenance work, emptying the toilet was my favorite task ;-( . I also filled the water tank with 40 liters with a 5 liters bottle. The water pipe was 200m far from my location. Question how many meters I had to walk to fill the tank ?. I also connected a wire on the campervan battery in case of my power generator fails during the contest. The schak is now ready (see the picture below) with the 2 transceivers K3 Elecraft and TS2000 Kenwood. I made some tests with SO2R and it works well. But 2 headphones on the hear and 2 different sounds may render me crazy at the end of the competition. I expect to learn a lot about SO2R with this contest thinking already about the CQ WW SSB in October. Just before writing this update, I made some test on 40m with 59+20dB signals from UK, I really count on their proximity to make an outstanding result.
Day 7_28/07/2011 First, let me express my surprise and contentment to all of you who are following my expedition via this blog, since the begriming more than 1500 visits !!!!. I will continue to update it regularly but with less energy during the contest. Today I tried to finalise the vertical array and to optimize the front to back, but unfortunately I never succeeded to get more than 2 S point difference (12dB), I decided to remove the array and reuse one pole to install an inverted V cross dipole for 40 and 80m, ideal for short distance propagation. I am so close to UK and during the IOTA contest each contact with an island is 15 points, the rest of the world is 3 points, 1 QSO Island equal 5 QSO World. Why not a 40m inverted V wirebeam with 3 elements in the Europe direction, I will certainly make some simulation in the future to weight the effort to build this regarding the gain and directivity improvement achieved. In an other field, I also installed a beverage antenna for reception and both antennas work fine. I can now easily receive the news from Belgium on AM 621 KHz RTBF. I also receive the Belgium news via internet but with less charm.I am now ready for the contest and tomorrow will be a maintenance day and propagation check. I will have this evening my first shower since last Saturday as I only have a few water left. Fortunately, not far from my place the owner of the field showed me today a drink water pipe that he uses for his cows. I also added a picture of my "garage" where all equipment is stored and save from rain. In the background the inverted V cross dipole for 40m and 80m band.
Day 6_27/07/2011 PM It started to rain at 14:00 UTC when I was just tuning the vertical driven element of the vertical array. The height was not enough to reach resonance due to bend of the support rope, I had to add T shape top loading suspended in the middle of the 2 poles supporting the 2 parasitic elements. What I underestimate is the wind, it created an offset of driven element regarding the parasitic elements alignment. I took a picture of the "shack", see below. It looks like my desk at home (private joke for my wife Virginia ;-). According to rain radar www.meteox.com , it will rain during an hour or so. While I am updating the blog I am listening to 28MHz band with S9 signals from Norway, Germany and Italy, good sign for the contest propagation conditions. For me the IOTA's cherry on the cake is the 10 m opening happening on the Sunday morning
Day 6_27/07/2011 AM Today, wake up late again, not only because of the work, but mainly because I spent a part of the night on the air. I went sleeping at 03:30 UTC after 170 North American stations contacted in 3 hours, I almost near my objective of 1 QSO / minutes but with a lot of time spent to communication about the 10 elements wirebeam. And yesterday, the blog had more than 500 visits !!!! Thanks to all the NA stations I worked yesterday, I really enjoyed the pile-up. Regarding antenna work, I made the tuning of the 2 vertical parasitic elements with a switching box at the base in order to modify the electrical length of the elements from reflector to director. The parasitic elements are wires scotched to the 2 fibber glass support poles and the central driven element is connected to a nylon wire between the 2 support poles. Today I will tune the driven element and make the adaptation box. I expect to run on air test for the end of the afternoon. See you maybe on 40m.
Day 5_26/07/2011 Yesterday was another great day, not regarding the weather but regarding the hard work done.Raining mainly half a day, so small rain that weather forecast haven't seen it, but my body well. I succeed to build the 10 elements wirebeam, working in the field from 10:00 to 21:00 non stop, see the result below, I had to highlight the wire on the picture, they are so small and some of them are invisible on the original photo. I made some tests in the late evening and I am a little bit frustrated as there is no big difference with the Spiderbeam. (not a S meter point), but the main objective is to have for SO2R operation a running antenna. I voluntary designed a bad front to back ratio in order to be able to work Europe with the back side of the antenna. I waked up this morning at 10:30 AM, so tired by the work and I spent the morning to update the blog. After this writing, I will start the building of vertical array on 40M, I hope to finalize it today with only 1 direction to EU.The bidirectional system will be done tomorrow.
Day 3_24/07/2011 After two full days of work the antenna park is installed. The Spiderbeam (1) for 10-15-20m bands and the 18M top loaded vertical (2)for 160-80-40m bands with 32 radials, 20m long, are operational. The two aluminium support poles (3) for the inverted V Wirebeam 20m band have been raised as well as the two fibber glass masts (4) for the 3 elements 40m array.Tomorrow, I plan to build the 20m wirebeam elements and start antenna tuning. Stay tuned for the antenna results and measurement. Regarding the weather yesterday, I had a lovely sun shinning all the day and a lot of sun burn. Today, after a wet morning, the sun was back during all the afternoon with temperature reaching 23 degrees.I will prepare a nice meal and open a good bottle of wine to celebrate the achievement of the first objective.
Day 1_22/07/2011 Well arrived in Ireland, I am spending the evening with the in laws in Fethard/Clonmel/Tipperary county. The weather forecast are wonderful, very low rain and ideally, no wind for the week, perfect conditions for HAM radio activities and experimentation in the fields. My new equipment has been delivered from Spiderbeam and Wimo, mainly 2 * 12m fibber glass masts for the vertical array and 2 aluminium masts 12 and 15m high for the 10 elements wirebeam. Tomorrow morning, I will start the station installation around 10:30 on Benneshill/Fethard area.
NEW ANTENNAS EXPERIMENTATION:
10 elements 20m inverted V antenna
14.4 dBi gain with 40° 3dB beamwidth,manually bi-directional East 100°-West 280°.
I have already built such kind of antenna but with no mechanical optimization, see ON4EI WireBeam
This year, I made a new optimized design with lighter components (Wires and support rope). (max 1Kg !!)
Blue pattern : 10 elements inverted V (20m band).
Red pattern : 3 elements Spiderbeam (20m band).
IOTA CONTEST OBJECTIVE
I plan to operate 24h non stop and beat my 2009 record with EI/ON4EI 1st world in Island fixed SOABLP non assisted with 1020 QSO/118 multi and 661272 points (operating time 21 hours). My 2011 target with SO2R operation is 1 contact per minutes during 24 hours non stop which means 1440 QSO in order to beat the IOTA hall of fame in SOABLP non assisted (Very hard objective, I agree, but possible with SO2R and 3 more operating hours).
Day 10_28/03/2011 End of my best radio experience ever made, the weather was outstanding with 6in a row sunny days with temperature reaching 17C and propagation conditions were the best since almost 4 years. I am claiming 2.230.940 points (1324 QSO/674 prefixes) in SSB SOALP ALL BAND TB-WIRES category.
Day 7_25/03/2011 Morning. 6th sunny day !! without rain and wind, yesterday evening I worked a lot of North Amercan stations on 20M and 40M with small pile-ups, the signal where well over S9. The active sunspots are coming back to visibility of the earth and we should expect for the contest very propagation conditions that we never had since several years !!! Today, planned activities are rest, sleep and some maintenance, like empty the campervan toilets, refill water tank and petrol for the power generator. See you during the contest. I will update next week my contests results.
Day 5_23/03/2011 Evening. Again another great sunny day, I worked on the beverage antenna. The system is now working well with a front to back ratio of 3S points (around 18dB). The station is now fully ready. I made this morning nice QSO's with Japan and Australia, the best one with John G8SEQ/VK2 with only 5W !!! It is clear the sun is waking up. See below his comments I received via mail.
"Hi Olivier, Just got your details from qrz.com. I can confirm our qsl of today at about 09:10 to 09:20 Z and will send you a special qsl card to your Irish address when I get back to England in two weeks time, after I have designed and printed some! This is my best Dx EVER using QRP 5 watts. Distance 10759 miles or 17314 km Antenna at my end is an ESSEQUE colinear fed dipole, cut for 20m band ( see www.g8seq.com for details ), strung between a gum tree and a gazebo. It is stretched over a swimming pool which contains salt water which just happens to be about half wave long at 20m, so giving me some ground gain. I deliberately changed its orientation to put a better signal into Europe having achieved good success working Japan yesterday ( 5000 miles). In contrast to you, it took me all of 10 mins to erect my antenna and get on the air. Rig is FT-817 barefoot operating from 12 v 10 AHr Lion battery. Antenna height about 10m sloping down to 2m at rig end. I'll send photos if you are interested.
BTW I'm drinking my favorite Whiskey - Jameson's Irish Whiskey to celebrate and have also had a Guinness brewed in Dublin ( The REAL stuff imported into Australia )
What antenna & what power were you using to work me? You were 58 all through the QSO with no fading at all.
I don't think I sent you my exact QTH via radio. It is Albury NSW Australia QF33lw.
de John G8SEQ/VK2, Albury."
Day 4_22/03/2011 Evening. I spend the all day in tee-shirt. Today I had a dream, I was in EA8 not EI8, around 17°c today and it was a real pleasure to build the beverage. I also took a shower (the first since Sunday.). I made a few contacts but not so radio active. Very tired I will sleep early and weak up during the night to check the low band propagation.
Day 3_21/03/2011 Evening. Today, Peter my local friend came to help me to raise the vertical and the Spiderbeam beam, both are now operational. I checked this evening the vertical antenna and got a small pile-up with one QSO per minute, not so bad with 100W, the vertical gave booming signals. After this full hard work day, I prepared a kind of Belgian national meal: salad, steak and french (I mean Belgian) chips and french red wine (nothing to say).
At the time I am writing this report, I am listening to the 40m band, Brazilian as well as north American stations are well over S9, like local stations. Tomorrow, I will install the beverage antenna and start my planned experimentation.
Day 2_20/03/2011 PM A change in the planning, the field where I am regularly operating EI8GQB is full of cattles and I had to move to the side of the hill, south is blocked by the hill but I still have very good view 330° instead of 360°. I have installed the power generator and a cross dipole for 40m and 80m. I made 10 QSO today to check the installation with good report,I also broken the NP4A pile up at the second call on 80m. I am very tired, I will go early to sleep as I start tomorrow with the first sun light to raise the vertical and the Spiderbeam. Weather was above expectations and I am suffering from sun burn. I forgot my sunglasses (am I in Ireland ??). See the weather forecast nearest spot : http://www.windguru.cz/int/index.php?sc=47760I never had such beautiful forecast.
Day 2_20/03/2011 AM Arrival near Fethard with the campervan. I should be around 1 PM on the hill and start the low band antenna installation. I expect to start operation this evening on 40m. The weather will be the best as I can expect, no rain an no wind for the week.
I experimented antenna construction by adding 2 bands E -W reflectors system on my 5/8 40m vertical antenna using the SPITFIRE design created by K1VR and W1FV. During the week, I had daily activities on 7.150 MHz to test the antenna system and during the week-end, I participated to the CQ WW DX SSB CONTEST. I am indeed racing all the major contest with a field day installation as Single Op All Band Low power category.
Day 8_31/10/2010 The contest is going on and I reached my best result ever made despite difficult weather conditions and portable conditions. 10 meters band was opened (heard a VK) and some African / south American stations, not so strong but workable with 100W. On the low bands, I have often used the beverage and worked stations that I never heard with the vertical TX antenna, I am sure this make a total difference according to my previous contests.I have understood that I must continue to improve my reception, I already have a 200m beverage and should evolve with a really simple directional W / bidirectional E-W beverage system.
Day 7_30/10/2010 The contest has started and 800 QSO's already made the first day, good results, I mainly answered calls and spent maybe 1 h totally to call (while I am eating). Good propagation on the bands behalve 10m band.
Day 6_29/10/2010 Twenty four hours left before the contest, I wake up today and THE VERTICAL HAS BEEN BROKEN DURING THE NIGHT !!!!, I had indeed big big wind this night, and forecast are rain rain rain all the day,I will try to fix the problem today, but any way EI8GQB will be on air for the contest !!
The vertical is repaired and raised again. But without the Spitfire reflectors, I removed them due to poor result and due to the increase of complexity the reflector system adds to the antenna installation.
Day 5_28/10/2010 Today I solved the problem of the second reflector but with less front to back, E to W F/Back = 4 Smeter points and W to E = 2 Smeter points only, I do not know why the system is not symmetric in terms of result.But I will use this configuration, no more time for experimentation, the contest is coming. I also build a 200m long wire bidirectional beverage antenna.
Here are one of the relay boxes including a 500pf capacitor to tune the reflector for resonance and the test transmitter (MINIVNA in generator mode to tune reflectors for best front to back ratio.)
Day 4_27/10/2010 I waked up today at 2:00 in the morning to build the relay boxes and will work until the reflectors are in place and test them at the end of the day. It is an half success, I found a resonance for one reflector, the antenna is directional in direction of EU but the one to US is not working, I never found the resonance, it may be the proximity of the Inverted V wire crossing perpendicularly the reflector at 1m. It became dark and I had to stop, I will put the 2 reflectors on the ground so I can still use the vertical in omnidirectional mode.
Day 3_26/10/2010 I haven't been very active, as a lot of work must be done to build the Spitfire reflectors, unfortunately my remote relay system is not working, an IC has been broken and I do not have spare parts, the 2 band will not be possible; I will only build 40m reflectors, I have enough wire to control the 2 relays from the campervan.
Day 2_25/10/2010 Lovely morning today,I will install today the generator and the Spiderbeam at 7m only, as the weather is windy for the week but forecast for the contest are perfect, no wind foreseen !! I will raise the Spiderbeam at 12m on Friday for security.
Day 1_24/10/2010 Well arrived in EI land. Campervan has been towed on top of the hill and the 5/8 40M vertical antenna is now raised. 5th contact these evening was VK3IO (TNX Ron from Melbourne), seems the antenna is working well.but this new location on top of the hill makes also the difference. Tomorrow, I will build the Spiderbeam beam for the higher bands, and then start with 40m Spitfire reflector construction.
Flight and campervan are booked and QRZ.COM site has been updated, I spend a lot of time to build the switching box, the tuning boxes and 4NEC2 simulator software is burning my PC processors to find the best "Spitfire" configuration.I finalized the single band Spitfire reflector concept design for 40 and 80m, I am now starting the multi-band design.
July 2010 EJ4II / EJ8GQB Expedition & Island On The Air Contest SALTEE ISLANDS EU 103 WEXFORD IRELAND
CONTEST CLAIMED SCORE : POINTS/ QSO/ COUNTRIES/ ZONES. (Category : Expedition Multi op Low power All band SSB/CW).
Since 3 years now, I have been activate EI/ON4EI from mainland Ireland during the major HF SSB contests. As I am visiting my in-laws in the Clonmel area (Co Tipperary) very often, I have been able to receive an Irish call sign EI8GQB in the beginning of 2010.
During these past 3 years, I have built an antenna park,I have used an improved antenna system during each contest which means that I can now leave the Clonmel area and operate from hills and islands with my "portable" antenna park system. It takes me around one and half days of installation to be QRV from 160 to 10 m.Bear in mind that I am alone in building the antenna park except for raising the 2 masts, where for security reasons I require some extra help locally.
For this contest, I spent one week alone in a campervan on the top of a hill in the Clonmel area(Bennes Hill), I activated EI/ON4EI callsign. During this week, I discovered the effort and resources needed (water, fuel, food) for such an expedition. Fortunately, I was not too far from my in-laws and I could get some logistic help if necessary. With everything I have learned, I can leave the nest.
July 2009 EI/ON4EI IARU World Championship & Island On The Air Contest FETHARD CLONMEL IRELAND
CONTEST SCORE: 661.272 POINTS/ 1020 QSO/ 118 ISLANDS. Result : 1st World
This is my first participation to the CQ WW DX SSB contest with the following installation VE7CA design 2 elements 3 band wire beam + 10 elements wirebeam 20m band + ˝ wave 40m vertical + inverted V 80/160m bands.The VE7CA interesting antenna is a 3 band 2 elements (reflector + radiator) antenna with 3 dipoles, an adaptation hairpin and a small balun at the center of the antenna, if you pull the feeder cable down, the antenna turns on it self and the direction of radiation is inverted.For more details, see :http://www.ve7ca.net/ANT/INT/VE7CA_2-EleWireYagi.pdf
August 2008 EI/ON4EI Russian District Award contest activity FETHARD CLONMEL IRELAND