Follow @VP2VGG on Twitter, for real time updates.
VP2VGG - British Virgin Islands 2014 DXpedition
ARRL 10M Contest December 13-14 (UTC) 2014
- Kevin McGrath, K6TOP
- Robert Capps, W6RWC
- Flex-6500 (SSB/CW)
- Icom 706 (Backup)
- 10m Vertical Moxon
- 10m Dipole
- 10/15/20m Multiband Dipole
- 20m Budipole Groundplane
- 40m Vertical
VP2VGG will be operating the 2014 ARRL 10M contest from Anegada, British Virgin Islands.
The contest plan, like last year, is to alternate CW and SSB very hour. Though we have 2 separate stations, the antennas are too close together to listen while the other station was transmitting due to RX overload.
QSL via LotW, eQSL and/or direct via W6RWC.
Arrived Tortola, BVI and started testing our gear. Had to pick up a few last minute replacement items, and make some repairs to the moxon antenna. We have multiple antennas in inventory, including the vertical Moxon and 1/2 wave dipole at 30' from last year. New this year is Robert's 20m buddipole groundplane, and a 40m wire vertical, which will be used for additional VP2VGG contacts outside of the weekend contest.
We visited the BVI Tecommunications Regulatory Commision, and receved our official VP2VGG license renewal. We were granted an extended window for the call, allowing us to operate beyond the contest dates. Our goal is to work modes and bands that are not generally active from the BVIs.
We will depart Tortola this morning, heading for Anegada, BVI.
We arrived at our planned midpoint stop at Virgin Gorda. Our plan was to stop here until Friday morning, when we would make the crossing to Anegada. Upon arrival at Virgin Gorda, we discovered that Robert's primary laptop for operating the FLEX (and digital modes) had a hardware failure, requiring significant rework of our station and operations for the contest. After a few hours of sorting things out, we moved to a single operating station, using a single rig. While this will be inconvenient, it won't be catastrophic.
We assembled The buddipole groundplane and 40m wire antennas at Virgin Gorda, and we operated 10, 12, 15, 20 and 40m. We've made over 500 contacts so far, and will continue to work as many stations as we can, before and after the contest this weekend.
So far, the FLEX-6500 is proving to be an outstanding radio in the field, only experiencing a single oddity on 40m phone, that required a restart of the SmartSDR client. Given the overwhelmingly positive signal reports, I'm really looking forward to seeing what this radio can do in the contest.
Well, the contest is over! This year was a challenging one, with multiple gear failures that reduced QSO counts at various points in the contest. Upon arrival on the island, we discovered our primary radio control laptop had developed a fatal hardware failure, and both of our contest antennas required creative field repairs. We actually ran out of solder mid-way through the weekend.
Backup gear got a full workout, with the Flex developing a software fault mid-Sunday afternoon, requiring us to fall back to the Icom 706 backup rig. I'll be the first to admit, going back to a knob radio during a contest was a rough adjustment.
Hardware wasn't the only issue we had to contend with... Right as the contest was about to begin, we discovered that our part of the island had mysteriously lost internet access - forcing us to operate without any spotting assistance. We appreciate those that spotted us, it allowed us to stay in run mode, and maintain higher multiple counts through the contest.
Even with the challenges (which felt more like a field today than a normal contest), we had a number of strong runs for Kevin (K6TOP) on CW, and Robert (W6RWC) on SSB - the strongest falling in the 150-175 Q/hr range.
We experienced large pileups from both the U.S. and Europe for most of the daylight hours. There were many strong openings to Europe throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. Late afternoon (local time) was marked with extremely strong openings to Arizona, California, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia. The U.S. was well represented in the contest, and we worked all U.S. States on SSB, and missed a WAS by a single state (ND) on CW. Late afternoon Sunday provided a fantastic treat, with a number of Japan stations coming in S9+, as well as a station from the Marshall Islands bringing in our last multipliers of the contest.
We're both back safely on the west coast. Robert was greeted with a pile of QSL cards to return. The first 20 or so will go out this week.
Logs have been uploaded to eQSL. They should be uploaded to ClubLog this weekend. LotW upload is pending a renewed certificate from ARRL, and it may be a couple of weeks before the logs are uploaded.
VP2VGG - British Virgin Islands 2013 DXpedition
ARRL 10M Contest December 13-15 2013
- Kevin McGrath, K6TOP
- Robert Capps, W6RWC
VP2VGG will be operating the 2013 ARRL 10M contest from Anegada, British Virgin Islands.
QSL via LotW oe eQSL (preferred) or Direct to W6RWC. No bureau cards, please.
2013 ARRL 10m contest
Arrived BVI and started setting up the station. The antennas are the vertical Moxon and 1/2 wave dipole at 30' from last year. New this year is Robert's 2 element 10m buddipole yagi. We re-tuned the moxon today so the SWR is better (and hopefully the pattern is better, too). Got the 2-el buddipole yagi up also, but its minimum SWR is at 29.300, so we have some tuning work tomorrow before the contest starts.
After dinner we put up a 20m inverted vee and Robert worked PSK-31 with good signal reports from US and Central America.
The contest plan, like last year, is to alternate CW and SSB very hour. Though we had 2 separate stations, the antennas were too close together and we really could not listen while the other station was transmitting due to RX overload.
12/13/13 Friday Solar Index: SFI=171, K=1
Started contest at 0000z (8pm local time - 1.5 hrs after sunset) on SSB. Not many signals on band, mostly South America as expected. Robert made 25 QSOs and we switched to CW. Couldn't get the CW station's computer linked to the SSB station laptop -- that took a few minutes to fix. But then made another 35 QSOs on CW. By 11pm band was still open -and a few JA,ZL,VK were worked. At midnight there were still a few signals on the CW band -- amazing to hear anything at midnight on 10m!
12/14/13 Saturday SFI=165, K=1
Turned on the radio at 7am and found the band *crowded* with European stations. It was wall to wall from 28.300 to 28.900 on SSB and 28.000 to 28.150 on CW. It was nearly impossible to find a clear run frequency so we just did S&P for the first 3 hrs with fairly slow rates. In the 4th hour with EU still bomming in, I went way up in the CW band found the clearest frequenccy I could (28133) and started calling CQ, hoping VP2VGG would get spotted way up there. After a few calls the pileup started and the rates went up to 100+/hr. Same on SSB as we kept up 100+/hr for the next 5 hours until dinner time.
In retrospect, for those first 3 hours in the morning we should have found the clearest frequency we could find and went to run mode ratherthan doing S&P.
12/15/13 Sunday SFI=163 K=0 to 5
Started 7am local time (1/2 after sunrise) with CW. The EU pileup started immediatey and was absolute chaos. EU ops kept calling while I was sending and receiving exchanges, getting a repeat or filling in a callsign. The unruly behavior slowed rates down by 1/2. Same for SSB. Robert commented that the EU SSB pile behavior sounded like a shouting mob at union hall meeting. Once EU propagation faded, rates went up to 110+ for the next 9 hours or so with peaks of 152/hr (SSB) and 122/hr CW. At 7pm the band went dead and Robert and I pulled the plug and went out for a lobster and steak dinner.
Final claimed scores:
<<<<<<<<<<< 2012 ARRL 10m contest notes >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Operators: Kevin K6TOP CW
Cliff K6CLS SSB
Log uploaded to LotW 1/9/2013 (will be processed on 1/18, due to LotW processing backlog)
If you worked us during the 10M contest, many thanks for the QSO!
Conditions on were generally poor on Saturday and just fair on Sunday, but witth a few good openings to NA and SA. Very few EU stations were heard. WIth SSN down in the 20s, many times signals were only S0-S2 in the pileups (when we even had one), Copy was difficult as we pulled out callisigns and exchanges from the noise and QRM. Thank you for your patience.
- LotW certifcate requested on 12/13
- Logs will be uploaded when LotW certificate has been recieved (hopefully by 1/1)
- Send direct QSLs to Cliff, K6CLS at address shown above
Up with the sun again. Start with CW at 09:00 local. Worked a smattering of EU and south east NA, only a few SA. 10:00 QSY to 28.460 SSB, ran with a nice pileup until noon, The last few QSOs were 55, 53, NA fading. On CW again from 12:00 local to 13:30, good rates. Band went dead for a while then picked up nicely. Running with the vertical Moxon all day. Worked a few VK and ZL on longpath just before the end of the contest at 8pm local.
- 800 QSOs (402 CW, 398 SSB)
- 142 mults
- 340,000 pts