IK0FTA and I0CUT before the 1994 UKSMG Competition
It had all been arranged for some days. Ugo I0CUT and myself (IK0FTA) were dealing with the expedition to the Vatican City and HV4NAC. Francesco (station manager) had given his permission and we only had to organise how to get many 6m OP's into the log.
The date had been chosen: June 4th 1994! This was the date of the UKSMG Contest and the starting date of the IARU Contest on 6m. Statistics show that the first few days of June usually produce good 6m Sporadic-E.
The morning of the longest day started at 0400z. We collected a FT 726 (and some watts), 2 portable PCs, one for packet and the other for the log. Two VHF radio's were used for service communications, a TNC, a PSU, additional feeder, two extra batteries if needed, a whip antenna for the cluster and a fridge full of food.
At 0600z we were ready to enter the station. We met Francesco, our landlord, who took us into the shack. What an emotion! While Ugo assembled the 6m station, I assembled the first PC for the station log; we had decided to use for that purpose the well-known program by Alberto I0XGR. When we had set-up the 6m station for monitoring, Ugo tried to assemble the packet station.
Listening on the band we could hear several TV carriers and at 50.110, a cellular telephone on FM from Eastern Europe, Ugo, in the meanwhile, tried many times to connect the packet. I can hear CW, it is ER5OK!
IK0FTA and I0CUT AFTER the 1994 UKSMG Competition!
Ugo is having difficulty with a piece of RG-58, connected poorly to a PL-259. I decide not to call the country at this point, in order to avoid a tragedy. After many attempts we decided the packet link was useless, due to a weak signal.
Back on 6m, 4X1IF is CQing, I call him but he does not reply. What a pity! It is time to pass to the attack, Ugo leaves the cluster to its destiny and, at last together, we decide to begin to call.
We decide to use 50.155 and 50.145. We begin with the Italian band, first QSO is with OZ9MTR, then...the silence! The band is closed; we use some local bands until we hear LZ1ZX/P with very loud signals. Maybe the band is opening? Not on your life! We contact some local Italians, then a SV another LZ and then...the silence again!
The view from the shack cheers us up, but it is not the lift we need. Time goes by, we decide to call again, EH7CD and EH9IB answer (the best DX was 1522Km). The beacon CT0WW arrives at 599. We are told of the presence of 5T5JC and JY7SIX during the morning (while we were listen to 4X and LZ). Encouraged by the Portuguese beacon's presence we keep on calling with new enthusiasm. There is the beacon, but as usual where are the CTs?
Desperate, we decide to give up the UKSMG contest, which only allows QSOs outside of the international "DX Window" and we move to 50.110.
What an experience. Ugo had previously operated from DX locations, but for me it was the first time. We listen to some PAs via MS, but nothing else! Their signals were strong, but short.
After lunch, a rice salad, we continued to call. T70A answers; it is wonderful to hear them active via tropo, but what about propagation?
On tropo we worked, with good signals, IV3 and I3, with best DX IV3VFP at 556KM. IT9IPQ/9 called and when we turned our 5 element antenna south, he was a big signal. We decided to call towards the south, but with no success. Back to the north and with a little difficulty 9A2BZ was logged. This cheered us up! Immediately after it was the turn of I3LDS. But hopes soon die, as the band goes back to being dead.
It was time to end our operation. We dismantled the equipment, leaving six until the last.....just in case. We arrived back home very disappointed with only 34 QSOs scattered between 16 squares and 8 countries, but with some good thoughts regarding the efficiency of our tropo signals.
Signals were weak and patience was needed, but when stations turned their antenna towards us, good tropo distances were possible. We hope to repeat this operation soon and with more fortune.
For those who have worked HV4NAC, please remember that QSLs go via IK0FVC. Please don't forget to enclose return postage and a SAE, thanks!
73 Sergio IK0FTA.
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