Yesterday I joined Essex Hams Group for their annual Summer Solstice Field day with special event callsign GB1 JSS.
It was an early start I arrived at around 06:30 (yes that is in the morning!)
Charlie and Peter were already setting up the inverted L antenna for 80meter band.
The first hour was a bit of a disaster for me. I had previously tried, with some success, to set up a 3 pole antenna for my half sized G5RV. But this time it was a complete mess!
Whilst I provided great entertainment for the others watching it was obviously too painful to watch and finally someone came to give me some friendly advice.. Which of course was correct… It was too complicated and too much for one person to set up.. Time for plan B….
As I had previously set up, i put one pole guyed at 2 levels with my G5RV set up as an inverted V… As we will come to see, works effectively!!
That set up takes about 15-20 minutes to get the whole set up ready, which is much better for field days.
Once I had also got the radio set up I plugged in my new ATU, which is an automatic version for the FT857. It worked first time and drops the SWR to 1.1:1 on 20M. Perfect.
So I made the coffee and then sat down to start some contacts, started by scanning around and made contact with S18FIFA. A special call for the World Cup, something to do with football??
Few other contacts made with Europe, all going well. Then I stumble across a nice clear lound signal. Working stations across Europe. Tried to call but no luck. Then I hear the station saying he is “Split, 3 UP”.
Now I wasnt too sure what that meant, so listenned a little more and worked out that he was Receiving and Transmitting on different frequencies. That meant that if I wanted to call I had to do the same, the other way around. Erm.. How to make my FT857 do that? So as is the norm I asked one of the guys who happily provided me with the information I needed to program the two VFO’s and active the “split” mode. Call and try again. Nothing. Again. Nope. 3rd time lucky?
GB1 go ahead…
So I exchange my QSO information and give signal report of 5/5 and receive a 5/4 report back. Now all of this sounds standard.
Except this station was in HAWAII!! KH7X over 7,200 miles away!
I was excited (as you can see!) as this was my first DX contact and I came to find out a very rare contact. There are people who have been on Amateur radio for decades who have never been able to get Hawaii and there’s me with my licence less than 2 weeks.
Ironically the next contact I made was Chelmsford! From the furthers to the closest.. But was great to get all the contacts !
The rest of the morning was spent working stations from Europe, Canada, a portable QRP station on holiday in Spain, Finland, Slovenia to name a few.
The rest of the afternoon was spent, working different stations, band and modes. I even put the callsign out on DMR TG91, world wide and made a few contacts with people from all over the world.
Early evening time around 18:00 I could hear Tokyo on 20m and got hopeful I would get my second impressive DX of the day but it wasn’t to be. There were so many stations calling, one big pile up!
Still Pete (MoPSX) had a go on my set up on 20m and made a few good contacts including J48GEO on the island of Lesbos.
The day finally wound up about 20:30 local time, as the sun was dipping behind the tree’s and the temperature started to drop.
Although I’ve only been in the hobby a few weeks, this was truly the best day I’ve had with any hobby for a number of years. So many wonderful people to talk to and share idea’s and opinions about all aspects of radio.
Hopefully I will be able to return to Galleywood Common on Saturday for the evening to work the ARRL Field day. But work may get in the way this weekend.
A big thanks to everyone who helped make the day such a wonderful time and Special Thanks to Charlie (M0PZT) for organising and allowing me to use the Event Callsign GB1JSS.
Can’t wait for next year!