Finally, the time for the first VHF contest in 2019 arrived, the time of the 1. Subregional Contest. Due to the fact that we obtained our licence only in December 2018, this was our first contest also in the series of Slovak championships in VHF operation.
However, our excitement from the first VHF contest was spoilt by reality. Because of our busy work schedules, we didn’t build the planned antenna system with YAGI antennas according to DG7YBN. We used an antenna system, which was built to track flying space objects, consisting of one 7 el. YAGI antenna for the 144 MHz and a 17 el. YAGI for the 432 MHz. During the winter months and after the loss of signal from our first skCUBE satellite, our system wasn’t used for a longer period of time. We checked everything, calibrated once again and waited for the start of the contest full of excitement.
Already in the first minutes of the contest we started to suspect that something wasn’t right. It was quiet on the 2 m band. In the first hour, we established only two connections and only with stations from Hungary. It was clear to us, also based on my experience with VHF contests from the east of the republic, that our contest results won’t be breaking records. But we really hadn’t expected such misery. We listened to stations from Košice that took part in the contest, and give and take, all were in a similar situation.
More computers than transcievers. :)
Early in the evening, we were joined by Dušan, OM3WAK, who took it upon himself to improve our score. He managed to make a few connections and left us to embrace the noise, stating while saying his goodbyes: ‘Boys, conditions are bad, there is only noise left, you can go home’. We didn’t feel discouraged though and continued to tune. We managed to make a number of CW connections and towards the end we added some more over the SSB. We finished the day with 20 connections and went home to sleep at 23:15.
We returned back in the morning and started chasing connections. After a while, it became clear that the conditions on the band were the same as the day before, so we decided to start operating on the 432 MHz band. We swapped the antennas, ran through the band but made only two connections, with HA6W and Danko, OM3WC. For a while, we tried to establish connections, but with no success. We decided to end our participation in the contest just before noon.
Since our antennas were in full operational mode, we turned them towards the sky and waited for two amateur radio satellites to fly over. This attempt only confirmed our concerns. The antenna system was designed for a different kind of operation and its use for ground competitions has its significant limitations. Our operation up to date has been in a fully automatic mode controlled by one computer. Our next important step will be the construction of an antenna system for Earth-to-Earth connections.
Due to our club’s focus directed towards satellite operation, we are planning our following activities specifically in this area. Some components of the parabolic system for the communication of the centimetre bands are already on their way to us, but that will be a different story. Stay with us and you’ll learn more soon.
Peter OM8WG, Dušan OM3WAK a Miroslav Šmelko took part in the contest.
Summmary of the contest
Band 144 MHz
Total number of connections: 23
Total number of points: 3 454
Number of countries: 5 (13x OM, 6x HG, 2x SP, 1x 9A, YU)
Number of locators: 11 (9x KN08, 3x JN97, 2x KN09, 2x JN88, 1x KN18, KN05, JO91, JO90, JN86, JN85)
Band 432 MHz
Total number of connections: 2
Total number of points: 377
Number of countries: 2 (1 x HG, OM)
Number of locators: 2 (1 x KN08, JN88)