July saw the annual trip to Guernsey for the IOTA Contest take place under the MU0HTJ callsign, although with a slightly more scaled back team in the form of 2E0SQL, 2U0FER, 2U0TKB, M0PCB, M0GEJ and M0TZO. However, this didn’t seem to affect the final score as will be revealed later.
On arrival on Guernsey it was a quick task of getting the main camp setup with sleeping accommodation along with a tent for some operating outside of the contest. This station was Iain (M0PCB)’s Elecraft K3 and Force 12 Sigma-5 vertical which worked well with a few hundred contacts made using personal callsigns. We all enjoyed having an extra few dB by using the Guernsey prefix either as MU or 2U.
The Friday before the contest was set aside to build and test the new antennas. This year it was decided to try single full wave loops for 20,15,10m. as well as a 40m quarter-wave vertical and an 80m dipole. In the evening, members of Guernsey Amateur Radio Society (GARS) joined us at the camp for a barbeque prepared by Louis.
On Saturday morning arrived and everything was moved to the main contest operating site outside Rousse Tower. The tower is a fully restored loophole tower. It was built in the 19th century to defend the island from the French. To operate from this year we had been kindly loaned the island civil defence trailer to operate from which kept us dry throughout the contest.
We managed to get all the antennas up within a couple of hours these being 40m quarter wave vertical and loops for 20,15,10m and a low (no more than 26ft high) 80m dipole, inside the van we had the usual array of bits, 6×2 homebrew switch, Elecraft K3, Yaesu FT-450, range of laptops running N1MM which made serial numbers easy for this contest, unlike Win-Test last year! We also had full cluster access via the local telco SureCW, which gave us access to the DX Cluster and kept operators not running the contest entertained with Twitter & Facebook.
Before the contest we managed to put together a team rota which allowed us to keep the Run and Mult stations active throughout the 24 hour period even during the night which is always a slog but 2U0TKB kept the RUN station going in the wee hours before Iain (M0PCB) took over for an early morning CW stint.
Conditions on the whole seemed poor, we worked very little on 10m and found 15m hard going to get any serious runs going. This made 20m our main band for a large part of the contest along with 40m during the night. However, we were impressed with the low 80m dipole which allowed us to easily work into the West Coast of the USA and also South America.
It was also nice, due to the public location of the station, that we got lots of passers by stopping to ask what we were doing. This gave us an opportunity to do some outreach not only to local residents but plenty of tourists. We also tried to mark on the map on the outside of the van every country/island we worked so we could use this as a visual tool, although it was low tech it went down really well with young and old alike.
At the end of the contest we managed to end up with an impressive score with an extra million points compared to 2013.
IOTA Contest Claimed Score:
Band Mode QSOs Pts IOT 3.5 CW 38 400 13 3.5 LSB 85 965 24 7 CW 216 1490 24 7 LSB 212 1840 40 14 CW 663 4125 42 14 USB 464 3230 57 21 CW 185 1305 31 21 USB 81 795 35 28 CW 4 60 4 28 USB 6 90 6 Total Both 1954 14300 276 Score : 3,946,800