The CQWW SSB event runs over the last weekend of October and covers all contest bands from 1.8 MHz to 28 MHz. The event is one of the largest international events of the HF calendar and encourages stations to operate from far-flung and exotic parts of the world.
We opted for the sun-drenched shores near Ongar in Essex, using our contest site at the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker. We had decided before the event it would be more of a casual entry, as the contest had started at 00:00 Hrs on the previous Friday/Saturday morning. We have previously taken part in the event, with a most notable event in 2015.
This year we used a 7 MHz vertical, with elevated radials, and a 3e multiband beam for 28/21/14 MHz @ 10m.
3e Multiband Beam7 MHz Vertical
The HF bands remained in good shape, with some good openings on 28 and 21 MHz and the vertical worked well at 7 MHz. The lower HF bands were predictably crowded, so I concentrated on search and pounce on the higher bands.
George M1GEO and Fred G3SVK with a great sunset behind.
QSO and DXCC per band.
28 MHz provided some interesting DX with a lot of station from Argentina, Brazil, French Guiana, Chile, Suriname, Namibia, South Africa, Qatar and Reunion Island.
28 MHz QSO Map
All Bands QSO Map
In total, we worked 417 QSO in 76 DXCC and had some fun on the bands.
Over the 2016 Easter public holiday weekend, the team at the SNBCG decided to participate in the CQWW WPX SSB contest, using the club callsign MX0SNB. On arrival, our usual camp location close to the bunker’s communication mast had become unusable due to recent wet weather, with the grass boggy to say the least! It soon became apparent one of the vehicles was stuck in the mud, and after much pushing and pulling we decided another location would be required. Luckily the owner of the site offered us another location, higher up on the hill with the added advantage “that once onto the hill your vehicle only need to slide down to the bottom of the hill to exit” – a very useful feature!
Using George M1GEO‘s 14 MHz homebrew beam and Dave M0TAZ‘s 21 MHz beam, we set up our stations on a lovely sunny Friday afternoon.
Power was provided by 2 x Honda EU20 generators coupled together and providing 4 kW of peak-power. Enough to run the two stations with amplifiers and a kettle for making tea!
Dave M0YOL kindly offered his awning, along with copious cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and supplies throughout the event. We had completed the set up before sun down on Friday, allowing us to complete some testing with both of the solid state amplifiers.George M1GEO and Chris G8OCV had recently purchased an SPE Expert 1.3K-FA amplifier and Dave M0TAZ was using the hal1200_atlantic, with both amplifiers are capable of providing over 1kW of RF power, more than enough to meet the UK full legal power of 400W.
George M1GEO and Chris G8OCV have designed and built a 3 element 14 MHz beam, the design uses roach poles and provides a lightweight portable beam. The 21 MHz beam Dave M0TAZ constructed was based on DK7ZB design, and the construction details have been previously discussed in this article on his personal website.
The set up inside the caravan (trailer) awning provided a dry and largely windproof operating position, although at this early in the year the evenings are somewhat chilly! The weather provided a real challenge as the weekend progressed. In such a high and exposed location, with storm ‘Katie’ approaching the south of the UK.
Over the course of the next 48 hours, the rain and the wind increased to storm force with gusts in London of 50 mph, and in our exposed hilltop location gusts in excess of 70 mph were felt rocking the caravan.
This video, comprised to clips from throughout the weekend captures the more sane parts of the experience, with the scary parts unrecorded (because we were all too busy holding things down)!
We lowered the beams and continued as best as possible using a vertical and doublet antenna – well, it started vertical!
Late on Sunday night and in early hours of Monday morning, the storm really hit had, the awning was in danger of parting from the caravan so the decision was taken to quickly move all the equipment into the safety of the caravan. It wasn’t until the following morning, when the storm had passed, that we were able to assess the damage!
Unfortunately the beam is not likely to make any further field days, but George M1GEO and Chris G8OCV do have plans for a mark 2 aluminium version soon.
Dave M0TAZ‘s 21 MHz beam fared a little better with the weather and survived the storm, but unfortunately, the mast will require a new guide rail (a plastic wedge that stops the mast rotating) due to the wind loading put upon the mast in the storm.
Despite the awful weather conditions we did manage to work 744 QSO in 94 DXCC in the main on 14 and 21 MHz.
The following maps show QSO made on 21 MHz (Red pins) and 14 MHz (Yellow pins) showing North America, South America and Asia.
This weekend saw members of the bunker group activating the site for the CQWW SSB Contest. Operating from the Dave M0YOL’s caravan awning, we set up two stations, one at each end.
We arrived about midday on Friday 23rd October and got setup. Dave M0TAZ was underway with the construction of his 21 MHz beam while George M1GEO and Dave M0YOL were setting up the caravan. Some time later the 14 MHz beam was built and put on the SCAM12.
Then food! Here, we see the pre-contest dinner inside the awning, with (left to right) Dave M0YOL, Dave M0TAZ and Chris G8OCV.
… and breakfast …
Icom IC7700 HF transceiver
Heathkit SB200 amplifier
Yaesu GX600RC rotator
Kenwood TS990 HF transceiver
HAL 1200 amplifier
14 MHz 3 element homebrew yagi
21 MHz 4 element homebrew yagi
1.8/3.5 MHz doublet; 26 metres
28 MHz vertical dipole; 8 metres
7 MHz ground-plane vertical; ground level
The shack was powered by two Honda EU20i 2kW slient generators with phasing harness, delivering a solid 4kW of mains power. We were a bit worried with the heavy rain on Saturday, so we fashioned an umbrella to help protect the electrics!
During the evenings, it got pretty cold. Here, George M1GEO operates with hood up for insulation, while Dave M0TAZ’s amplifier reports 8C inside the shack.
Band conditions were good (and busy), and many QSOs were made over the weekend. At the start of the contest, some of the lower bands became very packed!
Overall, we worked 1434 in our casual operating weekend. You can see the full log here. Some interesting contacts include Tunisia, many Caribbean Islands, China, Ceuta & Melilla, French Guiana, Liechtenstein, African Italy, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. For more information, look at the full countries breakdown!
A more comprehensive breakdown of QSOs per band can be found here.
Much more analysis and breakdown can be found on the CQWW 2015 SNBCG pages. Analysis by SH5 v.2.39, Dmitriy Gulyaev UA4WLI.
A big thanks to Dave, Dave and Dave (M0YOL, M0TAZ and G7UVW) as well as Chris G8OCV, Pete G0IAP and George M1GEO for making the weekend possible.
George M1GEO, Chris G8OCV, Dave M0YOL and Spencer M0STO set up on Friday evening, in order to start the CQWW SSB WPX contest on time. Other members were to follow on Saturday morning.
During setup, George M1GEO managed to get his car stuck in the mud, and Dave M0YOL attempted to tow him out, resulting in both vehicles becoming stuck in the deep mud. Some photos of the incident below.
We ended up setting the 20 metre beam up in the dark:
Below Chris G8OCV and Spencer M0STO admire the second HF beam.
The club took part in this years CQ World Wide contest this year from the Secret Nuclear Bunker. The event was organised mainly by George, M1GEO and Dave M0TAZ. We operated two stations, one on 20m with George’s monoband 3 element Yagi and one on 15m with Dave’s 2 element Quad. We also operated on some other bands with a doublet.
The total stations we worked was 1743. George M1GEO has compiled some very interesting statistics which are well worth a browse. Take a look at them. The full log can be viewed as a 35 page PDF file. Some photos can be seen in the gallery. More will be added as they come in! There is also a QSO Map.
We worked 109 countries in many CQ zones, 33 out of 40 were worked. It was a great event and one I’m sure one we will add to the calendar for 2015!
Below is a world map of the contacts that were made over the weekend. Click the image to view full size!