Tag Archives: Commonwealth

Commonwealth Contest 13/14 March 2021

I was very pleased to be invited to operate one of the WIA “Headquarters station” callsigns, VK1WIA in this CW-only contest. The WIA had approved operation in this contest using VK*WIA callsigns, provided operators were WIA members.

I could have operated this event from home but thought it might be preferable that I operate within VK1. So I selected Red Hill, a few km south of Parliament house and fairly much in the centre of Canberra.

Equipment: IC706 mobile rig, 100w.

Antenna: Linked dipole as used for some years for SOTA operations.

Mounting pole: 7m telescopic pole, fibreglass (part of current SOTA kit).

Paddle: MorseUS paddle, with bent paddle arms…

Power: LiFePO4 battery, 7AH on the first day. Car battery on the second day.

Weather: Rain forecast to start around midnight. It did rain overnight and in the morning. I was in the car so was (unusually) comfortable.

Operation started at 10 UTC or 8pm local time. I started on 40m as I expected higher bands to be fading or useless to me. Signal levels were good from most VK call areas and ZL. Canada signals were good. Signals from Europe were fading as their sunrise would have happened already.

I moved to 80m to see how conditions were there and whether I could make many contacts. It was amazing to hear VE (Canada) stations there on 80m, but I think only one of them heard me at all and I didn’t complete a contact. I went back to 40m for a few more contacts and had logged 26 when I packed up for the night at about 11pm local time.

I found the CW operation was fairly predictable, with most operators using speeds of between 20 and 25 wpm. I found that starting with the keyer set at 18wpm, my sending improved and I was able to bring it up to 22wpm and still send accurately. There is no memory keyer function in the IC706. I could have taken an external memory keyer and that would have been quite convenient, saving some sending. It took a little while to get used to sending the VK1WIA callsign.

In the first session I used the portable battery and ran 50w output from the IC706. For the next session on Sunday afternoon I wanted to increase the power to 100w and use the car battery, so I bought some cable and connectors to hook up to the car battery.

In the second session I made more contacts, finishing up with a total of 56. Signals from the UK on 40m during the afternoon were superb. While my log didn’t have many contacts listed, the HQ stations were sought after because there were bonus points for working them.

A few photos show my setup and antenna on Red Hill.

After submitting my (very small) log, I assumed I might see the VK1WIA log at the bottom of the list of results and nothing else would be said. But unknown to me there was an award for operating portable and I was given a special mention in the contest results report in the RSGB’s Radcom magazine. Goes to show you never know what will come of these activities. I might even do this again next year.

Thanks to Allan VK2GR for inviting me to operate this station.

Extract from Radcom article.