wythall radio club

having fun with RF

At G5AT – a view of mission control!

December 12, 2022 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Contest, Fun, News

A cold misty mid-December afternoon.. an undisclosed destination on the fringes of South Birmingham (a safe house?).  Three mature males from Wythall Radio Club stagger their arrivals (to avoid suspicion?) and are ushered into a radio operating room the likes of which this scribe (John M6KET) has never experienced before. **

After the understated 40-watt light bulb atmosphere of last week’s QRP operation, here we are confronted with a console of modern DX and contesting equipment: Yaesu FTDX5000, keyboards, morse keys, headsets, linear amplifiers, Optibeam OB6-3M antenna rotator, computer screens showing automatic logging programmes, the global grey line and much else besides.

Yes, it was the second day of the ARRL 10m SSB/ CW contest and Lee G0MTN had kindly invited Chris G3YHF, Clive M7OCB and John M6KET into his beautifully designed ‘shack’ to operate the specially allocated call G5AT, celebrating the first European Amateur contact with the USA back in 1922.

No such challenge with contacts this afternoon as on a busy band QSO’s with our USA cousins flowed.  DX contacts included Chris making an effortless contact with Aruba and John had no trouble in reeling in Halesowen!

Clive was soon into the action with SSB and when both John and Clive faltered in the white hot heat of contest pressure Lee was on hand to keyboard us out of panic from a back seat!!

On one occasion scrambling for his usual pencil and paper on the desk in front of him, John was surprised and spooked to hear his contest CW QSO completed with his hands nowhere near the key- magic indeed.

Watching the skill with which Lee worked was an education in itself as he reeled off a string of points and contacts at astonishing speeds and I believe by the end of the afternoon some 150 contacts had been made.

The beam and power obviously helped but the legerdemain of the operator’s fingers on the keyboard is impressive (particularly if you are a one finger keyboard typist!).  One can only imagine the levels of concentration and endurance required when operating a full contest over 36/48 hours.

Our thanks to Lee and family for their hospitality, mince pies and coffee and this much appreciated opportunity to dip  into the contesting world on one of the major weekends of the season.

** Apologies this week to John le Carre