M6BBC - M0TTB Bloggy Thing Archive for 2010
Performance has been impressive thus far, and I have been fortunate to be able to do A-B switching between the new beam and my trusty cobwebb for accurate comparison. The cobwebb is actually higher than the MQ-26SR until the wind drops a bit.

The difference on the higher bands has been quite staggering, notably 10m where signals are really 5-6 S points higher than the cobwebb... I never thought 10m was a strong point for the cobwebb and this has been emphasised by the TGM's performance. Similar, if not more dramatic improvement is had on the 6m band... but the cobwebb has never been marketed as having 6m in it's armory and it's simply presenting a sensible load to the transmitter for a bit of Es fun, so fair enough..

On lower bands the difference is not quite as dramatic BUT the TGM seems to remove all noise from the bands except for the signals, the noise floor has dropped right down yet the signals are 2 or more S points higher. The front to back rejection is maybe 3 S points max, but side rejection is more like 4-5 S points. My neighbour's plasma tv spikes are handy beacons, although I have to switch off the NB to notice it. The TGM gets spike of around 4-5 points when pointed at the offending tv, yet vanishes to nothing when pointed away. Like I said, the IC-7700 NB removes it completely anyway.

At the moment it is difficult to determine how much my signal has improved, if it has at all!

Anyway, the intention is to add the director kit to the MQ-26 in the next few months, and this should marginally improve performance.

Sunday 30th May
Managed the E4X dxped on 20m today, big EU pile-up but not a tough one really, I did hear them on 10m very strong but I'm pathetic on 10m even without a pile-up to contend with. Hopefully I'll get a few more bandfills before they finish.

A few new dxcc since my last entry, TN was annoyingly hard for me to work for a number of weeks but got him in the end by simply being ready at the time he usually gets on the bands. VQ was another that I really should have worked long ago, but never quite made it until recently. The YI9 dxped came and went, I managed them on 3 bands and they were an easy catch.

Everything is geared to go as far as my new HF antenna project, TGM MQ26SR has arrived, as well as a Yaesu G-450 rotator and accompanying bits and pieces (cable, brackets). The hard work in digging out about 10 cubic feet of earth has been completed, and delivery of concrete shouldn't be too far away. Mixing 625kg of concrete will test a few muscles that haven't been used for a while!

Also in the gap between entries on here, I'm delighted to say my good friend Graham has passed his full exam and is now roaming the bands with his M0YAZ callsign.


Monday 29th March
I gave a few points away in the wpx ssb contest over the weekend, picking up a few new ones, as well as two new ones outside of the contest... so they were a bit more rewarding. Not too sure if I'll ever get any confirmation from the AP I worked on 17m on Saturday... I get the impression, similar to the EP I worked, that I may as well have set fire to the $$, but I can always hope.

With qsl cards in mind, it was nice to work a couple of new dxcc that accepted paypal payments for cards... I have heard of a few dxpeditions doing this in the past but never really anything that applied to myself until now. In my opinion, OQRS (online qsl request system) is an excellent step forward for numerous reasons.
1: You know the dx gets the $$ in their own currency.
2: It saves me $2 in postage costs.
3: The dx doesn't want my card, so why waste one, and I just don't like the thought of my card getting binned/pulped
4: Saves time
5: Saves an envelope
6: It's easy!
7: Pointed out to me today in an e-mail with Mike AJ9C (PZ5M, who also does OQRS), you don't get the heartbreak of an NIL sent back, with a total waste of $$.
8: Greenstamps are not that easy to get in many countries, banks seem reluctant to hand out too many $1 bills in one go.

I think people (certainly myself) are more inclined to give a bit of extra support to a dx or dxped when typing out a paypal payment than the somewhat painful experience of sticking a $5 bill in the envelope, and then not being sure where that money will end up.

So three cheers for those who operate OQRS, but it needs increasing take-up by QSL managers and those in countries with suspect mail services, or anyone who doesn't need/want your card.

Tuesday 23rd March
Big plans, relatively speaking, are afoot at this qth over the coming months. I have decided to move up from my trusty cobwebb to a small beam type and relocate my antenna/s to further down the garden, some 70ft away from the shack. My heavy duty Spiderbeam 10m telescoping mast will be utilised to raise a TGM MQ36SR & rotator. In the short term, it maybe a MQ26SR and then purchase the extra director kit....  possibly getting 'interested parties' used to the 2 element design, and sneaking on the third element after a few months.

As with most people who can accommodate a cobwebb, but not much more, we spend much time dwelling upon mini beams... yes, despite comments from 'the fortunate' that mini beams are rubbish compared to their larger brethren and all the other stuff like 'traps are crap', 'coils spoil', we do realise that all that BUT they are an improvement over most wire type and vertical antennas on the 14MHz+ bands. And also to those who say 'Hexbeams and/or Spiderbeams' don't look as bad once they are up... they are still huge beasts for those living in normal urban environment in the U.K.

Basically, for mortals thinking about mini beams, it's the Cushcraft MA5B that's top of the wishlist... they are quite easy to find on the used market, pretty cheap at around £200 used, and a reliable performer. However, I spend a huge amount of time on the 17 & 12m warc bands, so if I'm going with a small beam, then I really want a bit more than dipole performance on those bands. The TGM MQ series also shows some minor gain on 6m, which is a bonus of sorts. But yes, they do cost!!

Monday 15th March
A very active last 10 days on the bands with numerous goodies that has seen my dxcc list rise to 169. Openings to the far east were good, and I finally managed to get, what was an early target of mine, HL South Korea, it's not as if there's any shortage of HL's (or DS's) but I simply haven't caught up with any until HL3ERJ appeared on 17m. I also caught the very good holiday operation of 8Q7NC on 15m.

The real highlight was today on 15m, tuning around and found the initial calls of EP3HF... plenty of qsb but I knew I had to act fast before mayhem broke loose, and I made it. I could feel 100's of other stations breathing down my neck as I made the qso ;-) I spotted him on the cluster after the qso and things got very busy from then on. If I hadn't found him first, I wouldn't have stood a chance.

Other highlights were picking up an 9M2 on a very rare foray onto 20m, HRDlog.net getting their new server so my front page hasn't got a large void of empty space on it and receiving my card from XR1A, the Chilean lighthouse operation from last summer. To cap it all, and almost as rare as an EP in my logbook, was having a good qso with Russell 2E0RUS on 17m.

A couple more dxcc and I will no longer be an embarrassment to CDXC on the clublog Club league table, reaching the average dxcc count for the members. It has to be said, I'm not doing too badly on cludlog for dxcc over last 12 months.


Friday 5th March
What a good week on the bands, starting with Dickson EL2DT last Saturday, card sent on Sunday, confirmed on Wednesday... which is as quick as it ever gets for a card to come back, let alone exotic African DX. It did help having Joe EL2FM as qsl manager no more than 20 miles away from me.

Anyway, as the week progressed, the higher bands opened nicely, with a lot of W activity on 12m and some on 10m. 
Today (Friday) was amazing.... every time I went into the shack, I seemed to work a new dxcc! First off, finally catching up with the 9U dxpedition, a bit later and working Carlos TI8CC to bolster my feeble tally of Central American dxcc, then later on, tuning further down the band, I heard Bob 5V7BR finishing off a qso with a SP and worked him first call.
Another nice bonus was coming across 5R8UI on 15m saying 'any more 0's'... 'get in here quick' was my thought and I did, and picked IOTA AF-057. It makes up for all those times when I come across DX calling 1's and working upwards or calling 9's and working downwards!

I will make the most of today and celebrate... I really cannot imagine ever working 3 new ones in a day from now on.

Unfortunately hrdlog.net fell over last week and has not got back up since... so my online logbook and qso map are not showing.

Friday 26 February
As usual, I had a bit of a winter break, although I was semi active on HF around the Xmas period, picking up a new dxcc on Boxing day, with an SU (already confirmed).

February has been quite active for M0TTB on the HF bands... helped by some significant solar activity and some real effect on the higher HF bands. However, until today (26th) and 'Poirot & Inspector Morse devotee' HR2J Javier, new dxcc have eluded me. Still, I have had many excellent qso's over the last month and on bands that are more rewarding. My 15m and 12m dxcc counts have gone up nicely, with the likes of VP8, ZS, Z2, 5H, TL, W, on 12m.. Being able to have decent long qso's with W's on 15m and 12m really is a great sign that things are heading in the right direction.

Even though solar activity has dropped off since the SFI touched 100, the word seems to be out and the higher bands are getting the activity that they haven't had for a long time. I'm sure there will be plenty of bleak times ahead, but the tide has turned.
Wednesday 7th July
The new aerial (TGM MQ-26SR) is finally up and has seen action on the bands, 2 new dxcc (CP on 17m and JT on 20m), within a day of using it, and even then it wasn't at full height, in fact about 18ft above ground instead of the final 35ft. The wind has picked up over the last few days and I want it fairly calm to get the guys sorted out. The major good news, other than the performance of the new beam, is that I can lift it to it's full height.

A reminder that the rotator and beam are atop a 33ft 10.5kg heavy duty telescopic push-up mast, with a stub mast of about 2ft). It isn't light but it is manageable. The key is to wear gloves with rubber grip (yachting/sailing gloves) and to pull the sections up (not difficult being 6ft 4inch myself) rather than pushing up. The rubber palmed (and fingered) gloves also enable you to hold a free section up with just one hand whilst using the other to fiddle around with the substantial hex key to lock the section. Lowering the mast is obvously easier, but the rubber gloves don't help for this as the mast just stick to these rather than sliding under control, you can use the friction in the locks to help matters.
Performance has been impressive thus far, and I have been fortunate to be able to do A-B switching between the new beam and my trusty cobwebb for accurate comparison. The cobwebb is actually higher than the MQ-26SR until the wind drops a bit.

The difference on the higher bands has been quite staggering, notably 10m where signals are really 5-6 S points higher than the cobwebb... I never thought 10m was a strong point for the cobwebb and this has been emphasised by the TGM's performance. Similar, if not more dramatic improvement is had on the 6m band... but the cobwebb has never been marketed as having 6m in it's armory and it's simply presenting a sensible load to the transmitter for a bit of Es fun, so fair enough..

On lower bands the difference is not quite as dramatic BUT the TGM seems to remove all noise from the bands except for the signals, the noise floor has dropped right down yet the signals are 2 or more S points higher. The front to back rejection is maybe 3 S points max, but side rejection is more like 4-5 S points. My neighbour's plasma tv spikes are handy beacons, although I have to switch off the NB to notice it. The TGM gets spike of around 4-5 points when pointed at the offending tv, yet vanishes to nothing when pointed away. Like I said, the IC-7700 NB removes it completely anyway.

At the moment it is difficult to determine how much my signal has improved, if it has at all!

Anyway, the intention is to add the director kit to the MQ-26 in the next few months, and this should marginally improve performance.

Sunday 30th May
Managed the E4X dxped on 20m today, big EU pile-up but not a tough one really, I did hear them on 10m very strong but I'm pathetic on 10m even without a pile-up to contend with. Hopefully I'll get a few more bandfills before they finish.

A few new dxcc since my last entry, TN was annoyingly hard for me to work for a number of weeks but got him in the end by simply being ready at the time he usually gets on the bands. VQ was another that I really should have worked long ago, but never quite made it until recently. The YI9 dxped came and went, I managed them on 3 bands and they were an easy catch.

Everything is geared to go as far as my new HF antenna project, TGM MQ26SR has arrived, as well as a Yaesu G-450 rotator and accompanying bits and pieces (cable, brackets). The hard work in digging out about 10 cubic feet of earth has been completed, and delivery of concrete shouldn't be too far away. Mixing 625kg of concrete will test a few muscles that haven't been used for a while!

Also in the gap between entries on here, I'm delighted to say my good friend Graham has passed his full exam and is now roaming the bands with his M0YAZ callsign.


Monday 29th March
I gave a few points away in the wpx ssb contest over the weekend, picking up a few new ones, as well as two new ones outside of the contest... so they were a bit more rewarding. Not too sure if I'll ever get any confirmation from the AP I worked on 17m on Saturday... I get the impression, similar to the EP I worked, that I may as well have set fire to the $$, but I can always hope.

With qsl cards in mind, it was nice to work a couple of new dxcc that accepted paypal payments for cards... I have heard of a few dxpeditions doing this in the past but never really anything that applied to myself until now. In my opinion, OQRS (online qsl request system) is an excellent step forward for numerous reasons.
1: You know the dx gets the $$ in their own currency.
2: It saves me $2 in postage costs.
3: The dx doesn't want my card, so why waste one, and I just don't like the thought of my card getting binned/pulped
4: Saves time
5: Saves an envelope
6: It's easy!
7: Pointed out to me today in an e-mail with Mike AJ9C (PZ5M, who also does OQRS), you don't get the heartbreak of an NIL sent back, with a total waste of $$.
8: Greenstamps are not that easy to get in many countries, banks seem reluctant to hand out too many $1 bills in one go.

I think people (certainly myself) are more inclined to give a bit of extra support to a dx or dxped when typing out a paypal payment than the somewhat painful experience of sticking a $5 bill in the envelope, and then not being sure where that money will end up.

So three cheers for those who operate OQRS, but it needs increasing take-up by QSL managers and those in countries with suspect mail services, or anyone who doesn't need/want your card.

Tuesday 23rd March
Big plans, relatively speaking, are afoot at this qth over the coming months. I have decided to move up from my trusty cobwebb to a small beam type and relocate my antenna/s to further down the garden, some 70ft away from the shack. My heavy duty Spiderbeam 10m telescoping mast will be utilised to raise a TGM MQ36SR & rotator. In the short term, it maybe a MQ26SR and then purchase the extra director kit....  possibly getting 'interested parties' used to the 2 element design, and sneaking on the third element after a few months.

As with most people who can accommodate a cobwebb, but not much more, we spend much time dwelling upon mini beams... yes, despite comments from 'the fortunate' that mini beams are rubbish compared to their larger brethren and all the other stuff like 'traps are crap', 'coils spoil', we do realise that all that BUT they are an improvement over most wire type and vertical antennas on the 14MHz+ bands. And also to those who say 'Hexbeams and/or Spiderbeams' don't look as bad once they are up... they are still huge beasts for those living in normal urban environment in the U.K.

Basically, for mortals thinking about mini beams, it's the Cushcraft MA5B that's top of the wishlist... they are quite easy to find on the used market, pretty cheap at around £200 used, and a reliable performer. However, I spend a huge amount of time on the 17 & 12m warc bands, so if I'm going with a small beam, then I really want a bit more than dipole performance on those bands. The TGM MQ series also shows some minor gain on 6m, which is a bonus of sorts. But yes, they do cost!!

Monday 15th March
A very active last 10 days on the bands with numerous goodies that has seen my dxcc list rise to 169. Openings to the far east were good, and I finally managed to get, what was an early target of mine, HL South Korea, it's not as if there's any shortage of HL's (or DS's) but I simply haven't caught up with any until HL3ERJ appeared on 17m. I also caught the very good holiday operation of 8Q7NC on 15m.

The real highlight was today on 15m, tuning around and found the initial calls of EP3HF... plenty of qsb but I knew I had to act fast before mayhem broke loose, and I made it. I could feel 100's of other stations breathing down my neck as I made the qso ;-) I spotted him on the cluster after the qso and things got very busy from then on. If I hadn't found him first, I wouldn't have stood a chance.

Other highlights were picking up an 9M2 on a very rare foray onto 20m, HRDlog.net getting their new server so my front page hasn't got a large void of empty space on it and receiving my card from XR1A, the Chilean lighthouse operation from last summer. To cap it all, and almost as rare as an EP in my logbook, was having a good qso with Russell 2E0RUS on 17m.

A couple more dxcc and I will no longer be an embarrassment to CDXC on the clublog Club league table, reaching the average dxcc count for the members. It has to be said, I'm not doing too badly on cludlog for dxcc over last 12 months.


Friday 5th March
What a good week on the bands, starting with Dickson EL2DT last Saturday, card sent on Sunday, confirmed on Wednesday... which is as quick as it ever gets for a card to come back, let alone exotic African DX. It did help having Joe EL2FM as qsl manager no more than 20 miles away from me.

Anyway, as the week progressed, the higher bands opened nicely, with a lot of W activity on 12m and some on 10m. 
Today (Friday) was amazing.... every time I went into the shack, I seemed to work a new dxcc! First off, finally catching up with the 9U dxpedition, a bit later and working Carlos TI8CC to bolster my feeble tally of Central American dxcc, then later on, tuning further down the band, I heard Bob 5V7BR finishing off a qso with a SP and worked him first call.
Another nice bonus was coming across 5R8UI on 15m saying 'any more 0's'... 'get in here quick' was my thought and I did, and picked IOTA AF-057. It makes up for all those times when I come across DX calling 1's and working upwards or calling 9's and working downwards!

I will make the most of today and celebrate... I really cannot imagine ever working 3 new ones in a day from now on.

Unfortunately hrdlog.net fell over last week and has not got back up since... so my online logbook and qso map are not showing.

Friday 26 February
As usual, I had a bit of a winter break, although I was semi active on HF around the Xmas period, picking up a new dxcc on Boxing day, with an SU (already confirmed).

February has been quite active for M0TTB on the HF bands... helped by some significant solar activity and some real effect on the higher HF bands. However, until today (26th) and 'Poirot & Inspector Morse devotee' HR2J Javier, new dxcc have eluded me. Still, I have had many excellent qso's over the last month and on bands that are more rewarding. My 15m and 12m dxcc counts have gone up nicely, with the likes of VP8, ZS, Z2, 5H, TL, W, on 12m.. Being able to have decent long qso's with W's on 15m and 12m really is a great sign that things are heading in the right direction.

Even though solar activity has dropped off since the SFI touched 100, the word seems to be out and the higher bands are getting the activity that they haven't had for a long time. I'm sure there will be plenty of bleak times ahead, but the tide has turned.
Wednesday 7th July
The new aerial (TGM MQ-26SR) is finally up and has seen action on the bands, 2 new dxcc (CP on 17m and JT on 20m), within a day of using it, and even then it wasn't at full height, in fact about 18ft above ground instead of the final 35ft. The wind has picked up over the last few days and I want it fairly calm to get the guys sorted out. The major good news, other than the performance of the new beam, is that I can lift it to it's full height.

A reminder that the rotator and beam are atop a 33ft 10.5kg heavy duty telescopic push-up mast, with a stub mast of about 2ft). It isn't light but it is manageable. The key is to wear gloves with rubber grip (yachting/sailing gloves) and to pull the sections up (not difficult being 6ft 4inch myself) rather than pushing up. The rubber palmed (and fingered) gloves also enable you to hold a free section up with just one hand whilst using the other to fiddle around with the substantial hex key to lock the section. Lowering the mast is obvously easier, but the rubber gloves don't help for this as the mast just stick to these rather than sliding under control, you can use the friction in the locks to help matters.
End of Year
That's it for the year. Shack undergoing substantial refurbishment over xmas and new year....maybe even spiderproof ;-)

Wednesday 27th October
A long time has passed since my last entry, and not thorugh lack of activity on the bands... maybe I have been so active that I haven't had time, but that would be a lie.

The really big news for me was working Pierre ZS8M on 10m, to say I was thrilled would be an understatement! It did help that he was calling for 'G' only, and that did reduce the amount nof EU calling by a considerable amount, unfortunately it also increased beliberate qrm. Anyhow, Pierre came back with my callsign and we gave eachother 5/5. For a few days after I was concerned that my imagination had worked ZS8M and  he was returning to a callsign similar to my own... but I'm in his log ;) Can't wait for the card.

The PJ situation has thrown my dxcc lists into disarray, especially as I still haven't caught up with PJ2  Bonaire (always the easiest island)... what a ploy from them, keep PJ2 back until CQWW SSB contest. To be honest, a week after 10-10, I was getting a bit sick of all the PJ operations taking up big chunks of the bands. Various dxpeds have come and gone since my last update, most worked, some not. The upturn in band conditions allowing me to work many of them up to 10m, eg 5V, A2, ZD9, 9X and a few I can't remember.

Working VK is now a common event for me, but it was very rewarding to work my first VK on 10m... on a day when I managed to work all continents on 10 in one day (in fact before 3pm). I had assumed N. America would let me down unless I scraped a Caribbean station, and propagation on 10m seemed to stop at anything north of the S. American mainland...but W's put in an appearance and I work a Floridian station.

Being a pretty feeble station in the scheme of things, I know I'll be struggling a lot of the time but one dxcc entity is causing me sleepless nights... that entity is XE. In terms of dxcc 'most wanted' lists, even those less biased to W'land, it is bottom third. Yes, I have heard XE's crashing in on 20, 17, 15 and 12m, and given them my best shot but to no avail. Yes, they are popular with EU, but after numerous attempts, I'd have expected to made some impact in Mexico... I've worked stations in W'land, Belize and Guatemala right next to the XE border but no XE. When I work XE, there will be major celebrating in my shack!

CQWW SSB this coming weekend, a few juicy bits worth going for, especially HC8A on 15m, tried for him today on 15, but it was an EU mess with Russian stations, yet again, proving they can match the usual suspects for total idiocy in pile-ups. AH0BT will be up and running in this weekends contest, easy to hear but always a big pile-up.


Sunday 15th August
Another couple of new dxcc, with HP and at long last, a 4S. I have been in a couple of pile-ups in the past chasing 4S, but never with any joy. 4S seem to be rather thin on the ground, but a few suddenly popped up on 20m last week, presumably fairly new 'A' class licence holders...but with good signals. It's a bit like all these V8's that have appeared over the last 6 months or so... which can only be good news.

Other notables have been 9V on 17m, nice and easy. Also good activity on 15m in the evenings with CX, ZP, CE, PY, LU, 9Y and FY. The XU7ATM dxped has been quite easy, first call on 15 and 20m. JT on 17m was a welcome addition to my 17m 'score', now standing at 138 dxcc.
An early start on Saturday morning was rewarded by working Bev, AH6NF..Obviously working Hawaii is always an attraction but I seem to have worked more KH6 in the last month than any other U.S. state, with 2 of them on 17m.

Biggest struggle of the week was getting the first 'T' in my suffix to BT4EXPO... but he got it in the end, so many thanks for the perseverance.

Sunday 8th August
Finally went through the 200 dxcc barrier on Saturday night, courtesy of Kumar J88CF on 20m, and was added to only a few minutes later by HH/S21RC. I had heard a HH last week but it all got a bit much for the op, amongst some terrible EU behaviour (and not just the usual morons in Southern EU).

I managed to work the XT2EME dxped on 20,17 and 15m. I didn't bother with the 5V dxped, as I have 5V on 17 and 15, and I never really heard them that strong on 20m.

10m is still springing a few surprises for me, managing to work CE, ZD7 and A4 over the last week... and work easily at that. It is nice to be able to have something half sensible up for 10m. Also having some rewarding long qso's with stations on HF now, and this is one of the bonuses of a slightly more effective station, not only that but I'm also starting to work stations (W's for example) with the antenna systems of mortals (G5RV's & mini beams) rather than the large yagi/quads.

Wednesday 21st July
I haven't been quite as active over the last 7 days as I would have liked but still made plenty of qso's on the HF bands. The highlight of the last week was a good qso was with ZL2JBR, John. I stumbled upon him on saturday morning, he finished his qso and I fully expected a wall of EU to be calling, but no... I went straight through and an enjoyable qso was had. So finally, after 2 yrs or more, I have worked ZL.
Getting into to the shack early has provided a number of qso's with KH6 on 20m and 17m.
17m still producing in the late evenings, with plenty of South America and Caribbean, and last night PJ7MF in Sint Martin for a new one... which takes my dxcc tally to 197, getting very close to the significant 200 mark!


Tuesday 13th July
Yesterday turned out to be even more spectacular for new dxcc than I could imagine, E51 was just the start. An evening  session produced V31YY who were just readying their dxped and producing a huge signal on 17m. The Bahamian dxped was fairly weak here, and taking an age to progress through numbers. I like dxpeds calling by numbers, far better than the messy business of taking in calls 20 at a time and then working through them but  calling by numberit's need to be quick, 6 qso's on one number then move on. However, to be fair they weren't intent on working huge numbers of statons, just enjoying themselves with proper qso's..

K9DIG (rare North Dakota) was another big signal on 17m and I had a nice chat with Nancy. I popped down to 20m and found Ricardo HC7AE who was dealing with a big pile-up earlier but was now a stronger signal and less busy, so a pleasant unrushed qso was had.

A Mexican station was putting out a massive signal on 20m but no joy for me, he was very strong across a large area of the world, so the pile-up was deep with NA, EU and SA, so another day maybe. A final trip back to 17m revealed Joe ZF2AH and another relaxed qso with a new dxcc. Suddenly I have found myself close to the 200 dxcc mark! My TGM mini beam has been up less than a week and it has produced 8 new dxcc, don't tell me that is just coincidence.

Monday 12th July
Yet another update! Mainly to celebrate 2 new dxcc, so that is 5 new ones in less than a week since erecting the new antenna (and no cheap new dxcc in the contest). Sunday afternoon saw T6MB Miloslaw on 20m from Kabul, and not as hard to break the pile-up as I first imagined. I may have a long wait for a card for this one, as Miloslaw doesn't get back to his home country of Poland until 2011.

The other new one was Jim E51JD in Rarotonga, who I regularly hear if I get into the shack early in the morning. Usually Jim is quite weak here and usually in the midst of a large pile-up, so not worth calling. Today, with the new antenna pointed his way (short path/polar) he was very workable. The pile-up wasn't silly either, and just one call had him note my suffix, and call me back for a nice little chat.

Sunday 11th July
A new antenna, lots of enthusiasm, so lots of updates to this page!
The IARU contest this weekend has provided an ideal testing ground for the new antenna (now at full height of 35ft), and lots of switching between TGM MQ-26SR and the Cobwebb. It is absolutely crystal clear that the Cobwebb is in a slightly lower league in every department vs the TGM. Some of the qso's in the contest simply wouldn't have happened had I been using the Cobwebb... but the Cobwebb is far cheaper and represents better value for most people, even more so when you add a rotator into the equation for the TGM.

I was chuffed enough by working 9K on 10m on Friday... on Saturday I worked CE, LU and PY on 10m with one call apiece, their signals all 5 or more S points higher on the TGM than the Cobwebb. On 15m, the difference was again close to 5 S points, with some that I worked inaudible on the Cobwebb. On 20m the received signals are usually around 2-3 S points better, but the reduction in band noise and mush added to the improvement on this band. KH6MB was a struggle on the Cobwebb this morning, no real problem with the TGM.

Friday 9th July
Another good day with the new antenna, with 9Q (new one, and Patrick is a saint for his patience!), HR, WP4, PY and W on 20m, JA on 17m, CE on 15m (I have a 'thing' about CE, so more satisfying to me than to most people). Highlights on the higher bands, remembering how feeble I have been on 10m and higher, were 9K on 10m and EA8 and EA9 on 6m. I did an A-B test between the TGM MQ-26SR vs Cobwebb whilst in qso with OE5MBN on 12m and he noticed, in his words a 'signifcant gain' of over 2 S points for the mini beam... and that was reassuring in many respects.

The mast was not fully extended today, it was some 9ft short of maximum.... the wind has still been too gusty to get the guys properly sorted out.
So along with the above qso's, I have snagged KL7, CP, 8P, SU, JW, JT over the last few days, as well as many normal EU qso's.