SDARC participates in the major HF/VHF/UHF/SUHF annual competitions when a trusty band of fellows gather together at Barbury Castle, Wiltshire, or a nice damp field on the outskirts of Swindon, to erect a huge amount of aluminum and wire, play with lethal DC and RF voltages, holler into a microphone, eat dubious food, and often get very wet!

Oh, yes. And they all enjoy it. Many people say they don’t like contests because it’s all ’59 – thanks’. Unfortunately they’re missing out on the fact that participating in a national/international contest is a huge logistical and technological undertaking. Apart from the pre-contest detailed planning, here’s some of the skills required for example for the VHF NFD:

  • Getting a huge amount of equipment to the site, including up to three 60′ towers and large diesel generator
  • Correct and safe siting of above
  • Assembly of antennae, correct stacking on towers, correct connection of rotators, RF cables and connectors and pre-amps, and testing everything: twice
  • Winding the towers up (have you ever done that? phew!)
  • Erection of large ex-army tent Placement of our caravan and securing
  • Setting up safe electrical connections for rigs, lighting, computers etc.
  • Plus of course a robust connection to the generator
  • Setting up the rigs themselves and testing
  • Setting up and tuning linear amplifiers
  • Setting up the food area. Cooking, making drinks, cleaning (yuk…)
  • Erecting own tents for overnight stayers

Oh yes, and operating professionally of course – that’s all that 59 stuff. Handling pile-ups, keeping the frequency while scanning round to ‘pounce’, keeping your patience, using your knowledge of propagation, geography, the rig itself, weather. Should I go on?