Monday, 12 September 2016

GB0SA - Another great CHOTA day

This saturday passed, was our Churches On The Air day station GB0SA from Selby Abbey.

I'd got all the kit sorted and crated up the evening before, and since the abbey is only just up the road, even had a short lie-in! Myself and Sam, with a fully loaded Ford Fiesta, arrived just on 08:30 as the verger was opening up. I knew Steve G7TAO was en-route somewhere, as i'd heard him call me on 2m, but had been too weak to reply to. However his third call, as we were parking up, was S9 from Camblesforth, around ten minutes away. At around this time Mike G4IJI also arrived.

Shortly after, the verger unlocked the main doors and we were in, shuttling the kit. It was a bit eerie being in such a place in the dark!

After a bit of on the ground assesment, we realised we could put up a dipole using just the Larksput mast, and use the trees etc for tie offs, which saved having to erect the 5.4m masts. The Clansman antenna wire, tied off at 8.5m per leg, analysed at just under 3:1 SWR. Close enough to not worry about and to let the ATU take care of the match. 

With the main coax feed routed via the vicars office window (and seemingly taken in as I fed it from outside by the hand of God!) we set up off to the right of the main doors. I appologise for my lack of correct church terminology here, i'll update that later! Mike had us organised for refreshments, and settled in for a days radio

A 100w out on 40m LSB, with Steve at the mic. Our first session was 'search and pounce' to mop up any other CHOTA stations we could hear. This was our operating situation until just before 12:00, as by then many of the guests for the first wedding of the day were turning up. The choir practice had luckily caused neither us nor them any problems, but with the best man chain smoking his way back and forth, we decided to pull the plug for the morning and go in search of lunch.

A rather good fish and chips lunch was had at Mr C's  and it kept us out of the rain. After, we made our way back to the abbey, stopping only to allow Steve to raid Mollie Sharps cheese shop  (you know, I put in all these links for great local businesses yet my inbox remains devoid of money off vouchers...)

The afternoon session saw us go fixed frequency to call CQ. The band was in a rather funny mood, very deep QSB, with long periods of nothingness followed by flurries of calls. The number of CHOTA stations seemed to die down, but skip lengthened and we found ourselves working into Europe.

Since I had the PRC-320 as reserve radio, we took that outside and ensured all three operators also had a chance to work GB0SA! Unsurprisingly, signal reports were good!

Just before 16:00, and with the guests arriving for the second of the days weddings, we shut down and packed up. The equipment left where it was for the duration of the wedding, whilst we struck the antenna system and packed up the mast and feeders. With nothing left to do but wait for the photos and the bride to leave, Mike made his way for his train. As soon as the bride had finally left, myself, Sam and Steve moved the remaining equipment and made sure all was as we had found it.

A total of 30 QSOs were made (not counting our own!), of which 10 were other CHOTA stations. Best DX was just south of Geneva at 621 miles.

My thanks go to Steve G7TAO and Mike G4IJI, to Sam for his help shifting stuff, and to Canon John Weetman and the staff of Selby Abbey for allowing us to invade the church for what to them was probably a pretty bewildering reason!

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