In F8DRA shack

In Marc F8DRA’s shack

In late February, Helen and I had the pleasure of spending just under a week with my friend Marc F8DRA at his home in Tancarville, in France’s Normandy region. Normandy is in the North West part of France.

I’ve spoken with Marc several times on air from VK6 and we struck up a friendship via Facebook and email. When Marc heard we were going to be based in Scotland for such a long time, he was keen to meet. Neither Helen nor I had been to France for close to 15 years and the prospect of staying with a French family was too much to resist.

Whilst over there, Marc very kindly invited me to use his shack,.located in a cosy room above his garage accessible via a small ascent up a step ladder. Marc has a 2 element cubical quad antenna on a tower in his back garden and he does extremely well with it.

Marc has an Icom transceiver and a homemade linear amplifier but I only worked barefoot whilst there (he did switch the amplifier on for the final few QSOs towards the end of my last session there when 15 metres was closing to North America).

Looking back through my logs, I operated on three days, although the first session was brief. This session was on 20 metres with two QSOs shortly before 19:00 UTC and it was great to speak with Mal ZS6MAL who was booming in 5/9+ and to FR5DX who was also a good signal. Mal was the only station I spoke with from South Africa during our entire time overseas.

The other sessions were over two days with some time spent in the mornings working VK/ZL, firstly

F8DRA cubical quad

F8DRA cubical quad

on the longpath on 20m followed by the shortpath on 15 metres. It was great to speak with many of the stations I already knew including Rob VK4FFAB, Mark VK2PH (I spoke with Mark on both 15m and 20m!), the Steves VK3MEG and VK4KUS,  Matt VK1MA, Jason ZL3JAS, Andrew VK6IA, Martin VK6RC, Shaun M0BJL and Des G0RBD.

It was great to meet the following stations for the first time – Steve ZL1ACE, Roy VK6MV, Al ZL1BD, Stephen VK3QW/2 (booming in from the portable!). Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was a contact with VK6AG at around 19:25 UTC on 20m which was most unexpected.

It was great to work VK and ZL on the longpath during our stay in France because I could not do this from Granton Harbour in Edinburgh (see the separate post about my time there).

I operated several sessions in the evening on 15m and worked many stations mainly in the USA with a few Canadian stations also. It was also good to get a call from Robert 8P6FX in Barbados who I had spoken with previously from the car in Edinburgh with some difficulty on 10 metres. The 5/9 signal both ways certainly made it easier this time!

The cubical quad is certainly an impressive antenna and I see from the logs that my signal report on many QSOs was equal if not better than the other station’s. In many cases these stations were running higher power and in some instances significantly higher power. Marc told me that he has found the quad a superior performer to yagis etc. and after using it, I can see why he’s such a big fan!

Thank you to Marc F8DRA and his family for such an enjoyable stay!

Tagged with:

Filed under: Amateur Radio