I’ve spent November in the United Kingdom staying with my partner Helen’s father in Edinburgh. As soon as I knew I was visiting, I arranged to visit Dave G4AKC and his wife Tracy in Blackpool. I speak with Dave and other members of the Real HF mobile group with some regularity on 20 metres and am also impressed with how well they do with their various portable/mobile setups often with low power.
I was able to slot in the Blackpool visit with a visit that I did with Helen’s family to York for her father’s 87th birthday. I hired a car for the return trip to Blackpool and stayed with Dave and Tracy who kindly offered me accommodation for two nights on November 17 and 18.
It was fantastic to see Dave’s various portable setups and even better to see the trolley in use that he uses with so much success on the Blackpool promenade when we speak. I realised after speaking with him, how obsolete my knowledge is these days. I think it’s about time I made the effort to work towards the Advanced licence to better my knowledge and give me more access and options.
Dave had arranged an outing on the Sunday morning at around 07:45 UTC where he and various other members of the Real HF mobile group would operate, followed by a breakfast at a nearby pub. As has been the case for so much of my trip, the weather on Sunday was better than expected with sunshine although fairly cold and windy (no surprise there at this time of year in the UK!).
Dave, Phil 2E0UDX and Pete G6UOI drove to Fairhaven Lake about 5 miles from Blackpool whilst Stephen G7DIE operated pedestrian mobile from the Blackpool promenade. Dave and Phil operated from their motor vehicles whilst Pete went pedestrian mobile, walking on the beach with his backpack set up – a brave man in that wind.
Unfortunately the conditions were disappointing with few contacts despite many CQ calls. The band was particularly noisy and there was a European contest occupying much of the band. The guys were also inundated with calls from stations in Spain and Italy despite their Asia/Pacific intentions. I had a good laugh when Phil exclaimed “I didn’t realise that EA7 was a state of Australia!” after yet another Spanish station responded to his DX call.
It was strange for me hearing Europe as a local nuisance when I’m used to it being so far away and treasured DX. That said, the guys all had a QSO with a VK6 station a few hundred kilometres from Perth, my home QTH and also with a VK2 station. Breakfast was certainly welcomed after walking around in the morning cold and we were joined by Tony G7OEM, Brian M0OYG and Ian 2E0EDX all of whom I have worked from VK6. To use an old CB radio expression which I suspect is not used much, if at all in the ham radio world, it was a great experience to have an ‘eyeball’ with people I’ve worked from the other side of the planet. It is certainly an experience well worth having and I hope it’s the first of many.
We all enjoyed a hearty breakfast and it was great chatting with the guys and getting to know them. We generally don’t get much time to talk on air since one of the aims is to maximise contacts, particularly when you’re operating with a limited power source and mobile.
Dave went out later in the day around mid-afternoon to the Blackpool promenade where he usually operates from pedestrian mobile. There was excellent propogation to the USA but unfortunately a US contest on 20 metres was occupying most of the band and Dave’s CQ attempts were unanswered since those on the band had other priorities. It was great to see Dave’s pedestrian mobile set up in operation.
Thanks again to all the guys, some of whom had come from Southport and to Dave and Tracy for their kind hospitality.