Wednesday, June 13, 2012

DVGE Contest

On Sunday I partook for the first time in a Trig point contest, the VGE sprint, organized by the Radioclub Henares.
Trig point activity in Spain is something that’s been going on for a number of years now and is similar to SOTA (Summits on the Air) activity. RCH organizes a diploma for this and their web gives very comprehensive information about all the trig points in Spain, including a searchable list by provinces, both alphabetically by town names and also on a google maps application. Pablo EA4TX has inputted all the information, with links to the Spanish ING, the organization responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the points.

I had first heard about this on the Spanish contest reflector last year, when RCH organized the first Trig Point Sprint contest. It seemed like everyone was very enthusiastic about a back-to-basics contest, locally based, with a meaningful multiplier base and an emphasis on QRP (low power) and CW (morse). This year, the second edition was duly posted and around the same time I got an email from my friend Kees PA5CW asking if I wanted to go hiking that weekend. I asked if he was interested in making a joint hike-and-contest and he said sure.
As things turned out, the forecast for Sunday was for 35 degrees and we decided it wasn’t the best day to head for the hills. Kees came round for lunch on Saturday instead but when he left, I still had the idea in my head of perhaps seeing if there was a trig point accessible by car that I might activate. I mentioned it to my wife, who said that since I had to head up to La Eliana to check the swimming pool at our villa, weren’t there any trig points there? I checked the web and sure enough, at the top of a hill on the other side of town, there is a trig point which is actually on top of somebody’s house!

So on Sunday morning, after stopping off at the villa, I headed to the trig point and indeed, there it was, perched on top of the villa. Rules state that expeditioners should take a photo of the op and station at the point, so here’s the mug shot:

If you look verrrry carefully, you can see the trig point on the flat roof at the top left of the photo.

I fired up on 40m with the mobile vertical and 100w and was surprised at the low noise and lack of stations. Then I saw the high SWR. Oops. A PL259 not screwed in toght somewhere  in the back, which was quickly fixed and then the band was a bit more lively. The first hour of the contest was fairly quick but I didn’t manage to get through a lot of the pileups, seems like there were more QRO than QRP stations out there. Although its also true that a small vertical whip in an urban area is not the antenna of choice for making local contacts on 40m. Halfway into the contest I went up to 20m, the other band used in this contest, there were a few strong stations but nobody answered my CQ calls so back to 40 it was, until 15 minutes before finishing (the contest is 3 hours long) I made a last few contacts on 20. 

91 contacts is not a good score, at least by the standards at ED5T, but I had fun and will probably do it again, although next time probably from a battery powered mountain top trig point. I’m not sure I’ll ever get converted to some of those other Sunday morning activities that Spaniards are so fond of, such as contacting railway stations and castles and what have you, but the odd jaunt up a hill with a mast and a wire dipole for a few hours fun, why not?

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