After testing the van during the July contest we concluded that the IARU UHF/SHF contest could be performed with full setup. Henning DF9IC went to prepare new equipment for 23 cm. We also finally want to play with the big dish for 13 cm we could only complete one QSO with in July 2013 contest due to the van not working properly. Before UKW Tagung in Weinheim we arranged a visit from our friends from Dresden: Steffen DH1DM and Tilo DH1FM wanted to support us and bring their 10 GHz and 24 GHz equipment. So we had 5 bands this time: 70 cm, 23 cm, 13 cm, 3 cm and 1.5 cm. We had a busy time to complete all the small bits and pieces that are needed to operate all the equipment high up in the air from our tower. And of course in the end not everything was ready in time, but that's normal.
As usual we started to build the equipment on Friday morning already. The 3rd of October is national holiday in Germany, so we hoped for many helping hands, but in the morning there was only Helmut DK8SG, Alexander DL8AAU, Henning DF9IC and of course Thomas DF8IJ. Helmut had to leave early, but soon Jens DF5HC arrived.
So we could start to build the nice and big 8x23 Ele. Yagi array for 70 cm. The weather was great - almost summer like temperatures. The van and the rest of the equipment worked nicely, it was just us that got a bit rusty: the yagi array had not been installed for 3 years. But we made it. Michael DK7UX arrived to support us.
In the early afternoon Max DK5MX and Jan DL2ZXA arrived from the DA0FF team as additional support and later in the afternoon finally the team from Dresden. We finished all antennas up to the microwave dishes and only had to do 23 cm on Saturday, so we decided to call it a day. Henning DF9IC left for final adjustments to the 23 cm equipment.
Saturday again started with bright sunshine and very nice weather. Installing the 23 cm antenna again was no problem and together with Ralf DG3IAM we managed to rise the mast almost to full length despite the heavy equipment it had to carry.
A pleasant change compared to the previous contests: Michael was sick and tired of BBQ all day and celebrated a nice soup instead for the crew which was delicious and indeed a nice alternative.
The afternoon was used to test and install all the equipment needed in the shack for the contest operation. Unfortunately Henning came quite late with the 23 cm PAs and transverters, so that we had to start the contest with only the Quados antennas. The yagis could only be used after he managed to get the TH308 PA running that suffered from the transportation.
The other big issue was 10 GHz: we could hear loud and clear, but nobody could copy us. Checking the IF cable running to the transverter at the dish we concluded that the cable was not connected well. No big problem - if the dish would not have been 25 m above ground and about 1.5 m away from the tower on a support mast. Alexander volunteered to climb the mast and tried to reach the connector at the transverter side. Immediately he could hear the relays inside the transverter, so it was a just a problem of the connector. After a bit of fiddling with the connector it seemed stable. Lesson learned: never use PLL connectors for anything - and if you do, don't use cheap PLL-N adapters. Fortunately the 10 GHz transverter worked fine after the "repair".
Alex DL2GWZ and Dirk DL2EAA started strong on microwave. Lots of nice QSOs on 13 cm - until about 8 pm, when suddenly the PA stopped working. 23 cm was ok, but not as nice as we thought and finally around 10 pm the signals from the "East" Yagi array dropped: even the beacons in the close vicinity were S3 only. So no more skeds to OK/HA/9A/S5 - you can't win a contest like that. Only option was to exchange the preamp with one of the working antennas - but the box with all the preamps was 20 m above ground, so no option to do this before the next morning.
70 cm was ok, but not great either. We tried, but it was not as easy as in July despite the additional antenna. The night was ok - but only 70 cm was tried thanks to Thomas DL2RMC. Alexander got up early on Sunday morning and replaced one of the Quados antennas with the badly needed Yagi array, so around 7 am DR9A was again able to perform some DX toward the east.
Jens DF5HC took the opportunity and tried HA6W on 23 cm but had great difficulties to copy them - not unusual for 891 km distance. Fortunately we saw a A380 approaching and made another sked 20 min later.
And finally HA6W returned our CQ call loud and clear and transmitted the report:
We could finish the QSO in a short time. You can imagine our surprise when HA6W reported on ON4KST chat that their PA wasn't working so they had less than 2 W available at the 3 m dish! No way to have this QSO done without the help of Airscout and the big bird.
On Sunday the weather was not great - but at least not rain, so still rather good weather for early October. We had arranged a number of skeds from the Hohloh Kaiser Wilhelm tower on 24 GHz and even wanted to try 47 GHz with Horst DL4SBK, who drove to a mountain with line of sight towards our QTH. Steffen managed to complete several QSOs on 24 GHz, but 47 GHz proved to be more difficult. Using Henning's station, we could copy Horst 59+ on 24 GHz but heard nothing on 47 GHz. Most probably something broken in the transverter. Operation from the Kaiser Wilhelm tower proved to be a challenge: despite the rather bad weather conditions still many visitors wanted to enjoy the marvelous look from the top and our microwave equipment was in the way. Next time we will try to put the 24 GHz and 47 GHz equipment on to the mast, too. That way we can be qrv at any time during the contest and did not have to give up after it became too crowded.
Time for lunch: this time Michael chose pasta for the team. Boiling the noodles proved to be difficult, so we had to eat in shifts, but it was again delicious.
Judging from the rain scatter we could hear on 3 cm we had been lucky - no rain, not even while we teared down the mast and packed the equipment after the contest. On the other hand we did not benefit from the rain scatter either - no station picked up through this RS scatter above JN37/38. Some nice tropo contacts though, so Tilo and Steffen where quite pleased with their results.
As 23 cm and 13 cm suffered from the damages, we were curious if at least on 70 cm we managed to win the contest. But DL0GTH was a tight bit better... anyway, we had our fun and after a long, long time (last October contest for DR9A was 2011!) it can still be considered a success. Packing the station turned out to be a tedious and long process, it was about 10 pm until everything was ready. So lots of things that can be improved in the future - just the weather was almost perfect.
to right: Jens DF5HC, Henning DF9IC, Dirk DL2EAA, Jan DL2ZXA, Max DK5MX,
Tilo DH1FM, Steffen DH1DM, Bastian DB1BM.