The wind blew the contest

Oh well, it hasn’t always have to be me who blows the contest.

In life you have to make choices. Most choices mean a loss too. I lost the participation in what seems to have been a fantastic event. But I adhered to my own principle of ‘better safe than sorry’. Better missing one major contest than suffer major damage and be off the air for who knows how long. I knew Sunday would be very windy. I probably wouldn’t have suffered damage but I would have been worried to death and probably be looking more out of the window to check the tower than focus on the contest. I also knew that the storm would gain intensity by the end of the contest and it would be impossible to lower the tower and reel in the wires when the wind blows this hard and in utter darkness. By Monday morning it would be a real kick ass storm with some predictions showing +100 km/hr gusts in central Belgium. Predictions and charts proved to be spot on in all aspects by the way. Intensity, timing and trajectory – all quite according to the forecast.

So I had to let this one go. I decided not to raise the tower for Saturday only. Full blown 48 hour effort or bust! Saturday was a very nice day outside. The proverbial calm before the storm. I decided to have enough things to do to keep my mind from feeling bad about missing the contest and to keep from worrying about the forty eight hours to come. I decided to work outside since WX was sunny and pretty warm too. The poles to suspend the elevated radials to are now in place. Hail quick cement!

Late in the afternoon I was on diaper duty. The XYL had planned a night out to an event I wanted to go to too. But when she booked the seats way earlier this year, WW SSB was more important so she asked a friend to join her in stead and the kids would spend the bigger part of the weekend with the grandparents. I was not amused now: no WW and missed my chance to join her. So I cancelled the kids’ night out and kept them at home with me. At least I had something to do then to keep me busy. Entertaining, feeding, scolding, playing… When both rascals were asleep, the wind picked up speed so I told myself: ‘good thing the tower is down’.

Sunday was a very windy day too. I was kinda worried about things to come. WX forecast was grim. By now I was happy the tower was nested and the antennas at only nine meters high. But as predicted things got worse overnight and I decided not to sleep in my bed since upstairs the wind howls too much and makes too much noise. I tried to sleep on the couch in the living room but it wasn’t easy either. At regular intervals the windows and blinds were shaking heavily and I went upstairs to look through the window and check all antennas. While I was awake I managed to save the real time map image showing the maximum wind speeds. I am in central Belgium.

**I compiled about 34 hourly maps taken from the KMI (or RMI in English, the Royal Meteorological Institute) into a slideshow but decided not to publish it. Their disclaimer of course reads: ” Under no circumstances is the user allowed to copy or publish any information offered on this website, in whole or in part, as they are or in any other form.” Better safe than sorry. I wouldn’t be the first one handling in good faith only to receive a registered letter from some law firm about a copyright infringement.**

I used a local WX site to check for wind speed and I found a nice correlation between wind speeds and barometric pressure. I guess that’s why they call it a depression.


Hamming up this weather report: the first pressure chart (bottom left) looks like an SWR curve!

As Monday morning progressed the storm moved to PA/OZ/DL. During this trip it even gained intensity. By that time there were many reports about damage in the UK. Scores came in on 3830 and some G’s reported limited or mildly disturbed participation because of the storm. I seem to have survived and have no visible damage. My RX loop mounted on a two meter long pipe which I had stored against the garage wall behind the house had toppled over but it doesn’t seem bent or deformed. One of both elevated radials sets of the 20/15/10 aux SO2R vertical came loose from the tree branch I tied it to. Other than that, I haven’t discovered anything wrong so far.

All in all Monday was a lost day and I was very tired. I had to catch up on sleep after the stormy night. Nevertheless I managed to work on some soldering jobs. There are many small projects I started more than a year ago but were never finished. More on that the coming weeks. Hopefully, since some are needed for WW CW.

While looking for stuff I knew I had but couldn’t find, I discovered a hidden treasure. A plastic box with PL and N plugs and chassis parts of various types (RG-213, Aircell7, Aircom+, Ecoflex, screw on, bolt/nut with holes etc etc…). I thought my stock was exhausted and bought a considerable batch last summer. Joining this order with the box I recovered makes for a stock of plugs that I will never be able to use in what’s left of my (ham) life. Note to self: DO NOT order any more plugs or sockets. Try selling in stead HI. In between I managed to process a big stack of incoming bureau cards and get the reply out on GlobalQSL.

Tuesday I went shopping for DIY parts. Metal cutting and grinding disks. Cable feed throughs. Stones, sand and cement. What pots are boiling on ON5ZO’s stove you wonder? In the evening I had planned to visit one of Belgium’s finest and most known DXer/contester: Mark ON4WW. He had brought me some stuff from the Friedrichshafen ham fair last year and I have failed to pick it up each and every time. Shame on me. So after all these back-and-forth emails trying to pin a date I drove to his QTH. The stuff that needed to change hands was just a detail. We had a nice long chat about the hobby, contesting, DX’ing and all things life in general. Mark has been around long enough and been to places many of us can only dream of so he always has some interesting views on things. That, and good stories and fun facts about our shared passion called ham radio.

I feel bad about having missed out on WW SSB with what seems to be exceptionally good propagation. I’m glad everything out in the garden survived. I feel sorry for those who suffer damage. I hope the WX will cooperate for WW CW and that solar flux won’t drop too low and A/K values remain low for maximum fun. Other than that I realized I still have plenty to do for a Blitzkrieg participation in CQ WW CW. I remember something about stubs when running a second amp. I remember something about a rattling relay in the K3’s second RX when using the RX loop because it picks up too much RF. That’s a non-issue right now because my K3 with the KRX3 still has the broken front panel. Plenty of work to do!

One reply on “The wind blew the contest”

Hi Franki, I think spend time with your kids is also important. I can imagine you have a sad feeling about not participating in the CQWW SSB, but there is always a next one. Like you said: “better safe then sorry”. 73, Bas

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