GB2HI Hilbre Island EU-120 ''The second coming''

Created on Monday, 24 October 2011

By Kevin M0TNX (GB2HI);

A massive “thanks!” to all the stations we worked this weekend, we decided to pull the plug an hour earlier than expected, we wanted to play radio with our own calls for a bit, and get some reports without the help of the GB2HI call. Here’s the story of GB2HI, October 2011.

As soon as we had finished operating in May, I knew I wanted to get back to Hilbre, not just because of the radio, but because of the sheer beauty of the place, it’s location both radio wise and ecologically. GB2HI was a green operation mart1this time, with the whole operation being run from a wind turbine on the Island. I had started preparing for Hilbre a couple of months ago, I knew from speaking with previous activators from 10 years ago that the Island had never had 160M activation, so being both a 160 and CW nut, I wanted to have a go! Preparations had gone really well, Martin and I had practised putting the 40 foot vertical section up, we had cut the antenna and tried it, all was good. The sunspots were going ballistic and we knew that we were going to have some success. Hilbre this time was determined to make us work for the contacts! Before I go any further, I would like to pass on a huge message of thanks to a few people who made a huge difference, without the help of these people, GB2HI was going to be a non-starter. Lee, G0DBE and his eldest lad, young Lee saved the day once again, more about this later, Ronnie G4DIY, for the loan of the radials and help and advice that is second to none, and last but not least, Keith, G3SZU, cucumber cool, knowledgable and always there when chips are down. Radio wise or not.

I had everything waiting at home, ready for Mart to pick me up when I received a call from Jo Hanick, the senior warden at Wirral Country Park explaining that there was no power available on Hilbre, could we use a generator.. This through me into a bit of an “ARRRRRGGGHHHH!!!” moment, as a) I had no generator, and B) the cost of the fuel along with other bits bought for Hilbre would push me over the edge financially.. For 10 minutes I had seriously thought of pulling the plug on the operation. First person I rang was Lee, G0DBE who kindly offered the loan of his 5KvA generator, and fuel can. I was sort of there, but how would we fit the genny, fuel cans and other bits in the car? Lee’s generosity came into play again when he offered to take the genny for us and pick it up. We got underway on time and arrived at the pick up point to find that Jo had managed to get an Electrician on to Hilbre to sort out the power problem, which took the pressure off, Green Hilbre was still go!
The Lee’s jumped in the Land Rover with us, as we were driven over with Matt, the Warden on duty to Hilbre. Matt is fantastic with his wildlife knowledge, and pointed out the various waders and wildfowl that we couldn’t pick up on. The Lee’s helped us get the mast started, and then had to leave as the tide was turning and they had to leave with Matt.
As the tide came in, it brought a weather front with it, blowing a hoolie, we struggled with the mast, Mart has got a picture on his phone of the mast bent at almost 90 degrees, I was struggling to hold the thing up. radialsWe worked under real pressure and managed after about an hour and a half to get the thing up straight! Changing winds however meant several re jigs of the 40 foot monster!

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We got on air at 17:23 UTC, first call in the log this time was Christian, 2W0LLL on 40M, it was soon apparent we were a big signal as the radio front end seemed to explode with stations calling us. We had G stations at 10 over, being knocked back by VK and JA coming in at 20 over. The wall of sound was amazing.
Two things had contributed to this, the tide was coming in and we had 1.2 Km of radials under the antenna. We were really moving nicely, 160 was good, with lots of US and EU stations worked on CW, but 40 and 20 were our main stays. We opted to try for 10M on the first morning, bad move. The elderly tuner I have did not like something and blew several caps, it also popped a doorknob Cap off the Linear, this in turn affected our whole higher bands jaunt.. Bah! Two hours later after much head scratching we were up and running, 15, 17 and 20 metres being the mainstay, and the pile ups were fantastic. Some of the comments on the signals blew us away, we knew that we put a decent signal out previously, but it seemed the extra radials had made a huge difference. we had gone up from 40 radials to over 120, some being 40M long for 160.

We worked around the world, VK1-7, ZL, JA, BY, BA, W/K1-0, ZD8, TI are all stations that came in loud. Even QRP stations were strong with us, I worked a VK4F station with 10 watts, he was 57 at times! 40M has been our main band, we had huge pile ups, but 20 and 15 threw some huge surprises in for us, hearing a BX station stomp in at 10-15 over 9 against an s9 Plus EU pile on 15 was amazing. working Frank, VK7BC on “his ” Island at 10-15 over 9 astounded me, we activate Hilbre for two reasons, 1, to give you EU120 Hilbre, and 2, so Frank can hear the Island he grew up on and courted his Lady Wife there!

We ended up on 1197 contacts in the time on the Island, 350 down on last time, but…. This time we have operated for less time through break down, if we had got 10 M running without problems, if we hadn’t struggled with the mast, if, if, if… One thing is certain, no if’s or buts we have had another amazing time on Hilbre, we have learned a huge amount about amateur spirit, good and bad. We have also found that Mart and I are a great team, we work well together, even under pressure. We hope to visit Hilbre again next year, this time to work 10 and 12, maybe even 6m, who knows! One of my favourite films is “Forest Gump”, and to quote a famous line, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Isn’t that what makes it so much fun?''

Thanks to everyone that assisted or orked us, it means a lot, thankyou!

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