Glen G0SBN, Graham M0GAE and Bob M0KLO set off early and drove to Oban to catch the ferry across to Mull, Chris GM3WOJ joined the group driving across from his home in Inverness.
We met in the car park of Aldi where the last of the food supplies were bought and we then headed to the ferry terminal to await the 2 o’clock ferry to Mull, the ferry was about 20 minutes late but we were soon on our way and driving down to The Old Ferry house at Grass Point.
The cars were emptied of foodstuffs that were packed away and rooms were sorted out before the antennas were constructed. It was decided to work until about 7 o’clock when we would have our evening meal and after that the stations would be put together.
In the time given we managed to put up five antennas, a multi-band doublet and four vertical ground plane antennas for 80, 40, 30 and 20 metres which was good going, the weather was sunny and warm which helped and there was a good breeze which helped to keep the midges at bay, it was decided to put the remaining antennas up the next day.
The stations were set up and we were operational with any glitches with set ups and computer connections sorted out. It had been a long day so everyone drifted off to bed between midnight and 0230hrs.
Saturday 18th May 2019
It was expected, so it didn’t come as any surprise when we awoke to rain today, but we didn’t expect it to be as cold as it was so there was an obvious reluctance to get outside and put up the remaining antennas including the two Hexbeam’s.
The day was spent operating and sorting out one or two glitches with computer connections on one station. 80, 40, 30 and 20 metres were the main operating frequencies for today with FT8, SSB and CW being the main modes. Around teatime weather conditions did improve and one of the Hexbeam antennas was constructed and the mast for the portable Hexbeam was positioned and guyed in order to get them up and running tomorrow. It is planned to have a go at some satellite operating tomorrow as well.
Sunday 19th May 2019
Cloudy start to the day. The standard and portable Hexbeam antennas were put up today and after a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich more radio operating was the order of the day. There are some more antennas to play around with but again they will have to wait.
Conditions on the bands aren’t brilliant at the moment (or this weekend for that matter) and today was no exception but we are still plugging away with over one and a half thousand (overall) contacts achieved by late evening.
There has been a bit of a gap in activity later today as Graham and Glen took the opportunity to get out and get some fishing in, and yes we did catch some fish which were returned to the sea, also the extended evening meal of steak and chips took up some time because the birthday boy, Graham had brought along some ‘fizzy’ so the relaxed chat around the dining table went on for a while. We did eventually get back to our stations and resumed operating on 80, 40, 30 and 20 metres.
Monday 20th May 2019
Checkout the clubs Facebook page (G0NWM) to see some early morning visitors to the station, a small herd of Highland cows. There were a few anxious moments as they were walking through the guys holding up one of the Hexbeam’s and a couple of the vertical antennas, anyway they were persuaded to move on. Unfortunately any thoughts of a lie in were well and truly dashed this morning. It was back to the radios to get some more contacts as we were just short of 2000 contacts this morning. Radio operations were steady throughout the day but conditions aren’t brilliant and sometimes the noise on the bands becomes too much to be able to operate comfortably.
Tuesday 21st May 2019
Well today started out brighter than it has been for a few days although the wind was fresh at times, it was nice to see sunshine. Conditions were very much up and down again with the tally of QSO’s just over three thousand two hundred in the evening. Today was the day that Graham M0GAE was initiated into FT8 and started to operate in this mode, it was quite difficult for him to decide whether to read a book or make a cup of tea (or do both) while in the process of operating in this mode. Joking aside he did see that it was a good way to see how propagation was working and how the antennas were performing. He also had to agree that contact could be made with stations that we wouldn’t normally be able to speak to due to the kilowatt scrum.
How many radio amateurs does it take to operate a handheld satellite antenna ?
Quite a few it seems, this evening we had a go using a satellite antenna with two people in the house passing information out through the window regarding heading and elevation and two people outside, one holding the antenna and the other passing on the information from the house. It was a bit of a comedy act at times but we did manage to hear a satellite as it passed over and two French amateurs were operating through it. The highlight of our attempt to work satellites as dusk was descending was watching the International Space Station racing across the sky, we couldn’t hear anything coming from it but it was interesting to see.
Wednesday 22nd May 2019
Today started as usual, a bit cloudy and the bands weren’t as good this morning as they were yesterday, we currently have four thousand QSO’s in the log. Contacts were steadily made throughout the day despite it being the worst so far regarding working conditions, FT8 worked well through the day when it was difficult to work on CW or voice. The weather did improve in the afternoon and some of the team went out to see the Otters in the sea. By the end of the day we were just short of five thousand QSO’s.
Thursday 23rd May 2019
Well this is our last full day before we head home tomorrow. Chris was up early and he took us over the five thousand QSO’s for the start of this last day, we will have to take the antennas down this afternoon and start packing the stations away. We ended up taking antennas down and packing the stations away from mid morning, Chris who has commitments tomorrow had to get an afternoon ferry to keep sure he was home in time.
Then there were three.
All the equipment was packed away at a leisurely pace and a relaxing evening was spent chatting and debriefing how the week had gone with regards to what had worked, what hadn’t and how we could improve in the future.
Friday 24th May 2019
Time to head home today.
We set off for the ferry in the morning and boarded on time to get back to the mainland, the journey home was straightforward and uneventful which was good as there weren’t any problems with traffic or roadworks.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about our mini DXpedition to Mull.
73’s Graham M0GAE