Sport Radio – UKACs – What are they all about ?

PA-contest2Sport Radio – UKACs – What are they all about ?

The main word that springs to mind for me is Fun! However, it is much more than that, by taking part in these my Amateur radio operating techniques have improved and there have been a number of other benefits as well. When the word contest comes to mind, I used to picture one of those events on HF which has been likened by some as ‘Swimming with the Sharks’, but not anymore.

So what’s different about the UK Activity Contests? Apart from the fact that they take place on VHF, UHF and SHF? Well to use an old term, I would sum them up as a, gentlemanly contest. Where everyone is very welcoming, and warm and friendly.

So who can take part in the UKACs? “All entrants and operators of UK stations must be RSGB members except visiting amateurs, not normally resident in the UK” Except if the operator is a member of an RSGB Affiliated Society (AFS).

When do these UKACs run? They take place on a Tuesday evening, between 19:00 and 21:30 (UTC), there are four sections you can enter – which are mainly dependent on your power output. You need to log your contacts and this is time, RST (Rx and TX) , Serial Number(Rx and TX), Locator. Once the contest has finished you need to upload them to the contest web site. See the RSGBs web site  for full information.

I like to operate portable /P which is a good job as my home QTH is down in a bit of a dip and although I hold a full licence I prefer to use a maximum of 10 watts, most weeks I used my trusty Yaesu FT817.  If I am operating on my own I use a pen and paper to log, backed up with a recorder. Then transfer to minos to upload, you can type your log directly online, but I have found minos works well for me. When I can find someone I prefer to get someone to log for me, and when I do this I get much better results, and less errors! (due to my poor handwriting)(HI).

A typical contest starts a couple of days before when I make sure my batteries are charged up and put my ‘sotabeam’ in my vehicle, log, tea making equipment etc. Then I plan when I am going to setup.

When the evening arrives, it’s normally a bit of a rush, getting home from work around 18:15 and getting setup on a site somewhere for the start. I can normally be setup now in 10 minutes, and I am getting used to it all now. I start off pointing the antenna, North and call CQ for around 10 minutes, then scan the band and then move North East and repeat the process, again and again. This works well for me but, I am sure you will find what’s best for you.

I find it useful to listen to a weak station until I hear the locator, and then move the beam by hand, so that it’s pointing in the best possible direction. If there are two of us my logger normally moves the beam for me, which helps.

I find the evenings great fun !!, when I am finished I go home, put the kettle on and make a cup of tea, get the laptop fired up and go online to summit the results, then have a good look at other peoples submitted scores. I find myself checking the results section of the RSGB web site a couple of times a day. Once the new results are up, someone in the club normally post them on our  facebook site and we have a bit of a rag chew.

Very often these discussions result in sharing ideas on how we can improve. I also found the people from other clubs are happy to help you improve too. Even if you are competing against them. This says a lot about the friendliness of the contests.

One of the other areas that I enjoy, is getting those who are new to the hobby to come and take part, after we are all here to learn, and we all started at some point as a beginner, however much we think we know we can learn from anyone

Look forward to working you – Paul