Operating the 432 MHz Low Power Contest from Dunstable Downs on Sunday August 5th.

As I was going to be in the St Albans area on Sunday morning and this coincided with the 432MHz Low Power contest I decided that a couple hours operating wouldn’t go amiss. This 4 hour contest is aimed at operators heading for the hills running small stations off battery power and runs from 0900 to 1300 local time. As I would only have a short time and not intending to do any serious operating I looked at what kit to take. Radio wise it was simple the IC7100 running around 30W would be perfect, a suitable aerial was another matter. I decided against taking the 19 ele Tonna as this would require a reasonable mast, time to set up etc so looked around in garage to see what was available. After a careful rummage nothing appeared apart from a simple 432 MHz dipole I had made some time ago so as my expectations were low this was picked along with a short pole to bolt onto the roof rack. I also decided that I would dust off the moths on my original class B call of G8BXC as that is better phonetically than my new fangled G4DDP.

Sunday morning dawns and about 0930 local I arrived on Dunstable Downs in a pleasant 21C and very few people around. There is a large car park on the National Trust site and it is quite easy to park in a distant corner out of everyone’s way as shown below.

I decided not to show a picture of the car mounted aerial system as this would provoke much mirth from everyone !

Below are couple of views showing the takeoff from the site and also the essential Cafe.

As I had quite low expectations I strolled to the cafe and bought a coffee and then strolled back to the car to set up the station. Around 1000 local time I had set up and a quick tune around showed I could actually hear stations so I ventured forth with a CQ and was then bowled over by a pile up ! For the next couple of hours it was pretty much non stop with 35 stations worked as shown below on the map with the furthest out to France at 333 km, not bad for a simple dipole at 4m agl although I was 243m asl.

After a couple of hours I could still hear stations I hadn’t worked including a GM but the lack of a proper aerial system was preventing me from being heard so I decide to celebrate by strolling over to the cafe for a healthy snack of a coffee and a Magnum ice cream before packing up and heading back to St Albans and meeting the XYL to see if we were still solvent !

It just shows what can be done even with the simplest of kit although I did wish I had taken the 19 ele beam with mast head pre-amp and 300W amplifier, would have been an interesting activation.

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