Stroke Emm Across Europe - Roger Western, G3SXW


August 2008, QRV in six countries within 24 hours. What a hoot. Goodness me, Olof G0CKV is such a good guy. Read here why I say that.

It really started on the trip to OJ0 Market Reef in July. Olof gave me a lift from SM Stockholm to OH0 Aland Island and I operated his stroke emm station in both those countries. This mobile set-up works so well and is so comfortable. A real pleasure.

Anyway, so then I learned that Olof would be driving back from Sweden to UK and I ‿bold as brass ‿asked if I could just tag along. He graciously agreed. So we set up the trip. It turned into a memorable experience. When the plan was solid enough I bought a one-way ticket with British Airways from LHR to Copenhagen. Kastrup CPH airport is very close to the route that Olof would take, so he would pick me up from the airport. He had already driven a whole day to get from Stockholm to Gothenburg and a ferry across to OZ Denmark.


QRV Stroke Emm

Now, I have to admit right from the outset that there was a range of motivations for going along on this trip. Doing crazy quick trips is such a lot of fun; I knew that I would enjoy Olof’s company enormously; we would see new places; err, but to be thoroughly honest this would be an easy way to score some new points for the DXFC ladder. I had visited all these countries before but had not operated from them. I am third on the DXFC+QRV table and this would promote me to second, and put me within range of getting to the top. Wow, too good a chance to miss:

1 K4YT 79
2 K5VT 69
3 G3SXW 68
4 G3TXF 64

This trip would add four points, putting me on 72 DXFC+QRV points

So, we hit the road on 25th August late afternoon to drive down through OZ Denmark and into DL Germany. We would overnight near Bremen then drive the next day through a small part of PA Holland, into ON Belgium, across the border to F France, then the Calais/Dover ferry to our homes in Surrey.

Olof is a very clever chap and he has installed a state-of-the-art mobile station in his BMW. An IC706 plus rigs for two metres and 70cm. The rigs are hidden in the boot with just the front-panels sitting on a console sticking out of the dash-board. Installed on the back bumper is a Screwdriver HF vertical whip and on the roof-mount are antennas for the two VHF bands.

After chatting for a while and catching up with the news I took the Bencher paddle and called CQ on 14023. The first QSO was with Pat, M0AAC.

APRS and the Clubs

But before we describe the fantastic fun which followed let us firstly fill in some more background. Both Olof and I are members of two local clubs, the Echelford ARS (Staines) and the Wey Valley ARG (Guildford). Both clubs are vibrant and fun to share good times with. They take an active interest in the somewhat bizarre travels that both Olof and I (usually separately) take in the name of amateur radio so we are all closely in touch with each other.

The other major input to this story is APRS. We’ve probably all heard about this but might not really understand its function. Those who are familiar please forgive this brief description. There is a network of repeaters dedicated to APRS all on the same two-metre frequency. They accept inputs and then propagate the details on web-sites. The inputs consist of telemetry such as call-sign, precise GPS location, date, time etc and in the case of moving vehicles they also report the heading and speed. This is all displayed on Google Maps. There are several web-sites, but see: http://www.db0anf.de/hamweb/aprsdb/showdata.php?cfrom=g0ckv-9 for the latest report of Olof’s vehicle. He includes a brief text message to indicate ‘QRX‿or ‘QRT‿or ‘Lunch Break‿ When QRV on the HF bands he also indicates the TX frequency. All of this is automatic, no operating needed. Anyone can connect to this web-site and stay closely in touch with his movements by refreshing the page. As I write this (28th August) I see that Olof is parked up, having lunch beside the River Thames, just across from Shepperton, and tuned to 3525 khz! Big Brother is watching you!

OZ > DL

As so often these days when operating a strange transceiver with a built-in keyer I have to re-learn single-lever keying. I usually squeeze key (iambic) and withOUT dot-dash memory. To operate a keyer which does not permit switching off the dot-dash memory I have to pretend that it is single-lever. In practice this means that a letter C takes four movements instead of two (to insert the dots into the string of dashes). To make this adjustment always takes time and a lot of concentration. It also involves flawed CW especially in the first few minutes. So, this was the first challenge to overcome. I slowed the keyer to about 18wpm and concentrated hard. When tired or deflected by some event the CW was full of errors and I was not proud! Apologies to those who had to tolerate this malfunctioning!

We headed South through Denmark and I operated on 20 metres for an hour. After Pat M0AAC was Geoff G3JUL, also of the Echelford club. They were lying in wait for us. Then the same with Mike G3IAF and Mike G0EFO of the Wey Valley club. Pat was also watching APRS and spreading the word on the Echelford calling frequency, 145350 so other members would know what was happening. During the next one hour I made 13 QSOs signing OZ/G3SXW/M. Great fun!

Meantime, Olof did all the hard work driving the vehicle. He was aided by a little lady’s voice from his dash-board telling him where to go (SatNav) but he knew the route well anyway. I also worked Bob G4HZV and Mick G3LIK as well as some East Europeans. In almost all cases the incoming RST report was better than outgoing: this mobile set-up really gets out well.

We crossed into Germany and switched to 40 metres. Again G3JUL, M0AAC and G0EFO were first in the log. They knew our exact location the whole time! We were also tracked by Paul, OZ4UN, with whom Olof had paid a pleasant visit in Northern Denmark before picking me up at CPH. That evening I made 13 more CW QSOs including such stalwarts as G4IRN, G3RTE, G4BUE, EI6FR. It made a pleasant change from normal 5NN DXpeditioning to actually ‘say‿something to these pals!

The Second Day

After a pleasant overnight stay at a hotel just off the motorway near Bremen, and a good breakfast, we headed for the Dutch border. There were a further 13 QSOs on 40m making 26 in total from DL/G3SXW/M, this time including G0KDL, G3IAF, G3GJX and some of the full-time APRS trackers from yesterday.

Negotiating the Ruhr area (Essen, Duisberg etc) is a bit of a spider’s web of roads but Olof had trodden this track many times before and the SatNav was there as back-up. By late morning we were crossing into Netherlands, at Venlo and heading for Eindhoven. This was a quick traverse across the Southern part of the country, taking less than an hour. I made six QSOs as PA/G3SXW/M, still sticking to 40 metres. These were with the usual suspects: OZ4UN, G3JUL, G3IAF, M0AAC, G0EFO and signals were getting weaker, as we approached the mid-day doldrums.

Then by noon local time we were crossing into Belgium. We skirted South of Antwerp and then South to Brussels. Olof had some brief business to take care of at his apartment there, then straight back on the road again, up past Gent and Brugge. Ten QSOs went into the log as ON/G3SXW/M, still on 40m.

France and England

We crossed into France just before Dunkirk and pulled into a lay-by, right on the border. I was in contact with OZ4UN at the time and thoroughly enjoyed starting one transmission with ON/G3SXW/M and finishing it signing F/G3SXW/M. What a giggle! This was another new experience!

Even more remarkable was Olof’s practical demonstration of what he had been telling me about: that his Screwdriver mobile whip is directional. No ‿you’re kidding, it’s a vertical! We were listening to OZ4UN who was directly behind us at the time. Olof turned the car to face North-East and Paul’s signal markedly increased, about one S unit, I’d say. Without prompting Paul that we had turned to face him, he told us right away that our signal had increased. Wow, how odd! Olof explained that the car body acts as a ground-plane. The whip is at the back so this GP is in the direction that the car is facing. He has confirmed this with antenna modelling software, seeing a signal improvement of several db. Yet another new thing learned. You never stop learning in this hobby.

We drove on to Calais, making three more QSOs on 40m as F stroke then parked up at the ferry terminal, allowing Olof time to re-tune the antenna to 80 mtrs. By now it was early evening but still light and DL4CF was CQing with a very loud signal. Joe gave us a 599 report!

The crossing takes 1.5 hours and then we were on the M20 heading North from Dover. This allowed me to QRV in my sixth country within 24 hours, making a dozen QSOs as G3SXW/M on 80 metres. Olof dropped me off at home late evening, some 36 hours after leaving.

SXW/M made 72 CW QSOs on three bands in six different countries in just over 24 hours. Those who contacted us throughout the journey are:

Call Countries
G3JUL 6
G3IAF 4
M0AAC 4
OZ4UN 4
G0EFO 3
G3LIK 2

Thank You!

To all these fine chaps who kept us company along the way, tracking us on APRS and making QSOs. The whole car journey, some 30 hours just flew by. It was great fun.

But especially to Olof, G0CKV, for letting me borrow his marvellous /M station. He is a very clever fellow and we never ever seem to run out of things to discuss. I much appreciate your hospitality, old chap.

Roger Western, G3SXW
28th August 2008






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