My plan for today was to make a top-loaded vertical for 500kHz and test it on a hilltop. I made an early start and thus when the rest of the family got up, they were treated to seeing me assembling the new aerial on the back lawn (a rather common sight here!). The aerial required some soldering and, while the iron was heating up, I idly switched the home 500kHz system on. Oh dear, the band was covered in static. Maybe 500kHz was a poor choice today after all. My fallback plan was to do some 2m SSB from a hilltop as DX-sherlock was showing a tropo opening into Scandinavia.
While packing up the aerial I though about the static crashes on 500kHz. It occurred to me that due to the daytime propagation on 500kHz that they must be from less than 1,000km away - probably a lot less. Thus I idly looked at the Met Office rain radar. I nearly fell off my chair when I saw a huge storm over SE England. All thoughts of 2m vanished. This looked like a 10G
I rapidly logged into KST and saw that DX was being worked from the SE of England and earlier that Gordon G0EWN had had some success. The storm history indicated that it might be useful for me shortly as it was moving north so I scrambled out with the 10G portable system. I had packed very quickly and as I drove into the hills I had the awful feeling that I must have forgotten something.
I soon set up and logged into KST. As I half expected, there was no DX reaching me at all. I hung about, did a few tests and in the end just worked Sam G4DDK and Neil G4BRK. A least it wasn't a wasted trip. I returned home, trimmed lawns etc.
In the early evening I again checked KST and saw an upsurge in activity. I noticed that John G4EAT had worked an OK portable at just over 900km on 10G and Rob M0DTS was out portable and had worked into Denmark. Of course neither of these events meant that there would be any propagation over here. A
check of the rain radar showed a more encouraging picture with scattered storm cells. Then I had to decide whether to go portable for a second time or spend the evening watching the TV. For a moment I had a very rare enthusiasm failure. So many of these trips fail to yield anything. But 30 seconds later I decided yet again to pack and go. Five minutes afterwards I was in the car on the way out.
Light rain on the windscreen across the hills was not encouraging. My system is not suitable for wet weather. I arrived at my favourite local site and unpacked. It takes three minutes to set up the 10G portable system. The very first thing I do is power up the transverter so that by the time I have everything sorted out it is fairly stable.
I connected everything up and switched on the FT817. Immediately I heard a strong station calling CQ. I expected it to be Gordon G0EWN but it wasn't. It was Gerd DJ5BV at 59s. Somewhat excited, I dashed back to
the car to find the keyer and paddle. For some reason I didn't actually expect Gerd to hear me but he did - first call. We easily completed for a new best DX for me at 688km. I could hear several other stations weakly but sadly no more DX contacts were made although I was heard briefly in France. I also contacted Rob M0DTS/p. Gerd was a huge signal for nearly an hour. At one stage he was so strong he was overloading the receiver and was audible on two frequencies.
Although I made just the one DX contact I was quite happy with the results given that my system is very small and low power (40cm dish and 1 Watt). Even 1,000km now looks quite possible on the right day!
It appears that 500kHz and 10G are quite a complimentary pairing of bands after all. If it is too noisy for 500kHz, 10G will probably be in good shape.