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21st International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend 2018

After months of planning and obtaining permissions, licenses, logistics, equipment and manpower GB6NT set-up took place from 2pm on Friday the 17th with the help of members from both Colchester and Harwich clubs with Louis waiting for us as we arrived.
As we were advised just 24 hrs previously that Chris and the Anglia TV crew were about to join us at 3pm we frantically set about erecting the tent and Mark  M0LTG, with assistance, erected the rotary dipole and MQ 24SR on the pneumatic mast.
At 5.15 Garry M0MGP, was rehearsed by Chris from Anglia TV and we were asked if we could be live by 6-15! A massive task as any of you who visited will know from the equipment we had in the shack.

Tables were erected, mast raised to half height with single guys, power supplies and leads in place, computers connected, generator run up, and operators in their seats by 6pm ready for our very own weather report. 
Garry and Herbie G6XOU were interviewed and the end shot was of Chris buddying up with Herbie on a 40 m QSO.

As the Anglia crew departed the real work began by lowering the mast, final fixing the antennas,  coupling up the 80m doublet, introducing the extra guy set and running the extended coax cables and rotator control lead. A 20m inverted L was set up in the field behind the generator for the FT8 Station.

  Dave G1OGY and John G4ZTR from the Colchester Contest Group kindly lent and erected the 60ft Versatower with twin 9 ele beams for 2m operations.

After dinner all the equipment was then removed from the tent, the tent was secured and all the tables, supplies and equipment were then reintroduced and fully wired and set up ready for ops to begin by 7-30 the following morning.

Surprisingly, despite no sleep that night Mark and Garry remained remarkably calm when the generator popped two power supplies that had not been included in the surge protection loop, due to the voltage regulator popping on the genset.

Problem solved on Saturday morning as the standby generator was put in place to run the equipment and a new power supply was commandeered by Caroline 2E0SXH and the FT8 station was back up and running under her control. The faulty genset was then tasked with running the most important bit of kit, the tea urn and the lighting which was not fussy with a fluctuating voltage.

All ran smoothly until the ATU packed up on the inverted L, a quick change of antennas and that was solved, then the 2m station logger failed and Nic M6XTN, one of our newest foundation licensees , manned the 2m station armed with his trusty pencil, good job Nic.

We had many visitors during Saturday and Sunday , many of whom operated and some who came by to say hello and look at the various equipment and software we ere running. Some were interested in Skookumlogger others in the FT8 operation and may members of the public came by and showed an interest.

It is always rewarding when so many people take an interest in what we do. Our aim is always to put together a shack that not only interests members but also draws members of the public in and ask us questions on how things work and why. Indeed, we have gained some new members this year through our activities.

Sunday morning and another surprise when Liana and Barry from the BBC Essex Quest arrived to receive clue No 4 from Garry, who again used some air time to promote the hobby and the Colchester radio Amateurs. We have to thank the Harwich Club for the BBC Essex visit as they were too far out for the Quest they kindly put us forward in their place, very much appreciated.

Liana also had the opportunity to pass a message with operator Mark M0LTG, to the Harwich lighthouse GB4HLH, which was being operated at that time by Jonathan G0DVJ, an experience she thoroughly enjoyed.

I would love to add so much more but fear your patience would wear thin, so I will close by thanking EVERYONE who dropped in, operated, helped setup and knock down, buy the milk, bring the chairs, clear the rubbish and for supporting the events that we put on throughout the year.

Finally some special thank you's.
Herbie G6XOU for your continued support and assistance.
The Naze Visitor Centre for the support and use of facilities.
The Naze Tower for their assistance and hospitality (go eat there).
Tendring District Council for allowing us the use of the land.
Our respective spouses and mine in particular, thank you Carol.
Mark and Caroline  without whom, most of this would not be possible.

Now the Facts and Figures

Total number of light worked was 32, 27 on HF, 4 on FT8 & 2 on 2M.
(one station worked on two bands)

HF  qso's  225             Best distance 4,000km Asiatic Russia
2M  qso's    17             Best distance 570km France
FT8 qso's 154              Best distance 19,020km New Zealand
TOTAL      396

All 6 continents were worked, 29 countries and 7 ITU zones on HF phone.
46 countries and 18 ITU zones were worked on FT8 digital mode.
18 operators in total shared the hot seats.
HFstations operated a total of 29hrs 30 minutes.
FT8 station operated a total of 33 hrs.

Garry M0MGP