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Activity reports

GB0SH Strumble Head Lighthouse 2007

WAB SM 84 Pem Locator IO72la

Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th August 2007 mark the dates for the International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend. teamThis is an event that for the last couple of years we have operated from Strumble Head Lighthouse on the West coast of Pembrokeshire Wales , this was to be our third Special event from inside the lighthouse operational as GB0SH.

Strumble Head lighthouse stands imposingly on St Michaels Island, an islet separated from the mainland of Pembrokeshire, Wales by a narrow gap through which the sea boils and froths in stormy weather. The lighthouse tower is 17 metres high and the height of the light above mean high water is 45 metres.
The team of GB0SH consisted of MW0JZE Anthony team leader, MW0RLJ Rob, M3SDE Tim, MW3SDO Oliver & G1VDP Chris. About one year ago Anthony and Rob started making enquiries to Trinity House, owners of the lighthouse to celebrate the Lighthouse On The Air weekend. We had good communication throughout and as Rob owns a farm just on the headland close to the lighthouse we found it easy to make all the arrangements necessary to gain access and install our equipment inside the lighthouse for the event.

Friday, morning of the 17th of August, and for Chris (G1VDP) could the day have started any worse! On his way to pick up Tim (M3SDE) Chris had a terminal problem with his car, the turbo decided to blow up and his car more resembled a Red Arrow light__antennasas the smoke poured from the vehicle. Luckily he was able to limp back home and Tim loaded up his car to go and pick Chris up. A short while later the pair were on the road heading to Llanelli and to meet with Anthony (MW0JZE) and Oliver (MW3SDO). Arriving at Anthony’s home in Llanelli, South Wales, it was time to relax and catch up with the gossip over a few beers and a curry. Oliver (MW3SDO), arrived later following his long drive from North Wales.

Saturday 18th August, an early start, we were up at 5:30am to load our final supplies into the cars and drive the one and a half hours across to the West coast, arriving at Strumble Head Lighthouse at 8am, where we were met by Geoff the lighthouse keeper and our final member of the team Rob (MW0RLJ), along with strong winds driving the rain horizontal, was this really summer time? It looked more and more like we were going to have problems with erecting the antennas and keeping dry. We all hoped for better conditions on the radio.

Carrying the equipment to the lighthouse took two trips each and was quite a physical endurance exercise and we all felt exhausted as we reached the summit. This year we tried to carry only what we really needed, plus a spare of everything - of tim_m0urx_and_oli_mw3sdocourse you just never know when a failure of an important piece of equipment may occur. From the car park on the mainland the team crossed a foot bridge where the wind really blew at gale force strength, then a steady and very steep walk up to the lighthouse which stands 45 meters above the mean high tide.

Setting up the station was quick as we all set about doing the jobs that we knew had to be done. This year we used a 4 element Moseley TA33JR Antenna, the first time that we had used a Yagi from the lighthouse and it proved to be invaluable! Also the Carolina Windom was erected about 10m above the ground. We had decided on two operating stations this year using a Yaesu FT-2000D to be used with the Yagi, and a Yaesu FT-857 to be used with the Windom on 40m and 80m. Rob and Ant started to build the mast to hold the yagi, this was to be 30ft of swaged 2" diameter poles with a gin pole type of arrangement to erect the mast. Oli and Chris started on the construction of the elements for the Yagi, starting in the corridor of the lighthouse so as to keep dry. they then moved out on to the helipad to construct the antenna and put the elements on the boom. The Yagi was then attached to the mast and an attempt to get it in the air was made by all 5 team members. But due to the high winds it was found that the pole was bending and a safety decision was taken and the Yagi was finally erected at 20ft.

While the mast and antenna construction was taking place Tim was setting up both stations with laptops for logging and sorting the power requirements for the 2 stations. This required extension leads taping to the floor and all power taking across the rooms. We used a combination of Winlog and Logger 32 due to the fact that we didn't have the laptops networked. antenna__lighthouse

It was then time to erect the Windom. This was to be erected on a 33ft telescopic aluminium mast for the feed point and 2 fibreglass poles at each end of the elements. This is where the first problem was encountered. Due to the high winds the guy ropes and antenna wire kept twisting. We decided to attach the wires to the poles loosely to keep them apart and then attach the outer guys to the ground at the required height, using the third guy as a lifting rope and to stabilise when up in the air. The pole was then extended and lifted in the air with 2 sets of guy ropes to stabilise it in the high winds.

20m was buzzing with activity today and our first call “GB0SH operating from inside Strumble Head Lighthouse QRZ” was met with a steady pile up and the first 4 hours we were working at 100 Qs per hour. Unfortunately both 40m and 80m were in poor shape and it was a struggle here all weekend.

Very strong conditions to Netherlands , Germany and Scandinavia on 20m so we were kept very busy.

As we are not able to stop inside the lighthouse at night we made the decision to close down at 21:00z as conditions on both 40M and 80M were poor and 20M had all but closed. A short drive to Rob’s farm for the night, where we could relax and drink some very welcome beer and finally catch up on the news since we last met.

Sunday 19th August: The wind overnight had picked up to strong gale force and we were all quite relieved to see the Yagi still ant_mw0jzestanding on the helipad where we had set up the day before. Once again 20m was busy and stations were logged quickly. Both 40m and 80m were hard going again and we were not able to get a pile up going on these bands today. As in the last two years we are only able to be operational for a few hours on the Sunday so we closed down at 11:00z. Taking down the Yagi antenna had to be done very carefully as the wind was still blowing at gale force strength. Then a few trips down the dreaded steps back to the car park.

A thoroughly enjoyable weekend as always! Next year is the Centenary year for Strumble Head Lighthouse so we will be back with another activity in 2008. Plenty of photographs were taken and a special website will be set up by Ant for the event, and to help celebrate the centenary year of this beautiful aid to navigation for shipping. We are also hoping that Trinity House will allow us to stay in the lighthouse over night as it would then be a special memorable event for sure.


1003 QSOs in 18 hours of operating

48 DXCC worked including USA , Chile , Brazil , Asiatic Russia, Kaliningrad , Kazakhstan , Saudi Arabia