AFS Phone - M0VFC sitting at M1BXF operating the station at G3PJT

17 January 2016 | Comments

A very mediocre score from me, 198 QSOs, almost entirely on 80m as a result of a late start.

Bob G3PJT was kind enough to let me use his station remotely for AFS Phone yesterday - you may have spotted the article in RadCom last month. It's an excellent station, and I don't have 80m antennas at home, so it was very welcome.

(Firstly, a disclaimer for anyone concerned about this sort of remote operation: it was used very much as a "long mic lead" setup, with all antennas located in the same place as the single transceiver, located in the same country as me - well, about 20 miles down the road from where I was. The entry submitted has the location of the transceiver, and both that and my operating location were well within the AFS distance limits.)

Having been out looking at a replacement for Flossie (also known as G3PYE/P) in the morning, I then had to run home and finish making the mic cable for the RemoteRig - it was the first time I'd used my control end on SSB! After a quick check at home listening on my local antenna, I packed it up and headed over to Gavin M1BXF's QTH where he and M0BLF were operating his local station as M1BXF.

M0VFC and M0BLF operating in AFS Phone in M1BXF's shack

Why? Two reasons: firstly, we're a social bunch, and the idea of sitting in a shack with other people is much more enticing than sitting on your own, even if you're both independently heads down in your respective radios.

Secondly, as part of the remote station project, we're testing it in as many different configurations as possible, so this was a valuable test of the technology.

Perhaps most importantly, Gav has a good coffee machine.

The morning's activities meant I didn't get to Gav until gone 2pm, and by the time I'd set up the kit and configured the networking, my first QSO was at 1450.

By that time, 40m seemed past its best for inter-G, and I only made around 15 QSOs before moving to 80m at 1510. 80m was much better, with a mix of some nice runs and periods of S&P. The last hour was rather slow, but there was still some activity to be had.

On the remote station front, the RemoteRig operating in K3-TWIN mode is really quite amazing - I used my K3 as if it were the real radio, and Bob's mirrored it at the other end. Audio latency is very low - perhaps a couple of hundred milliseconds round trip, so you don't really notice it.

Receive audio was indistinguishable from local operation, though I did get a couple of reports of problems with TX audio.

I think I sorted the worst of these during the contest (I'd left some network traffic shaping enabled on the PC I was using the terminate the VPN from when I was in Wales with the Youth Team DXpedition last year), but there's still some investigation to be done there. Thanks to those who spent time diagnosing it, especially Chris G3SJJ.

(One more gotcha: I pressed the K3's "REC" button to record a CQ message, to be greeted with "NO DVK" - I think I may need to buy one for Bob if I repeat the exercise!)

Overall, the experiment went well - my final score doesn't do justice to Bob's station, but I'm pretty sure is far more down to my late arrival on the bands than the remote aspect.

Thanks to Bob G3PJT for the use of his station, and Gav M1BXF for his shack.

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