Vienna International Center Activated for WAE-SSB
Every second weekend in September the SSB part of the Worked All Europe contest (WAE) takes place. Normally stations located in Europe may only work stations located on another continent, but this year because of the 60th anniversary of the WAE award an exception was made: Europeans could also work other Europeans. Of course, no contest points were granted for these contacts, but the fun taking part in the competition was greatly improved.
This caused some hardcore shortwave enthusiasts (Günther, OE3GCU, Werner, OE1DWC, and Hannes, OE3SGU) to think about participating from UN headquarters in Vienna, the Vienna International Centre (VIC). 4U1VIC counts as a separate region and multiplier in this contest and thus we expected some nice pileups. It has also been a while since a multioperator group has operated from the VIC. We soon started thinking about how to best realize this project.
After we established contact with some hams from the VIC, 10 days before the event, all of us met and discussed the details and we had a look at some possible contest locations. We wanted to plan everything as thoroughly as possible in the short time remaining -- making the best out of the given facts and options.
Soon we realized that participating during the whole 48 hours of the contest would not be possible. Security standards in the VIC require that a UN staff member be with visitors during the period of operation. Furthermore, access to the VIC during the weekends is only possible in a very restricted manner and requires early registration. Thankfully, Rom, OE1RKS; Alex, OE1AWB; Bernhard, OE3BLB, and Rainer, DL1DTN -- all employees at the VIC -- offered to stay with us during our contest activity. Needless to say this is unusual as normally all would rather spend their weekends with their families, instead of at their work location.
A short visit and inspection of the present shack of 4U1VIC in the G building near the Austria Center conference building soon showed us that there is relatively little space for wire antennas. Even installing a beam would not be an easy task. Also, the G tower "only" has 48 meters of height and transmission in certain directions is severely blocked by some of the higher UN buildings around. Among other offices, the G building accommodates the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). On the other side, building "D," seat of UNIDO and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), is a massive 102 meters tall and offers a relatively clear horizon into all directions. According to Alex, OE1AWB, a temporary weekend operation from the D tower would be possible. He could offer us a little room on top of the roof that is normally used as a service room for elevators. The room offered just enough space for the group and sheltered us from any outside noise, wind and rain.
The antennas had to be installed the Friday before the contest. We used a Cushcraft A3S tribander (lent by Georg, OE1GPC) with a SPID rotator (from Manfred, OE1MB) for the higher bands. For 40 and 80 meters we had monoband dipoles, which were adjusted by Günther, OE3GCU, for a perfect low SWR. Installing the antennas was more difficult than we expected and took until sunset.
A total length of 130 meters of coaxial cable was needed. Günther and Werner really had planned every little detail. There was literally nothing they had not thought about. Adapters, tape, hardware, SWR analyzer, ropes -- all had been brought by them. Some special brackets had to be built to enable us to install the A3S on the ladder at the top of the roof.
The exposed -- and sometimes very windy -- location on top of the D building offered a fantastic view of all Vienna and parts of the Czech Republic (OK) and the Slovak Republic (OM). This location was a dream for someone whose options in installing outside antennas are very restricted or nonexistent.
The radio in use was Günthers's ICOM IC-775DSP, including a Heil headset, a footswitch and a microHam micro keyer. Werner brought along his OM Power 2500 linear amplifier. With a modest drive of 20 W this linear delivers a massive kW output -- just what we needed for rough contest use. All the logging was done by Win-Test.
We were on the air for approximately 20 hours. On Saturday we worked from 0755 to 2245 and on Sunday from 0710 to 1655 (local time). Late in the afternoon on Sunday we started disassembling the antennas and evacuating the equipment. Only a very modest operation during the nighttime was planned. We worked in 2 hour shifts, which gave everyone some time for other obligations.
Unfortunately, band conditions during this weekend were terribly disappointing. In the morning we only had smaller pileups, mainly with European stations on 40 meters. During these times of low activity we mainly "searched and pounced" the bands for new multipliers.
In the afternoon, 20 and 15 meters often provided wide openings and we finally could change into "running." Especially on 20 meters we had nice pileups to North America and to Japan. Many W6/7s, VEs and JAs/HLs had big signals over S9 and queued to work us. Interesting entries in our log on 20 meters were stations from 5R, 9K, 9M2/6, BY, EY, HI, HK, TI, TR, TU, UK, VU, YB and YI.
Fifteen meters had some nice signals from the Near, Middle and Far East but most openings were only of a short duration. Among others, we were able to work stations from A7, HS, HZ, JA, UA0, UN and YB. Forty meters opened to South America; the prefixes HI, HK, PY and YV were logged. We also managed to work 4L, 5B, EA8, EA9, JA, TA, UA0, VK and some Ws on this band.
All QSOs of this activity -- as is the tradition with 4U1VIC -- were automatically confirmed via the bureau. Of course all direct cards were answered, too. We also uploaded our log into the ARRL's Logbook of The World (Note: Only contacts for this activity! All other, earlier QSOs of 4U1VIC are not available in electronic form.)
A special thanks to all of the UN staff who supported and accompanied us patiently during this contest. Thanks to Rom, OE1RKS, Alex, OE1AWB, Bernhard, OE3BLB, and Rainer, DL1DTN -- without you it would have been impossible to realize this project!
Our thanks go also to the very patient security staff, who assisted us in checking in and out the pile of boxes and antennas, and tolerated our presence during the weekend. Last but not least, thanks to our partners who gave us a free weekend for our hobby and to everyone who called us. We are looking forward to the next QSO in the next contest or during the next activity of 4U1VIC!
QSO statistics for 4U1VIC 13/14.9.2008:
A total of 1027 QSOs with 80 DXCC entities were made, as follows:
Band # QSOs Percent 80 m: 3 0.3% 40 m: 238 23.2% 20 m: 763 74.3% 15 m: 23 2.2% 10 m: 0 by continents: Continent # QSOs Percent Africa: 16 1.6% Asia: 135 13.1% Europe: 399 38.8% North America: 453 44.1% Oceania: 5 0.5% South America: 19 1.8% claimed score: 173,756
Hannes Gruensteidl, OE3SGU, was born in 1970 and was first licensed in December 1990 and, with the exception of 2000-2005, has been active ever since. Hannes operates almost exclusively on shortwave his main interests being DXing, low power (QRP) and some contesting. His preferred mode is CW, but Hannes also operates some SSB and data modes. He was the RTTY/CW operator at 5A28 in 1997 and a regular visitor and operator at 4U1VIC. He holds DXCC mixed 315+ among several other international awards, is a member of the ARRL, OEVSV (ADL 325), QRPARCI, G-QRP club, FISTS, AGCW-DL, GDXF, OE-CWG and other clubs (see www.qrz.com for details). Currently working on achieving QRP-DXCC -- due to the antenna restrictions, mainly by the use of indoor antennas. Hannes is happily married to Michelle and works as a civil servant for the Lower Austrian authorities.
Hannes Grsteidl, OE3SGU