Category Archives: Christmas Cracker

Christmas Cracker – 2014

After a long period of consolidating the logs I am pleased to announce that the Winner of Exercise CHRISTMAS CRACKER is:

Hampshire & Isle of Wight ACF

The scores below indicate the large number of exchanges (over 1,000) that took place over the period of the exercise and the hard work put in by your cadets and their adults.

Special thanks must go to all of the MARS Stations who took part and were always there for us, often the time zone where they were based meant operating at extended times, and their help is very much appreciated.

Every station will receive a personalised certificate to commemorate their participation.

When looking at the scores below please remember that not all stations took part for the entire 31 hours, myself included!!  This means that a low score does not mean that the station was ineffective, in fact quite the reverse.  To have communicated with other stations they had to have been effective and hopefully will have gained experience and confidence to take part in future exercises

Remember you DO NOT have to take part for the entire exercise.

Taking part meant that cadets experienced operating on HF and in conditions that at times were busy to say the least.  The initial ‘pile-ups’ decreased as Voice Procedure improved and cadets became used to working when they might not be able to hear every station on the frequency.

One way to overcome this issue is to have a directed net that allows a control station to bring in stations and if necessary relay messages.  This exercise is not about relaying messages nor about operating on controlled nets; but it is about experiencing HF conditions and communicating with distant stations as you might find it when working your own nets and links.

I am fully aware of the issues about the short frequency slots, the logging system and other matters.  I will be producing a Post Exercise Report (PXR) over the Christmas season and hope to get it to you early in 2015.  For our MARS friends I know that our PXR is called an After Action Report (AAR) within your organisation!!

I am hoping to run a training exercise in early 2015 and perhaps have another exercise with MARS Stations; maybe they would be happy to accept a number of invited stations onto one of their exercises!

Finally please remember that is about taking part more than about winning.

Best wishes to you all for Christmas and the New Year.

Competing Stations
Position Unit Name Scored
1 Hants & IOW ACF 1225
2 1003 (Leighton Buzzard) Sqn ATC 915
3 Reading School CCF 885
4 Essex ACF 540
5 Sir Roger Manwood’s CCF 530
6 Clwyd & Gwynedd ACF – A 400
7 Maidstone Grammar School CCF 335
8 Clwyd & Gwynedd ACF – B 325
9 1213 (Andover) Sqn ATC 270
10 HQ2 Welsh Wing ATC 260
11 Airbridge & Coatbridge SCC 205
=12 Kent ACF 155
=12 Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School CCF 155
14 2364 (Welshpool) Sqn ATC 135
15 Dollar Academy CCF 115
16 Humberside & South Yorkshire ACF 110
17 Sutton Valence School CCF 105
18 2286 (Arden) Sqn ATC 100
19 1370 (Leven) Sqn ATC 65
20 73 (Huntingdon) Sqn ATC 60
21 2415 (Penkridge) Sqn ATC 50
22 Bedfordshire & Cambridgeshire Wing ATC 40
=23 481 (West Bromwich) Sqn ATC 25
=23 1132 (Stalham) Sqn ATC 25
25 2331 (St Ives) Sqn ATC 15

Competition Organiser – Capt D Holman

Christmas Cracker – 2013

Competing Stations
Position Unit Name Scored
1 1213 (Andover) Sqn ATC 150
2 Churchers College CCF 127
3 Hants & IOW ACF, B Coy “A” 126
4 Maidstone Grammar School CCF 111
5 1003 (Leighton Buzzard) Sqn ATC 66
6 Essex ACF 63
7 Hants & IOW ACF, C Coy 57
8 1003 (Leighton Buzzard) Sqn ATC 53
9 Net Assistant – Cornwall 51
10 Sutton Valence School CCF 50
11 Humberside ACF 44
12 Net Monitor – Basingstoke 26
13 Net Monitor – CW 17
14 Net Assistant – Bournemouth 16
15 Warwick School CCF 14
16 1132 (Stalham) Sqn ATC 8
Active & No Log
Sir Roger Manwood’s School CCF
Dollar Academy CCF
Hampshire & IOW ACF, B Coy “B”

Comments from the Organiser

This years competition was the first to be marked electronically thanks to Lt S Fraser’s hard work. Thank you to those that managed to submit your logs online and we hope to expand the use of the portal in the following year. I expect the future competitions to follow suit as the NRN moves forward into the digital age! The table appears to be grouped into three distinct areas again but most people have moved up a position or two since last year.

The deadline for the results to be uploaded was similar to last year and each station was responsible for uploading their own log. Despite the messages taking the format LLNNLL, some serials were mistyped and were quite rightly marked as incorrect by the computer. Please do check your logs before submitting them as these simple errors can then be picked up and points retained. Logs should be able to be checked online using the username and password supplied to enable you to see where the errors have been made.

Timing throughout the competition was good as only 10 exchanges were disallowed as they fell out of the 5 minute grace period allowed between logs! Of those 10, the times varied from 6 minutes to 121 minutes between logs. We now just need to work on accurate recording of call signs and message content and scores will shoot up! Of the 1340 exchanges during the exercise, only 564 were marked as valid and 776 were marked as wrong. That means 58% of all the exchanges had an error and did not score any points! From the 3 active stations that had not submitted a log, there were 204 exchanges that lost points for the other stations and with scores so close each exchange makes a big difference!

Conditions appeared to be good in the early afternoon on Saturday and then in the early hours of Sunday morning. There was a lot of solar activity on Saturday evening which had a distinct effect on HF conditions which a few stations commented on.

Hopefully everyone learnt something from taking part in the competition and I hope next years competition will have a few more stations fighting for the now well contented top spot. As always, it is good to have ACF, CCF and ATC stations competing on a regular basis.

Congratulations to the winners, their first time at the top in Christmas Cracker. The results were read out at 1200 on Christmas Day and thanks to those who called in. Should any station require a Certificate of entry, they can be sent out on request.

Comments from Entrants

1213 (Andover) Sqn ATC – Six cadets took part but only 4 were available for the full 24 hours. Four had experience with previous CC, one with “Summer Whine” and one new to ACF competitions.  Enjoyed by all.

Churchers College CCF – Thanks for organising an excellent competition.  My word,  how good the conditions were in the middle of the night. They made up for a very slow start for my boys.  We only had a team of 3, so I had to do some logging myself at times.  2 of the 3 boys had only just gained their x flags and had not had any NRN competition experience.  Nevertheless, we all had a good time.

Hants & IOW ACF, B Coy “A” – Many thanks for organising the competition this year. Cadets performance on the air from all call signs was excellent. We only had a couple of periods when the cadets weren’t on a net. I think however they may need to revisit their primary school Alphabet lessons as some of the messages got out of shape. Logging again may be an issue, handwriting it leaves a lot to be desired! All in all an excellent event and thoroughly enjoyed by all who took part.

Competition Organiser – Flt Lt A May

Christmas Cracker – 2012

Competing Stations
Position Unit Name Phase Scored
1 2 3 4
1 Hants & IOW ACF, C Coy 25 20 57 45 147
2 Bridlington School CCF 38 12 54 34 138
3 Essex ACF, C Coy 17 10 27 17 71
4 Maidstone Grammar School CCF 19 6 21 24 70
5 Hants & IOW ACF, B Coy “B” 15 18 21 13 67
6 Warwick School CCF 3 8 27 27 65
=7 Hants & IOW ACF, B Coy “A” 13 18 21 6 58
=7 1213 (Andover) Sqn ATC 16 2 9 31 58
9 Sutton Valence School CCF 1 0 39 14 54
10 Humberside ACF 21 0 15 17 53
11 Net Monitor – CW 8 0 21 11 40
12 Essex ACF, D Coy 14 6 6 9 35
13 Churchers College CCF 13 0 6 10 29
14 Norfolk ACF 11 0 0 8 19
15 Essex ACF, B Coy 8 6 3 0 17
16 Net Assistant – Basingstoke 4 4 0 0 8
=17 Sir Roger Manwood’s School CCF 4 2 0 0 6
=17 Dollar Academy CCF 1 2 0 3 6
Active & No Log
Beds & Herts ACF, 1 Coy
Merseyside ACF

Comments from the Organiser

This years competition appears to be grouped into distinct areas across the results table. It is always interesting to see how one extra contact would affect each of the positions. I have always found this to be a great motivator for the following year as the accuracy of every contact counts!

The deadline for the results was extended from last year as well as only accepting electronic logs. Although the plan was to have a computer check all the logs, this didn’t materialise so each log was checked by hand as previously. Having all the logs typed meant I no longer had to decipher poor handwriting and meant messages were either right or wrong as the deciphering had been done by yourselves. I could tell where some stations may have had poorly handwriting as logs often had a ‘V’ in one station log and a ‘U’ in the other. Similar things happened with ‘Z’ and ‘2’ as well as ‘O’ and ‘D’! Please double check your logs when they are being written and please write them clearly as someone will have to decipher your scribblings. Timing throughout the competition was generally okay and I believe only 5 or so exchanges were disallowed as they fell out of the 5 minute grace period allowed between logs!

Conditions appeared to be good throughout the competition and many stations made more exchanges on the Sunday morning than they had on the Saturday afternoon and early evening. It was good to see a few stations managing to exchange on almost all the frequencies throughout the 24 hours.

Hopefully everyone learnt something from taking part in the competition and I hope next years competition will have a few more stations fighting for the top spot. As always, it is good to have ACF, CCF and ATC stations competing on a regular basis.

Congratulations to the winners, claiming the top spot for two years in a row now. Many Thanks to the station who read out the results at 1200 on Christmas Day. I was away with family and it is unlikely I will be able to read the results out in successive years. Should any station require a Certificate of entry, they can be sent out on request.

Competition Organiser – Flt Lt A May

Christmas Cracker – 2011

Competing Stations
Position Unit Name Phase Scored Claimed
1 2 3 4
1 Hants & IOW ACF, C Coy 29 30 66 35 160 255
2 Bridlington School CCF 33 24 57 35 149 253
3 Hants & IOW ACF, B Coy 27 16 42 32 117 215
4 Maidstone Grammar School CCF 28 2 60 25 115 209
5 1213 Sqn (Andover) ATC 28 14 30 42 114 168
6 Warwick School CCF 16 20 36 33 105 167
7 1003 Sqn (Leighton Buzzard) Sqn ATC 26 14 38 20 98 220
8 Sir Roger Manwood’s School CCF 8 8 45 19 80 184
9 Essex ACF, B Coy 11 10 33 22 76 138
10 Essex ACF, C Coy 22 4 15 29 70 105
11 Merchant Taylors’ School CCF 13 2 27 26 68 146
12 Royal Russel CCF 29 2 30 5 66 152
13 1474 (Wickford) Sqn ATC 9 2 36 6 53 81
14 Dollar Academy CCF 14 4 30 3 51 93
15 Essex ACF, C Coy 11 2 6 21 40 110
16 2484 (Bassigbourn) Sqn ATC 14 14 28 45
17 Humberside ACF 2 7 9 28
Adult Operators
Position Unit Name Phase Scored Claimed
1 2 3 4
1 Net Assistant – Blandford 16 27 43 63
=2 Net Monitor – CW 2 0 18 3 23 38
=2 Net Assistant – Basingstoke 14 9 23 30
4 Net Monitor – South 15 15 16
5 Net Assistant – Eastleigh 4 2 6 16

Comments from the Organiser

This years competition was nicely spread across most of the table. It is always interesting to see how 10 of 15 points would affect each of the positions. I have always found this to be a great motivator for the following year as the accuracy of every contact counts!

The deadline for the results was as generous as last year yet there were still some missing logs. I was disappointed to see the general quality of the logs had deteriorated from last year as exchanges were written on differing frequencies on different logs! Please double check your logs when they are being written and please write them clearly. One log came back in a different format to the log sheet that was distributed. This caused quite a bit of hassle as the logs couldn’t easily be checked against all the others. Timing throughout the competition was generally okay however two stations clocks differed by 3 hours within 45 mins! If a single clock is used throughout the competition and the time when the messages have been sent is written straight into the log, the times shouldn’t differ by any more than a few minutes throughout the competition. On the whole, there were higher points scores than last year which must mean something went well.

Conditions appeared to be good throughout the competition despite the following from NOAA:

2011-11-26 16:23 Minor Solar Radiation Storm in Progress

An S1 (minor) solar radiation storm began a few hours ago and continues. The source of this event is not clear, although there has been CME and very small long-duration x-ray flare activity that preceded it. SWPC forecasters are looking for a return to more normal conditions over the next 24 hours.

It was obvious from the logs that the lower frequencies were only useable from 0001-0400 and no-one had much luck using them during the first day. The higher frequencies appeared to be working well, possibly due to the radiation storm.

Hopefully everyone learnt something from taking part in the competition and next years competition will be closer across the whole table. It is always good to have ACF, CCF and ATC stations competing regularly.

Congratulations to the winners. They have pipped Bridlington to first place after working their way up the table over the last few years. Next years competition should be very close with other stations edging up the table to join the group at the top. Should any station require a Certificate of entry, they can be sent out on request.

I may not be running the Christmas Cracker competition in 2012 as I am now heavily involved in the organisation and running of The CCF (RAF) South West Region Air Squadron Trophy and Section Commanders Conference. However, there may be some changes next year including electronic submission of logs and changes to the format and scoring to hopefully make logging and checking easier. Your comments are always welcome on possible improvements.

Competition Organiser – Flt Lt A May

Christmas Cracker – 2010

Competing Stations
Position Unit Name Phase Scored Claimed
1 2 3 4
1 Bridlington School CCF 28 20 36 32 116 179
2 Merchant Taylors School CCF 14 10 36 31 91 134
3 Bournemouth School CCF 18 8 30 30 86 157
4 Warwick School CCF 16 10 36 20 82 134
5 C Coy, Hants & IOW ACF 9 10 9 50 78 133
6 1213 (Andover) Sqn ATC 22 8 21 25 76 103
7 C Coy, Essex ACF 19 4 27 14 64 104
8 497 (Daventry) Sqn ATC 11 0 0 10 21 44
9 D Coy, Essex ACF 4 8 3 5 20 54
10 Gwent &amp Powys ACF 7 0 0 7 14 54
11 Sutton Valence CCF 1 8 3 0 12 22
=12 Maidstone Grammar CCF 1 0 0 4 5 19
=12 Dollar Academy CCF 0 0 0 5 5 27
14 Humberside & South Yorkshire ACF 3 0 0 0 3 17
Adult Operators
Position Unit Name Phase Scored Claimed
1 2 3 4
1 Net Monitor – CW 4 4 15 5 28 37
2 Net Monitor – South 1 10 0 6 17 26
3 Net Assistant – Basingstoke 4 0 0 10 14 23
4 Net Monitor – Scotland 4 4 0 0 8 19
Senior Net Monitor Listening Only
Competition Organiser Listening Only
Active & No Log
2484 (Bassingbourn) Sqn ATC
Devon ACF
CFNSA
Not Active & No Log
1132 (Stalham) Sqn ATC
Warwickshire & West Midlands ACF

Comments from the Organiser

This years competition was much closer towards the top of the table. So much so that before the last log was marked, the top six stations were only separated by 12 points and they were in a different order! It just goes to show that every contact can make a difference!

The deadline for the results was a little bit more generous this year and consequently there were even fewer missing logs despite the snow affecting the postal services. One log was posted first class on the 7th and it arrived on the 14th! Should I find any more logs on my return to work, and they were sent before the deadline, I will ammend the results accordingly. I was glad to see the general quality of the logs improving and an increasing number of them being typed up before being sent in. All but two logs came back in the preferred format. Each of those logs took about twice the time to check against all the others. If at all possible, please ensure the logs come back in the correct format! Timing throughout the competition has also improved as only two contacts were out of the 5 minute grace period! One station logged consistantly in the 12 hour clock but were saved by their check log being in the 24 hour clock!

Hopefully everyone learnt something from taking part in the competition and next years competition will be even closer accross the whole table. It is always good to have ACF, CCF and ATC stations competing regularly.

Congratulations to the winners. They have probably regained their crown at the top of the table however with the removal of one log, they would have dropped to third place! This goes to show how important every log is and also every single contact! Should any station require a Certificate of entry, they can be sent out on request.

Christmas Day Net

The results were read out at 1200 on Christmas Day. Thanks to the following for calling in and keeping the tradition going:
Net Monitor – Bath, Net Monitor – CW, Net Monitor – South, Data Net Monitor, Net Assistant – Winchester, 1213 Sqn ATC

Competition Organiser – Fg Off A May