Category Archives: Christmas Cracker

Christmas Cracker – 2009

Competing Stations
Position Unit Name Scored Claimed
1 Bridlington School CCF 77 181
2 Bournemouth School CCF 70 149
3 Royal Russell School CCF 42 109
4 Maidstone Grammar School CCF 37 99
5 Hants & IOW ACF, C Coy 29 122
6 1474 Sqn (Wickford) ATC 27 70
7 Dollar Academy CCF 26 60
8 Churchers College CCF 25 53
9 497 Sqn (Daventry) ATC 4 27
10 Essex ACF, A Coy 3 28
11 Essex ACF, C Coy 2 8
Adult Operators
Position Unit Name Scored Claimed
1 Net Monitor – CW 16 33
2 Net Assistant – Basingstoke 10 26
3 Net Monitor – Scotland 5 11
Active & No Log
Humberside & South Yorkshire ACF
Merseyside ACF – Birkenhead Det
King’s School Chester CCF
Nottinghamshire ACF, D Sqn
Merchant Taylors’ School CCF
Not Active & No Log
425 (Aldridge) Sqn ATC
2480 (Holywell) Sqn ATC

Comments from the Organiser

On the whole, this competition seemed to go much better than previous years. A larger proportion of logs were returned in time for me to collect and check. Conditions were variable overnight but seemed to pick up again during daylight hours.

The closing date for the logs is reasonably tight as after 11th December I can no longer get access to the unit to collect logs. Therefore if the logs arrive after this date, I will not get them until mid January 2010! Most logs were typed up or neatly written and for this I thank you. It makes checking each message easier as I don’t have to decypher poor handwriting on scraps of muddy log sheets. Timings were much better this year and all but a handfull were within the 5 minute cut off although I think one station was changing between the 12 and 24 hour clock throughout the competition.

The log sheets are the most important part in this competition as without both logs matching, no points can be awarded. If you make my job easier by writing neatly on the log sheets as each message is sent, you are more likely to score the points you claimed. A few stations adapted the supplied log sheets and check grids, which made it more difficult to check as the sheets were all different, however, some changes made by stations will be taken onboard and applied to next years sheets. I did notice some stations who had handwritten their logs having over sized “:” in the time boxes which made it look like an “8”. This may be very pretty and look nice in essays or handwritten letters, but it seriously messes up log sheets!

Hopefully everyone learnt something from the competition, whether it be equipment or propagation related. I hope to see even more diverse callsigns entering next year and hope to see most people who entered this year back again in the other competitions.

Congratulations to the winners. They have slowly climbed back to the top of the table over the last few competitions and are regaining their reputation from a number of years ago! Certificates of entry will be sent out to stations on request.

Comments from Entrants

Comments back from the organiser are in a dark blue italic font after each section.

Bridlington School CCF – Good competition, all cadets enjoyed it.

Royal Russell School CCF – There was very little use of the 5 second pause.

Also contained details on rules infrigement. Details investigated.

Maidstone Grammar School CCF – Very slow, poor weather conditions and could the times be changed to 0900 – 0900?

Timings may change in future competitions, however, it may exclude some stations from participating as they are on exercise the whole weekend and it would involve an earlier deployment.

Hampshire & IOW ACF, C Coy – Given the RX power levels that we were receiving it is apparent that some equipment being used is far in excess of the 30W max output specified in the rules. The speed at which some stations were able to tune would suggest that they did not need to change antenna lengths or that they were not using military radios.

Also contained details on rules infrigement. Details investigated and unable to verify.
There have been tests conducted between myself and other Net Assistants / Monitors using various radios, antennas, microphones and power settings. The signal can appear much stronger and clearer by just using a civilian microphone with a PRC 320 giving the impression of a higher power radio. Stations can of course use any radio set they wish as long as it is suitably tested, inspected and the power is set to 30W PEP or under.

1474 (Wickford) Sqn ATC – A team of very junior operators this year who experienced difficulty when the net got very busy on Sunday, undoubtedly missed alot of potential points there.
A few frequencies were unworkable due to local interferance on the long wire but the dipole we put up on the Sunday had much better signal to noise and we will adopt this as our initial setup next year.

Churchers College CCF – A good competition much enjoyed by our small team of three 14 year olds.

Net Monitor – CW – Radio conditions very up and down. Some good net control. Some units calling for all stations when a net in progress, probably could not hear it due to poor radio conditions. Too many radio checks and offering of messages, just send the message – it saves alot of time!
Very pleased to hear a unit on the south coast making contact with Scotland.
Well done all.

Net Assistant – Basingstoke – Long letter enclosed with lots of details. Have extracted the following regarding Essex ACF, A Coy during the early afternoon on Saturday.

Essex ACF, A Coy was in control – I think she was young, inexperienced etc but with background coaching she was doing well. Congratulations to her. The other stations on net were pleasingly tolerant.

Net Monitor – Scotland – VP was tolerable. At the start there were huge pauses on nets and stations disappearing. Probably stage fright! Could have done with more space on the logsheet to fit in 6 characters. I was a very late entry and was only asked to authenticate once! Many thanks for organising the competition.

Christmas Day Net

The results were read out at 1200 on Christmas Day to a collection of 8 stations. Thanks to those stations who were able to join in. They were able to get the results before they were put online.

Competition Organiser – Fg Off A May

Christmas Cracker – 2008

Competing Stations
Position Unit Name Phase Scored Claimed
1 2 3 4
1 Dorset ACF 22 32 36 25 115 206
2 Bridlington School CCF 17 16 40 26 99 197
3 The Vyne School CCF 1 8 28 34 71 113
=4 Nottinghamshire ACF 9 12 36 11 68 148
=4 Warwick School CCF 6 14 44 4 68 127
6 Cornwall ACF 11 6 20 19 56 95
7 Wellington School CCF 9 14 16 7 46 106
8 Essex ACF 8 8 24 2 42 129
9 Maidstone Grammar School CCF 3 8 16 12 39 156
10 1213 (Andover) Sqn ATC 7 0 0 19 26 42
11 Yorkshire North & West ACF 0 6 8 0 14 14
12 Churchers College CCF 0 0 0 9 9 14
13 Merchant Taylors CCF 5 0 0 1 6 24
14 Sutton Valance School CCF 0 0 4 0 4 6
Adult Operators
Position Unit Name Phase Scored Claimed
1 2 3 4
1 Maj M Vokes 3 16 0 7 26 39
2 Mr J Wresdell 8 0 0 10 18 29
3 Mr G Collier 4 0 0 3 7 12
Capt D Holman Listening Only
Fg Off A May Listening Only
Maj J Langan Listening Only
Maj M Foster Listening Only
Mr A Graham Listening Only
Mr S Fraser Listening Only
Lt (SCC) D Dawson Listening Only
Active & No Log
1918 (Ruthin) Sqn ATC
2480 (Holywell) Sqn ATC
425 (Aldridge) Sqn ATC
A Coy, Hants & IOW ACF
Cambridgeshire ACF
Chichester High School CCF
Dollar Academy CCF
Gwent ACF
Northants ACF & 497 (Daventry) ATC
Warwickshire & West Midlands ACF
Not Active & No Log
425 (Aldridge) Sqn ATC
Bournemouth School CCF
Devon ACF
Dorset ACF
Merseyside ACF

Comments from the Organiser

Not the largest entry, but it was good to see most of the regular entrants as well as some extra ATC Stations! Although the electronic marking system was not used this competition, it would be useful to know which stations would be interested in using a computer based system in the future competitions. This would mean logs could come in later in December and it would reduce the amount of manual log checking!

Conditions were quite poor resulting in some low scores, but it does demonstrate how the ionosphere changes during a 24-hour period and those stations who had taken this on board scored highly during the dark hours. The LAMP charts on the conditions page were very accurate in their frequency predictions for the working frequencies. There were only two contacts made in the entire competition on the highest two frequencies.

I was able to listen to the competition using an online radio receiver and was very disappointed with the number of “My message to you”s and “Repeat”s I heard within an hour. It seems that poor VP is easily passed from station to station but it’s very difficult to get rid of! I know of a few people who also listened in and sent me their comments on what they heard. Unfortunately it was along the same lines as what I heard. There was no way I was the only person listening it to the competition despite it being illegal for people to listen to military traffic unless authorised, so please make sure your cadets are following correct procedures for whichever service they belong to. I am also grateful to Lt (SCC) D Dawson who sent in a listening log on behalf of the Sea Cadets who hope to enter a competing station next year.

Logs were few and far between this year. There were a few very active stations that still have not sent in their logs. This meant that not only they could not score any points but they prevented other stations from scoring points. I decided to include the “Points Claimed” column in the results so people could see how much scores were affected from missing or incorrect logs. Yet again the timings between stations left a lot to the imagination. Almost all the contacts fell within the 5 minute grace period however there were a few that varied as much as 4 hours over the competition. If you work from ONE clock which stays by the radio throughout the competition, your logs will be much more consistent. Every message was checked and cross-checked in order to score a point. There were some log sheets that duplicated contacts and others that contradicted its self. It makes you look more professional if the logs are checked by a second person before sending them in as most problems are picked up then and your claim can be a bit more accurate.

Hopefully everyone learnt something from the competition, whether it be equipment or propagation related. I hope to see even more diverse callsigns entering next year and hope to see most people who entered this year back again in the other competitions.

Congratulations to the winners. It is their first time at the top as far as I can remember although they have been consistently climbing the table over the last few competitions! It is a well deserved win as positive comments came in from three different stations from the UK on how well they controlled a net and their correct and effective voice procedure throughout the competition. Certificates of entry will be sent out to stations on request.

Comments from Entrants

Yorkshire North & West ACF – This was our first attempt at this type of competition. Got off to a bad start with being let down by three cadets and an adult who had to work so the team was myself and two junior cadets. The two cadets who attended were real troopers working in freezing conditions with limited knowledge but with bags of enthusiasm. We could not make contact during the day after trying a number of antenna combinations so after evening meal I let them go to the cadet disco.
Once they had danced themselves silly we tried again going back to basics, stripped the kit and started again and it worked, we had made a contact. The look of joy on the cadets faces when we finally made the contact was great and worth all the effort. After a few hours and making contact with Cornwall, we called it a day. This was mainly due to the weather conditions. All in all a very good exercise we made contact, that was my main aim and all the cadets enjoyed themselves which as any good commander will tell you is why we are here.

Merchant Taylor’s CCF – Enjoyable time was had by all despite some adversity.
The event provided an excellent training opportunity to expand our cadets’ knowledge of antenna theory before giving them the chance to put this theory into practice.
Many thanks to the exercise director and all the competing stations.

Dorset ACF – A good competition, again it was clear to hear that new operators were on the nets due to poor VP, but everyone is guilty of it even us occasionally. Some explanation of the use of the collective call and proword exempt may be an idea along with some work on corrections, repetitions and cancellations.

Sutton Valance School – A very fresh and naive group of cadets who entered their first competition. Good signal receiving and transmitting, weakness on behalf of cadets when running a net and taking control – allowed others to but it without challenging them!

Churchers College CCF – Yet another new team, not very successful! Thanks for excellent organisation.

Warwick School CCF – Thanks for a well run exercise. We had a good spread of contacts, on the lower frequencies, until our batteries ran out on Sunday morning. Our team of eight cadets all enjoyed the exercise.

Mr J Wresdell – Pleased to hear a fair number of entrants, radio conditions not good as we are still low in the current sunspot cycle. Some stations are very slow at forming nets; need to be slick with VP and too much over identifying and too much offering of messages. I heard Dollar Academy CCF but could not contact them, good to contact Mr G Collier. Overall a good competition I thought.

Mr G Collier – Still some unusual VP. Still offering of message in GOOD conditions. Say again your last!? Nobody seemed to get rattled – good manners on all nets that I listened to. Thanks for organising the competition. Apart from these few niggles – a good competition and I think it was well appreciated by all cadets.
P.S. Dorset ACF has to be congratulated on having an outstanding female operator.
P.P.S. Some hadn’t read the rules. One callsign wanted me to relay and no-one seemed aware of “one message to a max of three callsigns”.

1213 (Andover) Sqn ATC – Three cadets, none had ever before taken part in any ACF radio exercise, covered 12 hours operating during the weekend. After sunset on Saturday conditions were poor and although stations were heard on the lower frequencies, no contacts were made and the station was closed at 2000Hrs. Learnt lots and looking forward to Easter exercise!

Cornwall ACF – Another good exercise, we had seven new to signals cadets who ended up doing better than I thought they would. Discipline: The only control station that really kept a grip on callsigns trying to barge in was Dorset ACF.

The Vyne School CCF – Team of four (2 Male 2 Female). Two had done Summer Whine and the other two had not worked a net before. Reported severe interference especially on Saturday. Tried hard without a lot of success, but enjoyed the competition.

Nottinghamshire ACF – Excellent first HF exercise for my cadets they really enjoyed it and cannot wait to do it all again. Many thanks for organising the event.

Essex ACF – After a good early start, atmospheric conditions took us out for about an hour and a half. Then we briefly got comms with Dollar Academy CCF, a callsign rarely heard from down our neck of the woods, then I knew things were getting wild up top.
We broke for a Cadet Regimental Christmas Dinner between 1900hrs and 2100hrs which was enjoyed by cadets, adults and guests alike. When we got back on net conditions were still difficult and we knew we were in for a long night.
On the night phase we did not get much traffic until 0200hrs and then we cracked on and tried to make up lost ground.

Wellington School CCF – A steady performance with all our contacts made below 5MHz.
I’m delighted that our cadets took part. Yes the VP was lacking at times, but I feel it’s better to get on air and experience signalling live, and gently correct mistakes. The new cadets really enjoyed their first exercise.
A Great many problems befell us, cadets forgetting to check the NiCDs for instance and not least the deliberate sabotage of the antenna systems at around 0130hrs by local hoodlums. Repairs to the antenna systems took quite a time. We got back on air at around 0230 so if you missed us that’s why, we’re sorry. Incidentally we’re still waiting for the constabulary to turn up!
Overall then, consistent pace, we learn a little more each time and there is still a desire to take part in the competitions as they occur.
Well done everybody else, and big thanks to the Net Monitors for giving up their time and especially Fg Off A May for organising us all.

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:
CI R Powell, Lt Col C Townend, Maj J Langan, Maj M Vokes, Mr A Graham, Mr J Wresdell, Mr S Fraser, Sgt S Harvey.

Special thanks to Mr S Fraser who relayed the results to the other stations on the net due local interferance.

NB: Next Christmas Cracker is on 28 – 29 November 2009 and the organiser is Flying Officer Alex May (Webmaster).

Competition Organiser – Fg Off A May

Christmas Cracker – 2007

Competing Stations
Position Unit Name Phase Total
1 2 3 4
1 Bournemouth School CCF 30 10 76 49 165
2 Merchant Taylors’ CCF 15 12 68 29 124
3 The Vyne School CCF 28 18 36 39 121
4 Churchers College CCF 20 18 28 47 113
5 Bridlington School CCF 19 8 32 46 105
6 Bodmin Pl, Cornwall ACF 33 6 20 42 101
7 C Coy, Dorset ACF 9 14 40 27 90
8 Chichester HS CCF 17 14 20 29 80
9 Blandford Tp, Dorset ACF 14 2 28 31 75
10 Wellington School CCF 14 4 36 20 74
11 City of London School CCF 13 0 16 43 72
12 Warwick School CCF 8 14 42 4 68
=13 Merseyside ACF 6 0 8 24 38
=13 B Coy, Hants & IOW ACF 1 0 16 21 38
=15 Cambridgeshire ACF 4 6 8 17 35
=15 1098 Sqn ATC 0 0 0 35 35
17 Cambridgeshire ACF 7 2 8 14 31
18 Oxfordshire ACF 3 0 0 25 28
=19 A Coy, Hants & IOW ACF 1 0 0 17 18
=19 1213 Sqn ATC 2 2 0 14 18
21 Dollar Academy CCF 6 0 0 3 9
22 Duke of Yorks RMS 0 4 0 2 6
23 W & B Wing ATC 1 0 0 0 1
Adult Operators
Maj M Foster 6 0 0 7 13
Maj J Langan 0 0 0 13 13
Lt C Dyer 0 0 0 3 3
UO S Fraser 0 0 0 0 0
Mr J Weston 0 0 0 0 0
Maj M Vokes Listening Only
Lt J Wresdell Listening Only
Plt Off A May Listening Only
SMI Pugh Listening Only
Mr A Graham Listening Only
Active & No Log
Devon ACF
Essex ACF
Warwickshire ACF
Not Active & No Log
Humberside ACF
Isles of Scilly, Cornwall ACF
Sutton Valance CCF
Withdrew Before Competition
Clywd ACF
Maidstone GS CCF
Perth ACF

Comments from the Organiser

I think this is the largest entry we have had in the history of cadet signalling! It was nice to hear ATC stations as well as the usual stations. I hope to have more entrants next year and possibly an electronic marking system!

I think the competition went reasonably well despite the conditions during the night. At least it demonstrates to those new to the competitions how much the conditions do change at night and how to work with those changes to continue to communicate effectively. The winners of the competition had the highest score in the night section and I’m told had a good signal.

On the whole the logs were ok, however the timings left alot to be desired! One stations “clock” gained 35 minutes within an hour! I have always found it useful to use ONE clock throughout the competition and make sure it is set to the correct time! The difference in timekeeping between operators is then greatly reduced. I gave a 5 minute grace either side of any log entry but there were some as far as an hour and a half out between log sheets! Any contacts outside this 5 minute gap simply did not score. Some stations managed to invent new callsigns and exchange serials with them. There were some very confusing alterations of valid callsigns resulting in duplicate contacts. If a callsign is not on the list of entrants, challenge them to find out if they are who they say they are.

I was disappointed at the number of logs that were not in before the deadline as if a contact cannot be verified, stations do not score. Often this does not affect the station whose log it is but the other stations who exchanged serials then start to loose points. This can and does cost other stations their position! This also goes for all radio contacts. If in doubt LOG IT! One net monitor early on Sunday morning sent me a log of who he’s spoken to. None of those stations mentioned him in their logs so missed out on 28 points! There were other stations who entered very late in the day who then did not compete or withdrew from the competition after all the work I’d put in to make sure everyone knew they were competing and that they had all the paperwork to compete. I know there are problems, as there always will be, but most of these can be avoided by checking your kit before you go out on exercise.

I was glad that everyone managed to cope with the new style messages. They were designed to improve everyones phonetic alphabet and also to reduce the ease of working out someone’s next serial when touring the frequencies. Your comments have been noted and I know the deadlines were tight for logs but if logs are done accurately during the competition then they can simply be posted on the following day. For one person to check their own log and post it in a week is quite reasonable, it then leaves me to check the 40 or so logs against eachother in 3 weeks!

I was also sent a listening log from the Netherlands which included some recordings. These will be used for instruction at RSS Blandford in the future. The clarity of some signals are astounding! I will be contacting those stations who were heard and enclosing a copy of the letter sent to me with the logs.

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the competition and learnt something from taking part. I hope to see everyone who entered this year entering for next years competition.

Congratulations to the winners. It is their first time at the top as far as I can remember alhough they have been consistantly near the top in the last few years! Certificates of entry will be sent out to stations on request.

Comments from Entrants

Maj M Foster (CFNSA) – I was using a 320 with a horizontal wire out of a first floor window. It actually sloped to the south a bit and would only load on 3 and 6 Mhz frequencies, but conditions seemed bad on the 3MHz ones and I could get through on 5MHz by tuning for maximum noise.
Some VP was very poor. I got fed up with out to you followed by hullo with no originating callsign, wait out followed by out to you, indigo instead of india. I heard the “R” word at least four times in one net – thank you Bridlington School, B Coy Hants and IOW ACF, 1098 Sqn ATC and Merseyside ACF! Stations continually used “Roger” instead of “Yes”, and that old favourite “My message to you is…” resurfaced – AGAIN! One new one on me was “I send” used as a proword! I heard City of London CCF, Bridlington School CCF and Oxfordshire ACF interupting nets on numerous occasions – all these stations had very strong signals and City of London CCF frequently took control of nets after another station had sent out an initial call.
On the positive side, it was extremely good to hear so many stations taking part, even if some of the CIs didn’t match. All participants deserve credit and thanks to for giving up time and energy to take part and I hope everyone learned a lot from the experience. Finally, and most importantly, many many thanks to you Alex, for all your hard work in setting this up and organising such a good competition. As I emphasised to Maj Vokes earlier today, we do have such an excellent team working away and it is a shame that HQ Land fail to understand what a team effort this all is. My congratulations to everyone.

Maj J Langan – As usual the standard of VP left much to be desired in many cases. The “usual suspects” were in evidence viz: Control stations often having no control or exercising no control; Listing stations on net followed by over; Offering messages; “My message to you” – that one is infectious; “Your turn to send traffic”.
Some stations clearly in “alligator mode” (all mouth and no ears) as they attempted to start nets where a net was already functioning. (City of London School CCF in particular at one stage).
All the above said it was better than the last competition and I’m sure everybody enjoyed themselves. Good to hear the ATC stations taking part – I wonder what sets they were using. Another station did a lot of listening up near Penrith and has made some recordings of proceedings which may proove interesting.
Thanks again for your efforts in organisation and good luck interpreting the results.

Lt C Dyer – Obviously limited time available 30 mins on Saturday (Once I had got DoYRMS set up) and then an hour on sunday (Chapel and parade called!!!) Only intended to add an extra contact for cadets if I could.

1213 Sqn ATC – There was a sad lack of our cadets interested in taking part. The 2 operators we did have were kept busy and enjoyed the challenge. Many stations did not appear to check if the channel was in use and Net Controllers were constantly calling “Net in progress, wait out”. We are not issued with a PRC 320 and used a Kenwood TS570 set to 30 Watts and powered from a car battery. Antenna was a droopy di-pole, centre at 20ft, ends at 6ft. Co-ax fed to an ICOM “match anything” balun (sometime referred to as a leaky dummy load!)

Bodmin Pl, Cornwall ACF – A Coy, Hants & IOW ACF kept interupting nets despite being told “net full”.

Bournemouth School CCF – Overall, one of the best competitions I’ve entered in late. Apart from some battery problems slowing us down late on Saturday, we got our heads down and enjoyed the night shift. We’ll make sure we do better next time.

Bridlington CCF – Good exercise enjoyed by all who took part. Looking forward to next one in 2008.

Churchers College CCF – The cadets enjoyed thenmselves which is the most important consideration. We need to obtain more frequencies in the lower range if we are going to have so many stations operating at night time in between the hours of darkness.

City of London School CCF – It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend which everybody in our signals troop learnt alot from. Thank you to everybody for being patient with our inexperienced team and a special thank you to Plt Off A May for organising the competition. We will be back stronger than ever next time!

Duke of Yorks RMS – Could only operate from 1830-2230 on Saturday due to school commitments. Managed to rig an end-fed from science block to boarding house otherwise we would have to have finished by 2100!
Sunday sees parade and chapel which meant that we could not start until later. Our operator was also on duty so had to keep stopping for house inspection!
At least a number of cadets were able to listen and some had a go. We only intended to provide another station on net rather than compete because of difficulties at weekends.

Merchant Taylors’ CCF – We were operating from our normal parading location, making a change from the last 3 competitions. We used a dipole for the majority of the exercise, getting fairly good comms on it. Unfortunately we suffered the same problem twice during the exercise, resulting in about an hour of downtime: our antenna braid was becoming disconnected from the CJD, despite the securing clips being in place. Something to fix for next time!
In the morning of the 25th, we decided to put up a full wavelength loop antenna , about 6ft off the deck, intended for demonstration purposes (and to play around with). The reception on the four or so frequencies around the calling frequency was excellent, so for the final hour and a half of operating we moved from the dipole to this – probably something to explore in more detail for next time.
On the VP side of things: heard a few repeats, and some very dodgy messages from one of the stations: standby being an interesting one. Also, a problem we saw was that people were leaving nowhere near the suggested 5 seconds before sending a message – often resulting in us missing the callsign of the first station to join a net. I think it would help for relays to be allowed in future, though some thought would have to go into how to sort out a simple logging system. Also, a couple of times we noticed frequencies which seemed to have two active nets in progress, over each other.
We look forward to Easter Bunny.

Merseyside ACF – A well run and enjoyable exercise all round. A few minor grumbles: Control stations not able to control due to not being able to hear stations, ie. Distant stations who continue to transmit across working nets; City of London School CCF continued to transmit messages at a speed which normal operators found impossible to record despite continued “say again” requests; Use of “My message to you” and a new one, “Affirm”.

Oxford ACF – Alot of callsigns forming clicks and not letting people in.

The Vyne School CCF – Competition much enjoyed by 3 cadets (only 1 full timer) who took part. Many thanks Alex and good luck – enjoy your trip.

Christmas Day Net

Thanks to Mr J Weston for reading out the results on Christmas Day. My apologies for not reading them out myself but I was in America having a nice relaxing holiday! The results were sent to him using the e-mail over radio system!

NB: Next Christmas Cracker is on 29 – 30 November 2008 and the organiser is Pilot Officer Alex May (Webmaster).

Competition Organiser – Plt Off A May

Christmas Cracker – 2006

Competing Stations
Position Unit Name Points
1 Vyne School CCF 379
2 Churchers College CCF 284
3 Bournemouth School CCF 282
4 Y Coy, Hants & IOW ACF (A) 261
5 Gwent ACF 258
6 Maidstone GS CCF 190
7 Blandford Det, Dorset ACF 184
8 Duke of Yorks RMS CCF 182
9 Hull Det, Humberside & S Yorks ACF 176
10 Fairmile Pl, Dorset ACF 175
11 Devon ACF 127
12 Chichester HS CCF 88
13 Staffs & W Midlands ACF 68
14 Wellington School CCF 64
15 Huyton Det, Merseyside ACF 35
Part-time Stations
Position Unit Name Points
1 Rotherham Det, Humberside & S Yorks ACF 99
2 Bridlington School CCF 96
3 1213 Sqn, Hants & IOW Wing 78
4 Y Coy, Hants & IOW ACF (B) 62
5 Bodmin Pl, Cornwall ACF 60
=6 ATC Station 34
=6 Woodbridge School CCF 34
8 A Coy, Hants & IOW ACF 20
9 Dollar Academy CCF 19
10 2480 Sqn, No2 Welsh Wing 7
11 Cambridgeshire ACF 2
Net Monitors
Capt G. Collier 34
Lt Col M. Vokes 21
Lt J. Wresdell 13
Maj (retd) T. Sugdon 4
Capt J. Langan 4
Active & No Log
Skinner’s School CCF
Clwyd ACF
Glamorgan ACF
Not Active & No Log
Essex ACF
Withdrew Before Competition
City of London CCF

Comments from the Organiser

I think this is the biggest entry we have had for a very long time. Welcome to our ATC colleagues. Very well done Vyne School CCF – your first win I think.

The large number of entrants was very pleasing despite the appalling radio conditions. In simple terms the refractive properties of the ionosphere are at a very low point. This happens about every 11 years and is called the solar cycle. We are using natural propagation and it is something all HF radio operators have to live with. When natural propagation is good it is amazing what long distances can be achieved with the PRC 320 and similar sets AND a good antenna.

Thanks to all stations who sent in logs, Cambridgeshire ACF in particular who only had one contact. Well done on those who also sent in QSL cards. Those who did not please try next time. They are not difficult to produce and certificates are available from the NRN QSL bureau manager for contacts with 12, 25 and 50 different units. Contacts must be confirmed by QSL card. Full details on the awards scheme from Capt R. Cogzell email via the e-mail page. QSL cards can also be pinned up on the radio shack wall, it gives a good impression to visitors especially inspecting officers!

Comments from Entrants

Woodbridge School CCF – Our first entry for several years – very worthwhile and our signallers learnt a lot. Relays seemed to take a long time to complete.

Hull Det, Humberside & S Yorks ACF – Had problems with coax lead, cadets enjoyed competition.

Churchers College CCF – We lost a lot of time (5hours) by not having the jumper link plugged into the back of the PRC 320. Very pleased to hear several new stations. eg. Woodbridge School CCF, Duke of Yorks RMS, Staffs & W Midlands ACF, Clwyd ACF and Air Cadet stations.

A Coy, Hants & IOW ACF – Hope to do better next time.

Wellington School CCF – Very pleased with contacts made, especially through the night. Cadets learnt a lot and had fun!

Devon ACF – Did our best with a 5MHz dipole, conditions were very bad on Saturday. Please have bonus points for distance next year.

Capt G. Collier – VP was tolerable, few stations took advantage of the “message to 3 stns at once” call ( to save time) Some cadets have no sense of urgency! 4 – 5MHz was poor but heard activity on 2MHz at 2200hrs.

1213 Sqn, Hants & IOW Wing – Our first ACF/CCF radex and our cadets found the pace quite fast to begin with. We soon realised accurate logging is essential.

Christmas Day Net

Thanks to the following for keeping the tradition going:
Capt J. Muyle, Lt J Wresdell, Duke of Yorks RMS, The Vyne School CCF, Lt Col M. Vokes, Mr J. Weston, Mr A. Graham, Plt Off A. May, Maj (retd) T. Sugdon and 1213 Sqn, Hants & IOW Wing.

NB: Next Christmas Cracker is on 24/25 November 2007 and the organiser is Pilot Officer Alex May (Webmaster).

Competition Organiser – Lt J Wresdell

Christmas Cracker – 2005

Competing Stations
Position Unit Name Points
1 Bridlington School CCF 482
2 Y Coy, Hants & IOW ACF 387
3 Bournemouth School CCF 340
4 Maidstone GS CCF 312
5 Churchers College CCF 279
6 Gwent ACF 267
7 Vyne School CCF 266
8 Sutton Valence School CCF 234
9 City of London School CCF 181
10 Wellington School CCF 149
11 Devon ACF 66
12 X Coy, Hants & IOW ACF 60
13 Humberside & South Yorks ACF 49
14 Dollar Academy CCF 46
15 Reading School CCF 32
16 Humberside ACF 30
17 Chichester High School CCF 10
Net Monitors
Capt Tucker 58
J.Wresdell 22
Active & No Log
A Coy Essex ACF
Oxford ACF
Maj(rtd) Sugdon
Withdrew Before Competition
Yarm School CCF
Not Active & No Log
Herts ACF
Cumbria ACF

Organiser – Very pleased with the level of support received. Well done to all station who took part especially Y Coy Hants & IOW ACF whom I think has never achieved such dizzy heights before.

The main concern was being able to send the same message to three stations at once (in theory to save time) this confused some stations so I will keep it “one to one” for next time. Also some stations logged every “Radio Check” – not necessary in this competition, scoring contacts were quite sufficient. Sincere thanks to Mr J Weston for his detailed report.

City of London CCF – At times too many stations trying to set up nets, difficult to persuade some stations to change frequency, a lot of time wasted by others trying to make impossible contacts.

Humberside & S Yorks ACF – We had no space for 2MHz antennas plus one PRC 320 in workshops and remaining set not too good.

Chichester High School CCF – We had some very young and inexperienced cadets, despite being thoroughly briefed they only managed 5 contacts – but logged everything else!

The Vyne School CCF – We had a bad time with our antennas (3 dipoles), they worked fine before the competition but then disaster – hearing plenty of stations but no replies when we tried transmitting – very frustrating, so reverted to trusty 38m end-fed and did our best.

Sutton Valence School CCF – First time we had used our PRC 320 in anger! Thanks to Lt Col Vokes for nagging us to enter, we will be back next year.

Lt Col Vokes – A good competition, suggest we stick to the same format for the future, some cadets got in a tangle with serial numbers.

Hants & IOW ACF, Hythe Det – We are a bit new to all this, but six cadets had a good time.

Wellington School CCF – Despite our low score (we had difficulties on low frequencies) It was a sucess for us and our cadets enjoyed it.

Devon ACF – Too many stations in the South East forming cliques and not letting others join nets, some unnecessary adult operation. Suggest bonus points for distance.

Dollar Academy CCF – It’s very lonely uphere, we need a few more from the north!

Mr J Weston – I listened from 1400Z on Sat 26th November until 1730Z, same day… Generally the VP was a lot better than on previous comps… there were a few “my message to you is…” but they were far and few between…

There was some “doubling” going on, particularly after it became dark and propagation changed, which to some extent could not be helped..( Doubling is amateur radio speak for two stations sending at the same time. )

I heard Lt J Wresdell call cadets from Dollar Academy, who had been trying to get into a net… Both stations were OK with me, I guess that they could not hear eachother…

I got the impression that a lot of stations had difficulty in hearing other stations, probably due to local noise on the bands, especially if they were in built up areas…

On the Saturday, I heard all stations that had entered, including the late entry, Gwent ACF, except… Yarm School CCF, Cumbria ACF, Herts ACF, Oxfordshire ACF, Devon ACF and Major Sugden…

On Sunday, 27th November, I was up at 4am on one frequency, heard Churcher’s College, Bridlington School CCF and Maidstone GS CCF, TRYING TO SET UP A NET… they had great difficulty in hearing each other, so at 0433Z I called all of them in turn, and explained that I was not actually in the comp, but I wished them well, and said that I would be listening for the results on Christmas morning. They did not seem too tired! I wonder if I will appear in any of their logs… a good test for log keeping!

On Sunday I was able to listen again to the comp until after 1200Z, but things seemed to be going well, no bad tempers, in spite of a lot of stations calling into nets already set up… Again, this might have been due to bad local noise blotting out the control station… sometimes the control station was pretty weak here…

I heard Lt Col Vokes helping out a lot on the Sunday, and it appeared at that time that he did not have any cadets to get on the air…

I wonder whether the stations that I did not hear, did not actually come on at all ?…

I heard a few “Roger”s, when a question was asked, without saying “yes” or “no”…a roger on its own does not actually answer the question, as “roger” only indicates that you have “received” the message… I get this trouble with some of my cadets as well…

Another thing I picked up was “Roger, my last message”, meant as a question, but only sounding like a question due to the sound of the voice… sometimes not actually sounding like a question, in which case it was meaningless… It would have been better to say “Roger, did you receive my last message?”, or just “Roger,did you receive my last?”

Hants & IOW ACF, was at times very weak indeed here, and I wondered if they were using a whip?

By 1700Z on the Sat., long skip was evident, and use was properly made of the lower freqs…

I did not hear anyone on the TWO HIGHER Freqs, during my listening periods…

One frequency had a lot of very strong French QRM on it… they seem to have adopted it for their fishing trips!

Competition Organiser – Lt J Wresdell