Yaesu FT290R.....with it's mighty 2.5 watts!
Considering I caught only the last 20 mins of the contest, this is probably not really a fair assessment of the level of activity but it did seem quiet.
A quick initial scan revealed nothing....no 5/9+ signals. Checked the Cork Repeater on R6 (50 kms west)...opened it...RF getting out...aerial must be working in some fashion....back to a careful scan on FM.
Heard EI3GAB in Mallow.....gave him a few calls with my mighty 2.5 watts...no joy. Mallow is about 35kms away and on the other side of the Nagle Mountains (Hills ;o) so the received signal here was pretty weak anyway....about 5/2
Heard EI3FFB up in Co.Tipperary on the other side of the Galtees, maybe around 65 kms or so. Just above the noise on receive so no hope of him hearing me.
I'm pretty sure I heard EI4CF in Co.Galway. I didn't hear any /P at the end so I presume he was at home? If so, that's about 150 kms to the north. While my take off in that direction is very good, I'm still impressed that I heard him on the mag mount.
Down on SSB, I got my only contest contact when I worked Tommy using the club call EI7T from Caher in Co.Tipperary, a distance of roughly 65 kms. Not bad for 2.5 watts!
So that was the contest....20 mins...one contact. Tommy had given me #035 and considering that he may have worked some stations twice (SSB and FM) then I guess that it was quiet enough.
Tried out the Helvick head repeater on R3 (~50 kms) after the contest and met up with Andrew EI3GSB/M and Denis EI8GAB for the first time. With the FT290 on 0.5 watts, I had no problems working that repeater so that's a good sign. I could hear Andrew at times on the input although very weakly driving on the motorway near Caher about 60 kms away...another good sign. So it looks like if I put up any sort of decent aerial for 2m then I should get reasonable coverage.
70 MHz in Cork....
After the repeater contacts, I had a simplex QSO with Denis, EI8GAB on FM. Denis got his call in the time that I was off-air....2009/10. I was interested to hear that he is active on 4m with a converted Taxi PMR radio and there seems to be a few others active in the Cork area as well.
Looking at EI4DIB's blog, there seems to be some activity up in the Louth / North of Dublin area as well so there are at least some small pockets of activity on 70 MHz. Not sure though if anyone from either group has worked the other group yet?
On the local scene, Denis told me that there is a Simplexer in operation. This is like a repeater except that it records your audio and plays it back on the same frequency. It obviously makes for slow contacts but it's better than nothing when you can't hear the other station. It would also seem to be a good way as keeping a bit of activity on the band.
To be investigated!