Exercise Blue Ham 100
Over the weekend of October 13/14th the UK Cadet Forces ran their very popular radio exercise
Over the weekend of October 13/14th the UK Cadet Forces ran their very popular radio exercise Blue Ham on the 5MHz (60m) Band, with the 100 added to the name to celebrate 100 years since the formation of the Royal Air Force. Units from the Army, Sea, Air and CCF cadet forces had to apply for a unique callsign for use during the exercise period, which had a prefix of MRE (Mike, Romeo, Echo) with numbers and a letter added corresponding to their location in the UK. 26 callsigns were allocated with 20 being operational over different periods of the weekend. This provided radio amateurs with ‘special short period’ callsigns to hunt down, causing some pile-ups at times, which gave the young operators some interesting QSOs, with the amateurs being patient until they got called. All QSOs were logged into the Alphacharlie web portal either during or after the exercise. These showed up on a map with a red map pin according to the Maidenhead locator given during the QSO exchange. Cadet stations showed as a green map pin.
Operating conditions during the exercise were challenging at times due to fading. This raised some questions from the cadets because many had not experienced this happening before when using VHF or UHF locally at their Units. It is worth noting that Cadets who operate the radio and log calls during the exercise can use it to achieve the HF element of their Foundation Licence.
Power output was commonly 100W with about a quarter of the operators using only 50W and one station using just 5W. Looking through the logsheets, the most popular choice for antenna on 5MHz was a cut dipole or doublet, with some Inverted L’s and a few end-fed and verticals, which all seemed to work well. Several amateurs provided portable stations, which made for some interesting locations to be logged.
Radio amateurs who logged ten or more contacts during the exercise can claim a certificate from the Ex Co-Ordinator – details on the website:
This article was featured in the January 2019 issue of Practical Wireless