Following my activation of Buchberg the previous day where there were many 10m contacts, all easy to hear and work, I decided to fit in another activation before the 10m challenge finished. I would only need one 10m contact from this summit to increase my multiplier and overtake my friend Martin DF3MC, who was currently at the top of the DL activators table in the challenge. At the start of the day, I had more 10m contacts than Martin but as he had made his contacts from more summits, he has a higher multiplier and hence more overall points.
For HF contests if you don’t run a system around the various multipliers you can get you will never be in the top 100 in the contest! I’d prefer contests (and challenges) to be scored on the number of contacts and possibly the distance of the contact (if VHF/UHF/SHF) and not have the tricks that come with scoring multipliers.
As this was going to be a known summit, I did not have to set up a cut-down pack – rather I decided to take my two standard bags (one photo bag & one small rucksack). I would also take both squid poles and decide when I arrive at the car park which to take up the hill.
Berndorfer Buchet is located above the village of Pähl, about 30-45 minutes away from where I currently live – the closest SOTA summit to my home QTH. I had already activated the summit, in the snow earlier in the year, so I would get no activator points for it, but this was just to get a point increment on my challenge multiplier so the one activator point was not so important for me.
The activation this morning wasn’t as simple as I expected it to be. I arrived at the car park probably 15 minutes earlier than I expected and started the walk up the track into the forest. What I didn’t realise was that the relatively large track that I have taken three times before, is now somewhat overgrown and I missed it! No matter I thought as I kept heading higher – this track will take me up the back side of the hill – it did to a certain extent but then there was no way through to the summit and the path started to go down the other side of the hill. I didn’t want to go all the way back down and start the climb again so I headed back to an area where it looked like I might be able to “bush bash” a way through to the summit. There I was, not in boots, rather just in training shoes, and in shorts with bare legs, fighting my way through brambles and nettles. Part of the way in, I wasn’t sure of direction, but always to head upwards was the best idea and eventually I came to the track that I had used on previous activations.
My intent was to get some contacts on 10m so I set up the same modified linked dipole, with the short extension on the 30m section. I self spotted and then called CQ. No response, then I saw Matt was spotted in VK1 on 20m, so I took a listen with the antenna still set up for 10m and I could hear him quite well, so down came the mast, links were changed in the antenna and the mast put up again. I installed the Ramsey amp in circuit to get me up to about 15W output instead of the 5W from the 817 and called and called and called and eventually after all the super strong Italian, Russian and other European chasers finished Matt heard me and we had a short contact. Then it was time to head back to 10m. Down came the mast, out of circuit came the amp, spotted again and started calling CQ with no response until Martin DF3MC called me. Martin is the amateur who is currently in first place in the DL 10m activating section of the Challenge. I felt a little bad that it would be the contact with Martin that would mean that I would go into the lead in the challenge before the break until November when it starts again however Martin said he was going out in the afternoon, which he did and bagged five new 10m contacts in bad conditions and ended up deservedly in the lead in the challenge as we go into the break.
After Martin I heard Jorge EA2LU call me but unfortunately we didn’t make the contact – I thought it was simply that my 5W wouldn’t make the distance, but later in a contact on 20m he told me that there was heavy QSB plus other stations from Italy and Russia (them again!) on the same 10m frequency that I was on, so a contact may have been possible had I switched to another frequency. After calling and calling and getting no response I decided to rotate the dipole from it’s N-S orientation to E-W and tried again. Still no calls and I was running out of time. I then decided to go onto 20m and spotted myself and picked up calls from Jorge EA2LU and Vladimir EU2MM before having to pack up to leave.
During the last session on 20m, I realised that the fan in the QAMP was not running and I could not hear the relays going over. I had also started to get some receive noise when I power the amp on – which on low signals can be annoying, although I can turn off the amp by hand when on receive. The signal level on receive even with the amp turned off has also started “crackling”, so I suspect the Phono-BNC adapter connection on the input to the QAMP has gone faulty. So all in all, I need to do some investigation and repair work on the small portable amplifier.
I took my normal path back down the hill and then saw why I had not seen the track on the way up – while passable on foot, it was nothing like it was last year when I suspect it was regularly used by the forestry people with their trucks
SotaBeams Linked dipole, modified for 3rd harmonic use on 10m.
Ramsey QAMP linear amplifier.
6 metre squid pole.
Plastic painters sheet.
The aim to take over the lead from Martin in the DL section of the 10m activator challenge was not met, but without the contact from Martin, I would not have been in the lead for the few hours that I was – it’s all in fun in any case!
I shouldn’t complain – although I only had 4 contacts, one of those was an S2S with Australia, one a contact on a totally dead at the time, 10m band and two good contacts on 20m with Spain and Belarus!
One can forget how amazing it is to work around the world on just 5W and a wire antenna and that on SSB.
The Ramsey amplifier will need a major service before it’s next outing and I am still seeking that lighter, simpler set of equipment that I can take to more difficult summits than this one.
73 ’til the next Summit!
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