As the winter bonus period comes to an end in the DL association on March 31st. and as the weather has stayed beautiful, in fact through this week has slowly got better and better I decided I should fit in one last bonus activation before the season starts again at the end of the year. I considered an 8 pointer (DL/AM-031 Branderschoffen) where I found the Tegelbergbahn lift required to get within 180 vertical metres and 45 minutes walk of the summit is still running (most are closed for maintenance at this time of year) but rather than risk that summit which I have not activated before, I decided to play it safe and have a nice easy activation of Eisenberg – a 1055 metre high “2 pointer” hill with some castle ruins on the top of it and just as important a wonderfully friendly restaurant (Schlossbergalm Zell) about 60 vertical metres below the summit, where I can park my car.
Equipment to be used would be the FT-817ND plus amplifier and the 6m portable mast along with the Aerial-51 OCF HF dipole.
Eisenberg is about a 50 minutes drive from my home QTH near the village of Eisenberg and not far from the town of Pfronten in the Southern Bavaria region of Allgau.
I had decided to take this activation slowly as I was not aiming for any DX long path contacts, so after taking our dog “Bonnie” out for her morning walk, I set off from home at 09:30 local time (07:30 UTC). Set the “navi” to guide me, although I know the route well, to find that the unit was determined to take me a different route via the Autobahns – which while possibly quicker is far more stressful than the cross country route that I normally take. It took the Navi at least 15 minutes before it finally accepted the route I was taking (which according to Google maps was the quickest route). Normally the navi is very good. I have downloaded the two German SOTA regions and loaded them onto the programs SD card. It is very useful to be able to simply select the SOTA reference of the summit and let the Navi guide you there.
The drive down was uneventful, until I arrived at the restaurant car park to see the restaurant tables full of children, it appears there had been some “clean-up” event as there were also a pile of buckets and gloves near the building, so the snack and lemonade at the restaurant was probably the reward for that. I had the fear that the Castle would soon be overrun by these children, so I set off straight away on the climb to the summit. as it turned out, the group did not come up to the castle ruins and I had the lookout platform all to myself.
Once set-up, I self spotted and called CQ. It was great that a foundation licence (QRP) station out of Cornwall in the UK, Karl M3FEH was first in the log today as he often gets drowned by the other chasers. I was half expecting a pile-up and while I got 25 contacts on 40 metres in 18 minutes, this was not nearly as hectic as the activation of Ammerleite ha been two days earlier, so conditions were not quite as good as then however, again, better that predicted. Having run out of chasers on 40 metres I took a couple of minutes to take a few photos and then switched to 20 metres where conditions were awful. I did manage 4 contacts there but after there were no more calls, I decided to pack-up and head down to the restaurant for a Weissbier and some käsespätzle, exactly at noon. A nice end to a successful short activation. The drive home was uneventful and I was back in time for our dog’s afternoon walk at 14:30.
There was one strange occurrence during the activation – my mobile phone gave an error saying the battery was getting too hot. I rebooted it and it still gave the error, so I pressed ignore and carried on. There doesn’t seem to have been any permanent damage however I will need to look at keeping the phone out of the sun on any future activations when the weather is so nice.
Aerial-51 OCF antenna (40-10m).
LambdaHalbe 6m Mini-mast.
Modified QAMP amplifier (20W on 20m, 35W on 40m).
Thick plastic painters sheet
A nice morning out in the hills topped off by a nice meal at the restaurant sat outside in the sunshine, looking over the valley – what is better?
On the technical side, I need to consider the heat problem on the equipment when sat in the sun. I had this issue in Australia and actually added white “Fablon” (in German D-C-Fix) sticky backed white plastic on the top of the FT-817 case to reflect the heat. It looks like I will need to do that again for both the FT-817 and my homemade amplifier case. How I can avoid the phone complaining that it is getting too hot is another problem – perhaps I can make a foldable box for it to sit in, that not only protects it from the heat but also keeps it visible is high sunlight?
It also appears that my adjustment of the compressor in the microphone since the last activation has worked fine as I had no complaints on audio quality this time.
73 ’til the next Summit!