After meeting Thomas DK1TK in a local electrical retail store, where he works and realising we were both Hams, we discussed me taking him on a SOTA activation, so he could see if it’s something he would like to get involved with. He was already equipped with good portable gear and operates portable QRP with a KX2 and a home made vertical antenna on a 10m fibre glass pole. After some discussion we decided on activating Blender (a reasonably easy summit) along with Hauchenberg (DL/AL-145). My research on Hauchenberg however showed that the location in SOTA Maps for the summit and that shown on other maps was different and so I sent a note to the last activator – Herbert OE9HRV to ask his advice. Unfortunately I only received a reply on the day of activation, when we had already decided to play it safe and make Weichberg our second summit. Perhaps we’ll do Hauchenberg next time – it will require a lot of time to climb and we were limited on time as it turned out anyway.
Equipment from my side would be the usual FT-817 plus amplifier, 6 metre pole and linked dipole.
Blender is located quite a long way from my home QTH, west of Kempton and north of Buchenberg. After a small diversion to pick up Thomas en-route, we got there at around the planned time. I had hoped to go to a different location on the hill than my last activation of this summit a couple of years ago but it turned out that what is shown on open street maps as a road is not much larger than a footpath, so the road up to the radio tower was the route we ended up going on and parking before climbing the last (steep) ascent and in fact going and finding a seat across the summit from the tower, (well within the activation zone).
Weichberg, near Rettenbach is a summit I know very well, it’s “almost” a local summit for me but this time we would be approaching it from the other side along the B472 road.
These were not to be quick activations. The weather was nice, we set up both Thomas’s and my equipment at Blender so that we could demonstrate and compare. This was the first time I had seem a KX2 from Elecraft – it is indeed a very nice (if expensive) piece of equipment. Most impressive is the ability of the built-in ATU to tune almost any antenna. Unfortunately the front end was not able to filter my transmissions on 40m out from the 20m band (we were very close after all). From my side, it was clear the extra power of the amplifier (35w on 40m) makes a difference when calling non-SOTA stations.
Although Thomas did work a couple of SOTA stations, as well as a few non-SOTA stations (so qualifying the summit) he was put off a little by the pile-ups. English is not Thomas’s first language and this combined with the speed of the contacts took a little away from the SOTA experience. I have suggested that we look at GMA next time, while this would be mostly in German and somewhat less hectic.
We had several interested people come by either on foot or on bikes and a few stopped to ask about the hobby. One I thought was an amateur as he knew about propagation and antennas, but it seems he was more of an SWL. In any case I gave him a brochure and he went off happy.
After about 90 minutes on Blender, we decided to pack up and head off for what I expected to be a 30-40 minute drive over to Weichberg.
The drive turned out to be almost an hour, which surprised me and restricted what we could do. We agreed to just take Thomas’s equipment up to the top of Weichberg and let him have a go without interference from my station. Thomas decided to use a different antenna this time and he tied a large nut to the end of some thin silver coated copper wire and threw it up over a convenient tree branch. Again the ATU in the KX2 amazed me that it could tune this random length of wire, but it did. How well the 10w from the KX2 radiated, I don’t know but reception was good, we could hear a station from the middle east as well as stations from all around Europe. The band conditions were very good this time out. Thomas worked a couple of special event stations in France and Germany as he likes to collect their QSL cards and then we decided to call it a day.
After dropping Thomas off, I arrived home about 90 minutes later than I had planned. A good day out, but next time I need to check better how long the drive to, and between, the summits will take.
Photos – Blender:
Photos – Weichberg:
SOTABeams Band Hopper Linked Dipole.
LambdaHalbe 6m Mini-mast.
Modified QAMP amplifier (35W on 40m, 25W on 20m).
Thick plastic painters sheet
Screw-in sun-umbrella base
Log Blender:Log Weichberg:
No log for DD5LP. DK1TK/P operation only.
Although the GPS Navi only let me down once on this trip (en-route to Weichberg from Blender), I knew the suggested route was wrong (probably shorter but using farm roads) and was able to quickly correct the route. There are a few summits, not far from Blender that I have either never activated or not activated this year. I would like to go back to the area and combine two or three into a day. I MUST however check driving times very carefully and also plan for rapid installation and pack-up to fit them all in.
At the moment 40m is still the “money band” but 20 metres is getting better again. The luxury of a short antenna and speedy installation may have me using my 15/17/20m J-pole antennas again next time.
73 ’til the next Summit!
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