As part of my trip to Hamvention in the US I planned an activation of a summit in the US for my SOTA Mountain Explorer award. That of course comes with some restrictions and the “normal” SOTA kit was going to be too heavy and take up too much space to take on the plane.
Please refer to my last entry – the activation of Peissenberg (here) to test that the seven year old antenna solution still worked. – it did as so it was the solution that I packed.
The activation was going to have to be a quick one as I was with 4 others on this trip, three of whom who weren’t that interested in SOTA. I already new the exact summit was going to be closed as it’s in the private grounds of an educational facility but luckily there. a road alongside the fenced area that is still within the activation zone, so that would be my location.
Despite the fact that the morning was dry, as we got closer to the SOTA summit (the highest point in the state of Ohio) I saw a post on SOTAWatch from another activator on a SOTA summit in Ohio who was packing up as a storm front was coming his way.
Had we got to the summit at the originally planned time we would have been all right however our plans changed and it meant that the (very heavy) storm front hit as we were having lunch in Bellefontaine – where Campbell Hill is located.
we set off anyway in the hope that by the time we arrived at the summit, the rain would have stopped – it didn’t. It got WORSE!
We found a concreted area off the road which was a recycling drop off point and Edmund M0MNG (the other SOTA interested member of the ICQPodcast team) who had sensibly ONLY brought an HT and an extended antenna along, positioned himself under what cover from the rain could be found under the overhang from a small building on the parking area and started calling CQ SOTA on the US 2m FM calling frequency.
I in the mean time, started unpacking my EFHW antenna while trying to see which tree I might get the cord over to get the end of the antenna up in the air. It’s at this point that I remembered how long the 40m EFHW is and that hauling it up in any of the available trees would not allow me to use what little cover the was from the small buildings roof. I decided to wait a while in the car as I was already soaked through. At this point Edmund got his first 2m SOTA contact of the activation working VA3VAD/M – Canada!!! (actually not – it appears the Canadian Hams mobile in the US, simply use their Canadian call without the need for any prefix or suffix! In any case once Edmond had worked the station, I asked if he would let me work the station and of he did. In this way, we had both “activated” if not “qualified”, the summit as I was starting to doubt whether we would achive the required 4 contacts to get the points for the summit.
I waited a further 20 minutes and the rains did not subside – it was a constant downpour and the lightweight jacket I had with me was doing a good job but the jeans were dripping wet. I then asked Edmund whether he wanted to continue as the others were waiting for us still in the coffee shop in the village where we had dropped them off. Then at this point after 40 minutes of no contacts – he got a call and was eager to stay to try to get the 3rd & 4th needed contacts. Number 3 came relatively quickly but number 4 took some time, but it DID come and we were able to head back to the rest of the group. Well done for your perseverance Edmund!
I was disappointed that I didn’t get my station set-up on HF as I’m sure – despite the rain, the contacts would have been there. In hindsight (that great thing Hindsight) I could have attached the telescopic whip and “miracle antenna tuner” to my FT-817 to get on HF without the need for the long wire antenna – it would have been better than nothing, but I simply didn’t think of it! I could have operated on 2m or 70cm as well with the FT917’s “rubber ducky” antenna, but that would most likely have caused interference to Edmund.
At least, with Edmund’s help, I activated the summit, in that I had a contact from the summit, but having carried all the HF gear with me from Germany, I would have liked to have used it.
An hour earlier and two hours later at the summit there was no rain but that was simply not possible with the travel schedule restrictions that we had.
Wouxon KG-UV6D (Edmund’s)
Home made two metre loaded vertical whip (Edmund’s).
Sometimes things just don’t go right! The rest of my trip went very well.
If we had stuck with the original schedule the activation would have been finished before the storm arrived – possibly even with a HF S2S contact to the other W8O activator that was out.
I could have tried the “Miracle Antenna” on HF when it became clear I wasn’t going to be able to get the end-fed-half-wave antenna out.
It was lucky that Edmund had taken a different approach. without him having his 2m HT with him – unless I had remembered that the FT-817 does 2m as well, I wouldn’t have activated and Edmund, qualified the 4 point summit.
73 ’til the next Summit!