As Jonathan VK7JON was heading out with his wife to a beach in Tasmania to operate portable, Mike 2E0YYY, Bill F/G4WSB and I decided, despite the early hour that we would head out to some summits to see if we could get a contact via 40 metres long path.
Due to the early start needed to meet the long path window and Jonathan’s planned activation time, I chose Piessenberg even though I had already activated it three times this year.
There was also a chance to make a contact with Thomas operating as FR/F4HPX/P from Reunion Island off the coast of Mozambique on the 10 pointer FR/RE-004 summit about 30 minutes later (this most likely on 20 metres).
As I had updated my two VP2E antennas since getting back from Dayton, I decided it was best to check that they were still correctly resonant on their bands (one is 40/20m and the other 20/17m). This I did on Thursday (the day before the activation) and thankfully all was fine (if you are interested in this antenna, the full design details and my tests are documented on this website under Equipment/Antennas/HB9SL Vp2E antenna).
The 40 minute run down to Peissenberg went without any problems only when I arrived, there was a surprise. The car park was not there any more! It was covered with an enormous marque tent, such as sometimes are used for large wedding receptions. Luckily there was still some parking space off the road at the end (near the woodwork statue) and the area that I wanted to use (on the grass field at the side of the car park) was still clear. So I parked and then carried everything to one of the convenient bench seats.
After setting the antenna and station up, while tuning around looking 40 metres for a free frequency I came across this strange transmission on the band.
I initially checked if 7090kHz was free, spotted my self and started putting out a CQ. after about 10 minutes of no contacts a CW station started up on the frequency. While this is the QRP channel, it is well outside of the normal CW area of the band. Given the slow speed of the morse, I guessed it was some form of CW teaching class and decided to go and find a different free frequency.
I ended up on 7163 kHz between two other stations as the band was quite busy. I was able to keep this frequency for the whole time I was active, however, so that worked out well. Perhaps as it was still silly-early there were not that any callers to start with and I wondered if in fact, I was getting out OK? I could certainly hear stations. I took a tune around and found GJ/OQ7A/P on an IOTA DXPedition on “The Minkies” in the Channel Islands. As he was not getting any responses to his CQ calls I gave him a call and we had a short chat proving that we were both getting out and it was the lack of chasers that was the problem. I then went back to my 7163kHz frequency and got a slow run of callers from around Europe, including an S2S call from Bill F/G4WSB/P on FL/VL-001. Mike 2E0YYY/P also called in, he had chosen to go to a closer HEMA summit rather than a SOTA one, so this didn’t count as an S2S contact in SOTA terms but a nice short chat in any case. In the ten stations that I worked there were both a few new calls and a few of the old reliable chasers. It was interesting that with some of the stations they were weaker than usual, while others were stronger. This I put down to the direction I had set up the VP2E antenna as it was “aimed” long path at VK. Unfortunately, even though Jonathan VK7JON managed a contact with Mike 2E0YYY in the UK, he never made it the whole way down to me which would have been another 1000 km and another skip off the Ionosphere. I was just thinking it might be time to take a listen for Thomas on Reunion Island as we had come to the end of the best possible part of the long path window to VK by this time and then I heard an engine. It was the local farmer coming across the field cutting the tall grass down. I managed to flag him down before he got to the antenna and told him I’d have it packed up and out of the way in 5 minutes. He was apologetic but explained that the field had to be cut at that time – hey it’s his field I’m in, he didn’t need to be apologetic. In any case, it was a nice meeting. He went off and cut another part of the field while I packed up and then came back to take care of that area. He said he wouldn’t be long and it would be fine if I wanted to set-up again in a few minutes. I thanked him but decided not to as it was already almost the time I was going to call it a day in any case.
That’s the first time my activation has been “cut short” as the antenna nearly was! in any case HI!
After packing up, it was a casual drive back home during which time it started to rain, so had I stayed longer, that would also have been with me.
Xiegu X108G 20w HF transceiver
Surveyors large tripod
DX-Wire 10m “mini-mast”.
Homemade HB9SL VP2E antenna (Linked 40/20m).
With the Kp Index still being between 2 & 3 from a CME that hit 48 hours earlier, some deep QSB and static cracks from the approaching storm, reception on 40m was never going to be good. I did hear at least one station calling me that I couldn’t make out in the noise. Another started but came up out of the noise so that I could work him, so with a LOT of luck and Jonathan calling me on my frequency – the contact “might” have been possible but it would have been a minimal contact, nothing like the 5-7 each way contact that he had with Mike 2E0YYY/P. That extra 1000 km and extra bounce off the Ionosphere make a big difference.
I continue to like the capability of putting the mast where I want it, with the surveyor’s tripod, despite its size and weight. At Peissenberg, I only needed to carry it about 70 metres in any case.
The VP2E does appear to work well and I know have the ends raised off the ground using my walking poles, so that the wire doesn’t drop into the grass.
As it was still early and there was little sun to speak of, I was able to operate the X108G without having to plug my SmartPhone into it to use as an external larger and brighter screen.
73 ’til the next Summit!