As the weather was in double negative figures (down to -18°C) for over a week, as soon as the weather started to look better, I had two close & easy summits to “knock off” while we are still in the winter bonus period!
I had originally planned these two summits with the last two as a group of four but the access conditions didn’t allow it. As it was this time, it was going to be a balancing act. Warm enough to activate but before the ground thaws out and turns into a bog!
The two summits are Kirnberg and Ammerleite. I have met with farmers on both of these summits, Kirnberg as I managed to get my car bogged a couple of years ago and needed him to tow me out with his tractor. Ammerleite where a farmer had blocked the road without thought for other people wanting to use it!
I was hoping not to meet either farmer this time, although the one at Kirnberg is a really typical older Bavarian, friendly and helpful guy. The one at Ammerleite was a young foreigner (not Bavarian) pain in the proverbial.
The gear would once again be the X108G and battery in my rucksack and HF-PRO2 antenna but I also loaded the old linked dipole and the surveyor’s tripod and 10 metre mini-mast in the car as backup.
As it turned out leaving the activations to Friday, which was considered would have been a bad decision as the ground on both summits had already started to melt and was quite muddy in places but the nice sunshine and no wind on the second summit made up for a bit of a muddy walk-in. So here are my reports on the two summits.
On arriving at Kirnberg, I saw a large new farm building, where the path used to start, but the farmer had done the right thing and run a new track into the corner of one of his fields for those visiting the holy cross.
Once I set everything up on the bench by the cross – I had the little tripod and the loaded HF Komunica HF-PRO2 whip a couple of metres away from the seat (see photos).
Well I started on 40m and tuning around there was plenty of activity, so I found a free spot, checked it was free and spotted myself on SOTAWatch. I called and called – no replies I waited a while and then, there was Manuel EA2DT – great – we’re off! Went back to him – no answer … This was not looking good checked all cables, checked the SWR as best I can on this rig – it showed 1.1:1 so it has to be the rig!
I was strongly considering packing up and heading home to continue the fault-finding there but I decided to switch to 20m and give it a try and I’m glad that I did as on 20m, as soon as I spotted myself, there was Lars SA4BLM from Sweden BOOMING in and … yes he heard me strong as well (real 5-9 both ways). Eight further strong contacts followed with a real variety in the last two – one was Klaus DL7KBA who was located about 10 km away as the crow flies and following him was my last contact from this summit – Voldemar UR5QW in the Ukraine! Once I could hear no more callers it was time to pack up and set off for my second summit. One improvement from the last activation – I have now added winding posts on the legs of the small photo-tripod for the radial wires and these worked well in two ways. They were less tangled wires and I didn’t forget to put the radials out (which has happened in the past).
On arriving at Ammerleite, the sun had come out and although cold it was a nice change to see true sunshine. I set up at my usual spot behind the (very large) Holy Cross on what is known locally as Schnalz (Ammerleite is the area around this summit). At this summit, there are two bench seats – looking a little worse for wear after the cold winter but still very usable. I had again only brought my small antenna from the car and because of the problems I had had at Kirnberg, on 40m I decided to try 20m first but unfortunately, conditions had changed and I only managed two contacts on 20m. I had to find why 40m had not performed and as I adjusted the tuning coil on the bottom of the HF-Pro-2 it struck me. I had set it to 15 on the scale at Kirnberg, not at 13.5 which my notes say. My previous similar antenna (the model with a solid whip element rather than a telescopic element, had needed the coil set to 15! So that was indeed the problem. Why the rig showed me a 1.1:1 SWR I have no idea but with the antenna tuned off frequency, it would not have radiated well. Feeling a bit stupid that I hadn’t checked the setting at Kirnberg, I spotted myself and put out a call on 40m and was “rewarded” with a wall of noise. A real pile-up so I was definitely radiating now. I worked 27 stations in 30 minutes with no difficulty.
As it approached noon, I decided it was time to shut down the station and enjoy some pack-up lunch in the sunshine and then pack the station up and head home.
What had initially looked like being a complete failure turned out to be two nice activations of two easy summits. Perhaps the next pair will be a little bit more difficult – perhaps two castle ruin summits, we’ll see.
- Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
- Xiegu X108G.
- Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna.
- Modified photo tripod with radials on new storage mounts on tripods legs.
- Surveyors Tripod and 10 metre DX-Wire fibreglass “mini-mast” (not used).
- SotaBeams linked dipole (not used).
- Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
- Painters thick plastic sheet (not used).
- Lightweight headphones.
- Smartphone with PocketRxTx App and USB cable acting as an external display to the rig.
- The new wire winding posts on the tripod worked well and are a good upgrade to the system.
- A double-check of settings no matter what the SWR shows is always a good move, had I re-checked the loading coil setting for 40m on Kirnberg, I expect I would have made several contacts in the first 30 minutes rather than considering calling the day-off.
73 ’til the next summit.