The purpose of these two activations was to take advantage of the good early morning propagation into VK/ZL and to try out a new spotting system, which uses RF rather than the Internet. I am one of four people beta testing the new system worldwide and had successfully tested from home, however, the real test would be from a portable station at which the system is aimed.
The choice of the first of these two summits, Kirnberg DL/AL-177 was because of the 45-50 minutes that it takes to get on site as the further I had to drive to a summit, the earlier I would have to get up in order to be there around 0600 UTC (8 am local) for the long path from Central Europe to Australasia. The second summit is not far away, although has a longer walk-in but my plan was to do the App testing from this summit.
As usual, all equipment was packed and ready to go on Tuesday evening for the early departure on Wednesday. I have now got this down to just one backpack to carry everything needed.
SOTA DL/AM-177 Kirnberg
This trip down to Kirnberg was uneventful and I was set up ahead of schedule and in contact via phone-internet with Ernie VK3DET and Ian VK3YFD in Australia and Mike 2E0YYY out portable in the UK. Unfortunately, band conditions did not reflect those of a day earlier when I had the easiest contact with Ernie, that I have had in a long time and also worked into Northern California. Despite the conditions, the first entry in the SOTA log was Ron ZL4RMF near Dunedin on the south island of New Zealand and the second Ernie VK3DET near Ballarat in Victoria, Australia. Both of these contacts were difficult for the distant station, however. With just 20 watts of SSB and a dipole at 5 metres above ground, I was certainly not a “superstation”!
After these two contacts, I managed a few more contacts around Europe on 20 metres, including, after the conditions “went short”, Mike 2E0YYY/P in England. The band was very variable with both good and bad reports being sent. many of the chasers who are usually very strong were weak.
I decided to give the new app to send a SOTA spot over RF a try but nothing got through. Oh well, perhaps I’ll have better luck at the next summit where I intended to operate on 40 metres rather than 20 metres.
While I was doing this test I looked up to see a cow and her calf approaching me followed by the farmer who kindly turned them around and took them off to another field. I was near the holy cross which, while still on the land owned by the farmer, he had told me that they allow people there as long as they follow the path he had also provided. So there was no problem with me being there and for the cows, it was a little distraction in their daily routine. Unfortunately, I didn’t think fast enough to take a picture!
So it was now time to pack up and head to the next summit – Ammerleite.
SOTA DL/AM-178 Ammerleite
This summit has some wonderful views and is fairly easy to get to. As planned this time I set the links in the dipole to 40 metres, strapped the mast to the french post and set up the station on one of the two seating banks. Before I started on contacts, I decided to try the new App out – after all, I needed to spot myself on the new summit, so why not use the new app? Well, it didn’t work again and when I got home I realised it was a combination of user errors from my side. I have now written a step-by-step checklist so that the next time I try it, it “ought” to work.
In contrast to the difficulties with getting contacts on 20 metres from the earlier summit, my problem at this summit was picking out the call signs from the pile-up. Although no rain was forecast until late afternoon, some rather dark clouds approaching made me pack up after about 40 minutes on the summit.
With 13 contacts on the first summit and 17 from this second summit, I was happy enough. I had hoped for some contacts from the US but conditions were simply “different” and VK/ZL is twice the distance of the US in any case, so it had been a good morning out and I arrived back home by noon.
SOTA DL/AM-177 Kirnberg
SOTA DL/AM-178 Ammerleite
- Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
- Xiegu G90.
- Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
- Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
- Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
- Screw-in sun umbrella support.
- SotaBeams linked dipole.
- SotaBeams random length end-fed antenna (not used)
- 4 Ah Eremit LifePO4 battery.
- 4000maH LiHV battery.
- Painters thick plastic sheet.
- Gardeners nealing pad.
- Lightweight headphones.
- Smartphone to spot myself.
- The radio conditions were not as good as hoped for (but not bad).
- I need more practice with the new App to be able to use it easily from a summit.
- The current radio set-up is working well, however, the coax on the Linked dipole at 7.s metres log is a little short when used with a 5-metre mast. I will add another 2.5 metres of coax to it.
73 ’til the next summit(s).
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