The new year is here which means that all of my local summits are available to get points again (not that the points are important these days – I have achieved SOTA Mountain Goat status, so the pure points-hunt part of the scheme is finished for me).
Ernie VK3DET said he would be available to listen for me and Mike 2E0YYY may even go out portable to work me, depending upon the weather.
In any case I wanted to get out portable as 10m and 20m have been good lately. Peißenberg is perhaps my second closest summit after Berndorfer Buchet but has the advantage of more flat area to set-up antennas on and of course three winter bonus points.
My idea was to put up my 10m mast supported by my large surveyors tripod and then have the Aerial-51 OCF antenna at a higher height than normal. As the weather reports are good, I could try out my VP2E antenna on 20m as I haven’t really given it a good trial comparison against any other antenna yet. It is supposed to have some directional gain over a dipole. For the comparison, I would need to have both antennas up at the same time as the band conditions could (and often do) change in the time I need to lower one antenna and raise the other.
This all adds up to more than the usual load but as Peißenberg is a drive-on summit, I wont have to carry everything very far, but to save time, I loaded the car up on Sunday night for this Monday morning activation.
The drive down is a route I have taken many times before. On the way, I was deciding whether to perform all the tests in the field or just to keep things simple and operate from the upper operating position by the church. As I approached the lower car park, the decision was made for me – there was some kind of gathering of people with camper vans taking up the lower car park, so if I could get a place in the car park, it would not be that close to the field and who knows what interference would be coming out of all of these “mobile homes” (see later comment about S7 QRM on 40m).
So it would be the reduced set-up, with the OCF antenna and the small 6 metre pole from my old location by the church, in the nice seated area with a wooden fence that the mast straps to and the antenna wires run out to a couple of convenient posts.
First of all though, I had to go and buy a parking ticket. What has been a free public car park for the last 20 years has been changed during the Covid pandemic to a private carpark where they charge €2 for 3 hours parking and €4 for six hours.
OK, with that small detail taken care of, I took just the equipment that I needed to go up to my usual operating spot – at the side of the church looking straight into the valley.
As I approached the spot, I realised someone was already sat in “my” spot. To make things worse, he had just started eating his breakfast and was obviously enjoying the view and relaxing in the early morning sun. GREAT! I wondered if I might be able to set up at the back of the church but as I went there, I found other people there – what’s going on? This place is never this busy on a Monday: Oh well, I thought, I’ll just have to go back to the original plan and squeeze in between the camper vans in the lower car park. then the guy behind the church started making small talk about how the view was lovely and the clean clear air is good for you. He was right of course and so I agreed with him and he turned out to be one of those people, who when you start talking to them, you can’t get away. I didn’t want to be rude but time (and the long path to Australia) was slipping away. I eventually got free after about 20 minutes and the man in “my seat” was still there. I asked if he’d mind if I sat on the next bench to him and explained that I would be setting up to do my amateur radio. He said he was about to leave but he had no issues with me setting up there, so I did so and explained a little about out hobby and gave him a brochure as he really seemed to show a little interest. When he finally did leave to walk back down the hill, I moved everything up onto my normal seat, and then it happened – the radio went off. A bad connection in the power lead. It worked a couple of times but a problem with the G90 is that if power drops unexpectedly all settings are returned to defaults! I have seen this problem before. It is something in the power lead. I thought I had fixed it last time – obviously not. To circumvent the problem, I switched from my LifePO4 battery to my LiHV one (which has its own power cable).
So, now that I was operational again, I decided to message Ernie VK3DET to see if he was still around. No response from Ernie or Mike – that’s odd. I then tried to check my emails – no Internet connectivity – great! Another problem. One that if you have a dual SIM phone on two different networks as I do is not difficult to fix – I switched over from Deutsche Telekom to Vodaphone and got my Internet connectivity back again. OK, messaged Ernie again and – luckily – he was still around and after finding a free frequency on 20m, we managed a short contact – only exchanging signal reports but it was a contact. I wonder what it would have been like had I got on 30 minutes earlier as I had planned?
The rest of the activation was more “normal”. I had hoped to get some contacts on 10m but it was dead, even after spotting myself I could not get any callers. So the contacts were roughly half on 20m and half on 40m as you will see from the log below. There were two S2S contacts, one into the UK and one into Ireland, which were nice. On 40m I had nearly S7 noise level, which is very strange for this summit – the weather station next door is always RF quiet and I suspect more that the noise was coming from one or more of the camper vans in the lower car park, so had I set up there I would have been even more restricted in what I could do.
So now that I am home, I have a G90 power cable to investigate – in fact I think I will simply build a new one. This was not the best activation with equipment problems and delays because of the tourists and again, I did not get a chance to try out the VP2E antenna. Perhaps on Rentschen, which is a plateau SOTA/HEMA summit with lots of space for antenna experiments as long as I get there before the snow comes again. One year i was there the snow was 2 metres tall against the side of the road!
- Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
- Xiegu G90 radio.
- Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna with a modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials. (not used)
- Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
- DX-Wire 10m mast and Surveyors tripod (not used).
- Aerial-51 404-UL OCF dipole.
- SotaBeams linked dipole (not used).
- 4 Ah Eremit LifePO4 battery.
- 4 Ah LiHV battery.
- Painter’s thick plastic sheet (not used).
- Gardener’s kneeling pad (not used).
- Lightweight headphones.
- Smartphone for SOTA spotting.
- I hate operating weekend days from a summit due to tourists. This was a Monday but being just after new year, i suppose I should have expected more people than usual to be around.
- Despite arriving earlier than expected, by the time I got on air on 20 metres I was lucky to get the contact into Australia as the band was starting to close.
- The 10 metre band is a fickle band. The MUF seems to just creep over from time to time at the moment and if its below 28MHz the band is closed.
- I need to make a new power cable for the G90, the standard one has some problem (perhaps in the strange connector on the rear of the radio or in the car type fuse holder). I have tried to resolve the problem by rechecking all the connections but the problem re-occurred so no it is time for a complete replacement.
73 ’til the next summit(s).