DD5LP/P – June 25-26 2022 – SOTA DM/BW-348 Gehrenberg & DM/BW-854 Höchsten HEMA – DL/HBW-018 Galgenberg, DL/HBW-035 Lutsacher (was NoName) & DL/HBW-039 GalgenHöfe .

Preparation:

As I was attending HAM RADIO 2022 in Friedrichshafen, it is an obvious task to pick up the two easy 8-point summits nearby. On this trip, however, I also planned out some new HEMA summits to activate on my way home.

As well as my now fairly standard rucksack with radio, batteries, antennas and one 6m mast, I also added my large tripod with 10m mast and my old 10Ah battery box into the back of the car with the screw-in mast base support. In this way, I could decide to take out of the car what I thought I would need for each summit and avoid carrying everything to the summit. In the case of the two SOTA summits, I have activated these before and hence know what is the most suitable equipment. The three HEMA summits, however, I have never been to and hence I would need to plan when I arrived at them what I would take with me.

My original plan was to activate the 2 SOTA summits on Saturday evening and leave the three HEMA summits for my afternoon drive home on Sunday as the event effectively closes at lunchtime on Sunday.

As it turned out an appointment clash meant that only one of the SOTA activations was completed on Saturday evening and I decided to drop attending HAM RADIO 2022 on Sunday morning so that I could complete all of the activations.

The Activations

SOTA DM/BW-348 Gehrenberg

This was the Saturday evening (25/6/2022) activation with Chris M0TCH along to activate. He had visited this summit with me back in 2018 but has got more into the swing of SOTA lately and hence was eager to activate both this summit and Höchsten that we had planned also to activate.

We were delayed a little on our departure from the Messe by a ham wanting to talk about something and also when setting up on the summit we had two cyclists as visitors. The end result was that if Chris was to get to his dinner appointment later in the evening, we could not fit Höchsten in. a shame but in my case, I could simply move it to Sunday morning as I had decided not to head into the Messe on Sunday. 

After parking outside the forest at Gehrenberg, the walk up to the summit took a good 10 minutes and set up (with the interruptions) took about half an hour. I had Chris start on HF to get his needed four contacts and then he went a little bit away to try to get further contacts on 2m FM using a newly purchased larger antenna on his HT.

The equipment I used on this summit was the Xiegu G90 and the linked dipole on my lambdahalbe 6-metre pole supported with my sun umbrella screw-in base. Something to note on this summit is that there are tracks arriving at it from multiple directions so installing an inverted-V dipole antenna you need to make sure the wire is high enough as it crosses the track if some racing cyclist is not going to run into it!

As time was marching on and we thought we “might” get Höchsten in as well we kept contacts to a minimum and then packed everything up again. On the walk back to the car, however, doing some calculations it was obvious that we could not fit in the second activation and so we headed back into Friedrichshafen.

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SOTA DM/BW-856 Höchsten

This summit is a fairly recent addition to SOTA and was added when Aacheck was removed. It is a really easy 8-point summit with its own car park on the summit. On Sunday morning I was there, unpacked the gear and set up – this time using the 10 metre DX-Wire mini-mast supported by my large surveyor’s tripod as there is plenty of open space on this summit. This summit, like Gehrenberg, gets very busy around the time of the HAM RADIO event in Friedrichshafen as most SOTA activators can’t resist the easy 8 points for both of the summits. 

After working fourteen stations on forty metres, I packed up so that I could head to the first of my new HEMA Summits of the day. On returning to the car park Christian DL3EC came up to say hello. He had been working on 20m SSB from another field and we had not caused each other any interference at all. 

The weather was just starting to warm up, a sign of what was to come. 

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HEMA DL/HBW-018 Galgenberg

Galgenberg is the location of a microwave relay station between Vogt and Wetzisreute (to the east of Ravensberg) and once you have parked in the large pull-off car park, you need to cross the L325 road and head up the track that runs around the hill to climb at a reasonable rate for the radio service vehicles to get up. Once you reach the top, there is a nice grassy area behind the brick building at the top of the tower that fits well for putting up an antenna. 

Knowing from the map that I would have the climb, I had opted to take the same equipment in the rucksack to this summit as I had used at Gehrenberg the night before – the Xiegu G90, 6m mast and linked dipole. The day had now changed to be hot and humid with lots of annoying flies, some of which were biting me, so between contacts, I was swatting the little so-and-so’s!

As well as the weather changing, the band conditions also changed with very deep QSB and of course – as with every weekend QRM from deaf contest stations. Spotting on the HEMA cluster does not bring the same rush of callers as when activating a SOTA summit so I was searching around and calling CQ a lot from this summit. One of the stations that took pity on my long CQ calls with no answer was the main special event station out of England for the Queen’s platinum jubilee – GB70E. That was a nice surprise.

After the long drive up from Höchsten, it was getting near noon and I was getting hungry. So, after I had worked eight stations across 40 & 20m from this location, I packed up and headed back down to the car, to set off to the next HEMA summit.

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HEMA DL/HBW-035 Lutascher (NoName)

The reason I have written “NoName” in brackets is that is what this summit was called in the HEMA database at the time that I activated it. When I surveyed this region I could find a name for the summit on any of the official, detailed maps. I have now asked for the name to be changed in the database.

On arriving at this summit and parking outside of the forest, it was getting rather warm. I had not found anywhere along the way to grab something to eat and so, again I hoped for a quick activation and then to get on the road again. it was not to be so. the bands had got even worse than before.

This is an interesting summit and the actual highest point is in fact on top of a grass bank covering the water tank that supplies the local farms. There is a LOT of cycling activity around here – it seems this location south of Bad Wurzach and through “Waldfeld” is a favourite for the cyclists.

Once I got past a barking dog, (who was more afraid than aggressive) whose owner came along 5 minutes later looking for “Sara” (on a bicycle of course) – I told her the direction the dog had gone, I could climb the grass bank on to the water supply system and set up the gear (which was the same as used on Galgenberg).

This was another summit where getting contacts was difficult because of the band conditions but I did manage six contacts on 20m before the 4Ah LifePO4 battery finally dropped below the voltage needed by the G90 and set off an alarm tone. no issues, I also had my 4 Ah LiHV battery with me but even after connecting that no further contacts were possible, so – as it was now even hotter than before, I packed up and headed back to the car. 

I considered whether to drop the last planned summit but in the end decided that as it was on my direct route home, I should be able to manage it.

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HEMA DL/HBW-039 Galgenhöfe

This summit is just off the L309 road between Seibranz and Unterzeil. The area is shown on maps as Galgenhöfle however when you arrive the signs don’t have the L in the name. You will need to check the coordinates on the map as you don’t want to go to the hamlet of Galgenhöfe rather you need to go into the forest directly on the other side of the L309 road. There is a large gate and cattle grid. I parked just before that as the rest of the track is only for forestry vehicles’ use.  From that point, it is about a 7-minute walk on a track that goes off to the left and you will see when you get to the top of the rise. Some scrambling is needed over branches and the like on the floor to get to a reasonably open area, where I again set up the G90 and linked dipole. At this summit, it took me 20 minutes to get the required 4 contacts. two on 40 metres and two on 20 metres. The last contact of the day was with Christian DL3EC who I bumped into at Höchsten. He was now on a different SOTA summit – DL/AL-146 Sonneneck, after also visiting DM/BW-348 Gehrenberg on the way.

 

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Equipment used:

  • 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 (x2 – one spare).
  • DX-Wire 10m travel mast.
  • Surveyors tripod.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella support.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • SotaBeams random length end-fed antenna (not used)
  • 4 Ah Eremit LifePO4 battery.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs) (just as 2nd backup – not used).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery.
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Gardeners nealing pad.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot on either SOTA or HEMA. 

Logs:

SOTA

DM/BW-348 Gehrenberg (25/6/22)

DM/BW-854 Höchsten (26/6/22)

HEMA 

DL/HBW-018 Galgenberg (26/6/22)

DL/HBW-035 Lutascher (26/6/22)

DL/HBW-039 Galgenhöfe (26/6/22)

Conclusions:

  • The common knowledge is not to activate on a weekend (because of contest QRM) – in this case, that made 40 metres difficult however on 20m at least some contesters obey the IARU rules and don’t use frequencies above 14300 kHz. It’s a shame the band was all over the place.
  • The new LifePO4 battery performed well powering four of the five activations.
  • After its total re-build, the linked dipole appears to be working fine.

73 ’til the next summit(s).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – June 14th 2022 – DL/AM-058 Hinteres Hörnle.

Preparation:

While Rob, DM1CM, was eager to get out and do some more joint activations in addition to his solo ones, we agreed to meet and head up Hinteres Hörnle. we were hoping that perhaps contacts with VK might be possible but with the lift only starting a 0700 UTC, taking 20 minutes to get up to the top station from where it was between a 45-minute and 1-hour walk to the summit, it looked unlikely.

I had also totally re-built my SOTABeams linked dipole and while, after some trimming it all looked fine on the antenna analyser, the only real test is its use from a summit. this was that opportunity but, just in case, the Komunica HF_PRO2 and tripod were also packed as a backup antenna.

The weather forecast was good and while I had originally suggested activating both Hörnle and Laber down the road, this thought changed to just Hörnle and a nice meal and beer at one of the two restaurants on the way to the summit and hence a relaxing day.

As I would only need to leave home at 8 am to get to bad Kohlgrub in time for the first lift up, I did not pre-load the car on this occasion. as I reduced some of the weight in my rucksack, everything was in the one prepared bag ready to “grab and go” after breakfast on Tuesday.

The Activation

Both Rob and I arrived at the car park at the valley station of the chair lift by 8:30 am. Officially the lift only starts taking paying passengers at 9 am but as we were there queuing and the staff for the “Hutte” at the top had already gone up, we were on the lift at 8:45 am and slowly heading up the mountain.

As mentioned above, the walk from the top station of the lift to the summit takes up to an hour and as it goes through a col, you end up walking up, then down and back up again before you get to Hinteres Hörnle. En route, we saw that the restaurant near the lift was getting ready to open while the one which is half way to the summit and is run by the national mountain walking society, hadn’t started setting up yet. The three summits at the top of the lift (Vorderer, Mitte and Hinterer Hörnle) are the “house-mountains” for the village of Bad Kohlgrub below, and often have lots of people walking the track to the summits. Despite this, the cows are not at all phased by the public and often block the track.

The weather was nice, I have been on this summit in both summer and winter. In winter the track can be blocked by fallen trees but as we haven’t had many high winds of late, this was not going to be a problem this time.

The views looking both ways from this series of hills are amazing as you will see from the photos below.

On arriving at the summit, Rob decided to set up on a plateau, well within the activation zone, while I headed up to my usual spot just below the summit. Setting up directly at the summit, even in winter is not possible due to the number of hillwalkers and the limited space.

We agreed that Rob would start on 40m and I on 20m. We knew from a previous activation that we could operate close to each other on 20 & 40 without any issues. This was the case again. Both Rob and I use the Xiegu G90 radio. I set mine up with my linked dipole while he set up with a Komunica HF-PRO-2 loaded whip antenna on a small tripod – the same configuration as I had with me as my backup, should the newly re-built linked dipole were to give problems.  

I had checked cell coverage on the web the previous day and the reports indicated that the Vodafone and Telefonica(O2) networks should work fine but Telekom may not be so good. On trying to look at who else was out on a summit I could see no spots. this would be strange as normally there will be a few spots. I thought I was having cell network issues and getting no Internet connection, so I spotted myself via SMS. indeed I started getting calls, so although I could not see it, my spot had gone through. Then I got a Signal messenger message from Mike 2E0YYY/P who had also planned to be out and we were to try for a contact. He was having difficulty hearing me but eventually we made the contact. So then I thought the problem must be the SOTA Spotter App and indeed switching to using sotl.as instead, I could see all the spots. it later turned out that there was a setting in SOTA Spotter that I had changed not expecting any problems and this effectively turns off all spots if you have no filters set. 

Conditions were not good and any last hope of a contact into Australia went away very quickly. A CME had hit the Ionosphere the previous day and skip had gone short as a result. The signals around Europe on 20 metres were strong however and I exchanged several (true) 59 reports with the chasers. After a good run on 20m, I called down to Rob and his callers on 40 metres had dried up, so we agreed to switch bands with me on 40m and him on 20m. 40m was a jungle, finding a free frequency was difficult but when I found one I used sotl.as to spot myself and we were “off and running” again. 

After about another 20 minutes my calls on 40m dried up and I decided to pack up and go and see how Rob was doing. at the same time Rob had made the same decision and he came over the brow onto the flat spot where I was en route to going to the cross on the absolute summit, to say he had been there.

So it seems that lunch was calling us both equally strongly! While I was still packing up a couple came by and asked what I was doing, so they got a short explanation and one of my pre-printed brochures and they went away happy.

Once both Rob and I had packed up we headed back towards the lift and seeing that the mid-way restaurant was open, we decided to stop and eat. They did a lovely “Brotzeit platter” (see the picture in the slideshow below).

Once we were finished with lunch it was a calm walk back to the lift where Rob told me later he had almost fallen asleep on the lift chair, which would have been a problem had he done so, as on arrival the chair splits in half and goes around you. this is the only lift anywhere that does this. It is strange until you are used to it but for older people, it’s better than the normal jump and run to exit, chairs! 

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90 HF transceiver.
  • New gardening kneeling pad.
  • Lambdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Decathlon push in mast base mount.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • SOTAbeams end-fed antenna (not used)
  • Komunica Power HF-PRO-2-PLUS-T loaded vertical and tripod (not used).
  • LiHV 4AH battery (not used).
  • LifePO4 4AH battery.
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.

Log:

Conclusions:

  • The visibility of the smartphone screen is becoming a problem as the activations start happening in bright sunlight.
  • Making changes to software settings on the phone and not testing fully before going out is a BAD idea!
  • The repaired linked-dipole antenna works fine on 20 & 40m and with the new winders is easier to pack up at the end of an activation.
  • The kneeling pad worked well to sit on and the fact that it fits exactly into the inside of the rucksack means it will be a “keeper”.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – June 3rd 2022 – HEMA – DL/HCG-005 & SOTA DL/CG-094 Ratzinger Höhe.

Preparation:

Having activated a SOTA summit last time and a GMA one before that, it was time to get to activate a HEMA summit again. I looked on the map for the next one that I haven’t yet activated and came up with Ratzinger Höhe which overlooks Chiemsee in the east of Bavaria. I was looking for a summit to the east of Munich so that I could activate with Rob DM1CM and as Rob can only do limited climbing this summit looked ideal. The downside was that it wasn’t very close, taking between 90 and 120 minutes to get there depending upon the time of day as I have to drive around Munich, where the traffic can be horrendous at times. As I wanted to start off the activation with a contact with Ernie VK3DET, down in Australia, I would need to be operational by 0700 UTC going by previous experiences. Unfortunately, the radio conditions on the days coming up to the planned Friday were not good and so this might be a case of only European contacts to qualify the summit, which would be my first summit in the DL/HCG region of HEMA and the first time that it had been activated in HEMA at all.

I still need to test out my vertical Moxon antenna on 15m, but with the band conditions the way they were, I was not hopeful however I would take it along in case things were good and the MUF was over 21 MHz.

When looking at the map to find parking and access tracks, I realised that this was also a SOTA summit – this is another case of a sub 150m prominence (actually 136m) being in the p150m SOTA region for historical reasons. As Rob prefers to activate SOTA summits, this would fit well. I would also activate the summit in SOTA after I had finished my HEMA activation as I have not been to this summit before, let alone activated it.

There is also a Gasthaus “Weingarten” (a small hotel with a restaurant open to the public) close by so that would fit very well as a way to round off the activation before heading back home. 

Given the long drive and possibility of unexpected delays, I planned to set off by 06:45 am local time, which meant rising at 05:30, so the plan was to load everything into the car the previous evening so that I could get away with the minimum delay and noise in the morning.

The Activation

The drive took 95 minutes so a good run and the “wanderparkplatz” was easy to find. On arriving, Rob had arrived before me, so at this point, I decided what equipment I would carry up the last part of the hill. The parking spot is actually well within the activation zone, so one could activate from the field by the car parking spot and hence come back easily to the cars for any extra needed equipment. There was also a port-a-loo here should it be needed, not something you expect in a country walkers car park. I decided however to leave the 15m Moxon and also the large tripod and 10 metre mast in the car as I thought band conditions would not be suitable for 15 metres. I later found out that assumption to be true, however, had I been able to arrive 30 minutes earlier, the 15m band was actually open for DX.

In any case, my decision was to take my usual rucksack and equipment (radio, 6-metre mast, screw-in base, etc) and set up with the linked dipole running north-south with the hope of managing a contact on 20 and perhaps 17m into VK.

On walking up the hill through the house and farm shown on the map as “Berg” we passed a small path off to a couple of seats at a lookout spot but continued on to where the coordinates say the real summit it. This was somewhat of a surprise as a bee-keepers club have put their hives and a meeting hut on this spot and several bees were busy leaving and returning to the hives across the public right-of-way. This was obviously not going to be suitable for our activation and so we decided to head back down the road to the first lookout point which indeed carried the Ratzinger Höhe name sign. The lookout spot has two benches under some trees opened out into a relatively flat field and while Rob set up his equipment close to the trees with his small tripod and Komunica Power HF-PRO2-PLUS-T multi-band loaded vertical, I moved further into the field and set up the mast and linked dipole. At this point, I contacted Mike 2E0YYY/P in the UK and Ernie VK3DET in Australia via the Signal App that we use as our “back channel”. I had agreed with Rob that I would start on 20m and he would start on 40 metres and then we would switch. One interesting fact from this activation was that although we were only about 20 metres away from each other neither of us caused the other any interference when using the 20 & 40m bands.

After several tries, I was unable to hear Ernie in VK3 but I did make a contact with Mike who was using the special 2Q0YYY call sign for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. As Mike was willing, I then suggested we try 17 or 15 metres – both bands were unfortunately dead however and trying to operate on 15m while Rob was transmitting on 40 metres was impossible as he wiped out the whole band. So another point learnt, the second harmonic of a 40m signal on 20m is not a problem however the third harmonic on 15 metres certainly is!

After working Mike on 20m, I also worked another three stations on 20 metres under the HEMA activation. Rob, who had been activating the summit under its SOTA number on 40 metres then agreed to switch to 20m so that I could get some HEMA chasers who were waiting for me on 40m. After working another 5 stations under the HEMA summit code, I then switched to using the SOTA code and went on to work 14 SOTA chasers on 40m.

After things slowed down, Rob and I agreed to call it a day. It had been quite hot in the sunshine and a nice cold beer was calling from the Gasthaus not far away!

After packing up and bringing everything back to the cars, it was a 2-minute drive to the restaurant, where they hadn’t yet started serving food but cold Weißbier was certainly available. The service was friendly and our waitress understood a lot of English. We were sat in the garden area with a wonderful view into the valley and out to the lake Chiemsee. The food was good quality Bavarian fair and it was a nice way to complete the morning’s radio activities before setting off home. the journey back took longer with delays on the Mittlerer Ring around Munich but after two hours I was back home just before the rains started. 

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • 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.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs) (not used).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • 4 Ah LifePO4 Eremit battery.
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Logs:

HEMA 

 

SOTA 

 

Conclusions:

  • This is a nice (easy) summit with space to test antennas but it is too far to drive to catch the long path DX window into Australia.
  • The two G90s worked remarkedly well close together on 20 & 40 metres (but not on 40 and 15m).
  • The difference between the HF-PRO2 on a small tripod and the linked dipole on a 5-6 metre mast is not as great as I would have expected. We both covered Europe and into the UK.
  • We both used Eremit 4Ah LifePO4 batteries and had no problems with them.
  • The ability to compare similar sets of equipment is very useful when the operation takes place around the same time and from the same location.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – May 23rd 2022 – DL/MF-082 Schwarzer Berg.

Preparation:

As I would likely be out of operation for a few days following my next COVID booster jab, my wife suggested I get out and activate a summit on this Monday. She didn’t have to suggest this twice and as it turned out, Monday was the only day of the week that it would have been possible because of the weather (more of which later).

As the chosen summit is near to where an amateur, Rob DM1CM, whom I haven’t seen for a couple of years, lives, I invited him along as well.  As he was also looking at refreshing his portable radio equipment and was considering the same Xiegu G90 radio and Komunica Power HF-Pro2 antenna that I use, I said come along, try them out and see what you think.

On the wish list for this summit was to test some antennas out for 17 & 15m but as it turned out those bands were closed and so that is a task that will move on to the next activation.

The rucksack was going to be heavy this time and I also decided, as this is effectively a drive-up summit, to take my new seat with me as well, so that I would not have to squat on the floor.

The plan was to leave at 7 am and be on the air by 9am (both local times) so as usual the equipment was loaded the night before, into the car.

The Activation

The route to this summit can either be via Autobahn and around Munich or over country roads. In principle, the Autobahn route should be the better (and quicker) choice however hitting the Mittler ring around Munich at 8 am on a Monday morning is not a recipe for a quick trip and so I decided to take the country roads route to get there and come back via the Autobahns.

 All went fine and I was set up by 8:45 am. I sent Ernie in VK3 a message via Signal and after searching for a free frequency at both ends on 20m, we made contact 10 minutes later. This was using the linked dipole at about 5m AGL next to the (closed) observation tower. If that is ever open it would be fun to try an end-fed antenna dropped from the top of the tower, however it looks as if the tower is permanently boarded up. Perhaps it is unsafe? 

Several contacts around Europe followed, often at 59 both ways, so the equipment was certainly working reliably, which is always good when you want to demonstrate something. Rob arrived about 30 minutes later and got to see and handle the small radio. When I returned to my spotted frequency, there was Christos SV2OXS checking if I was still around and a short and easy QSO followed. After a couple more easy contacts, I suggested I get out the Komunica Power HFPRO-2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna and we’d try 40m. The band was full from end to end and calling some stations we could not get through because of the QRO stations – a common issue these days on 40m and often also 20m. Rob suggested that radiation may be being hindered by the fact that we were in a forest and the vertical trees can absorb the RF. Before I could change bands to try perhaps 17m on either the vertical or the linked dipole. The rain started. Not heavy to start with but getting heavier. Rob and I agreed that we’d call it a day and I packed everything away and headed back down the slope to the cars. Of course, just as I finished packing up, the rain stopped but this was a warning for later when Bavaria got some really damaging storms, that evening which brought down a newly installed support mast for my 40m and up Skyloop antenna at home. This was repaired on Tuesday with some added strength to its month, to stop (hopefully) a repeat.   

With twelve contacts in the log ranging from Australia to north, south and western Europe, I was happy with the activation. the new 4AH €39 LifePO battery had worked flawlessly as well. The bands were difficult for DX but 20m was easy within Europe. It was good to see Rob again and perhaps as he gets his portable gear together again, we’ll do some joint activations, whether it be SOTA, HEMA, GMA or WWFF.

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90 HF transceiver.
  • New “pop-up” seat.
  • Lambdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella base.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • SOTAbeams end-fed antenna (not used)
  • Komunica Power HF-PRO-2-PLUS-T loaded vertical and tripod.
  • 4000 maH LiHV battery (not used)
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs) (Not used).
  • New LifePO4 4AH battery.
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.

Log:

 

Conclusions:

  • The new LifePO4 battery worked flawlessly.
  • For once, demonstrating equipment did NOT make it fail without reason!
  • The Xiegu G90’s 20w was enough to get several 5-9 reports from around Europe.
  • The seat worked well, but having a “table” of some sort would be an improvement, as leaning over from the seat is not ergonomically correct. Perhaps I should try it with one of the small foldable seats that I used to use on SOTA activations some years ago?

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – May 18th 2022 – GMA – DA/AV-392 Kalvarienberg.

Preparation:

With the weather improving and the bands being kind for DX contacts lately, it was time to get out and test the antennas on the higher bands (17m, 15m, 10m). I didn’t want a long journey and so decided to see if a local GMA (Global Mountains Award) summit would serve as a testing ground for antennas going forwards. this would be my first GMA activation since 2018 and the online website has had a lot of features added, indeed spotting and alternating and monitoring all cover several schemes whether it be WWFF, SOTA, Castles, Lighthouses or GMA, all are covered through the system.

The summit, which I had never visited is just a 15-minute drive from my home, so if this worked out as a good summit, it could be very useful for tests.

Being so close I wouldn’t need to get up and leave so early if I wanted to try for contacts with VK. I loaded my rucksack with additional antennas and masts into the car on Tuesday afternoon in any case, to minimise what I would need to do on Wednesday morning.

The Activation

Although I have never been to this summit before I have been through the village that it overlooks many times. On the map, there is no public car park but looking at a satellite picture I saw an area with a car parked in it that was close to the start of the track up to the summit. On arriving there, the car park is labelled as an official public car park for walkers.

It was no time at all before I had parked the car, and put on my rucksack after deciding to take one antenna and one mast out of it to lighten the load a little. I crossed the road and headed along the parallel to the road bitumen path to where the track up the hill starts. As you will see from the photos, there is a series of monuments with pictures of Christ carrying his cross up a hill, so this is definitely a pilgrim way up to the small church on the top of the hill. 

Although steep in places, it is a reasonably easy climb to the top and after passing the grotto you come onto a sort of lawned area before you get to the church. There is also a grassed area by the church but the first one had two bench seats and I could set up there without obstructing the way for others, so that is what I did and I was fully operational with the first of my two wire antennas (a 40m OCF antenna from Aerial-51) by 0630 UTC (8:30 am local time) half an hour ahead of schedule.

I tuned around 20m and could hear several VK5 and VK2 stations on the band. Most activity on the band was in the bottom half. I believe this is because the lower half of the band will open first as the MUF increases.

  I messaged Ernie (VK3DET) and Ian (VK3YFD) in Victoria Australia and my hope was to try 20, then 17 and then 15m with them and see how the antennas performed.

Contacts were more difficult than usual today but with some hard work on their ends, I got Ernie and Ian into the log. To make sure it was not a problem with the Aerial-51 OCF antenna, I took it down and replaced it with the SOTABeams linked dipole. Although Ernie and Ian reported a slightly stronger signal from me, I believe this was just a change in radio conditions rather than the antenna. Of course, the best would have been to have both antennas up at the same time and switch between them but there is not enough space at this summit to do that without risking interaction between the antennas. Checking 17 metres from both Australia and Germany – it was dead and it was obvious that I was not going to be doing any tests on 17 or 15 metres. 

After finishing with Ernie and Ian, I spotted myself on the GMAWatch site and put out calls on both 20m and 40m. The final total for the activation was contacting just 6 different stations. a bit of a disappointment but at least I had been able to check out this local GMA summit which looks like a nice place to go in good weather but could also fill up quickly with tourists making radio operation difficult if not impossible.

 Photos:

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Equipment taken:

  • 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.
  • Decathlon mast base spike (not used).
  • Sun Umbrella screw-in base.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Spider beam / Aerial-51 404-UL 40m OCF inverted-V dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painter’s thick plastic sheet (not used).
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Log:

 

Conclusions:

  • While the weather was sunny (which lifts the spirits) the radio conditions were not nearly as good as they have been of late. This meant NOTHING was happening on 17m and above and I was lucky to get the contacts on 20m.
  • As conditions were changing, I was not able to conclusively say whether the linked dipole is a “better” antenna than the OCF or whether simply the conditions changed.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DL20SOTA/P – May 5th 2022 – DL/AL-179 Weichberg & DL/AL-169 Auerberg.

Preparation:

As weather and radio conditions were OK and I had the opportunity to use the 20 years of SOTA special event callsign DL20SOTA again, I decided at relatively short notice to activate these two easy summits. I was looking for summits where if the weather turned bad, I knew them well and could safely get back down from them with the limited risk of injury. They also needed to be not too far away as I planned to get on the first summit at least in time for some 20m long path contacts into Australia and possibly New Zealand. It seems that now, in May, the greyline is coming across earlier and hence I would not be lucky enough to get 40m contacts “down under” but I did plan to try for some 17m contacts as well.

With a planned leave time from home of 7 am, the gear was packed in the car the night before and I also decided to take my new seat along for use on the second summit as the last time I was there, the benches had been removed. While this is a short walk from the car park the extra weight of the pop-out seat would not be a problem. 

The Activation

The trip down was uneventful and quick as this is a route that I know without the need for maps or GPS having been there many times (mind you, that didn’t stop me from missing one turn in the route between the two summits and having to turn back to find it).

Weichberg – DL/AL-179.

My plan was to work Ernie VK3DET, Ian VK3YFD and Mike 2E0YYY/P on 20 and possibly 17 and 40 metres before I started the “true” activation where I expected (and got) pile-ups from SOTA chasers wanting to talk to the special event station.

My equipment set-up did not start well. When putting up the antenna, running out both arms of the linked dipole (which also act as guys for the telescopic mast) one side broke off at the feed-point bracket. My belief is that this must have been bent backwards and forwards many times over the years and finally, it gave way.

While this was an unwanted problem, I did at least have 15 minutes or more in hand on my planned times. As you will see from the pictures I managed to jerry-rig a repair which thankfully worked for both activations. I had taken my Swiss Army penknife out from my bag just the day before as the wife wished to borrow it, so I had to revert to strip the wire covering off with my teeth. Thankfully everything went well and we were back in business. Had this not worked I also had my Komunica HF-PRO2 loaded whip antenna and tripod in my pack, however, I prefer to use the linked dipole when I have the option.

As I was a little early, Mike was still setting up as I worked Ian and Ernie on 20m. after those successful contacts I asked them to try 17m and while I could hear the guys in VK3, they could not hear me, so the band seemed not to be as good as it had been. By this time Mike had set up so we went back to 20m and then 40m, where I managed to work Mike but the others could not hear either of us on 40m. 

It was now getting close to my alerted time for the SOTA chasers, so I messaged the group via Signal and left them to complete their contacts while I went off and found a free frequency on 20m. Not a simple task as there are many stations these days on 20m in the morning. Many of whom were not around trying for contacts when conditions were more difficult over the last few years. Many of these stations need to go back and learn some manners as they start up without checking the frequency range that their wide signals cover is free for use. The end result is that the lower-powered stations like myself, have to change frequency often to be able to make contacts. Sometimes this frequency change can be combined with a band change to give different chasers a chance of a contact with the summit – and in these two activations with a contact with the special event call sign.

By the time I finished on weichberg, I had 39 contacts in the log mainly on 20 & 40m. 17m wasn’t working so well it seemed … but that was to change at the next summit.

Auerberg – DL/AL-169.

After packing up and returning to the car at the first summit, I set off for what should have been a 30 minute trip to the next summit (Auerberg). It actually took about 5 minutes longer as I missed one turn-off as mentioned before but I was still well within my time plan.

Because the last time I was here the benches behind the church (which is located exactly on the summit) had been removed, I took my new “telescopic chair” with me from the car. As I walked around the church, I saw there has been additional wooden benches installed at the side and as I turned the corner, also at the end of the church where I always set up. So the new chair was not needed after all.

On this summit, I did not try for any VK/ZL contacts as it was later in the morning and too late for long path, or so I thought. (I found out later that had I started on 20m rather than 40m from Auerberg I may have got a couple of VK contacts). In any case, on this 2-point summit, I wanted to get as many chaser contacts in the DL20SOTA/P log as possible. The surprise was three S2S (Summit-to-Summit) contacts including one with JW/LB1RH who is part of the DXpedition team to Svalbard way up in the Arctic Circle! That contact was even on 17m to surprise me even more. The other two S2S contacts only count as one as it was with Stavros SV2RUJ/P on a Greek summit – firstly on 17m and then on 20m. So 17 metres certainly seems like the band to look at to get away from the DQRM and general bad behaviour from some operators.

 I did get one request for a 60-metre contact and I only realised afterwards that I DID have the antenna extensions with me but while running the special event callsign and having the large pile-ups it was not the time to try out an untried antenna extension! That’s something to try when I’m “just” operating under my own callsign.

The totals from this second summit were 15 contacts on 40 metres, 4 on 17metres and 20 on 20 metres.

As I arrived home, the forecasted rain started but not as strong as had been predicted, at least not where I live. The heavy storms only arrived in the evening.

 Photos:

       DL/AL-179 Weichberg

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     DL/AL-169 Auerberg

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Lambdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • 4000 maH LiHV battery (not used)
  • Komunica HF-PEO2-PLUS-T, tripod and radials (Not used). 
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • “Telescopic” seat (taken up to the second summit but not used).

Logs:

     DL/AL-179 Weichberg

     DL/AL-169 Auerberg

Contact maps from Sotamaps:

From Weichberg:

From Auerberg:

Conclusions:

  • The break in the linked dipole was a surprise from this, my most reliable antenna. It is now properly repaired and ready for a few more activations. At least my temporary fix held-up for both activations.
  • The Solar flares that arrived in the two days prior to these activations certainly had an effect on radio conditions but I was really happy to get the 17m S2S with the station on Svalbard – even more so when after getting home, I looked at where this island is! It is a lot further north than I had thought it was.
  • Overall the activation was a success with plenty of chasers getting a contact with DL20SOTA/P. The level of QRM on both 20m and 40m now, especially on a weekday, is becoming totally out of hand. Add to that incompetent or simply full-of-themselves operators and the WARC bands are becoming more and more attractive. I think I may try to use 60 metres next time out.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – April 28th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HAM-015 & SOTA DL/AM-156 Schneidberg.

Preparation:

As conditions between EU and VK are so good at the moment, I decided to head out early to another summit and try out 17m as well as 20 & 40m (possibly even 15m).

As explained last time HEMA strictly adheres to its rule of including only summits with a prominence greater than 100 metres and less than 150 metres. For historical reasons, SOTA summits are not always over the SOTA rule of a minimum of 150m prominence.  Schneidberg is another such summit with a prominence of 103m.

With the long path window to VK, starting earlier and earlier, this would be an early start, getting up at 5:30 am to be on the summit by 8:30 am.  

The plan was to activate the summit as a HEMA summit for 30 minutes and then switch to SOTA. Alongside this, as this would be a Thursday morning we would try to get the “Comms Testers” net together. This consists of Mike 2E0YYY in the UK and Ernie VK3DET and Ian VK3YFD (both in Victoria, Australia) and myself in Germany. Mike also said he would go out portable to add to the fun.

I would again stick with the now tried and true configuration of my Xiegu G90 radio and linked dipole antenna on the 6m mast with everything fitting into or onto the medium-sized (40L) rucksack.

The Activation

The weather warnings were for frost however a bigger problem was fog which slowed the drive and caused me to miss a turn near the end of the trip, causing me to lose time. Despite that and the long walk from where I park the car, up to the summit, I did manage to be there, with all equipment set up by 08:15 am local time (06:15 UTC).

The activation did not start well. It’s not just the continental operators who need to go back to radio school one Welsh station forced his way onto a 20m frequency I had been on for 10 minutes and was in a QSO with Ernie VK3DET on. He could hear me telling him the frequency was in use and deliberately kept calling CQ over the top of Ernie and me. This is unacceptable behaviour and had the attitude of I have a 1KW amplifier and a big beam so you can go away and find a different frequency. What was really silly was after two contacts, he decided to go for his breakfast at which time Ernie was already on a different frequency. 

Putting that behind us, on the new frequency, I managed contacts with Ernie, VK3DET, Ian VK3YFD and Mike 2E0YYY/P – so we had the net complete and I had three of the four contacts that I needed to qualify the HEMA summit. Duncan MM5AJN/M on Aberdeen Beach then joined us and I had my needed four contacts. Rather than just continuing on 20m however, we decided to try 17m, so the mast came down and the links came out for 17m and up went the antenna again. Contacts with Ernie and Ian were again reasonably straightforward as they were both putting strong signals into Germany. Try as I may though, I could not get Mike into the log on 17m. Mike was hearing and able to work the guys in VK though, so I left them and went off to find another frequency, spotted myself on the SOTA cluster and see if I could qualify the SOTA summit just with contacts on 17m.

First was Jack from Finland OH3GZ and then with much stronger signals came Ron VK2AFW and Colin VK3GTV, both of whom I have probably not worked for over 5 years – that was a nice surprise.

As no more calls came I went back to the group to find that they were now moving up to try 15m. While I don’t have a “true” 15m link in my dipole I do have some 1 micro-henry plug-in links that should make it possible to use the linked dipole on 15m while it is set to 40m, by substituting both links at the 20m stages with these extra inductances. When I set up my antenna this way, although I could hear some stations on the band, I could hear nothing from Bernie or Ian. I put this down to conditions (apparently the Kp Index had gone up to 4 which can easily suppress the MUF). I was wrong, while setting up to go back to 20m, I realised that I had not closed one of the 17m links, so it’s no wonder it didn’t work! I couldn’t ask the guys to go back to 15m again so I left it for another day and we had a short QSO back on 20m again.  

At this point, Mike texted me that a lot of SOTA chasers in the UK were waiting for me on 40m, so I agreed to move to 40m and hope to find a free frequency (something that as it was getting close to 10 am would not be easy). 

My first contact on 40m was an S2S call from special event station TM2IF/P on F/CR-216. I only found out later that this was a special event station in memory of a recently lost to Cancer and much loved Spanish SOTA activator, Guru EA2IF. I wish I had realised it at the time. Congratulations to Alain F5ODQ for organising the special call sign and I hope that through its use we will all be reminded about all the good things that Guru did for the hobby before he was taken, far too young, from us. 

I then continued to work three more stations on 40m but although I could hear Mike 2E0YYY/P, he could not hear me. The reason became apparent when I was packing up the station. I had managed this time to leave one of the 20m links open when moving to 40m, so the antenna was one half 40m quarter-wave and one half eighth wave, no wonder it was not working well! The ATU in the G90 matches just about anything, so I didn’t notice a horrible SWR which would have been apparent if I had been using a radio without an inbuilt ATU. 

At 10:10 am local time, I packed up and headed back down to the car as with the winds increasing, the temperature had been dropping with the wind-chill factor taking the temperature back down towards zero centigrade.

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • 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.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Logs:

HEMA 

SOTA 

Conclusions:

  • The weather got colder as time went on, due to the cold winds increasing.
  • The main purpose of the activation – was to try out 17m and indeed that went well, even though 20 & 40m were fraught with QRM and idiots. 17m does seem to be a better band to use for DX communications when open.
  • I had two times when I accidentally left one of the links in the dipole open when it should have been closed. I need to find some way to be able to see this from the ground as the radio matches into anything when asked and hence the usual “bad VSWR” that would tip me off to a problem is hidden.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P & DL20SOTA – April 23rd 2022 – HEMA – DL/HCN-004 & SOTA DL/AM-180 – Berndorfer Buchet (for EU-NA S2S & First HEMA DL-G H2H).

Preparation:

Because of weather worries, I decided to head back to Berndorfer Buchet which is a current SOTA and a current HEMA summit.

As explained last time HEMA strictly adheres to its rule of including only summits with a prominence greater than 100 metres and less than 150 metres. For historical reasons, SOTA summits are not always over the SOTA rule of a minimum of 150m prominence.  Berndorfer Buchet is one such summit with a prominence of 135m.

The reason for the activation initially was to take part in a long-planned Europe to North America, Summit-to-Summit activity day. It seems the date of 23rd of April was a favourite for others as well and coincidentally this is also International Marconi Day, where many special event stations on both sides of the Atlantic are expected to be on the air. As this year marks 20 years of the SOTA award scheme, the SOTA Baden-Wurttemberg group applied for and got the special DL20SOTA call sign for use during the year. They, however, have a meeting planned for the 23rd and while several US SOTA activators would love to get a Summit-to-Summit contact with the special call sign, I offered to operate their call sign during my already planned activation and this was agreed (I am now a member of SOTA-BW).

This plan was originally based on my going to the DL/AM-060 Laber summit however with the weather forecast saying that heavy rain would start on Laber and surrounding mountains at the time I would be activating, I had to find an alternative. The forecast for Berndorfer Buchet was that there would be no rain (it actually started just as I got back to my car after the activation). So the summit was now to be DL/AM-180 Berndorfer Buchet and I was allocated the DL20SOTA call sign from 2pm local time. I intended to be on the summit at least 30 minutes before that, which meant I could activate the HEMA code for the summit (DL/HCN-004) under my own call sign as a test of equipment prior to starting with the special call. While the DL HEMA association has not as yet had an H2H (Hema to Hema) contact, perhaps that would also be possible.

So I had a lot of things planned in what would be a somewhat more complex action with two call signs and two hill references. 

I would stick with the now tried and true configuration of G90 radio and linked dipole antenna on the 6m mast with everything fitting into or onto the medium-sized (40L) rucksack.

The Activation

The trip to the car parking spot for the summit was uneventful. It took under 30 minutes from my home. On arrival, there were three other cars in the parking spot (normally it’s empty) so I thought I might run into some people during my planned 3-hour stay – I didn’t.

After a determined walk into the forest and up the last part of the summit, I arrived at around 12:45 local (1045 UTC) and started to set up the station. As some of the trees here have been cleared, I thought I would see if I could find the trig-point stone which I found several years ago. I couldn’t – perhaps it has been removed or one of the forestry vehicles has run over it and pushed it into the ground?

I had arranged with Rob G7LAS that I would be looking for a Hema H2H contact before 14:00 local (1200 UTC) when I would be switching to the special event call sign and the SOTA summit reference and I expected to be kept quite busy. I started on 40m expecting that 20m would be too close for a contact to the UK with the skip distance. I planned to start using DL20SOTA/P on 20m at 1200 UTC with the intent of giving some S2S contacts to some North American activators. Unfortunately, Rob was delayed in getting to his summit and it was 1220 UTC before we made the contact. At first, it was not G7LAS calling me but rather Rob’s son Ben 2E0VOO/P. I was somehow able to weave this first H2H contact in between the DL20SOTA activation calls. We made contact easily on 20 metres (that should have told me conditions were short skip and Dx would be difficult).

In HEMA, it is not all points, points, points from summits – indeed unlike SOTA where a summit can have a “value” of between 1 and 10 points, in HEMA all summits are worth just one point and the scale of measurement is how many unique summits you have activated or worked and how many H2H contacts you have made. The very first H2H contact between two associations also wins a certificate, so Ben and I will be getting those.

Once the HEMA related activity was out of the way with six contacts in the HEMA log, I could get back to operating DL20SOTA and giving out the SOTA summit reference.

It was interesting that both on 20m and 40m there were bursts of activity mixed with times where the caller liked to talk a little (which is fine). Those wanting the contact waited patiently until the long call was over and then we were off again, just giving an exchange and moving on to the next caller.

DL20SOTA/P under my control made 70 contacts from around Europe. Of those 10 were unique S2S contacts with another three that were activators sharing a summit with each other. So I could say there were 13 S2S contacts. The one non-European contact was “interesting”. While calling CQ on a 20m frequency that I had been on, for over half an hour, I heard another station calling CQ when I released the microphone. This was VU2DED in India, I pointed out to him that the frequency was in use but I would be happy to give him a QSO with the special event call. We had a reports exchange and then he started calling CQ on my in-use frequency again and European stations started calling him. I decided to leave him the frequency and switch to 40m to see what was happening there.

Overall the equipment worked very well with mostly 59 or 59+ reports and a good flow of callers. It’s a while since I have been able to get the voltage down on one of the two 5Ah LIPO batteries so that the radio closed down but it happened on this activation. 

I would have liked to have achieved a contact with a North American activator but it wasn’t to be. Perhaps this is the wrong time of day for the propagation or simply that it was too early for the US and Canadian hams, most of whom were probably still in bed, depending upon how far west they are located.

With the fact that 20m has been open from  Europe to Australia and New Zealand every morning this week, we should have had the EU-VK S2S event, not the EU-NA one on this day but as these events are planned well in advance we cannot predict what propagation will nor even less what the terrestrial weather will do!

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • 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.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs) – both batteries used.
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Logs:

HEMA (DD5LP/P)

 

SOTA (DL20SOTA/P)

 

Conclusions:

  • The weather was colder than predicted and I was glad I had my thick winter jacket on, I had considered changing to a thinner one but it’s always better to be too warm than too cold.
  • It was complex handling the change-over between HEMA and SOTA and those who called me for both summit codes and call signs were confused. In the end, I hope everything was clear.
  • The main purpose of the activation – S2S contacts with North American stations did not work out. The only North American stations that were spotted were either using 2m FM or 10m CW. As far as I know, no one managed a cross-Atlantic S2S on SSB, perhaps there was one or two on CW (but even that isn’t clear at the time of writing).
  • I was really happy that the equipment worked reliably however the fact that when the voltage gets low on the G90, it turns off is fine but that it also turns the power down to 1W from 20W and turns off the speech compressor surprised me. I’ll know next time.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – April 20th 2022 – DL/AM-001 Peissenberg.

Preparation:

As conditions have improved greatly as Solar Cycle 25 “ramps up” several SOTA activators on the SOTA Reflector decided to go out to try for EU to VK contacts (ideally S2S). This was an independent effort, not the “semi-official” VK-EU S2S event, just one or two activators in VK and ZL heading for summits late in their afternoon to try for contacts with activators in Europe and the UK who would be out early in their morning. Contacts were mainly planned to be on 20m as it was expected to be open the whole week (18-22nd of April).

I had time on Wednesday of this week to try from my side and decided to keep things simple by heading to the Peissenberg summit. It has the advantage of not needing a cable car to access the summit. Some Cable cars are stopped for maintenance and while we still have astronomic numbers of new Covid-19 infections at the moment, being couped up inside a cabin with people I do not know, was a risk I decided to avoid.

I looked at the site and decided that I would attempt to put up the linked dipole in a North-South direction so that its side lobes went East-West. Due west is the direction I needed for long path propagation to Australia.

As this is a drive-up summit, I decided to take my surveyors’ tripod and my 10 metre mast. Apart from that the rest of the equipment would remain “standard” with the Xiegu G90 and the SOTABeams linked dipole and a couple of battery packs. All was packed into the car on Tuesday evening for an early 6:30 am (0430 UTC) start on Wednesday morning. 

The Activation

The trip down was uneventful, a route that I know without the need for maps or GPS as I have been there so many times. What I wasn’t sure I would find, however, was how full the car park would be. This is a favourite spot for camper van owners to drive to and stay overnight, to watch sunset and sunrise over the valley. I was glad to see when I arrived, that the car park was empty. I bought my 3 hour, €2 parking ticket and headed to the opposite end of the car park. I would normally aim for somewhere in the middle where there used to be two benches (now only one) so that I could set up the antenna long-ways along the grass field next to the car park and have my station on a bench. That puts the dipole in an east to west direction however and any directivity on 20m would then be north or south – 90° away from what I need for the long path to Australia. For that reason, I had intended to set up at the far end of the car park with the antenna running north to south. When I got there, however, the farmer had fenced off the area of grass that I had planned to use and so I went down into the normal field instead with my large tripod and 10m mast. 

It took about 15 minutes to lay out my groundsheet, unpack everything that was needed from the rucksack and set up the linked dipole on the 10m “travel mast”. As I was adjusting the inverted-V antenna to get the mast more vertical, it did what it has done on several other occasions and collapsed into itself bringing the feed point crashing down and breaking off one of its mounts.

This was of course a setback and I wondered whether to try again with the long mast but as I was already feeling the cold by this point, the chance of going through raising the mast again only to have it collapse again was too much of a risk, so I took the 10m mast out of the tripod support, laid it to the side and put in my backup 6-metre mast instead. While this would not have the antenna so high, it would stay up! Luckily I was about 20 minutes ahead of my plan and so the lost time with the mast collapse did not create timing problems.

 Tuning around 20 metres the band seemed quite quiet as the MUF was still below 14MHz but it didn’t take long until I could check the DX Cluster and then tune and hear the ZL and VK stations. Being portable, away from metro noise, is a real treat. My home location is rural and I can’t think of how bad it must be trying to operate from within a large city but being out portable (even on a cold morning like this one) remains a pleasure with the clarity and strength of incoming signals even with the simplest of antennas.

 After trying to call some of the Oceania stations and being hammered by QRO stations with big beams, I decided to find a free frequency (while there still were some), spotted myself on the SOTAWatch cluster site and started calling CQ. What a surprise – the first caller was Andy ZL1TM from Auckland, New Zealand. I guess my signal was getting out OK on the lower mast then! I also posted my frequency to our “Comms testers” Signal group and Ernie VK3DET was the next in the log. After chatting with Ernie for a few minutes, my next call was an S2S contact with Andrew VK1AD/P on VK1/AC-039 “Yellow Rabbit Hill”. Andy ZL1TM had told me that Andrew VK1AD was on the air and I had told him that unfortunately, I had a large carrier signal from somewhere in Europe exactly on Andrew VK1AD’s frequency and so hadn’t called him. After our QSO Andy went off called Andrew and asked him to come down to my frequency and so we managed the S2S. Thank you, Andy. Thank you, Andrew.  

That wasn’t the end of the DX though, two more contacts (which were a little more difficult as the band was deteriorating) followed with Ian, VK5CZ and Gerard, VK2IO, both of whom I haven’t spoken to in years.

It was interesting that I was not getting any calls from SOTA chasers in European countries. My thought is that as the skip was long, the DX contacts were working well but other stations in Europe were simply not in range of my antenna. After Gerard, Jack OH3GZ from Finland did call me with a true 5-9 signal but after Jack, the band seemed to be really dead. 

Peissenberg is only a one-point summit however I know that SOTA chasers just love to get as many activators in their logs as possible, so I decided to switch from 20 metres to 40 metres and the world was a different place! I worked 37 chasers in 20 minutes. 

During all of this time the temperatures had not been rising, rather the cold breeze was getting stronger and the mist over the valley had only lifted a little (as you will see in the photos below), so it was time to pack up and head home. At least the trip back to the car was only a couple of minutes rather than the 20-30 minutes that is more usual on the summits around here.

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Surveyors Tripod and 10 metre DX-Wire fibreglass “travel-mast”.
  • Lambdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • 4000 maH LiHV battery (not used)
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.

Log:

Conclusions:

  • The DX-Wire mast continues to disappoint even though it has behaved for a few activations. The fact that it is designed to be short and relatively light when packed means that it has many short sections with thin walls and that does not make a good strong mast.
  • Even when the temperature is forecast to be a “warm” 4-5°C never underestimate how a small arctic breeze can take that temperature down very quickly.
  • Overall the activation was a big success with an S2S into Australia and contacts into Australia and New Zealand as if they were local. It won’t be long before we get back to 2014 standards and we can bag half a dozen S2S contacts between Europe and Oceania in an activation with just a few watts of SSB and a dipole!

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – April 12th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HAM-002 Rösenau Kreuz.

Preparation:

The weather had been very changeable – not uncommon for April but the radio propagation had also been very noisy with the K Index peaking over 6! When the opportunity came for a day out in the sunshine with good radio conditions, I decided to jump at the chance.

I decided to activate my closest summit, as I have not activated it this year as yet. My hope was for a nice warm and sunny morning with contacts around Europe and some DX. The standard equipment would be used – the Xiegu G90, 6m mast and SOTABeams linked dipole, which I have added a link into, to allow it to operate on 17m.

As the summit is a 20-25 minute drive from home my rucksack was prepared and with the mast and the screw-in sun umbrella base, left ready to pick up on Tuesday morning with an around 8 am local time (0600 UTC) planned.

The Activation

The trip to the car parking spot for the summit was uneventful. The walk up to the summit area as well, so by 06:45 UTC (8:45 am local). I was set up and ready to try for contacts on 20m. I was a little earlier than I had told Ernie VK3DET, so I sent him a message via the Signal messenger and when I got no reply decided to tune around. At which point I heard Dave VK5MRD in Adelaide South Australia, booming in and called and had a nice short conversation with him. The band was well open as I was also hearing VK4 and VK2 stations, unfortunately, others in Europe and the US were also hearing them and I had little chance to contact them. At this point, I got a reply from Ernie, who was heading for his radio shack. After searching to find a clear frequency at both ends we eventually managed an easy contact and we decided to try 17 metres as well. Mike 2E0YYY was also monitoring via the hack green WebSDR. Mike could hear Ernie but not me on 20m, which is the usual situation when the skip is long. He could hear neither of us when we went to 17m and indeed we also had some difficulties but managed a basic exchange with Ernie being 5-3 with me and I, 4-3 with him. After we finished on 17 metres I checked the band and there were NO other SSB stations audible on the band, so I think we were very lucky with the timing of our contact! I’m happy that the new link for 17 metres in the dipole works fine and Ernie is looking forward to when he will have his log-periodic beam up again (this contact was made using his 20m beam). 

Mike then suggested I try 40 metres to give some HEMA chasers a chance at this rare summit. Mike reported he was hearing me very strong on 40m into the UK however I hit the problem that is becoming more and more common in Europe these days. The band was full end-to-end with signals, many of them splattering over large sections of the band. Once I found a free frequency there was no guarantee that I would be able to keep it with stations simply starting up on top of other stations without listening first. I managed one Swedish, one German and one Italian contact on 40 metres, all of whom were booming 59++ signals but others had no chance of getting through. I am fairly sure that I heard at least one UK station but as soon as I started to understand their call sign the splatter from a mega-station a couple of kHz away would wipe them out.

After an hour and a half on the summit and the temperature not rising from about +2°C, I decided it was futile trying to get any more contacts on 40 metres and decided to pack up and head home, happy with the easy VK contacts on 20m at the start of the activation and very happy with the contact with Ernie on 17 metres.

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • 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.
  • Decathlon mast base spike (not used).
  • Sun Umbrella screw-in base.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Log:

Conclusions:

  • While the weather was sunny (which lifts the spirits) it remained cold which was a disappointment however I do not regret going out as the next days looked like they would be a lot worse both weather and radio conditions wise. It’s good to be able to “grab and go” when the opportunity arises.
  • I was really happy with the 17metre contact with Ernie VK3DET and the ease of the contacts with Dave VK5MRD and Ernie VK3DET on 20 metres.
  • Thanks to Mike 2E0YYY who rounded up HEMA chasers for me but the QRM from other stations on 40m made it impossible for me to hear them.
  • It’s time to re-check the solder joints on the linked dipole as at one point it gave a high VSWR for no apparent reason.

73 ’til the next summit.