DD5LP/P – March 16th 2023 – GMA DA/AV-393 Kappelenberg.

Preparation:

For this GMA (Global Mountain Activity) activation, no car drive would be needed as the summit is only 2 kilometres from my home and I would walk there. A few weeks previously, I had tried to activate another local GMA summit Gagelberg (DA/AV-071) but I managed no contacts and hence I wanted to check that my light-weight-pack equipment (Xiegu G106, 20m J_antennas for 20, 17, 15, 12 & 10m). I had repaired two broken wires in my external RF speech clipper and hence hoped that this would give the 5 watts from the G106 a little more “punch”. I had been heard well on an SDR in England from the other summit but was just unable to raise any contacts.

Under the rules in GMA, a summit has to be at least 15m above sea level and be listed in online documentation (on an online map, in WikiPedia etc.). Kappelenberg meets these requirements and often forms part of my morning dog walk. So while not being a real challenge in terms of ascent, it is a valid summit and a good spot to test out equipment and antennas from. I wondered whether the nearby water pumping station and houses that are not far away, might be generating some RFI however that was not the case, thankfully.

The Activation

GMA DA/AV-393

After the walk across the fields and up to the summit cross, I unpacked my throw bag and cord and threw it over a branch of the tree above the seating bank. To me, this looked quite high but when I attached my 20-metre LambdaHalde J-antenna and pulled it up, there was still some on the antenna on the ground so I took this and laid it over a lower branch on another tree, so this was then a “sloper” antenna rather than a vertical as it should be. The J-antenna (sometimes known as the “Zepp” antenna, as it was initially designed for use from the Zeppelin airships), has its own counterpoise built in, in the form of a quarter-wave stub – so there are (thankfully) no radials to lay out on the ground. The antenna is a resonant antenna on the band it is cut for. As the G106 has no built-in ATU, this is an important point.

Once I had the antenna in the trees, I set up my station on the bench – this entailed plugging the antenna into a fly lead from the G106’s pouch and plugging the radio into the battery and turning it on.

Just at this point, Mike 2E0YYY sent me a message that he was already set up on a GMA summit in England (M/SP-001 Cobridge Hill) and that at his end, 14.250 MHz was free. I tuned there and called Mike and he came straight back to me. The station was working.

Following my contact with Mike, I spotted myself on the GMA system and he spotted me in the DX Cluster. Four contacts followed breaking the 4-contact requirement to be able to declare the summit activated. As the first contact was with Mike when he was on another GMA summit, this counts as a Summit-to-Summit contact as well as being the first contact from this new summit.

I only operated on 20m as the radio conditions were not the best and I had no antenna for lower bands with me. A 40m j-antenna would need a very high tree to put it in and whether, with my current “bag throwing” skills, I would be able to do that, I’m not sure!

The map below shows that I was getting out well but of course, the first skip distance on 20m ruled out many possible contacts – which may also be why I had an issue at the previous local GMA summit.

The aim of this pack is to have a very lightweight, small and simple solution, that I can take with me when travelling by air, train or bus. I think I will need to find a small antenna for 40m to fit these requirements to add that band to the pack.       

 Contacts map:

 Photos:

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GMA DA/AV-393:

Equipment taken:

  • Raddy small rucksack.
  • Xiegu G-106 radio.
  • Throw-bag and cord
  • Lambdahalbe.de lightweight wire antennas (J-antennas) for 10, 12, 15, 17 & 20m (only used the 20m one).
  • 2 Ah Eremit LifePO4 battery.
  • 2 Ah 3S LiPO battery (not used).
  • Painter’s thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones (not used).
  • Smartphone for spotting.

Log:

DA/AV-393 Kappelemberg

Conclusions:

  • I need to improve my bag-throwing skills! I should be able to get the antenna over a much higher branch (and get the cord down again without it “snagging”.
  • The combination of the G106 and the J-antennas is a good combination and gets the signal out well, although an antenna for 40m would enable many more, “closer-in” contacts.

73 ’til the next activation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.