DD5LP/P – October 31 2022 – HEMA DL/HAL-019 Sattlersbuckl.

Preparation:

As the weather was forecast to be sunny and I wanted to test the G106 radio against the G90 again from a summit to make sure the RFI problem is removed after the modification, I looked around for a summit to activate, where we might make this a family out with the wife. Kaufbeuren is a town about 40 minutes’ drive from where we live and sometimes they have exhibitions in the art galleries or museums that could interest Gabriele. Also about 15 minutes south of Kaufbeuren is the HEMA summit of Sattlersbuckl, which I thought I had last activated in 2021 (in fact that was wrong, I activated it early in 2022, so I would not get a point this time around). 

The band conditions on 20m and up have been good for some days and so I planned to try not only but perhaps 17,15 & 10m as well if I had time. My modified SOTABeams linked dipole covers 80,60,40,20,17 &15m but not 10m, so the “backup antenna”, the Komunica HF-PRO-2 with its tripod would be used for 10 metres. These two antennas, the two radios, the mast with its screw-in mast foot and the needed batteries all added up to a heavy rucksack but at least I managed to get it all and my water and my pack-up into the one rucksack.

The Activation

We hadn’t realised it but Monday, October 31st 2022 seemed to have been defined as German road maintenance day! We already have rod closures on our route to the autobahn and the slightly quicker route to Kaufbeuren, so I had planned an alternative route “cross country” that should only take about 5 minutes longer. Before leaving we went to our local supermarket, only to see that our planned country road route had also been closed to resurface the road, not far from our home, so another re-route was planned and apart from one wrong turning worked out fine later in the day. Little did we know however that midway along our planned cross-country road route another road had been pulled up and while not announced, the navi knew nothing about this. the first we knew of it was roadsigns with villages crossed out on them and then later half-closed roads with “locals only” signs for carrying on. despite this, I passed three of these and half-road-closures and when we arrived at the actual roadworks, it was a simple job to take some smaller roads within this village to get past the blockage! 

Once we got to the Neugablonz suburb of Kaufbeuren (which also had roadworks in progress) I was able to drop the wife off at the first of two museums that she wanted to visit and then set off for my HEMA summit. Guess what, on leaving Kaufbeueren on the road south to the summit, there was a sign – first of all, it said bridge closed and then later, only bridge closed for heavy vehicles. In any case, as I had been successful so far with roadworks, I carried on and while there were some traffic-light-controlled roadworks just before Apfeltrang where the summit is, the more major bridgeworks were apparently still further to the south on the road.  

Sattlersbuckl – HEMA DL/HAL-019.

Having arrived at my parking spot, just after going under the HV power lines and by the junction where there used to be a sign saying no motor vehicles allowed (but it seems to have been removed now), I got the rucksack on and set off up the track to the summit.

I had forgotten how steep the track is, especially on the first part and I was feeling the extra weight from the loaded rucksack! At one point I saw a fox on the track but before I could take a photo it was gone. Having got to the sign for the “Mammutbaum” (Mammoth tree), I thought – nearly there … No this was only about 2/3 of the way. Onwards and upwards!

When I got to the spot that I had used last time the grass on the area had been cut but was laid in rows ready to be picked up – I hoped the farmer hadn’t decided to come up and collect this “winter fodder” today as once I put my antenna up, it would certainly be in the way. Later in the activation, a couple of tractors did come by, but they were heading to chop up cut-down trees to sell as winter fuel in the next field. Firewood logs are a very valuable and profitable resource in Germany at the moment!

Although sunny, it was still not warm so I decided to set everything up, firstly the G90 and then the G106. Well, after getting the mast and antenna set up, I had a nasty surprise with the radio. Although apparently working, it was picking up what sounded like a noisy carrier, only when I turned the 20m band it was right across it and on 17 & 15m. I wondered if this was some new installation nearby. If it was things would be difficult. But then it stopped suddenly and I thought, OK, let’s hope it doesn’t come back but it did soon after. I thought, perhaps it was an antenna fault and sure enough as soon as I touched the PL259 plug I could turn the interference on and off! When I had what was in fact a good connection, the incoming signals also improved drastically. So I diagnosed that it was a broken connection on the plug – most likely the centre core of the coax (this was a true diagnosis as I found out later in the day at home, where I have since repaired it). I was able to position the radio on the co-ax to hold the plug in a position where it worked and that is how I worked my eight contacts from the summit. 

With this fault, however, the plans had to be changed – I could not switch the antenna back and forth between the G90 and the G106, so further tests of the G106 will have to wait. I decided changing bands would probably not be advisable as well.

To add to my problems spotting myself via the HEMA website went wrong and pressing the submit button for my spot didn’t appear to do anything – actually it did and I posted 10 identical spots from the summit! Well, at least it brought some contacts with Don G0RQL from Devon in England being the first in the log. Most contacts as you will see from the log below, were into the UK with very strong signals to east coast stations while those in the west while strong were not as strong. I guess the skip distance on 20m at the time, from where I was, was into the east coast of the UK. 

During the activation, I did make two “H2S” contacts with activators on SOTA summits. Generally, I got very good reports on the 20w signal from the G90 with Peter M0PBR in SE London being astounded at the signal level for “only” 20 watts. At around noon, I decided to pack up as it was time to head back to collect the wife from her museum/gallery visits and then home in time for our dog’s afternoon walk and feeding time.

We took the faster autobahn route home and apart from the one known road closure did not find any more surprises on the “German roadworks day”.

Photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Equipment taken:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Xiegu G106 (not used)
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • SOTABeams random-length end-fed antenna (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella support.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • 4 Ah and 2Ah LifePO4 Eremit batteries.
  • Painter’s thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Log:

Sattlersbuckl

HEMA DL/HAL-019

Conclusions:

  • The broken centre core in the antenna plug was quickly repaired and strengthened at the same time. these things can happen and that is why I always take a backup antenna.
  • The rucksack is too heavy with both radios and their batteries in it, especially on summits with a bit of a climb to them.
  • The Xiegu G90 and linked dipole are a great combination and enable me to even break mini-pileups calling other activators even when the other chasers are running more power.
  • The G106 tests are still open but I won’t be taking it to next week’s SOTA Transatlantic S2S event. I will have time to do some more work – adding speech compression capabilities, to boost the effectiveness of the little radio’s 5-6 watts.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisement

DD5LP/P – October 25 2022 – HEMA DL/HAM-002 Rösenau Kreuz.

Preparation:

As Rob G7LAS was heading out to G/HNP-009 Grizedales in the UK, I wanted to try for an H2H (HEMA summit to HEMA summit contact) with the UK. As I have applied the Xiegu-approved modification to my G106, I wanted to test whether that had indeed stopped the RF Ingress that was around when I operated from Laber. I also wanted to make a comparison between the G90 and the G106 signal strengths, so I decided that I would use both with the same linked-dipole antenna.

Rösenau Kreuz is my closest “HEMA only” summit (Berndorfer Buchet is closer but that is both a SOTA and HEMA summit that I have recently activated). The high point on the small plateau does not have its own summit name (Schwalbenstein is not far away but is lower than this actual summit), so it is named after the very small metal cross on a concrete base by the track in the forest on the actual summit.

The day before, Monday, it rained non-stop all day, so I wondered whether the weather forecast of a sunny, dry Tuesday was to come about or whether I might have to call off my activation. As Rob was only going to be on his summit by 2 pm his time, 3 pm mine, I would have Tuesday morning to see how the weather actually was.

I packed what is probably my heaviest rucksack for some time with two radios and batteries and the linked dipole and mast. At Rösenau Kreuz there is a short but steep walk up a forest track to get to the summit plateau, so the extra weight – my guess is about 16-18 kilos of rucksack would be somewhat of a test, however, packing in the rucksack is preferable than to try to carry multiple bags as it is supported on the back and shoulders with strong straps.

The band conditions on 20m on Monday were short skip, as they would be on Tuesday, but I decided that I would plan to operate primarily on 40m and then switch to 20m if needed.

My biggest worry was what the ground was likely to be like on arrival.

The Activation

Röseau Kreuz – HEMA DL/HAM-002.

Tuesday morning was dry and the sun was out (in fact this was the day of a partial eclipse of the sun, so it was lucky for the sun watchers that the clouds had cleared). I am unused to setting off in the afternoon to head to a summit as most of my activations are morning ones in the hope of contacts with VK & ZL, those would not be part of this activation.

The drive down was uneventful and I was parked at my usual spot by the cross for St Ursula facing the walk up the track to the summit. Once unpacked I started on the trail, which passes two further religious wooden crosses as you will see from the photos and takes about 10 minutes. I then sent Rob a message via the “Signal” web messenger to find that as I arrived on the summit plateau, he was just starting his climb, so I would have plenty of time to set up. Also on the Signal messenger “listening in” was Mike 2E0YYY, he would not get out today but was happy to act as “pilot” spotting me to the HEMA UK followers on FaceCrook as well as to the HEMA spotting website.

On arrival at the spot which I found the last time I was up here (basically, turn sharp right at the Rösenau Kreuz and head through the forest and out onto the grassed area), I was glad to find it was not waterlogged and while needing a small groundsheet as the grass was wet, it wasn’t going to be a bog-like experience.

It took about 15 – 20 minutes to set up. First of all to check the equipment was working I called and had an easy contact with another portable station on 40m, Jean-Marie F5NLX/P was activating a castle in central France. we exchanged true 59 reports – yes the radio and antenna were working fine! This was the 20w G90, so while waiting I also unpacked the QRP G106 radio, ready for tests later.

As Rob was still climbing to his summit, Mike suggest he spot me and I could get some HEMA chasers in the log. Which I did, and bagged eleven contacts in quick successions – many being true 59 reports on the G90 and linked-dipole. The QRM was getting constantly worse on 40m with more and more stations along with some military-sounding transmission going up and down the band. I wondered later if in fact, that signal might have been coming from the 1940’s vintage two propellered (perhaps a Junkers?) aircraft that circled the area again and again and again – perhaps they were doing some kind of soil survey from the air using RF signals? Mike then told me that despite the fact that I had had several contacts with the UK, there were stations saying that they could not hear me on 40m and would I try 20m? Well, as I was still waiting for that H2H with Rob G7LAS-  I agreed to move to 20m to get some more contacts in the log.

After I had a contact with a UK station activating a Lighthouse in devon in the UK, Rob called in and we made that H2H contact.

I also asked Rob then to listen for me using the same antenna but using the G106 instead of the G90. He did and while the signal report dropped more than I expected (from 56-7 on the G90 to 41 on the G106) at least he said the audio sounded fine – no sign of any RF ingress into the audio. Of course, it would have been better to test with a stronger station, but at least there was no obvious audio problem. The drop of 36 dB (6 s-points) going from 20w to 5w is not as expected. The difference should not have been that great. This was a subjective report, however, it does tell me that (even though others later told me they had also heard the g106), something is not correct with the signal strength of the G106.

Given that the G90 has speech compression enabled – its actual 20w+ output can “seem” like up to 50w and the g106 has no speech compression. This power difference is therefore an “effective” 10x  or 10 dB which would be 2-3 s-points difference – not the complete 5 s-points reported by Rob but if the G106’s 5w could have speech compression added (it’s not a feature of this radio) it could appear as 10w, then the perceived signal difference would be less.

Following another eight contacts using the G90, mostly into the UK, on 20m, I decided to pack up as a herd of ants had found I was present and were starting to investigate all of the equipment! Once everything was packed again into the rucksack, the walk down the track back to the car, was somewhat easier than the walk up! 

In all a good activation but as it often the case, more work to be completed before the next one!

 Photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Xiegu G106
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Diamond RHM8B loaded vertical and tripod (not used)
  • SOTABeams random-length end-fed antenna (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella support.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • 4 Ah and 2Ah LifePO4 Eremit batteries.
  • Painter’s thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Log:

Rösenau Kreuz

HEMA DL/HAM-002

 

 

Conclusions:

  • Band conditions at the time of this activation were short skip on 20m, making contacts into the UK possible when normally they would not have been. 40m was both busy and full of QRM from whatever sources.
  • The combination of the Xiegu G90 with its 20 watts and the linked dipole even with the small (effectively 5m high) pole continues to work very well. This is definitely a good combination for single backpack portable operation. The G106 on the other hand – even with the good antenna, needs some more work – possibly speech compression, to boost the effectiveness of its 5-6 watts.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – September 30 2022 – HEMA DL/HCN-004 & SOTA DL/AM-180 Berndorfer Buchet.

Preparation:

As long path band conditions on 20m were good I wanted to get out and work VK from a portable location, away from “metro noise” and with a simple antenna and low power. The problem was that the terrestrial weather was not nearly as good as the space weather and we were having constant rain most days. Friday and Saturday mornings looked like they might be better. while I saw that Ian VK5CZ was going out to celebrate 10 years of SOTA in South Australia on Saturday the 1st. October. I thought this would be the best option however as the summit planned for Saturday needed a two-hour walk-in / out it meant that Ian would not be there when the 20m band has been opening up around 0600 UTC so the alternative was to head out on Friday as Ian planned to camp on a summit overnight and hence being on the summit at 0600 UTC (8 am with me, 3:30 pm with Ian) would not be a problem. So Friday it would be and as it turned out with a CME hitting the ionosphere on Friday afternoon, it was the better day in any case.

I decided on going to my closest summit, Berndorfer Buchet, which I had already activated twice this year and hence would not get any points for the activation but that was secondary in this case. This is a HEMA summit as well as a SOTA summit and so I alerted in both award systems of my intention of activating it. I set the HEMA time 15 minutes before the SOTA time.

The Activation

Berndorfer Buchet – HEMA DL/HCN-004 and SOTA DL/AM-180.

The drive down was uneventful and I was parked at my usual spot by 7:05 am. The walk from the parking spot to the summit takes 15 minutes and with another 15 minutes to set up the station, I was on the air by 05:50 UTC. As this was still too early for 20m, I started on 40m and having found a frequency spotted myself on the HEMA website and started calling CQ. Unfortunately, I got a limited response and so at 0600 UTC, I spotted myself on SOTAwatch where I got several more responses. Once these dried up, it was time to take the antenna down and un-link to make the linked dipole into a 20m antenna.

I was very happy to hear Ian VK5CZ/P on VK5/NE-093 come back to my call. he was followed by four other stations from Australia; Gerard VK2IO, Peter VK3ZPF, Andrew VK1AD/M and Ron VK3AFW. So in a matter of seven minutes, I had been called from four different Australian states and all from people I know from my time in Australia. Two more European stations finished the activation. I looked around to find other VK stations and one – Joesph VK3DXJ was hammering in but by this time there were a lot more people on the band and he had an enormous pile-up that I couldn’t break into.  As it was starting to rain, I packed up and was home before 10 am (0800 UTC). This was a short but very successful activation. 

The weather forecasts for the next few days (both terrestrial and space weather) don’t look very good, so it’ll be a few days before I get out portable again. perhaps next time with the new ultra-small G106 radio?

 Photos:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • 4 Ah LifePO4 Eremit battery.
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Logs:

Berndorfer Buchet

HEMA DL/HCN-004

SOTA DL/AM-180

Conclusions:

  • Band conditions at the time of this activation were very good on 20m, making the run of five contacts possible via the long path. the following day a CME hit the ionosphere and I wonder how I would have faired, had I gone out as originally planned on Saturday morning.
  • The combination of the Xiegu G90 with it’s 20 watts and the linked dipole eve3n with the small (effectively 5m high) pole continues to work very well. This is definitely a good combination for single backpack portable operation.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – September 13-14 2022 – HEMA DL/HAL-033 & SOTA DL/AL-181 Burgkranzegger Horn and SOTA DL/AL-167 Falkenstein.

Preparation:

As part of my short holiday away from home, I had hoped to activate some higher HEMA and SOTA summits that I had not activated before however as it turned out with uncertain weather and the fact that my wife and the dog wanted to come along, I decided on some simpler summits mixed with some sightseeing around the southern part of Allgau, Bavaria.

As it was to turn out, this was a good decision and we had two enjoyable days and one where it rained all day and we came home early. At this time of year that was probably the best, we could have hoped for. 

Preparation for the trip was limited by the space available as the rear area where I would normally load all of my radio gear was taken up by our dog “Bonnie” meaning all luggage had to fit in our small car on the rear seat.

So the activation equipment was limited to what could go into or be attached to the side of, my 40-litre rucksack. I even chose not to take the lithium battery charges to recharge batteries overnight and rather took three battery packs of different sizes with the expectation that I would not drain them all. This of course added to the weight of the rucksack, as did the screw-in mast base attached to its side.

No experiments with antennas, I would take the linked dipole and the 6m mast with the HF-PRO2 loaded HF whip and its small tripod inside the rucksack as the backup option (which I needed on the second summit).

The Activations

As the weather looked fine, it was decided to fit in one activation en-route to our hotel.

Burgkranzegger Horn – HEMA DL/HAL-033 and SOTA DL/AL-181.

This is a summit with not too difficult access – especially in late summer (the last time that I activated it was in winter and a big problem was fighting through the deep snow as no track was obvious). The summit itself has an open area where the dog could entertain itself. The reason that this summit is in both the HEMA and SOTA schemes is historical and while its prominence is just 125m it fits nicely into the HEMA range of 100-150m while being well under the SOTA 150m minimum.

On arriving at the parking spot at the clinic on the outskirts of Mittleberg village, the weather was fine and we all three set off up the track. Unfortunately, my wife was unable to complete the last part of the climb (she got over 85% of the way there) but rather than risk anything, she said after sitting and taking in the views for a while, she would start off slowly back down, with the dog and wait for me at the car. I continued on to the large telegraph pole sized holy cross on the summit and started to set up on the bench below it. Before I could get set up 5 cyclists arrived, they were doing a tour around the whole of Allgau and were interested in knowing what I was doing. I gave them one of my leaflets in german about “what is amateur radio” and realised that I had forgotten to re-stock my supply so I would not have any more brochures should other visitors happen by – which they did. A younger couple arrived about 20 minutes later and showed interest and so I broke off operations to explain to them what our wonderful hobby is all about.

At some point between the visitors, I managed to get enough contacts to activate the summit. It was very clear however that there is a far smaller following for HEMA than for SOTA. Indeed I think all of my HEMA contacts were people who just happened to find me on 40 metres, not people who had seen my spot on the HEMA website.

SOTA was the usual pile-up following just one spot and a couple of CQ calls.

One thing is for sure, the radio and linked-dipole did their usual sterling service with lots of good reports and in SOTA we do tend to give real reports.

After 45 minutes on the summit, it was time to pack up and head back down to the car park where my wife and dog would be waiting. As I had however texted to say that I was packing up, by the time I was halfway down the steepest part, I could hear the barks of a dog that I recognised and when I finally got down onto the level track, it wasn’t long before I found my wife and dog waiting for me on a sheltered bank under a tree. They had set off to meet me halfway. 

 That was the end of activations on Tuesday, it was now time to head to the apartment hotel in Pfronten and en route buy some supplies at a supermarket. Once we got settled in and went out for an evening meal, the discussion was about what I would do on  Wednesday. Whether I would go off alone to a higher summit or do something easy again.

The weather was looking like it would “hold out” until at least Wednesday afternoon and after some thought, we agreed that we would visit the local farmers market first thing, then head on up to Falkenstein followed by a tourists visit to Fussen about 30 minutes away.

SOTA DL/AL-167 Falkenstein.

This is a summit that I have activated several times (but not this year as yet). It has a quirky one-way private road that opens one-way at times related to minutes past and before the hour. (to be safe there are also traffic lights) so a bit of bad timing on arrival and you might have to wait 20 minutes before you can drive up the road, once you have bought your €4 ticket for use of the road.

We started Wednesday with a rather disappointing weekly market in Pfronten with just two stalls there, so we grabbed breakfast at a cafe and then headed off to the start of the private rod up to Falkenstein, arriving at the start of the road as it closed to allow those at the castle to drive down. No problems we had enough time.

Falkenstein is the highest castle ruins in Germany and was the last of the famous King Ludwig II’s castles and was going to be his base for hunting in the surrounding mountains however he drowned under suspicious circumstances in Starnberg Lake before it could be finished. 

The walk from the car park takes you past a 4-star hotel with expensive luxury cars parked outside, belonging to the hotel’s guests. After what was already a steep walk up the road, the last section is a series of natural and manmade steps up to the ruins themselves. I was glad to see the message that the ruins are open at the bottom of this last climb. Both my wife and dog were determined to get to the ruins to be with me this time while I was operating. It was a fairly hard climb but the views from the top reward you and my wife was very impressed. There was a hefty wind coming up, so I would need to get set up and complete the activation before any bad weather arrived. So I went to the gate to the inside of the ruins, which has a sturdy platform with solid steps up its two levels and even has a round wooden table on the top level – ideal to set the radio up on. The gate was padlocked shut. Whoever put the sign to the ruins being open at the start of the last climb was having a laugh at our expense now!

The problem now is that although there is room inside the ruins to set up the 6-metre mast and linked dipole, outside there is not. So after carrying the bigger antenna and mast and support up all those steps, I had to revert to my backup antenna – the Komunica HF-PRO2 loaded vertical whip on my small photo tripod and with my homemade radial wires. Thankfully once I got set up, this antenna performed like a champion on both 40 & 20m (it actually covers from 80m through to 70cm).  Despite being close to the ruin’s walls contacts were made from around Europe with good signal reports.

 Just as importantly, the dog had settled herself down and my wife was able to sit on a stone seat (of sorts) and enjoy the views and fresh air.

Once the callers dried up, I was able to pack up and we headed back to the car park to wait for the traffic light system to tell us that we could go back down the single-lane road. we then had a nice afternoon looking through the old town of Fussen before returning back to the hotel and heading out to a closer (and better) restaurant than the night before, just as the heavy rain started.

Thursday was literally a wash-out but we had had two great days and activated a couple of nice summits – a low-stress holiday.

 Photos:

Burgkranzegger Horn

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Falkenstein

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (used on Falkenstein)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (used of Falkenstein)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast (used on Bergkranzegger Horn).
  • Screw-in sun umbrella support(used on Bergkranzegger Horn).
  • SotaBeams linked dipole(used on Bergkranzegger Horn).
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs) .
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • 4 Ah LifePO4 Eremit battery.
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Logs:

Burgkranzegger Horn

HEMA DL/HAL-033 

SOTA DL/AL-181

Falkenstein  SOTA DL/AL-167

Conclusions:

  • Despite the uncertain weather it was possible to have a low-stress and an enjoyable couple of days including some summit activations.
  • The HF-PRO2 on its small tripod worked very well and I wonder if I would have made any more contacts with the linked dipole on its 6-metre mast had I been able to put it up at Falkenstein.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 – 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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – March 24th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HAL-037 & SOTA DL/AL-171 – Eisenberg.

Background – Double summit.

Some of you may recognise the name of this summit from my previous reports. Eisenberg is a current SOTA and a current HEMA summit. How can this happen? Well 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.  

Preparation:

This activation was planned to be a little after the normal time for our twice-weekly “Comms Testers net” on 14.242 MHz which normally runs from 0745-0815 UTC on Monday & Thursday mornings, because of the somewhat longer distance to this summit.

Ernie VK3DET had promised to wait until I got on the air and Mike 2E0YYY would listen from the UK and we would use Signal as the “back-channel”.

Eisenberg has popular castle ruins on top of it and in fact, the wooden platform within the ruins is where I always set up. One big advantage to Eisenberg is the mountain restaurant where I would park my car and head there for a beer after completing the activation. It has a great view out over the valley. I avoid this summit on weekends because of the tourists but weekdays are fine (except Monday when the restaurant is closed).

The climb from the restaurant car park to the castle is steep and in winter very slippery. I have needed to fit spikes to get up the ice-covered path in the past but that certainly should not be needed on this activation, with a dry sunny and reasonable warm day forecast.

As usual for early starts, I loaded the car Wednesday evening with all but my food and water so that all would be ready for a 7 am (0600 UTC) start the following morning.

The Activation

I knew there was one part of my route closed (and has been closed now for 6 months while the complete road is renewed for about 5 miles through Seeg – I know the diversion well for this and it adds hardly any time to the trip. What surprised me though was the total closure of the major east-west route including some newly constructed parts of the road on the way to Markt-Obersdorf. It looked like cars were coming through from the other side, so the return journey should be fine (or so I thought). The signposted diversion in fact took me past 4 SOTA summits, all of which I could have easily diverted to but I wanted to activate Eisenberg, so I pressed on. Actually arriving about 20 minutes earlier than I had expected at the restaurant’s car park! I had not been driving any faster than allowed either, while this was the one day in the year that all of the speed traps in Bavaria are set up, especially on the country roads. The police chiefs say this teaches the drivers to slow down but an investigation looking at data from the last 5 years of these actions, carried out by Passau University, found that car drivers ONLY slowed down on this one day and increased speed the following day again. This is purely a money-raising action for the local governments.

On arrival, at the car park, it was still a little chilly but not nearly as cold as it has been over the last few weeks. It looks like we might have spring arriving after all!

The “trudge” up to the castle took the usual about 20 minutes and I found the place deserted. While setting up the antenna and radio, I got an inquiry from Ernie asking how long I was going to be and a few minutes later, he came straight back to my 20m 20w SSB CQ call on our net frequency. We exchanged 53/54 reports and I tried to explain to Ernie that this summit has two codes, one for HEMA and one for SOTA. During my conversation, I noticed what I at first thought was some idiot causing deliberate QRM by playing music on the frequency but later I realised it was over a larger section of the band and I now believe it was the third harmonic of one of the high powered Shortwave broadcast stations that have been re-started to send propaganda into both sites of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Someone at the stations needs to put a spectrum analyser on the transmitter’s output! 

The next surprise was that my radio turned off without warning! Right in the middle of one of my overs with Ernie. I had been running on my 10AH battery box but I also carry a spare supply in the firm of a LiHV battery and when I got that out and connected up, I was working again but with less battery capacity available, so I would not be able to stay as long as I had hoped.

After I had worked Ernie, Mike 2E0YYY kindly spotted me first on HEMA and later on SOTA but today instead of the usual pile of callers, it took a while to gather enough to qualify the summit! Even after switching from 20m to 40m, I was not getting many calls and while Mike reported that I had a “booming signal” into the North of the UK, the only two contacts I made on 40m were into the southwest of England with low signal strengths in both directions. The bands were definitely strange. I thought perhaps there was a break in one of the links in the 40m section of the dipole so I tested it when I got home and it was fine. It was band conditions at the time that I was on that were strange.

My 20m contacts were mainly into Sweden and Finland to the North and Greece and Portugal to the south, suggesting the band was “long”.

In any case after the troubles finding contacts (I ended up with thirteen which is more than enough to qualify the summit but a lot less than I would normally get) and seeing the LiHV battery voltage dropping, I decided it was time to pack up and head back down the hill, arriving at the restaurant a few minutes after they opened and I was able to relax looking out over the valley in the sunshine and drinking a lovely weissbier.

The trip home was not as easy as I had hoped. I headed back using my normal route only to find the main B472 road was indeed completely closed in both directions and the diversion from Markt Oberdorf had obviously been worked out for large trucks as it added over 30 minutes to my journey by avoiding taking me up the small roads that would have reduced the journey time, not only because it would have been a shorter route but also I would have avoided being stuck behind slow-moving trucks, that on this “Speed-trap-day”, had the added danger of a speeding fine while overtaking. 

 Photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Bothy bag (emergency shelter) (not used).
  • 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.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs). (failed)
  • 4000maH LiHV battery.
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and for back-channel comms. 

Logs:

HEMA

SOTA

Conclusions:

  • The weather is getting better – I needed no gloves while operating this time.
  • It was a pleasure to get an immediate contact with Ernie, which probably would not have been possible from home. The lower noise level when operating portable is a great advantage.
  • I checked the dipole when I got home and found no breaks – this must just have been radio conditions or obstructions causing the problems.
  • The failure in the battery box turned out to be a simple broken wire, which must have been breaking over a long time through being plugged and unplugged and over time, breaking a strand at a time and then the final strand not being able to handle the current burning through (picture in the slideshow above).

73 ’til the next summit, be it HEMA or SOTA – or perhaps BOTH again?