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.
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”.
- 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.
- 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.