DD5LP/P – March 14th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HAM-014 & SOTA DL/AM-176 – Rentschen.

Background – Double summit.

Some of you may recognise the name of this summit from my previous reports. Rentschen 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 coincide with our twice-weekly “Comms Testers net” on 14.242 MHz which runs from 0745-0815 UTC on Monday & Thursday mornings.

This net was formed out of a Signal messenger group and several years of attempts to make contact on SSB between Europe/UK and the state of Victoria in Australia. Those in the group and hence net normally are Ernie VK3DET, Ian VK3YFD, Mike 2E0YYY and myself. This net has only been formally running a couple of weeks as I write this report and it was created as an “attend if you have time” net but to give a point to start from for further communications tests.

Rentschen is a flat plateau with a road running across it, this makes this the ideal summit if multiple pieces need to be carried for testing and this was going to be the case for this activation. While I could have simply taken the same set-up as I had used on the previous two activations, I wanted to test out an antenna that I had built some time ago and because of the Covid pandemic had not been able to give a proper test on a summit. Now was my chance. the weather would not be as cold as it had been, no rain was forecast and so the 20m VP2E antenna (description here) would get its test on this activation. I was particularly interested as to whether what looks like a double-sized off-centre fed dipole would give the promised gain in the direction that I set it up in (pointing via the long path to Australia).

To support the VP2E only one of my 6m fibreglass poles would be needed however, I decided to take the architect’s tripod and my 10m mast along as well. I might put up both the linked dipole and the VP2E for comparisons in the EU-VK path. The 6-metre fibreglass mast would use the sun umbrella screw-in base as its support.

As usual for early starts, I loaded the car Sunday 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

Although Google Maps suggested accessing Rentschen from the north, rather than through Wildsteig to the south would be almost 10 minutes quicker, after looking at a satellite image of the suggested route and seeing that it was a mud track rather than a normal road, I decided to take my normal approach route. I had enough time in any case.

The trip to the car parking spot for the summit took around 45 minutes from my home as there was limited traffic.

On arrival, it was not particularly warm and I was happy to have put my Parka on! I did a quick check of my usual set-up spot to find that the farmer had churned it up with his tractor recently, so I took a spot at the other side of the small track that runs from the road to the trig point.

I decided to initially set up the VP2E antenna as it was the one I wanted to test. Once that was up, I would go back to the car and bring the tripos and 10m mast for the linked dipole.

As I put down my painter’s sheet that I use on the ground, I received a message from Ernie and Ian, saying that they had a major thunderstorm coming through and they would have to disconnect all antennas and certainly would not be able to listen for me until the storms passed. Oh well “best-laid plans” and all that. There will be another opportunity I am sure.

I decided that as I had almost completed installing the VP2E antenna, I would continue to activate the summit with that antenna and Mike 2E0YYY would listen for me from the UK. The 20m band started long and then went short skip later but for the first hour or so, I could hear ZL1, VK2, VK5 & VK6 stations at or near S9 signal strength. Unfortunately, they were either in nets, calling an EU (usually EA) station or the pile-up to call them was horrendous!

Mike kindly spotted me on the DX Cluster and the HEMA website but to little avail. Eventually, as I was considering pulling the antenna down and putting up the dipole Lars SA4BLM called me and then after tuning around, I found Keith LZ4DJ who I had worked the previous Monday from the Berndorfer Buchet summit. After this, however, despite searching and calling, I was not getting any contacts on 20m. The band had closed it seems. Mike suggested I try 40m as he was sure there would be HEMA and SOTA chasers looking for me there. I was then faced with taking down one antenna and putting the linked dipole up on the same mast or going back to the car and bringing the tripod and 10m mast. Both options were not very inviting as with an icy cold breeze, the summit was not very warm.

Knowing that the G90 has an internal matching unit that could match the proverbial piece of wet string, I decided to try the 20m VP2E on 40m. The result? Receive is fine but transmit is terrible as regards putting a signal out. Despite that 10 SOTA/HEMA chasers worked hard and I got them into the log.

Lots of lessons were learnt from this activation, despite having to change plans around.

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella support.
  • VP2E 20m antenna.
  • Surveyors tripod with 10m mast (not used).
  • SotaBeams linked dipole (not used).
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and for back-channel comms. 

Logs:

HEMA

SOTA

Conclusions:

  • The weather although bright was not as warm as it looked!
  • It was a shame that Ernie & Ian could not make the Net, but safety first and trying to work DX with a storm around you is not only dangerous but also quite futile with all the electrical noise that a storm produces.
  • I need to put the VP2E 20m antenna up in the garden and check that it has not gone off-resonance since it was built.
  • The plastic (one-use) medical gloves that I took with me do not keep the hands warm enough. The cloth version is better for this but the plastic ones allowed me to use the smartphone’s touch screen where the cloth ones do not.
  • SURPRISE! – I hadn’t realised but until the end of March, Rentschen gets 3 winter bonus points in the SOTA award scheme.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DD5LP/P – March 12th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HCN-015 & SOTA DL/BE-094 – Irschenhausen.

Background – Double summit.

Some of you may recognise the name of this summit from my previous reports. Irschenhausen 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 coincide with Rob G7LAS being on a HEMA summit in England so that we could make the first H2H contact between DL and G HEMA associations. Luckily unlike other activations, this was aiming for a contact at a respectable time of 1 pm local (1200 UTC).

I originally had chosen a different summit however as this looked like being a sunny day and was a Saturday, I decided to avoid any place with lots of people. With the new COVID infections figure the day before the activation over 260,000 in Germany the risk of catching COVID despite the fact that I am fully vaccinated was simply too high.

As I activate Irschenhausen once a year for SOTA  I know the summit well and chose that as my summit while it is a deserted, safe summit.

The equipment to be used would be the same as used the previous week as I used for Berndorfer Buchet. Irschenhausen, like Berndorfer Buchet, is a forested summit with a 15-20 minute walk-in, so just one rucksack with the 6-metre fibreglass mast and the sun umbrella screw-in base.

The weather promised to be better and by noon, it should be warm enough, but I decided to cover my options with a thin and thick jacket that I could choose from when leaving the car.

The Activation

The trip to the car parking spot for the summit took around 45 minutes from my home as there was limited traffic. In contrast, the return trip took a full hour.

On arrival, it was indeed warm enough to go with the thin jacket and I loaded up ready for the walk. At this point, a farmer came by with his tractor and a log trailer. This didn’t sound any bells for me, however, it seems the local farmers were taking advantage of the improved weather to get their trees felled and transported. I set off up my well-known route through the forest but as I arrived up the last small track to the summit, it was blocked by another tractor. At first, I thought this was strange but could not see anyone nearby, so I pushed through the brush and up to the summit. It wasn’t long before I heard a chain saw in use though. This farmer had decided today was a good day to harvest the trees of the summit! 

This was not going to be a good area to set up my station with the possibility of having a tree dropped on me!

Luckily, there are plenty of other areas that are in the activation zone and soon, I found an alternative spot, closer to the main track that was well in the AZ. I even found a marker stone there – at first I wondered if this could be the summits trig-point stone but I think it was simply marking the border between two parts of the forest.

Despite the changed location, I was still in good time for my 1200 UTC sked and had my linked dipole set up on 40m and the station was ready to go in about 15 minutes. It’s so much easier when doing this in plus rather than minutes 10°C! Following a recent CME hit to the ionosphere, 40m was very noisy and I started to wonder if the contact into the UK was going to be possible. As I was early, I decided to simply put out a CQ and ended up with two quite long rag-chews with some Austrian and German hams. As this summit is in both the SOTA and HEMA schemes I was watching both spotting pages from my phone and when I saw Rudi OE7RDI who was visiting Germany on a SOTA summit, not more than 15 minutes drive away from me, I gave him a call and we had my first S2S contact of the day. This was difficult though with 52 / 53 reports exchanged – an indication of how bad the band was.

Karl 2E0FEH was next in the log, responding to my “CQ HEMA” call, but again, I only got a 33 report from him. At this point, it was 1200 UTC and I had not seen any spot from Rob, so I sent him a message via the Internet to which I got a surprising response! He had got to his summit and the field where the summit is was filled with a herd of bulls! There was no alternate location in his case and so the planned H2H could not take place. He was going to go to another summit but it would take longer than I was able to wait, so that first H2H between DL and G in HEMA will have to wait for another day.

After 1200 UTC, the band quickly improved and rather than packing up, I decided to go SOTA S2S hunting and worked a row of other SOTA activators on their frequencies around 40m. At the end of the day, I was to have ten S2S contacts in the log. While skipping between calling the other activators, I called for both HEMA and then later SOTA chasers – spotting myself in the appropriate systems to give the chasers a chance to get a contact with this summit. I had a total of 34 contacts from the summit. 

One could also say I had an eyeball QSO as well. While in conversation with another ham with my headphones on, I suddenly felt something next to me and it was a young medium-sized dog who had come over from the main track to see what I was doing! I looked around and there was a large family group walking down the main track, so I sent their dog back to them and then tried to explain to the other ham why I hadn’t come back to his last over!

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

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

Logs:

HEMA

SOTA

Conclusions:

  • The weather was lovely for a change.
  • It was a shame that Rob and I could not make the H2H as the time is running out for this first H2H contact as it has to be done in the first year of the new association and the DL association started in April 2021.
  • Once again with the equipment – everything worked as it should including the Xiegu G90 radio which continues to perform well, despite mediocre conditions on 40m at the start of the activation.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – March 7th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HCN-004 & SOTA DL/AM-180 – Berndorfer Buchet.

Background – Double summit.

Some of you may recognise the name of this summit from my previous reports. Berndorfer Buchet 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 would be the first activation of a summit in the HEMA Southern Bavaria Central region and I wanted to get out to see what conditions were like portable into VK, early morning (around 0800 UTC). While a group of us had been making contact from home around this time, I seemed to be getting a far better report from Ernie VK3DET, than I was giving him. I have checked antennas and equipment and we are both running about the same power level. Ernie has a 3 element beam and I am only using a wire sky-loop antenna but none of this really explained the difference. I had also looked into whether the use of different antenna types, could cause the angle of incidence to the Ionosphere to be different and hence change the skip distance and coverage area at each end. Perhaps man-made noise levels could be the cause? The portable operation would be another research action. If I were to be able to work Ernie, this would be with an even simpler dipole antenna not far off the ground sending signals to Ernie’s 20m Yagi beam.

The weather had been extremely cold of late and was staying that way, so the early start needed for the radio window to Australia would be a test of my fortitude as well as a test for the equipment!

As usual, I packed the one rucksack full of equipment into the back of the car the night before the activation, so I could get an early start.

The Activation

The trip to the car parking spot for the summit was uneventful. It took around 35 minutes from my home.

On arrival, I could see that a lot of tree-felling had been done and the logs were pilled up ready for collection. Unfortunately, the track that I walked up to the summit was quite a mess, hopefully, the forestry people will repair it after they take the wood out. I had packed my screw-in sun-umbrella base on the side of the rucksack and this was the first thing to be unpacked on the summit. I screwed it into the same old tree trunk remains that I have used for the last five years. Next was the 6-metre fibreglass mast and linked dipole, with the links set for 20m as I had planned to only operate on 20m so that I would not need to be on the summit longer than needed.

Sending a quick note via the Signal app, which serves as our “back-channel” when we test, Ernie was there straight away in response to my CQ call. We exchanged 58 / 56 reports for this 24,000 km / 15,000 mile SSB contact via long path.  The 13 dB difference in power levels (I was using 20w, Ernie 400w) matches the 2-S point difference in reported signals. So this seems to confirm the point about the received noise level causing the imbalance in reports from the home location. After Ernie, I worked Keith, an ex-Pat Brit living in Bulgaria with the call LZ4DJ and Christos SV2OXS from Greece. Although spotted on the HEMA & DX Clusters I received no calls from the UK and Mike 2E0YYY using the Hack Green SDR could not hear me at all. The 20m band was obviously “running long” as normally I would get calls from the UK. I hadn’t planned to, but as I was still missing one contact to qualify the summit, I took the antenna down and switched the links to 40m where I bagged another three contacts reasonably easily.

The over-bearing problem on this activation was not the equipment, nor the propagation but rather the weather. When I decided to go QRT at 0900 UTC it was still minus 3 degrees centigrade and there was an icy wind starting. In these conditions, the best action is to close down and head back to the car, which I did.

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

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

Logs:

HEMA

SOTA

 

Conclusions:

  • The weather was on the borderline of dangerously cold and if this hadn’t been a summit that I know well, I may well have cancelled. Learning – know your limits and be prepared to shut down and go home earlier than planned.
  • It does seem that the reason that I can not give Ernie as good a report at my home station as he gives me, is the local noise level. Ernie is out on a farm where I live in a modern village. So electrical QRM is likely to get worse rather than better!
  • I was really happy with the contact with Ernie VK3DET – it just shows what a portable location can provide if you are there at the right time, even with low power.
  • No comments on the equipment – everything worked as it should including the Xiegu G90 radio which continues to perform well, especially on receive.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – February 28th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HAL-019 Sattlersbuckl.

Preparation:

The weather had been extremely stormy for the past month but at last, it looked like things were getting better. I had combined a trip with the wife to Kaufbeueren, four days earlier, where she wished to see an art exhibition and I did a survey of this summit (or “reccie” as I like to call it). I didn’t take anything along on the reccie apart from a small shortwave transistor pocket radio to check there was no horrible noise on the summit. There wasn’t and it took me about 30 minutes from the parking spot up to the actual unmarked (although it has a large microwave relay tower on the top of it) summit. That time needs to be taken as a maximum time as I also had our dog with me and hence there were “delays” en-route. Just before the summit (which is totally forested), there is a nice large grassed area that is well within the activation zone and so that would be the place to operate from.

The parking spot at the end of “Hektersteig” in Apfeltrang is about a 40-minute drive from my home, so this will be considered a “local summit” for me. 

I had been watching radio conditions and it looked like if I were to be set up on the summit by 10 am local (0900 UTC) I would have a chance of contacts into VK and possibly ZL on 20m. By 10 am also, the temperatures may get up to freezing point 0°C as mornings had been starting at -7°C recently. So the plan was laid to set off from home at a reasonably comfortable time of 8:30 am on Monday morning. 

As for equipment, with the long, if only a little steep for part of the way, I did not want to carry the large tripod or the 10m mast and decided to go with the rucksack packed with the 6m pole and linked dipole antenna with the backup of the Komunica HF-PRO-2 and the little photo tripod. the rig would of course be the Xiegu G90 to give me 20 watts output. As I thought I might be on the summit for over an hour, I decided not to rely on the 400mAh LiHV battery but also packed my large 10 AH LiPo battery box as well. The rucksack with all equipment was loaded into the car on Sunday evening so that I would only need to bring along my drinking water bottle and pack-up on Monday morning (these would also be packed into the rucksack).

The Activation

The trip to the car parking spot for the new summit was uneventful. It took around 45 minutes due to traffic in Kaufbeueren but still a relatively short drive for an activation.

On arriving at the parking spot, which is just after you drive under the power lines and before the no access except for farm and forestry workers sign and is used by people taking their dogs for a walk or going walking themselves in the countryside. the ground was was somewhat muddy as some foresting work has been going on and the logs are stacked covering part of the grassed parking area. While at the time of arrival it was about -5°C still however the mud was hard and OK to park on.

As I started up the hill, I realised I had left my printed out hiking map inside the rucksack however as I had walked the route before, I was able to remember points as I went up (it is fairly straight-forward), so I didn’t need to stop and take off my rucksack to get the map out. As I mentioned before, there is no indication of this summit on any of the signs along the path.

One very nice surprise was as I turned a corner about 100 metres in front of me a mother deer and her two foals ran across the road in the morning sunshine. It all happened so fast that I had no chance to get a picture of them. By the time I reach the point on the road where they crossed, they were no longer to be seen.

I arrived at my chosen grassy area in around 20 minutes – a little quicker than I had expected, so I took my time setting up as this was the first time I had used my new mast base spike from Decathlon. I’m glad to say it worked fine. I set up the antenna for 20m as it looked like that would have the best chance of a DX contact based on previous days. The first station in the log at exactly 0900 UTC was Ernie VK3DET from Victoria Australia, followed by Ian VK3YFD, also in Victoria. These are two radio amateurs that help me often with long-distance tests and while they were only receiving me at 3-3 (they were both 5-5 / 5-6) – I was happy with that! After that, I had no new contacts in the log until 09:50 and that had two main reasons – one was the fact that I went searching for other VK stations as I would have really liked to have the first 4 stations in the log, for this first activation of this new HEMA summit to be from VK. It wasn’t to be. Although heard by at least one of the other VK stations I could not get a contact as others called over the top of me. The second reason for the delay was that my Internet link had dropped and I hadn’t realised it so all spotting and reports never got to me. At this time Mike 2E0YYY had been busy and lined up lots of HEMA chasers for me on my spotted frequency (where I had worked Ernie and Ian). When I eventually realised there was nothing coming in from the Internet and I switched to my second carrier (I have a dual-SIM smartphone) – I saw several messages from Mike and returned to my previous frequency to work 10 further stations in less than 15 minutes.

I did have a couple of other interruptions. In one case a man on a tractor arrived and I was wondering if he was there to plough up the field but no that was not the case. I explained to him what I was doing and he had no issues with it. Later another local arrived in a four-wheel drive and drove right up to me. Again it was a simple inquiry as to what I was doing and we ended up having a nice chat. Both visitors were given a small brochure about Amateur Radio in German, so who knows – perhaps they may get interested in the hobby as well. They have their own HEMA summit, so that’s a good start! Of course all this time, I was off the air but at times, it’s nicer to take to people 2 metres away rather than fight the QRM to take to people on the other side of the world!

All in all, this was a successful activation and this summit (as you’ll see from the photographs) lends itself to testing new antennas out … once the weather gets a bit warmer!

 Photos:

  1. Reccie on February 24th 2022.

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      2. Activation on February 28th 2022.

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Decathlon mast base spike.
  • 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 very cold and I had made the right decision to keep the equipment simple and what I am used to rather than trying out any of the new antennas that I have built. They can be tested when the temperatures improve.
  • For once, I came home without anything needing repair or improvement!
  • I was really happy with the contacts with Ernie VK3DET and Ian VK3YFD being the first in my log but disappointed that trying to get the first four contacts (to qualify the summit) as VK stations was not possible. Not because of radio conditions, not because of mý equipment but because of the greed of the UK and European QRO stations calling on top of me. I’m sure I could have worked VK4, VK2 and another VK3 station by their strengths but that chance was destroyed by the greed of the high powered and big antennaed stations. A sad reflection on the state of amateur radio in Europe and the UK.
  • A great thanks to Mike 2E0YYY who rounded up HEMA chasers for me and for their patience waiting for me to get back on frequency along with thanks to Don G0RQL for holding the frequency for me while I was away.
  • The Decathlon spike worked fine. I have had one of these before, which sheared off, so I hope this one will last longer as it packs easily inside the rucksack.
  • The G90 radio continues to perform well, especially on receive and I don’t think going up to 50 or 100watts output from 20watts would have made any difference to the contacts that I made or those that I was trying for.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – July 12th 2021 – HEMA – DL/HAM-003 Schnaidberg.

Preparation:

The weather had been so variable that I had a one day window to get out and activate. I considered “bagging” two 6 point SOTA summits that I know but decided rather to try to access this HEMA summit and then possibly go on, to one of the SOTA summits. The risk was that I hadn’t done a “Reccie” of this summit and it was possible that access may be impractical. If it was quickly clear that access was going to be a problem, I could always head straight on to one of the SOTA Summits.

I did know that this was a wooded summit and as such, my super light HF-PRO2 loaded vertical antenna set-up would not perform well, so I would use the old SOTABeams linked dipole and my 6-metre pole and screw-in sun umbrella base. All of which are not light but can be packed onto one rucksack. Perhaps next time I can use my new SOTABeams Bandspringer end-fed antenna, which arrived here two days later.

Another attraction of this summit is the fact that it still has the highest wooden radio tower in Germany on its top. It’s used by Vodafone as a cell tower. Despite being wooden, the 62.5m high, Rottenbuch Radio Tower was only built in 2002 but now is suffering from ants and so may soon be replaced with a more conventional tower. I wanted to get to see it before it perhaps disappears.

Another delay to my activations recently has been that one of the main roads that I use to get to the summits (the B17) had been closed for repairs and upgrades over the last few months. One major stage (the large bridge over the Lech river) was finished on Friday and a further part of the repairs to the road junction nearby would only start mid-week, so Monday was THE day, for this reason as well!

The Activation

The trip to the new summit went down a route that I know well and in fact, I had driven past this summit many times as hasn’t enough prominence to be in SOTA but it does have, for HEMA. There are two approach roads to the summit from the B23 main road. The first is from a car park of a small roadside restaurant. Unfortunately, this one proved to be a disappointment straight away with a sign banning all motorised vehicles except for those living on the road or working on the road (eg winter clearance). So I headed on to the next possible access road. This one again is at the end of a roadside parking area, which meant I was able to park and then go and see if this was also a restricted road. Thankfully it was not, so I drove up this (single track) road until I came to where the road changes to a track to head off up the hill – where – there was again a restricted road sign (the black P on the map shows where I stopped), this time restricting motorised vehicle access to only forestry workers. Looking at the map (see below), it was some distance and a steep climb up the track. I wondered whether to take the easy option and head on to the SOTA summit that I know and leave this for another day. While the weather was nice, however, I decided to load up with the rucksack and see how much closer I could get to the summit.

Some 25 minutes and several bites from flies later I reached the summit and found a cleared area across from the radio mast. The absolute summit is about 50m before this point but this area is certainly in the activation zone and thankfully now had fewer biting flies! Ernie VK3DET kindly said he would listen for me but with the DX radio conditions being pretty horrible of late we didn’t hold out much hope. That proved to be the case. With several calls on 20 metres, Ernie could hear nothing. So I spotted myself on the HEMA website and on the DX Cluster and happily, I soon had a few callers. 

Interestingly the strength of signals from around Europe, especially the UK were strong on 20 metres. At the start, there was some QSB but as the band “woke up” even this went away. The contacts were more like nice conversations than quick activator/chaser calls which was refreshing. Once the calls on 20 metres dried up (perhaps the MUF had dropped under 14MHz again) I took down the antenna and reset it for 40 metres. On this band, the background noise was worse (K Index was up to 4 after all) and it was difficult to find a free frequency and once I had one, even more difficult to keep it! Typical 40m SSB in Europe!

After about an hour, I decided it was getting quite hot and I should start packing up and head back down the hill. At this point, I decided not to go on to a SOTA summit but as the climb up the hill had been quite strenuous, I would amble slowly back down and then drive home. As I got to the main road in the car, I realised this had been a wise call as the road was full of everyone and his dog in their campervans and cars towing caravans were on the road heading south towards “my” SOTA summits. Had I also gone that way, I would inevitably hit queues at the lifts and crowded summits. The SOTA summits can wait for another day.  

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella base.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Aerial 51 404-UL OCF dipole (not used).
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • New 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone with PocketRxTx App and USB cable acting as an external display to the rig. (not used)

Log:

 

Conclusions:

  • While the weather stayed nice, I am happy that I battled on and reached the summit but also that I did not try to activate a second summit.
  • One thing that I should not have left behind in the car was my water bottle but once I realised, going back for it was not an option.
  • Although the DX band conditions were not good, I was happy with the performance on 20 metres around Europe. With some UK stations being the strongest that I have heard them from a summit! 40 metres was just noisy and messy.
  • A HEMA summit does not attract as many callers as a SOTA one does, but the QSOs that you have are more “chatty” rather than just a “contest exchange”.
  • The HEMA to SOTA contact was a nice one, even though it doesn’t count for anything special.
  • The G90 radio continues to perform well.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – June 15th 2021 – HEMA – DL/HAM-002 Rösenau Kreuz.

Preparation:

The DL association of HEMA came into existence on April 5th after my surveyed summits were accepted. I have been trying to get out and activate the first HEMA DL Summit since then. With equipment problems, COVID lockdowns, bad weather and illness delaying my attempt, I determined to get to this – my closest HEMA summit at last!

Since my last portable operation, I have bought myself a new radio. A XIEGU G90 – I have written a review on it which can be found here.  So this was to be a “trial of fire” for the new radio as well.

I had already visited the summit twice, taking two different approaches. The first was when there was still a lot of snow on the ground and was a long access route. The second visit and this one got my car much closer to the summit, leaving just a 10-15 minute walk up prepared tracks to get to the summit.

The Activation

The trip down to Hohenfurch (the nearest village to the summit) is straightforward using the B17 main road. It wouldn’t have been a few weeks earlier as the whole road is being resurfaced and improved. Further south on this road the main large bridge over the Lech River is closed for a month for upgrades (something to remember as I normally travel over that bridge to get to many of my favourite SOTA summits). As far as I was going all roadworks are complete and after leaving Hohenfirth, I took the road to North Schongau and immediately turned off it onto single track roads to take me to the closest parking point for the summit at (47.83556, 10.91673). Parking at the holy cross next to the ram-shackle farm it’s only a short 10-15 minute walk up the track to the summit. Just keep taking the track that goes upwards and then takes you under the high voltage electricity pylons and you are there. There is no local name for this summit, a lower one close by is the 774m high Schwalbenstein but if you end up there you have gone past the higher 780m summit, which, as it is over Rösenau on the River Lech and there is a small stone cross on it, (at 47.83556, 10.91673) I have called the HEMA summit Rosenau Kreuz. Hopefully, the sequence of photos below will guide future activators to the summit.

The summit area itself is fairly flat and so it’s possible to choose a location in the woods or on the open grassland. I arrived to find that the farmer had his cows grazing but they were in fenced-off areas below the power lines. I did have some pulsed noises on 20 metres during my activation and I wonder if this was coming from the power lines but generally this seems to be a very quiet location and the view down into the Fuchstal valley is amazing. A short walk through the forest gets you to the “LechErlebnisWeg” walking trail that is part of the famous JakobsWeg pilgrim’s way and gives lovely views down to the River Lech. 

I think the combination of the fact that HEMA is a much smaller community than SOTA and a contact with a German portable station, isn’t of a lot of interest to most watching the DX Cluster in Europe, is what made contacts hard to come by.

I was thankful to have contacts with Mike 2E0YYY/P from HEMA summit G/HSP-021 Overmoor on both 40 and 20m. My first H2H contact and the first into the new DL association!

For its first trip out, the new XIEGU G90 performed well. It still suffered from an inexperienced user though. All but my last contact on 20m were made with the attenuator on and the preamp off. Despite that, the few signals that were on the band were strong enough and once the preamp was turned on I still had an S0 noise level! Apart from some annoying pulse noise which could have been coming from the nearby 33KV power lines, both 40 & 20m were very quiet – unfortunately, that also meant not many signals. I was happy to find that the speech compressor in the rig performed a lot better than the one in the X108G which distorts speech when set at any value above 2 out of 10. I actually managed to be able to read the display the whole time, even in sunlight and didn’t have to revert to my external (Android smartphone) display.

I did hear one VK6 station but he was in a net with several other stations and I had no chance of getting in. I was hearing the VK6 at S1 and that was partially due to having the attenuator engaged – I guess he may have been S3 without the attenuator and with the preamp on.

I managed contacts with 5 different stations in all and so I had qualified my first HEMA summit.

  All in all, an enjoyable morning out!

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella base.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • New 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone with PocketRxTx App and USB cable acting as an external display to the rig. (not used)

Log:

 

Conclusions:

  • The band conditions were not good and a HEMA summit does not attract as many callers as a SOTA one does, so getting contacts were difficult.
  • The new radio performed well (especially when I turned the attenuator off!).

73 ’til the next summit.