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.