DD5LP/P – June 14th 2022 – DL/AM-058 Hinteres Hörnle.

Preparation:

While Rob, DM1CM, was eager to get out and do some more joint activations in addition to his solo ones, we agreed to meet and head up Hinteres Hörnle. we were hoping that perhaps contacts with VK might be possible but with the lift only starting a 0700 UTC, taking 20 minutes to get up to the top station from where it was between a 45-minute and 1-hour walk to the summit, it looked unlikely.

I had also totally re-built my SOTABeams linked dipole and while, after some trimming it all looked fine on the antenna analyser, the only real test is its use from a summit. this was that opportunity but, just in case, the Komunica HF_PRO2 and tripod were also packed as a backup antenna.

The weather forecast was good and while I had originally suggested activating both Hörnle and Laber down the road, this thought changed to just Hörnle and a nice meal and beer at one of the two restaurants on the way to the summit and hence a relaxing day.

As I would only need to leave home at 8 am to get to bad Kohlgrub in time for the first lift up, I did not pre-load the car on this occasion. as I reduced some of the weight in my rucksack, everything was in the one prepared bag ready to “grab and go” after breakfast on Tuesday.

The Activation

Both Rob and I arrived at the car park at the valley station of the chair lift by 8:30 am. Officially the lift only starts taking paying passengers at 9 am but as we were there queuing and the staff for the “Hutte” at the top had already gone up, we were on the lift at 8:45 am and slowly heading up the mountain.

As mentioned above, the walk from the top station of the lift to the summit takes up to an hour and as it goes through a col, you end up walking up, then down and back up again before you get to Hinteres Hörnle. En route, we saw that the restaurant near the lift was getting ready to open while the one which is half way to the summit and is run by the national mountain walking society, hadn’t started setting up yet. The three summits at the top of the lift (Vorderer, Mitte and Hinterer Hörnle) are the “house-mountains” for the village of Bad Kohlgrub below, and often have lots of people walking the track to the summits. Despite this, the cows are not at all phased by the public and often block the track.

The weather was nice, I have been on this summit in both summer and winter. In winter the track can be blocked by fallen trees but as we haven’t had many high winds of late, this was not going to be a problem this time.

The views looking both ways from this series of hills are amazing as you will see from the photos below.

On arriving at the summit, Rob decided to set up on a plateau, well within the activation zone, while I headed up to my usual spot just below the summit. Setting up directly at the summit, even in winter is not possible due to the number of hillwalkers and the limited space.

We agreed that Rob would start on 40m and I on 20m. We knew from a previous activation that we could operate close to each other on 20 & 40 without any issues. This was the case again. Both Rob and I use the Xiegu G90 radio. I set mine up with my linked dipole while he set up with a Komunica HF-PRO-2 loaded whip antenna on a small tripod – the same configuration as I had with me as my backup, should the newly re-built linked dipole were to give problems.  

I had checked cell coverage on the web the previous day and the reports indicated that the Vodafone and Telefonica(O2) networks should work fine but Telekom may not be so good. On trying to look at who else was out on a summit I could see no spots. this would be strange as normally there will be a few spots. I thought I was having cell network issues and getting no Internet connection, so I spotted myself via SMS. indeed I started getting calls, so although I could not see it, my spot had gone through. Then I got a Signal messenger message from Mike 2E0YYY/P who had also planned to be out and we were to try for a contact. He was having difficulty hearing me but eventually we made the contact. So then I thought the problem must be the SOTA Spotter App and indeed switching to using sotl.as instead, I could see all the spots. it later turned out that there was a setting in SOTA Spotter that I had changed not expecting any problems and this effectively turns off all spots if you have no filters set. 

Conditions were not good and any last hope of a contact into Australia went away very quickly. A CME had hit the Ionosphere the previous day and skip had gone short as a result. The signals around Europe on 20 metres were strong however and I exchanged several (true) 59 reports with the chasers. After a good run on 20m, I called down to Rob and his callers on 40 metres had dried up, so we agreed to switch bands with me on 40m and him on 20m. 40m was a jungle, finding a free frequency was difficult but when I found one I used sotl.as to spot myself and we were “off and running” again. 

After about another 20 minutes my calls on 40m dried up and I decided to pack up and go and see how Rob was doing. at the same time Rob had made the same decision and he came over the brow onto the flat spot where I was en route to going to the cross on the absolute summit, to say he had been there.

So it seems that lunch was calling us both equally strongly! While I was still packing up a couple came by and asked what I was doing, so they got a short explanation and one of my pre-printed brochures and they went away happy.

Once both Rob and I had packed up we headed back towards the lift and seeing that the mid-way restaurant was open, we decided to stop and eat. They did a lovely “Brotzeit platter” (see the picture in the slideshow below).

Once we were finished with lunch it was a calm walk back to the lift where Rob told me later he had almost fallen asleep on the lift chair, which would have been a problem had he done so, as on arrival the chair splits in half and goes around you. this is the only lift anywhere that does this. It is strange until you are used to it but for older people, it’s better than the normal jump and run to exit, chairs! 

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90 HF transceiver.
  • New gardening kneeling pad.
  • Lambdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Decathlon push in mast base mount.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • SOTAbeams end-fed antenna (not used)
  • Komunica Power HF-PRO-2-PLUS-T loaded vertical and tripod (not used).
  • LiHV 4AH battery (not used).
  • LifePO4 4AH battery.
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.

Log:

Conclusions:

  • The visibility of the smartphone screen is becoming a problem as the activations start happening in bright sunlight.
  • Making changes to software settings on the phone and not testing fully before going out is a BAD idea!
  • The repaired linked-dipole antenna works fine on 20 & 40m and with the new winders is easier to pack up at the end of an activation.
  • The kneeling pad worked well to sit on and the fact that it fits exactly into the inside of the rucksack means it will be a “keeper”.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – June 2nd 2020 – DL/AM-058 Hinteres Hörnle.

Preparation:

Whitsun weekend saw the re-opening of the cable cars and chair lifts on mountains around Bavaria as part of the reduction of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Most of the summits that can be accessed without a lift, I have already activated this year and the couple that I haven’t are fairly distant 1-pointers, so getting back to a 4 or 6 or 8 pointer is of interest.

As solar cycle 25 slowly starts up there have been some good and some not so good conditions over the last couple of weeks. One target I always have on activations is to try to get a contact into either New Zealand or Australia. At the present time, that means being on the mountain early in the morning or late at night to take advantage of the short-path windows. Long path is not performing well at the moment.

The original plan was to head down to Bad Kohlgrub as soon after 9am (when the lift starts) as possible to maybe get to the summit by 10:15 am – still not very early but I have made VK/ZL contacts at this time previously. Earlier would be even better but not possible because of the lift.

Unfortunately, on May 31st my wife injured her foot and it wasn’t getting better. While she did not need me to stay home, she would be in no condition to take our dog for her two daily walks in the next few days. I had considered perhaps postponing my activation a day or two however the weather forecast said that as from about midday on Wednesday 3rd of June for 10 days we should expect high winds and rain. So that could easily mean my new date would be scuppered.

The compromise was that I would take the dog out on her long, morning walk prior to heading off to the summit and then get back in a reasonable time to take her for her afternoon walk. This, of course, meant there would be little or no chance of contacts into VK/ZL this time around.

The chairlift from Bad Kohlgrub is a very small rickety old one and carrying a lot of gear with me was not an option. So I decided to reduce down to my mini-pack with just what I needed to set up a station and no more. Added to the restrictions of the chair lift, the walk from the top station to the summit is both steep and long so excess weight should be removed. On arriving at the actual summit there is limited space and it is usually quite busy but I know from previous trips that just down from the summit there is a grassy area where I can set-up out of the way of others while still being well within the AZ.

So all gear was checked and (hopefully) not required items removed from the rucksack to reduce weight and bulk. Everything had to go in or on the rucksack.

The alarm clock was set and all packed for what should be an “easy activation” with the very slim chance of a contact into VK3 where Ernie VK3DET had promised to listen for me and a possible SOTA-HEMA S2S contact with Mike 2E0YYY in north-west England.

The Activation:

With the first dog walk completed, I managed to fit in a call to Mike 2E0YYY from my home station as he was already on his HEMA summit “Mow Cop”. It was then time for the trip down to Bad Kohlgrub which took longer than normal due to extra traffic on the roads caused by the school holiday period. On arriving at the village station of the chairlift, the car park was overflowing, so there would be a lot of people on the mountains but there’s also quite a lot of space and many people only head up to sit in the sun or visit one of the two restaurants – which are allowed to serve food again – at least in their outside gardens.

Another surprise was that the fare had been increased from €10 to €12 “because of COVID-19” however the website still lists the fare as being €10. I got a discount of half of the parking fee of €3 (for four hours) so I was just about back at the original price.

This time I was able to mount and dismount the chair without almost falling off as happened the last time I rode it (also with radio gear along). The lift took longer than usual stopping often, I presume due to the need to space people with only one to a seat pair – except if passengers are members of the same family. So by the time I arrived at the top station, it was already 11 am. Any chance of contacts into VK or ZL was now definitely gone.

The walk from the top station to the summit was longer than I remembered. I expected it to take around 25 minutes. 45 minutes is closer to the requirement.

After I got to the summit and set up the station – 20m was only open around Europe it seems, but stations from Sweden to Spain, from the UK to the Ukraine were BOOMING in – better than I have heard on 20m for a long time. I worked 12 stations in 12 minutes, including a bit of a chat with some of them. I had two S2S contacts, one of those after I switched over to 40m but what was strange was while I gave Robert HB9OME/P a true 5-5 report, he was having trouble hearing me at 3-3. After that contact, I realised something was wrong as tapping the gear the noise level came up and went down – I tried moving cables around and even removing the short adapter cable that I have so that I can leave the rig in the rucksack and connect whichever antenna I want to the rig from outside of the rucksack. Then I couldn’t get the noise level back where it had been, so I decided that this needs to be investigated at home – my suspicion is the coax that is attached to my home-made tripod base may be broken or have a dodgy joint. As it was, I was running behind schedule so I decided to be happy with the contacts I had got and packed up the station and headed home, arriving there in time for the afternoon walk for the dog.

Because of the antenna cabling problem, one thing I didn’t manage to test, which I had hoped to, was the external speech processor but that’s now something for the next activation (again).

Photos:

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Equipment:

For those interested here is the exact list of everything that was packed into or onto the rucksack: Equipment configuration – light kit

Log:

Conclusions:

There’s always something to learn from these activations. Today I learnt three things:

  1. The walk from the top station of the chair lift to the summit isn’t 20-30 minutes as I remembered, it’s over 40 minutes!
  2. The Komunica HF-Pro2 performs above it’s price-level both on transmit and receive. It has done well in the past on 40m and today it was a marvel on 20m (I think had I been able to be on the summit at an earlier time, contacts into VK/ZL could easily have been possible with this antenna).
  3. I need to do an inspection on my coax leads and perhaps have some fall-back option in the future – perhaps a 2-way SO-239 connector on the Tripod and a separate coax lead, rather than a CB SO239 base with its own crimped on coax.

73 ’til the next Summit!