DD5LP/P – October 18th 2022 – DL/AM-060 Laber.


The plan was to try out my new ultra-small QRP Xiegu G-106 radio from a summit. I had tried it from a park and in fact, made a contact with GB22NH at the UK’s National Hamfest from my back garden, using the small radio and small antenna but the advantage of being on a SOTA summit is that once you spot yourself on SOTAWatch you will undoubtedly get lots of calls (especially for this 6-point summit). In fact I realised later that this summit is also within a POTA park and hence all contacts count for that award scheme as well as for SOTA. I had a report of corrupted audio previously, possibly caused by RF getting into the radio and since that report, I have added clip-on ferrites and more radial wires to the antenna base. I also found that the microphone gain was set too high – hopefully, this test session on the Laber summit will clarify if I still have a problem or not. 

The cable car starts at 9 am local time (0700 UTC) so by the time I would be on the summit, it would most likely be too late for any of the DX contacts we have been seeing over the last few weeks into VK on 20m SSB.

Rather than just take my new small radio and its also small, Diamond RHB-8B antenna, I decided to take my normal G90 radio and its antennas as well. The Kommunica HF-PRO2 loaded vertical and the linked dipole and 6-metre fishing pole.

My normal location at Laber is close to the top station of the cable car but looking at the map, there is another area that may have some more space and is still within the activation zone. I would try to go there and see how that was as I could always go back to my normal location if needed. As I wanted to be in the first cabin up, I packed the car and set the alarm for 6:30 am, Monday evening for a not SO early start at 7:45 am on Tuesday morning.

The Activation

DL/AM-060 Laber DA-0003 Ammergauer Alpen region

The drive down was uneventful – a route I have taken many times before. I arrived at the cabin lift’s car park at 8:50. The parking fees like most things have gone up – it is now €5 for 4 hours of parking where it used to be only 3, and the machines only take coins but I was aware and prepared for this.

After buying my lift ticket, I waited for the cable car. This is a small lift, in fact, the oldest still running in Bavaria, perhaps even Germany and there are only 4 cabins on the system, each coming about every 15 minutes. I indeed got in the first car and alone, so that I did not need to worry about COVID but wore my mask anyway (it is no longer compulsory but I’d say about 10-15% of people still wear them when inside public areas and the mandatory wearing is likely to come back in the next few weeks in any case).

On the way up the mountain, I checked the spotted SOTA activators and saw that Andrew VK1AD was still out and working stations in Europe. For that reason, I decided to go straight to my usual spot – a bench on a rise about 30 metres from the lift building and I set up the HF-PRO2 vertical antenna as putting the dipole up here is difficult and would have taken more time. Once I had the equipment set up, I tuned to Andrew’s spotted frequency only to hear an Italian station chatting there. So either Andrew was below this signal or he had already called it a day. I later heard a couple of other VK, home stations one of which I tried to call but there were too many high-powered home stations calling him that I stood no chance.

I wanted to see how I was getting out with the Komunica vertical, so I found a free frequency on 20m, spotted myself and started calling CQ SOTA. The calls came in thick and fast and within 9 minutes, I had 9 contacts in the log, all of them giving me very good reports – often over 5 and 9. These were all stations within Europe as the band had changed to short skip, which is normal from around 0730 UTC at the moment.

Once the calls dried up, I decided to set up the QRP radio as well, after all, I was there to test the new radio. there was enough room to set up both radios and both antennas so that I could switch between to do checks.

My next call on the 20w radio was Mario DJ2MX in Munich – he was a good signal – not as strong as some of the french and UK stations that I had worked earlier but I was pretty sure that Mario would help me with my tests, so I explained the two different radios and antennas and he agreed to make a comparison. On receive Mario was the same strength on both radios but he could not hear me on the G106 with the Diamond antenna. I checked and found the power was down on the low setting of about 1w, so I changed that to the high setting of at least 5W, usually nearer to 7w – he still could not hear me. I also have two microphones for the g106 – the stock one and a modified HT microphone with higher output. None of this helped. Mario said he could hear “something” in the noise but could not really tell that it was me. The next test, once I found the needed BNC to SO239 adapter, was to try the G106 with the Komunica HFPRO2 antenna instead of the Diamond RHB8B. An immediate result! He could now hear me but he also reported what sounded like RF Ingress getting into the audio. again I switch microphones and adjusted the mic gain but nothing helped. I still have a problem when operating with a portable antenna and the g106.

Time was getting on and I wanted to get home around noon, so I thanked Mario for his help (he had to go as well) and then packed up and went to await the next cable car back down the mountain.

Some would say this was a disappointing activation – not making any DX contacts and not working anyone with the small antenna / small radio combination but as my intent was to test the new radio and see where I am with it – it was (in my eyes) a successful trip. The Komunica HFPRO2 performed brilliantly again, the diamond antenna on the other hand was a letdown. I am really happy that I suffered the extra weight of taking both the normal station and the new station up the mountain as had I just taken the G106 and the Diamond antenna, I would most likely have got very few contacts – if any at all.

The weather was also kind, despite a couple of small showers on the way down, the summit was dry and sunny. Not warm but sunny. The views once the mist lifted were also worth the trip.


DL/AM-060 Laber

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Equipment taken:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90 radio.
  • Xiegu G106 radio
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna with a modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials.
  • Diamond RHB8B loaded HF vertical antenna with modified ultra-small support tripod and counterpoise wires.
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast. (not used)
  • SotaBeams linked dipole (not used).
  • 2 Ah Eremit LifePO4 battery (for G106).
  • 4 Ah Eremit LifePO4 battery (for G90).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painter’s thick plastic sheet (not used).
  • Gardener’s nealing pad (not used).
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone for SOTA spotting.


DL/AM-060 Laber


  • The “star of the activation” was certainly the Komunica HF-PRO2-PLUS-T antenna, and the flop was the Diamond RHB-8B antenna.
  • Band conditions had just changed to short skip so it seems 0600-0730 is the best time for long path contacts into VK on 20m SSB at the moment.
  • The G106 still needs some work to improve the transmitted audio and it needs a better antenna than the Diamond but it needs to be small as the intention with the G106 is to have an ultra-compact “holiday station”.

73 ’til the next summit(s).
















DD5LP/P – July 19th 2021 – DL/AM-060 Laber & DL/AM-058 Hinteres Hoernle.


With the promise of a fine day after a week of rainy days, Monday, July the 19th. was first earmarked for the Wank and Laber mountains. Both of these 6 point mountains have cabin lifts that take you to the absolute top – in the case of Laber or most of the way, in the case of Wank. Unfortunately on Saturday night, the river next to the main road running into Garmisch Partenkirchen, where the Wank mountain is located broke its banks with an excessive amount of rain coming down from the Alps and both the road that I would need to use and the railway was flooded, causing chaos in the area as access was cut-off for most of Sunday. While by Monday the road would most likely be open again, I thought it best not to increase what would already be congested traffic, just for my trip to a summit.

So on Sunday, I changed my plans to go to Laber followed by Hinteres Hornle and leave Wank for some other time – perhaps the “Yorkshire Day” S2S event on August 1st? We’ll see.

Hinteres Hornle has a rickety chair lift followed by a 30-40 minute mainly uphill walk and so for that summit at least, I would need to use my lighter weight pack. This is just the loaded vertical (HF-PRO2-PLUS-T) from Komunica and a small photo tripod, both of which fit inside the rucksack. I also included my new end-fed random wire “Bandspringer” from SOTABeams and my arborist’s throw bag, in case I needed a backup. I took the dipole antennas, the 6m mast and the screw-in base, but all of these stayed in the back of the car and never found their way to a summit on this occasion.     

All prepared, the plan was to leave at 7:30 am Monday morning to arrive at the cabin lift in Oberammergau for the Laber mountain in good time, so the alarm was set and the bags stood by the door.  

The Activation – Laber

The decision to arrive early at the lift was a good one. It doesn’t officially start until 9 am but I was in the car park by 8:40 am, paid my parking fee and in the office as the first person there. I was expecting a small family group behind me to have been put in the small cabin but that was not the case. One cabin, one group and if that group is one person – then so be it. There are only four cabins on this complete system so that they normally run about every 10 minutes between them. I was at the top of the mountain at about 8:55 am – before the lift should even have started. Had I been 20 minutes later, I would most likely have had to wait 30 minutes before getting on the lift. Indeed when I came back down, there was a long queue of groups of people waiting to go up.

I have activated Laber so many times, that I know exactly where I will go and what I can set up. In about 15 minutes, I had the station installed and wanted to check who else was out via the SOTA Spotter App but it didn’t seem to be updating, so I switched from the Vodafone to the Telekom network (I have a dual SIM phone) and at that point, I received an email from Ernie VK3DET telling me on which frequency Mike 2E0YYY/P was on – we usually try for contacts between Germany, England and Australia but it was quickly obvious that the conditions to get through to Australia had already closed. I would have needed to have been on the summit an hour earlier at least. As I had set up for 40 metres and Mike was already on 20m, I took a quick tune around and worked two very strong Italian stations and then tried to spot myself. I couldn’t as there was no Internet connectivity again – this was going to be the story of the day – but more of that later. I then changed the setting on the bottom of the HF-PRO-2 vertical for 20m and went to see if I could hear Mike. There was nothing on the frequency that Ernie had given me, so I put a quick call out for Mike. “BOOM” back he came with a fully quieting S9+ signal. The conditions within Europe at least were very good on 20m. Mike had worked a station in St Helena some minutes earlier who had commented that the band was not good. 

Mike kindly left me the frequency as he had to pack up and also spotted me before he left – well that created a big pile-up for me of around 20 stations one after the other from all around Europe. The reports I was getting with the 20w G90 and the small antenna were very impressive. Mostly between 55 and 59, which for such a simple setup over still relatively long distances was good to have.

In fact, the radio gear was working well and time went by until I decided if I was to get to the next summit and activate it, with its long walk. I should get packed up and back down the lift.  Just before I left a hang glider pilot set off and flew down into the valley. The start was so short that I only caught him as he was already starting into his first loop (see the picture below). The ride back down was uneventful, again with a cabin to myself – most people were coming up the mountain at this time around 10 am. This was obvious when I saw the queue when leaving the bottom station of the lift and heading back to my car.

The Activation – Hinteres Hoernle

The drive to Bad Kohlgrub (where the lift up to the Hoernles starts) was less than 30 minutes and when I arrived, the car park was fairly full but this lift is a seat lift with about 100 seats on it – so no problems here with waiting to get on the lift, it was moving at its normal pace, just interrupted when someone had difficulty getting on or off. This is also a very old lift but has a very novel system that when you arrive either at the top or bottom, you just stand up, the seat splits into two and goes around you. When you pay at the parking machine put the main part of the ticket in your car and take the “tab” with you because when you hand this over at the lift ticket office, they pay half of the parking charge and you get a reduction on the lift ticket price.

The ride up the mountain on the seat lift takes about 20 minutes. Time to check things on the phone (yes I had cell network coverage while on the lift) and in my case grab a little lunch from my pack-up. One needs to be careful not to drop anything though, as it’s a long walk to get to where you may have dropped something. there is a path back down the mountain, that winds back and forwards under the lift but watching people walking up the path, tells you how steep it is. Not recommended if you are carrying heavy radio gear.

Once at the top and safely off the lift, it’s time to prepare for the walk to the rear mountain – it’s signposted as needing 40 minutes, I usually take about 30 but when I arrive I need 10 minutes to catch my breath, while those taking it a little slower appear to manage it better but they are not carrying as much weight. My rucksack is still too heavy for these kinds of walks and my next change to what is in the rucksack will be to see how long I can run on a 4000maH LiHV battery instead of the two 5000maH hard cell 4S LIPOs that I currently carry.

The actual summit is often crowded as was the case this time, but there is a nice level patch about 10 metres below the summit across from a strange wooden structure that all ask what it is but no one knows. I believe it was there already in 2020 when I last activated this summit and was something to do with a festival. Unfortunately, the local cowherd knows of this area of grass and had marked it out quite well with cow patts, so caution was needed while setting up the station and especially when running out the radial wires.

It was at this point that I realised that again I had no Internet connectivity either on Telekom or Vodafone (the two choices I have in my dual-SIM phone). At the time, I thought it must be that the cell systems are overloaded with traffic related to the recent flooding around Garmisch Partenkirchen which could be using the same transmitter sites. It was only after getting home, that I realised the actual reason. The 3G data network from all three network providers in Germany was closed down on June 30th. Their intention is to re-use those frequencies and mast space to expand the new 5G network coverage. OK, my phone is a 4G-LTE phone, so how about the 4G network? Why wasn’t that working? In regional Germany, band-20 on 850MHz (the old CDMA band) is used for regional LTE coverage and the older 4G capable phones (like mine) only have the 4G 1800/2100MHz band enabled, not the 850MHz one! DOH!

So I had to manage without any way to spot or to see where other activators were and so I tuned around and found two portable stations chatting and managed to break in. These were Harry SM0VPO/P on his lunch break and Martin M7BIA/P on holiday in the Lake District. Martin had been activating SOTA summits the previous day but today was just out in a field. All three of us had a nice chat for 15 minutes, and I had two of the needed four contacts in my log but now it was time to go and see what other contacts I could make. After another 15 minutes a couple of unanswered calls and trying each cell network with no success, I happened on Lauri LB1RH/P on SOTA LA/OL-184 and worked him for an S2S contact. He was actually just packing up and said the frequency was free – so I thanked him and jumped in and took over the frequency hoping that chasers looking for a SOTA activator would settle for me instead of Lauri who was on his way to his next summit. It worked and I got another four contacts into the log in the next 5 minutes before packing up. Unfortunately without the Internet spotting and checking option, I missed several S2S possibilities and in fact, gave out the wrong SOTA reference to those last 4 stations (PMed in the meantime to correct their logs). I had given out the correct summit name but gave out 068 rather than 058 as I had that written on my paper log sheet. My alert from the previous day was correct and if I had been able to self-spot I would have seen my error straight away as SOTA Spotter display the summit name and details for the code entered. 

The walk back to the lift and ride down to the car park were uneventful as was the drive home. All in all, it was an enjoyable day out that proved the small radio kit (while still too heavy) can perform well. The combination of the XIEGU G90 and the Komunica HF-PRO2-PLUS-T antenna seems to work surprisingly well.

 Photos – Laber:

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 Photos – Hinteres Hoernle:

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Equipment used (both summits):

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica HF-PRO-2-PLUS-T and small photo tripod with radial wires.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • SOTABeams 10-60m bandspringer antenna (not used).
  • Arborist’s throw bag (not used).

Log – Laber:

Log – Hinteres Hoernle:


  • I was amazed at the performance of the loaded vertical antenna on both summits. The fact that the luxury of self-spotting was taken away from me, meant I had to make “normal” QSOs with non-SOTA chases/activators (at least in most cases).
  • I have to buy a new smartphone – the removal of 3G coverage by all three networks on June 30th in Germany brought me a problem I didn’t expect with my 4G phone.
  • My rucksack is STILL too heavy for the summits with longer walks/climbs needed.
  • The G90 continues to amaze me, especially with its receiver performance.

73 ’til the next summit.




DD5LP/P – March 11th 2020 – DL/AM-060 Laber.


This activation was in principal a “points grab” with the period when winter bonus points drawing ever closer, but more of a problem, the fact that the cable car that is needed to access the Laber mountain will stop for its annual maintenance on March 23rd so with that date approaching and the weather varying from day to day with high winds being the main concern, I decided to try to get up to Laber on Wednesday 11th and if that wasn’t possible I might include it in a group of summits the following week.

After my problems on the last two activations with the RF from the amplifier getting back into the rig’s audio, I ordered the official interface unit for the rig but as that has to come from China, the amplifier is now out of service for a few weeks and the next few activations will have to make do with 20 watts instead of 70 watts. Laber is a summit with limited space, so I decided to just take my loaded HF whip antenna and small photo-tripod. This configuration does not perform as well as the squid pole and either of my HF dipole antennas but it should be good enough to get me 4 contacts from the top of Laber. Friends in Australia (Ernie VK3DET and Ian VK3YFD) agreed to take a listen for me but with the reduced antenna and the timing (too late for Long path / grey-line), the chances of a DX contact were going to be minimal.

I am still trying to adapt my new rucksack to allow me to operate the rig without taking it out of the rack sack and at the same time, pack all required gear for an activation into just this one bag instead of the two which I normally need to carry.

On Tuesday I did a mock set-up in my cellar of the gear that I would be taking to Laber. This could not operate from underground however it was a check that I had packed everything that would be needed in the new bag. There’s nothing worse than getting to a summit to find you have forgotten one part that is needed to make everything work! An outside test was not possible as it was pouring down with rain and there were high winds – not a good omen for Wednesday!

The Activation:

I woke to a fairly clear morning with some wind but certainly not as bad as the previous day. A quick check of the webcam at Laber and I decided to try. I set off at just after 8 am and the 1-hour drive went without any problems.

I headed out from the cable car’s top station to the actual summit, which is less than 50m away and set up as I usually do on the seat bank under the flag-pole. I set up the photo tripod in the snow behind the seat and then slung out the radial wires in a few directions before attaching the Komunica HF-Pro2 antenna. It was actually pre-adjusted to the right spot on its coil however I moved it to see whether I could hear the difference. Nothing – no change in background noise. I then moved the cable that I have coming out of my rucksack to an SO239 line socket and suddenly the volume of the receiver shot up – so I have an intermittent contact there which I will need to investigate before my next activation.

With the battery box and radio still in the rucksack, all operation is performed using the PocketRxTx Android app on a smartphone, which acts as the display and controls for the rig.

Initially, I wondered if I was getting out or not as after spotting and then calling CQ, I was getting no replies but the delay appears to have been in the spotting system as after a while I got a call from Manuel EA2DT and then a string of calls from around Europe. Eight calls in thirteen minutes. As there were no more calls that I could hear I decided to pack-up with my “mission” completed. It was good that I chose that point to close down as the winds rose and some clouds came in (as can be seen from the webcam shots in the slideshow below).

Overall I was very lucky with the weather as when I arrived home some thousand metres lower, the winds were quite severe, so they would have blown everything away on the summit.


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Some of the cable car ride down the mountain can be seen here:


  • Xiegu X108G.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • Photo tripod with clip-on radial wires.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro-2 loaded vertical antenna.
  • Thick green plastic painters sheet.
  • Smartphone with PocketRxTx App and USB cable acting as an external display to the rig.



I was lucky with the weather but at the moment I have to “chance it” as it is so variable and the forecasts continue to be unreliable.

  • Positives
  • The new voltage regulator circuit in the battery box performed without any issues.
  • The HF-PRO2 antenna and small tripod is hardly a very good antenna system but given the summit, it’s a good combination to get contacts from around Europe.
  • Operating the radio while still within the new rucksack, controlling via the Android App works well.
  • No RF Ingres problems as I did not have the amplifier with me.
  • Negatives
  • No DX calls but given the timing, this was to be expected.
  • The antenna cable extension needs attention but as this was the first time that it has been used, I was lucky that it was only an intermittent problem not a permanent one.
  • I did not get time to test the speech processor, which I had with me, but it was more important to get back down the mountain before the winds got too bad!.

73 ’til the next summit!

DD5LP/P – March 13th 2019 – DL/AM-180 Berndorfer Buchet, DL/AM-001 Peissenberg & DL/AM-060 Laber – a tale of sudden storms.


Brian VK3BCM from Australia was visiting Munich and I offered to take him to a summit or two while he was over. We played with several possible higher scoring summits only to find some of them had closed their lifts for maintenance a couple of weeks or in one case one day before Brian and his wife arrived in Munich.

The main point (apart from picking up activator points and winter bonus points of course) was to get at least one DL summit qualified so that Brian has another association for his Mountain Explorer award.

The week before Brian arrived the weather turned from being relatively pleasant with the old snow melted, back to winter with new snow coming down and covering everything in just over an hour but much worse we got multiple days of hurricane force winds with sleet and rain.

For this reason I decided we should take a very simple summit first to complete the Mountain Explorer requirement, then go on to some more interesting summits. As Brian was based in the centre of Munich, we arranged that he would get a train to the town of Tutzing on Starnberger Sea (about half way to the closer summits) and I would pick him up from there and take him to the nearby Berndorfer Buchet summit. Once that was completed we’d go to the drive-up Peissenberg summit, where we would also get lunch at the convenient restaurant and then go on to Laber as the higher scoring summit with some great views

Little did we know what the weather was going to deliver to us!

In any case, as I wasn’t sure what Brian would be bringing, I packed several different antennas and mast configurations including the SOTABeams linked dipole, the Aerial-51 OCF dipole, two VP2E antennas and the Kommunica Power HF-Pro2 loaded vertical. As supports I had the small tripod for the Kommunica antenna, the big surveyors tripod to support the telescopic masts and the screw-in sun umbrella base “just in case”. For masts I took two Lambdahalbe 6m masts and my DX-Wire 10m portable mast.

All was packed into the car, the night before (actually in some cases re-packed as I did two activations on the 12th). This as it turned out was a good idea to prepare the night before ….

The Activation (Berndorfer Buchet):

As I was still eating my breakfast, Brian called – he was already on the train heading to Tutzing and would be there in 22 minutes! There had been a misunderstanding as I had expected Brian to take a later train and I had a good 40 minutes drive across to Tutzing. In any case this gave us a good start to the day and we were at the parking spot for Berndorfer Buchet after collecting Brian from the station, almost an hour earlier than I had planned.

Berndorfer Buchet is an easy one-pointer summit with a 10 minute forest walk in from the car parking area and a steep climb up to the actual summit, which as you’ll see from the photos, is fully forested. We arrived on the summit at about 0900 UTC and I wanted to show Brian the trig point stone on the summit but couldn’t find it under the layers of branches and leaves that had come down during the winter.

Both Brian and I had full kits of gear with us but rather than set up two stations close to each other, we agreed to share equipment and so I put up the surveyors tripod which acted as a support for Brian’s 6 metre fibreglass mast and homebrew 40m dipole.  Attached to that coax was Brian’s Elecraft KX3 which I was looking forward to see how it performed as I had only ever seen one previously.

Band conditions were not good but we both got more that the four required contacts on 40m. Brian tried 20m as we “may” have been able to get a contact into VK/ZL from this summit however we were too late for long path and too soon for short path – perhaps from the next summit?

 The weather was cold but dry at Berndorfer Buchet.

The Activation (Peissenberg):

After the drive, we arrived at Peissenberg at about 11:30 UTC (about right for a short path contact into VK/ZL if propagation allowed us). Well, after walking from the car park in sunshine to my standard station location – two benches alongside the church which sits right on the summit and starting to set up the antenna mast, Brian and I spotted some storms in the distance to the west. Within minutes, the winds (over 70 km/h) and sleet / snow hit us (see pictures and linked video below). Brian asked if we should wait for it to pass but as we had planned to take lunch at the restaurant which is also on the summit, we decided to pack up what had been unpacked, drop it all back into the car and head to the restaurant by which time we were covered in ice from head to toe. After sitting down at a window and looking out at the tables that were covered in snow outside, suddenly the sun came out and the storm had passed. As we were already seated, we of course stayed and had lunch to warm us up a little as well.

Once lunch was completed, it was back to the car, grab just my gear (20 watt Xiegu X108G, 6m mast and SOTABeams linked dipole) as we decided to use my gear on this summit and then we went back to the two benches by the church. After setting up the weather conditions were certainly better with a little sunshine. The radio conditions had not improved much however we did get a minor pile-up from this summit and Brian and I easily got the required contacts to qualify the summit. As opposed to the first summit, this 1 point summit came with 3 winter bonus points and I think we earned them!

Just as we had decided to pack up so that we’d have time for the third summit, another storm approached and hit just as we got back to the car with all the gear. We wondered whether, with the high winds we were feeling, the cable car up to Laber would be running but the only way to find out was to go there and see. So the Navi (GPS) was set and off we drove.

The Activation (Laber):

On arriving at the car park for the Laber cable car, we could see it was running and when we asked, the operator said they had not had any bad weather so far today. It had been a nice sunny calm day.

The ride up in the oldest cable car system in Germany went without any issues. This system has just 4 cars on a fixed cable that means that when one car is at the bottom, two are at the half way point and one is at the top. So the cable car always stops at half way up and half way down to allow people to get out of and into the cars at the top and the bottom.

On arriving on the summit, we were greeted by sunshine and great views down into the valley but cold temperatures. The place where I usually set-up was not available as it was covered in snow and restricted from access as it was the top of a ski run. We took a look at the roof platform with the microwave links and cell repeaters on it but settled on the luxury of using the outside tables at the restaurant. This whole area is well within the AZ so there are no problems.

For this summit I had brought along my Komunica Power HF Pro 2 loaded whip and a small tripod as I know in my usual position it can be difficult to get a dipole out. With locating on the restaurant’s balcony however it isn’t difficult and so Brian agreed to put his mast and antenna up and again we used the KX-3.

So the weather conditions are good, if still a little cool, but what are the band conditions like? Horrible! It was a real fight to get the needed 4 contacts but we eventually did and as the last one was made the sleet started again. It seems our friendly snow storm had followed us down from Peissenberg! Once packed up it was time for a quick warm drink in the restaurant before getting the cable car back down the mountain. At first we thought we had missed one car and would have to wait for the next one in 15 minutes but no, we were lucky, the operator held the car and let us get in with 4 other people. The car rocked a little on the way down as the winds increased again but we safely reached the bottom and then it was time to head back to Tutzing for Brian to catch a train back to Munich. What had seemed to be a day with lots of time had shot by and I arrived home about an hour later than I had expected on the original plans but we’d managed to activate three different summit in the one day, which was quite good.

Photos (Berndorfer Buchet):

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Photos (Peissenberg):

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VIDEO – Peissenberg on Youtube here.

Photos (Laber):

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Equipment used:

Berndorfer Buchet:

  • Surveyors Tripod
  • Brian’s Elecraft KX3 and battery box
  • Brian’s 40m dipole and 6m mast
  • Plastic painters sheet.


  • Xiegu X108G.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hardcase LIPOs).
  • SOTABeams linked dipole.
  • 6 metre lambdahalbe fibreglass portable mast.
  • Thick plastic painters sheet.
  • Smartphone PocketRxTx App and USB cable.


  • Brian’s Elecraft KX3 and battery box
  • Brian’s 40m dipole and 6m mast

Log (Berndorfer Buchet):

Log (Peissenberg):

Log (Laber):


The propagation again wasn’t great but the weather was worse!

All in all a good if challenging, day out where we managed the three planned summits in the end.

I was able to compare the KX3 with the Xiegu albeit on different summits. I think the extra “punch” of 20+W from the Xiegu makes a difference over the 10W from Brian’s KX3. Both rigs are not easy to hear though the built-in loudspeakers and are better with headphones.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP/P – January 1st 2019 – DL/AM-060 Laber.


With the new year, activation points for already activated summits are reset. After having to cancel two activation attempts in December 2018, I wanted to get out and activate ASAP in 2019 and chose Laber as my target summit. It is a simple summit to access, not too far to drive and worth 6 points (plus 3 winter bonus points).

The weather looked OK, so access, which is simply via a cable car and a 3 minutes walk to the summit should be fine.

The equipment would be the XIEGU X108G, battery box and headphones with the standard 6m mast and two wire dipoles as backup but the intention was to use my tripod and the Kommunica HF-PRO-2 antenna that had worked well at Hinteres Hornle in November. A new addition this time is a small USB cable and USB-C OTG (“on-the-go”) adapter as I intended using the PocketRxTx remote control software and my Smart Phone so that I could see the frequency and other settings on the phone which become invisible on the XIEGUs 2″ OLED screen when there is any sunlight. In addition to the small rucksack and a photo bag this time I would be carrying a plastic water pipe that I have converted into a holder for the HF-Pro-2 to avoid the antenna getting caught up on anything (or anyone) which was an issue at its last outing.

As my intention was to try for some short path contacts into VK around 10:00 UTC a departure from home at 10am local time (09:00 UTC) was planned.

The Location:

Laber is the mountain located above Oberammergau, which is famous for its Passion Play every 10 years. It’s just under an hours drive from my home to the car park of the cable car (which is the oldest still running in Germany).

After the, about 15 minutes, ride up in the cable car, the summit is only 3 minutes walk from the “top station”. There is a convenient seating bank where I usually operate from.

The Activation:

Some activations just don’t go smoothly!

The journey down to Oberammergau went without incident and the ride up the Laber mountain in the cable car was enjoyable, chatting with some tourists from Dortmund. On arriving at the summit, it was in the clouds and my planned activation bench, was under several inches of snow. After cutting some steps into the snow to get safely to the bench, I set to with clearing the bench with an ice scraper that I had brought with me for just this purpose.

The HF-PRO2 antenna went up on the tripod with its legs about 50% down into the snow. The top was a little “wobbly” something that will need to be addressed. It was difficult to get the 8 radial wires out over the snow while balancing on what is a knife-edge ridge line, so I threw them out in two bunches of four in opposite directions and hoped that would be OK. Although this was less than perfect putting up the fibreglass mast and linked dipole antenna with the deep snow would have been very difficult. This is exactly one of the situations why I have the simpler vertical antenna / tripod set-up.

The next problem was that for some reason my self spots were not getting through to SOTAWatch, I switched phone networks (I have a dual SIM smart phone) but that didn’t seem to make any difference. During the whole activation I only got two contacts, one on 20m with Sweden at 5-3 and one on 40m at 5-5 into Holland, so although I was getting out it seems either people weren’t calling me or I wasn’t hearing them. So no activator points and after 45 minutes my fingers were frozen despite having some good quality gloves with me as I had to take them off every time I wanted to do anything.

 I set the loading coil on the HF-Pro2 by my measurements that I had made at home as the SWR trace feature on the XIEGU rig was totally invisible on its built-in 2″ OLED display. OLED displays have a problem to be seen outside, why XIEGU ever changed from the TFT screen that had brightness and contrast controls I’ll never understand! So in any case the antenna probably wasn’t exactly on tune.

One of the things that did work (sort of) was using my smart phone (which has more than enough brightness in its display) as an external display – actually it runs the PocketRxTx remote control program so not only did I use it for displaying the frequency but also for tuning and switching bands and side-bands, oh and yes for adjusting the power and pre-amp / attenuator settings as well. Practically that was a success …. except the USB cable kept coming out of the bottom of the phone and RFI was transferred down the USB cable to the rig bringing up the noise level (which could be the reason I wasn’t hearing weaker stations calling me).

So I came away with more things to fix than contacts in the log. There’s still some work to do to get to the “perfect” solution.

In the end the elements were getting to me and I decided not to keep fighting to see if I could manage to get two more contacts and packed up after just 45 minutes.

Oh well I’ve now got a reason to go back to DL/AM-060 Laber once I have “fixed” the problems to try again to get the summit and winter bonus points.


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Xiegu X108G and battery box.

Modified HAMA photographic tripod.

Kommunica Power HF-PRO-2 loaded vertical antenna.

Water pipe carrying tube for vertical antenna.

Thick plastic painters sheet.

USB OTC cable and PocketRxTX software on my smart phone.

Other items taken but not used:

SOTABeams Band-Hopper linked dipole.

6 metre fibreglass “Squid Pole”.

Aerial-51 UL-404 OCF dipole.



The Good: The use of the smart phone to display what the rig is doing works but needs some fine tuning, and additions such as enabling the SWR reading feature.

The Kommunica HF-PRO2 antenna, despite probably not being correctly tuned still managed to get a signal out and set-up and take down times are very good even in several feet of snow!

The Bad: The Smartphone is causing QRM across the bands and needs to be further away from the rig. The power supply no longer causes QRM since I changed to a diode matrix instead of the “buck converter”, so replacing QRM from one source with QRM from another is not a good idea.

The Ugly: Loose physical connections both on the USB cable into the phone and the PL-259 base on the tripod. I have ordered a new connector/OTC adapter for the phone and will glue the top of the tripod to be solid as the only adjustments needed can be made with the legs, photographic accuracy in level mounting of the base of the antenna is not needed.

73 ’til the next Summit!

DD5LP/P – March 30th. 2018 – The race for winter bonus points DL/AM-180 Berndorfer Buchet, DL/AM-060 Laber, DL/EW-001 Wank.


The original plan was to activate Eisenberg DL/AL-171 on Good Friday 30th. March 2018 to try again for long path into VK/ZL after failing about two weeks previously. In the interim I had addressed some of the gear problems and hoped for better success. At least  I should be able to grab the 3 winter activator bonus points (which cease at the end of March in the DL region). This summit, which while still some distance from home, given the clock change a week prior, would be accessible hopefully in time for the long path window. I did not want this to be an organised S2S event as the previous had been but did ask a few people if they were likely to be on. One, Rod VK2LAX said he would probably be able to get out to Mount Elliot VK2/HU-093 while Mike 2E0YYY and John VK6NU also planned to get out as well. Due to a few problems, I decided to reschedule the early activation to Easter Saturday, the 31st. of March and announced this on the reflector. Given that I now had Friday clear, I could go and activate the normally easy Laber and Wank summits on Good Friday, to grab their winter bonus points.

On the Thursday before Good Friday, Rod sent me a short note asking if I was still set to go out early on Friday as he had arranged a small group from the Central Coast ARC to come along. At this point I realised that as Rod doesn’t follow the SOTA reflector he didn’t know of my (and others) reschedule to Saturday. With the clock difference and the short time window after first letting Rod know that Eisenberg would only be on Saturday morning not Friday, I decided it would only be fair to fit in another (early morning accessible) summit on Good Friday prior to the Laber and Wank activations and planned for Berndorfer Buchet, my closest summit. I have contacted VK previously on a few occasions from this summit. Berndorfer Buchet does not gain winter bonus points but I had not activated it in 2018 so it would still be another activator point and the purpose was to try for some contacts into VK/ZL rather than the activator points. So all was set, I thought, except I found out early Friday morning that in parallel Rod had rescheduled the group at his end to Saturday. Never mind, the plan was there now and I’d catch Rod and group on Saturday all being well, now to concentrate on the three summits planned for Good Friday.

Equipment-wise I was determined to use the new Xiegu X108G rig rather than the FT-817 and amplifier however for safety sake the 817 would be packed as well. The antenna was the issue. My experiments with the QRP-Guys tri-bander vertical were not going well with my modifications to add 60m being reversed but the antenna would not be ready in time. The Komunica Bazoka Pro was not looking like a good solution after previous trials but I knew on the second two summits, especially Laber, I would have very little space for an antenna,. I decided to go back to my Diamond RHM-8B loaded vertical whip which had worked from a summit in the past. As I would not have room for a tripod and while this antenna is designed to fasten directly to the rig, I added a mounting plate to the back of the X108G where the antenna would mount. I would also take the usual 6m squid pole and the linked dipole as I knew for sure this works well from Berndorfer Buchet where I have more than enough room to put it up. I would however also be taking a new base for this mast – much smaller and lighter that the sun umbrella screw-in base that I had used before. The battery box now had a new regulator that should handle up to 10 amps (the rig can draw up to 7.5 amps) so this is another change in the equipment. These activations would have the risk of something failing or simply not working – hopefully I have enough alternatives to try if something lets me down.

Time would tell …

The Locations:

Berndorfer Buchet is about 30 minutes drive from my home and located in a forest. From the car park to the summit is a good 15 minutes walk. The hill is located above the village of Pähl at the southern end of the Ammersee lake.

Laber is accessed by a sixty year old cable car taking you up from Oberammergau (the village famous for its “Passion Play” every 10 years). Space at Laber is restricted at the best of times with it under several feet of snow safe space really is limited.

Wank is the “house mountain” of Garmisch-Partenkirchen on the German, Austrian border and is also accessed by a cable car plus a short walk up about 30 vertical metres to the summit which is covered with radio equipment both commercial and amateur and a large golden holy cross which is very much a tourist attraction.

The Activations:

Berndorfer Buchet.

The weather at home when I set off at about 7am local time was cold with a little drizzle.The drive over to Berndorfer Buchet was uneventful and I was at the car park near Kerschlach by 05:30 UTC. The track into the forest was very muddy. It looks like they had just finished harvesting some trees out of the forest and the large vehicles used had torn up the track. In addition to the mud, this track is also used often by a local horse stables, so there were quite a few “deposits” from the horses to be avoided as well.

The last climb up to the summit was difficult with lots of small branches left behind from the tree harvesting and a moss like ground underneath. Some care was needed to get up the slope with my two equipment packs without twisting an ankle. Once at the summit, everything was as previous visits and I was able to quickly put down my painters plastic sheet and start unloading the bags. The first new item was the stake from Decathlon that Luc ON7DQ had tipped me off about. I’m glad to say it went straight into the ground without any problem and the squid pole was dropped into it, with a couple of pieces of wood that were lying around at the side to stabilise it. Then I ran the SOTABeams Band-hopper out, un-did the 20m links and put the mast up. Then the battery box and Xiegu rig came out of the bags. I connected everything up, get out the log and pen – and then it starts to rain… Luckily not for long though (the rain came and went and was never too hard). So I tuned around 20m and finding nothing on, picked a frequency, spotted myself and started calling CQ. Nothing … The band was so quiet I checked that the rig was working, that the antenna had a good SWR (the X108G has a nice SWR scan feature) and everything looked fine. OK I was quite early for 20 metres, I had started at 05;50 UTC. I lowered the mast, put the links back together and raised the antenna to use it on 40m. This time I could hear stations OK so I found a clear frequency and again spotted myself and started calling. After a while I heard a weak call from Terry G0VWP in York. As we talked there was a lot of QSB on both signals but slowly the strength seemed to be getting stronger. It was as if someone had turned the bands off overnight!. After talking with Terry, I switched backwards and forwards between 40 & 20 metres trying to get the needed extra 3 contacts to at least qualify the summit. At 06:55 UTC I found a Special Event station in France and worked him with no problem, so I was getting out OK. After this contact, I again found a free frequency and spotted my self. There then followed nine contacts in eight minutes, all on 40m, nothing on 20m. As I wanted to activate the other two summits, it was time at 07:10 UTC to pack up and head back to the car. No 20m contacts this morning not even within Europe. Conditions were bad.

Once back at the car, I selected DL/AM-060 Laber in the GPS Navi and set off for the next summit. The GPS took me a slightly different way than I expected but I was soon on the back roads that I know well and after about an hours driving I was at the car park for the Laber cable car.


This lift is the oldest in Germany and celebrates its 60th. year of service this year. It consists of just four gondola cabins and the runs in 1/4 rotations and then stops. That means once you are in the cabin, you travel half way up the mountain and stop. This is to allow people to embark and disembark at the top and bottom of the lift in the cabins ahead and behind you. The fourth cabin is alongside you at half way, but on its way down the mountain. This means the cabins don’t have to connect and disconnect from the cable except when the cableway is out of service over night. A simple system that has worked well for 60 years!

The run up the mountain takes about 13 minutes and once you leave the cable station you are already on the summit. at this time of year a few skiers are there, sometimes there are hang-gliders setting off and quite often people come up in the lift and then take 2-3 hours to walk down sometimes with their dog. Laber is a friendly summit, that has a cosy restaurant in the cable car station but rarely gets very busy due to the limited capacity of the cable car system.

Today Laber WAS busy though as with the snow falls over the last few weeks there was only limited space available. I quickly headed to the bench and put down my painters sheet and gear. This was now time to use the Diamond RHM-8B antenna to pull in the needed 4 contacts, pack up and leave to go down the mountain after taking a few photos. Starting at around 09:30 UTC, I could get no responses whatsoever to my calls using the Diamond antenna. So I decided I had to get the dipole up “somehow”. I strapped the squid pole to the back of the bench and the run of the dipole back down towards the cable car station was at least off the ground but the run in the opposite direction, that I managed to tie off part way up a flag pole was literally laying in the snow! Not a good configuration! It worked though! From 09:49 I managed the needed 4 contacts and packed up at 10:00 UTC. the people I had ridden up with in the cable car had been watching me and when we saw each other in the valley, they asked what I had been doing and I explained a little about amateur radio to them. I think they may have just been being polite but all left to our cars with a smile.


The third and last summit for the day was Wank, near Garmish-Partenkirchen. I lost some time in the car park here as the parking meters only take the exact amount. parking is 3 Euros for up to 24 hours and in small change I only had 2 2 Euro coins which all three machines rejected. as I went to the place you buy tickets for the cable car, the lady knew exactly what was coming and had two 1 Euro coins ready for my 2 euro that I asked to change. What a crazy system. in any case once I got the ticket for the car, i then went back to the same lady to buy the ticket for the ride up to and down from the Wank Summit.

The cabins at Wank are about the same size as the ones at Laber however there are a lot more of them. there are in fact two lift systems one from the valley to the middle station and one from the middle station to the summit. the cabins automatically go from one system to the other at the middle station. Interesting technology. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the top station of the Cabin railway but that’s not the end of the journey. The actual summit is a further about 30 vertical metres above the top of the railway, so it’s at least another 10 to 15 minutes before one reaches the summit, which is behind a very large golden holy cross. On this day getting from the cross to somewhere that I could set-up was “interesting” as the snow had drifted and at one point, I was up to my knees in snow! Luckily I got safely through that and flattened my own area out in the snow before laying out painters plastic sheet and my gear. I tried the new stake here as I had at Berndorfer Buchet – no chance the snow was too soft, it just kept falling over, So as there was a bank of snow handy, I simply pushed the squid pole down into that. With two sections under the snow it was stable enough to support the dipole and I ran out the dipole ends in opposite directions. Here as well, the dipole ends were close to the snow, but I just hoped it would work and it did, at least to a good enough extent. several youngsters then came by playing in the snow and really enjoying themselves and letting everyone know by their screams, so it was out with the headphones and switch on the blocking of outside noise.

When I looked at the rig I knew I had a problem. I could not see what was being displayed on the LCD screen. It had been difficult to read at Laber but here it was impossible.the sunlight reflecting off the snow simply raised the light level to a level where the display could not complete. Trying to shade the display didn’t help and thinking about it later, it was probably my eyes that needed the shade not the display as my pupils will have drastically reduced in size to reduce the light input into the eye. If only I had, had a SOTA Baseball cap in my bag! Wait a minute – I did ! but of course as I didn’t realise what the problem was at the time i didn’t wear the cap. I did try my auto-tinting polarised driving glasses that I had brought up with me as I thought they might help – but they actually made things worse as they went black and then there was no chance of seeing anything.

l could not see what frequency I was on, but I hoped it was still 7090 KHz which was the last frequency I had used on Laber, so I self spotted on that frequency and started calling CQ SOTA from the snow. Ivo 9A1AA was the first to respond at 12:17 UTC and he was then followed by a further ten contacts 15 minutes. All through this I had to fight interference from another station on frequency. I can’t say who was on the frequency first but I knew I couldn’t move as turning the tuning dial, I would not know where I was, as I couldn’t see the display!

While packing up, I was approached by a young woman whose husband and son kept walking and left her behind. She showed a real interest in Amateur radio and I gave her a brochure on the hobby that I have with me and I hope that something might come out of that. It’s a real shame she didn’t come by 10 minutes earlier when I still had all the equipment connected and working.

The trip back down the mountain gave me a chance to catch up on my emails and the drive home, considering this was Good Friday, went reasonably well if a little slower than normal.


And what about DL/AL-171 Eisenberg on Saturday morning?

I’ve had to bail (cancel). I set off from home at 06:40 local (04:40 UTC) and as I stepped outside, after no rain overnight, it started to spit with rain – nothing to worry about I hoped. It’ll stop and even if it doesn’t, it’s bearable. After about 20 minutes driving, the rain had become a constant down-pour, so I pulled into a lay-by to asses whether continuing the 1hr+ drive was sensible. Looking in the direction I would be going the skies were full of black clouds and at that point the regional weather forecast came on the radio to say the rain would be continuous until about midday at least.Given that the walking track up to Eisenberg is both steep and slippery even in the dry, it would most likely have been a bog with a river running down it, by the time I got there.

I considered going to a different summit, just to get on but the weather was looking fairly threatening, so no matter where I could have gone, it would have been questionable as to whether I would have got to the summit. As the SFI (Solar flux Index) hadn’t raised as predicted, it was still down at 68, I decided the best option was to call off my activation and wait for a better day (Terrestrial and Space weather-wise). After returning home, I saw that as well as SFI still being at 68, the K index has gone up to 3 so not only hadn’t the RF conditions got better, the noise level had also come up.

Eisenberg will have to wait until December to get the bonus winter points this year but I may activate it before then in any case as it is a nice trip out in the sunshine.


   1. DL/AM-080 Berndorfer Buchet.

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  2. DL/AM-060 Laber.

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  3. DL/EW-001 Wank.

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Xiegu X108-D “outdoor” version.

Diamond RHM-8B 40-6m vertical antenna.

SOTABeams “Band-Hopper” linked Dipole.

LambdaHalbe 6m telescopic fishing pole.

Decathlon push in mast base.

Battery box with 2 x 5Ahr 4S LIPOs and regulator to 13.8v.


 1. DL/AM-180 Berndorfer Buchet.

  2. DL/AM-060 Laber.

3. DL/EW-001 Wank.

Conclusions & actions:

  1. The diamond RHM-8B antenna is a real let down. It is only worth using when conditions are good and any antenna will do. In bad conditions as we have at the moment, it’s a waste of effort.
  2. I will need to do something about operating in the sunlight, whether it be a matt plastic cover on the Xiegu’s OLED display or a cap with a large sunshade – something has to be done.
  3. The new small lightweight base from Decathlon was a success.
  4. The X108G (apart from the display visibility problems) and the new regulator work fine.
  5. With using the 4G connectivity on my smart phone during the activation along with the inbuilt GPS, the battery drains fairly quickly and the phone did not charge in the car between summits – an investigation there found a faulty USB cable which has now been replaced so next time a car recharge of the smart Phone battery between summits should be possible.

73 ’til the next Summit!