As Rob G7LAS was heading out to G/HNP-009 Grizedales in the UK, I wanted to try for an H2H (HEMA summit to HEMA summit contact) with the UK. As I have applied the Xiegu-approved modification to my G106, I wanted to test whether that had indeed stopped the RF Ingress that was around when I operated from Laber. I also wanted to make a comparison between the G90 and the G106 signal strengths, so I decided that I would use both with the same linked-dipole antenna.
Rösenau Kreuz is my closest “HEMA only” summit (Berndorfer Buchet is closer but that is both a SOTA and HEMA summit that I have recently activated). The high point on the small plateau does not have its own summit name (Schwalbenstein is not far away but is lower than this actual summit), so it is named after the very small metal cross on a concrete base by the track in the forest on the actual summit.
The day before, Monday, it rained non-stop all day, so I wondered whether the weather forecast of a sunny, dry Tuesday was to come about or whether I might have to call off my activation. As Rob was only going to be on his summit by 2 pm his time, 3 pm mine, I would have Tuesday morning to see how the weather actually was.
I packed what is probably my heaviest rucksack for some time with two radios and batteries and the linked dipole and mast. At Rösenau Kreuz there is a short but steep walk up a forest track to get to the summit plateau, so the extra weight – my guess is about 16-18 kilos of rucksack would be somewhat of a test, however, packing in the rucksack is preferable than to try to carry multiple bags as it is supported on the back and shoulders with strong straps.
The band conditions on 20m on Monday were short skip, as they would be on Tuesday, but I decided that I would plan to operate primarily on 40m and then switch to 20m if needed.
My biggest worry was what the ground was likely to be like on arrival.
Röseau Kreuz – HEMA DL/HAM-002.
Tuesday morning was dry and the sun was out (in fact this was the day of a partial eclipse of the sun, so it was lucky for the sun watchers that the clouds had cleared). I am unused to setting off in the afternoon to head to a summit as most of my activations are morning ones in the hope of contacts with VK & ZL, those would not be part of this activation.
The drive down was uneventful and I was parked at my usual spot by the cross for St Ursula facing the walk up the track to the summit. Once unpacked I started on the trail, which passes two further religious wooden crosses as you will see from the photos and takes about 10 minutes. I then sent Rob a message via the “Signal” web messenger to find that as I arrived on the summit plateau, he was just starting his climb, so I would have plenty of time to set up. Also on the Signal messenger “listening in” was Mike 2E0YYY, he would not get out today but was happy to act as “pilot” spotting me to the HEMA UK followers on FaceCrook as well as to the HEMA spotting website.
On arrival at the spot which I found the last time I was up here (basically, turn sharp right at the Rösenau Kreuz and head through the forest and out onto the grassed area), I was glad to find it was not waterlogged and while needing a small groundsheet as the grass was wet, it wasn’t going to be a bog-like experience.
It took about 15 – 20 minutes to set up. First of all to check the equipment was working I called and had an easy contact with another portable station on 40m, Jean-Marie F5NLX/P was activating a castle in central France. we exchanged true 59 reports – yes the radio and antenna were working fine! This was the 20w G90, so while waiting I also unpacked the QRP G106 radio, ready for tests later.
As Rob was still climbing to his summit, Mike suggest he spot me and I could get some HEMA chasers in the log. Which I did, and bagged eleven contacts in quick successions – many being true 59 reports on the G90 and linked-dipole. The QRM was getting constantly worse on 40m with more and more stations along with some military-sounding transmission going up and down the band. I wondered later if in fact, that signal might have been coming from the 1940’s vintage two propellered (perhaps a Junkers?) aircraft that circled the area again and again and again – perhaps they were doing some kind of soil survey from the air using RF signals? Mike then told me that despite the fact that I had had several contacts with the UK, there were stations saying that they could not hear me on 40m and would I try 20m? Well, as I was still waiting for that H2H with Rob G7LAS- I agreed to move to 20m to get some more contacts in the log.
After I had a contact with a UK station activating a Lighthouse in devon in the UK, Rob called in and we made that H2H contact.
I also asked Rob then to listen for me using the same antenna but using the G106 instead of the G90. He did and while the signal report dropped more than I expected (from 56-7 on the G90 to 41 on the G106) at least he said the audio sounded fine – no sign of any RF ingress into the audio. Of course, it would have been better to test with a stronger station, but at least there was no obvious audio problem. The drop of 36 dB (6 s-points) going from 20w to 5w is not as expected. The difference should not have been that great. This was a subjective report, however, it does tell me that (even though others later told me they had also heard the g106), something is not correct with the signal strength of the G106.
Given that the G90 has speech compression enabled – its actual 20w+ output can “seem” like up to 50w and the g106 has no speech compression. This power difference is therefore an “effective” 10x or 10 dB which would be 2-3 s-points difference – not the complete 5 s-points reported by Rob but if the G106’s 5w could have speech compression added (it’s not a feature of this radio) it could appear as 10w, then the perceived signal difference would be less.
Following another eight contacts using the G90, mostly into the UK, on 20m, I decided to pack up as a herd of ants had found I was present and were starting to investigate all of the equipment! Once everything was packed again into the rucksack, the walk down the track back to the car, was somewhat easier than the walk up!
In all a good activation but as it often the case, more work to be completed before the next one!
- Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
- Xiegu G90.
- Xiegu G106
- Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
- Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
- Diamond RHM8B loaded vertical and tripod (not used)
- SOTABeams random-length end-fed antenna (not used)
- Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
- Screw-in sun umbrella support.
- SotaBeams linked dipole.
- 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
- 4 Ah and 2Ah LifePO4 Eremit batteries.
- Painter’s thick plastic sheet.
- Lightweight headphones.
- Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms.
- Band conditions at the time of this activation were short skip on 20m, making contacts into the UK possible when normally they would not have been. 40m was both busy and full of QRM from whatever sources.
- The combination of the Xiegu G90 with its 20 watts and the linked dipole even with the small (effectively 5m high) pole continues to work very well. This is definitely a good combination for single backpack portable operation. The G106 on the other hand – even with the good antenna, needs some more work – possibly speech compression, to boost the effectiveness of its 5-6 watts.
73 ’til the next summit.