DD5LP/P – May 23rd 2022 – DL/MF-082 Schwarzer Berg.


As I would likely be out of operation for a few days following my next COVID booster jab, my wife suggested I get out and activate a summit on this Monday. She didn’t have to suggest this twice and as it turned out, Monday was the only day of the week that it would have been possible because of the weather (more of which later).

As the chosen summit is near to where an amateur, Rob DM1CM, whom I haven’t seen for a couple of years, lives, I invited him along as well.  As he was also looking at refreshing his portable radio equipment and was considering the same Xiegu G90 radio and Komunica Power HF-Pro2 antenna that I use, I said come along, try them out and see what you think.

On the wish list for this summit was to test some antennas out for 17 & 15m but as it turned out those bands were closed and so that is a task that will move on to the next activation.

The rucksack was going to be heavy this time and I also decided, as this is effectively a drive-up summit, to take my new seat with me as well, so that I would not have to squat on the floor.

The plan was to leave at 7 am and be on the air by 9am (both local times) so as usual the equipment was loaded the night before, into the car.

The Activation

The route to this summit can either be via Autobahn and around Munich or over country roads. In principle, the Autobahn route should be the better (and quicker) choice however hitting the Mittler ring around Munich at 8 am on a Monday morning is not a recipe for a quick trip and so I decided to take the country roads route to get there and come back via the Autobahns.

 All went fine and I was set up by 8:45 am. I sent Ernie in VK3 a message via Signal and after searching for a free frequency at both ends on 20m, we made contact 10 minutes later. This was using the linked dipole at about 5m AGL next to the (closed) observation tower. If that is ever open it would be fun to try an end-fed antenna dropped from the top of the tower, however it looks as if the tower is permanently boarded up. Perhaps it is unsafe? 

Several contacts around Europe followed, often at 59 both ways, so the equipment was certainly working reliably, which is always good when you want to demonstrate something. Rob arrived about 30 minutes later and got to see and handle the small radio. When I returned to my spotted frequency, there was Christos SV2OXS checking if I was still around and a short and easy QSO followed. After a couple more easy contacts, I suggested I get out the Komunica Power HFPRO-2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna and we’d try 40m. The band was full from end to end and calling some stations we could not get through because of the QRO stations – a common issue these days on 40m and often also 20m. Rob suggested that radiation may be being hindered by the fact that we were in a forest and the vertical trees can absorb the RF. Before I could change bands to try perhaps 17m on either the vertical or the linked dipole. The rain started. Not heavy to start with but getting heavier. Rob and I agreed that we’d call it a day and I packed everything away and headed back down the slope to the cars. Of course, just as I finished packing up, the rain stopped but this was a warning for later when Bavaria got some really damaging storms, that evening which brought down a newly installed support mast for my 40m and up Skyloop antenna at home. This was repaired on Tuesday with some added strength to its month, to stop (hopefully) a repeat.   

With twelve contacts in the log ranging from Australia to north, south and western Europe, I was happy with the activation. the new 4AH €39 LifePO battery had worked flawlessly as well. The bands were difficult for DX but 20m was easy within Europe. It was good to see Rob again and perhaps as he gets his portable gear together again, we’ll do some joint activations, whether it be SOTA, HEMA, GMA or WWFF.


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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90 HF transceiver.
  • New “pop-up” seat.
  • Lambdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella base.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • SOTAbeams end-fed antenna (not used)
  • Komunica Power HF-PRO-2-PLUS-T loaded vertical and tripod.
  • 4000 maH LiHV battery (not used)
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs) (Not used).
  • New LifePO4 4AH battery.
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.




  • The new LifePO4 battery worked flawlessly.
  • For once, demonstrating equipment did NOT make it fail without reason!
  • The Xiegu G90’s 20w was enough to get several 5-9 reports from around Europe.
  • The seat worked well, but having a “table” of some sort would be an improvement, as leaning over from the seat is not ergonomically correct. Perhaps I should try it with one of the small foldable seats that I used to use on SOTA activations some years ago?

73 ’til the next summit.







DD5LP/P – October 4th 2021 – DL/BE-093 Buchberg & DL/MF-082 Schwarzer Berg.


I had originally planned to activate Buchberg and Zweisselberg but changed at the last minute as the weather forecast changed – and it is lucky that I did. After riding up on the open seat lift, it’s a good 45 minutes to the Zweisselberg summit with some of the way quite steep. The summit itself is open and offers no protection from the weather rather with its sun loungers, this is a summit to visit on a bright sunny, dry, day.

So the plans were changed the day before to be the two one-pointer, easy access summits of Buchberg and Schwarzer Berg and the trip reduced from a full (long) day to just over half a day.

As conditions have been good of late for contacts down into Australia around 0630-0730 UTC, I decided that is what I would try for from Buchberg and while I am at it, I will also try 17 metres as well as 20 metres as the propagation forecasts and reports are indicating that for EU-VK contacts, 17 metres should be also better than 20 metres. Another advantage of 17 metres of course is that contests are not allowed on the band meaning, once conditions do improve on the band it will be a band that can be used by low power portable operators on Saturdays and Sundays – something that, in Europe, neither 40 nor 20 metres are anymore.

As equipment, I decided to take the 10 metre DX-Wire mast, my surveyor’s tripod, as its support and my commercially made 17-metre vertical antenna from LambdaHalbe in Germany – it is effectively a J-Pole antenna, which needs the full 10m mast height to be deployed. I would of course also take the SOTABeams Band-Hopper linked dipole and try to put both antennas up on the same mast at the same time to make switching from 20 metres to 17 metres as quick as possible.

The Activation – Buchburg

After getting up before 6 am, I was on the road by 6:45 am (0445 UTC). The drive down took the expected 90 minutes despite a surprisingly high amount of traffic – I must have hit the time that the building and trades workers travel to work on a Monday morning. Half of the journey (which is completely on country roads) was driving behind other cars and trucks. We even came to a total halt for about 10 minutes in a small town called Weilheim, which is where several roads meet and where some road works were underway.

In any case, once I arrived at Buchberg, which is not far from the regional town of Bad Tölz, I found my usual parking space outside of the field where the cross and summit of Buchberg are located, collected up all my equipment and set off across the field, following a well-worn path that gets steep at the end. It was cold but I was hoping that as the sun came up, it would warm up (it didn’t). I had arranged with a couple of VK hams – Ernie VK3DET and Ian VK3YFD to do the tests on 20 & 17 metres. Mike, 2E0YYY who often is the lead to this little group, was sheltering at home in pouring rain but agreed to try and listen for me via his local web SDR receiver. In fact conditions the whole morning were not good between southern Germany and northern England and Mike never heard me on either 20 or 17 metres. I sent out a text via the “Signal” App telling them all that I was setting up. I had a major problem with the idea of having both antennas on the one mast at the same time, in that it bent over at the top to an alarming amount and I had to lower it to about 6 metres in height – which of course then meant that the lower part of the 17m J-pole was laid on the ground. In any case the plan was to start on 20 metres using the linked dipole. 

On connecting up and tuning around, looking for a free frequency, I just caught the end of Paul VK5PAS talking to someone, so I waited on the frequency and he actually handed over to his partner, Marija VK5MAZ. I tried calling her several times in the next hour but without success as the multi-kilowatt Europe based stations with big towers and beams were fighting each other to work her. At the strength she was coming in, with a clear frequency I’m sure she would have been able to work me. Never mind… I kept looking and trying different frequencies only having to move on when some station close to the chosen frequencies splattered all over what I had listened on and found was not in use. Eventually, a sort-of-OK frequency was found, I put out a call and Ian VK3YFD came straight back to me. Ernie was having some local noise on that frequency, so we moved again, and this time, on the new frequency, Ernie VK3DET could join in as well.

Well, that’s not bad for 20w SSB and a dipole, two VK3 stations and levels of signals where we could have a normal conversation, not just exchange signal reports.

So now it was time to try 17 metres and even though half of the antenna was on the ground, there was Ian, stronger than he had been on 20 metres! The trouble was, he couldn’t hear me. So I decided to take the mast down, remove the dipole and put it back up only with the J-Pole antenna, to its full 10 metre height, so that the driven element was no longer on the ground. I tried with Ian again. He was as strong as ever, but he could hear nothing from me! The VSWR on the antenna was fine, it was now set-up OK – there was nothing for it – it simply doesn’t work for whatever reason! My next problem was to even get the single point for the SOTA summit, I needed two more contacts, so I put out calls on 17m in the hope that someone in Europe would be able to hear me – but no, nothing! This was starting to be a bit of a disaster but there was nothing for it, I had to lower the mast remove the J-Pole and put the linked-dipole back up and go back on 20m to get the needed contacts quickly as it was already time for me to head over to the next summit.

I managed 3 quick contacts following Mike spotting me on SOTAWatch again and then that was it. Time to pack everything up and head back down the field to the car with mixed feelings. It was great to get to talk on 20m with Ernie and Ian but the fact that the 17m J-pole receives (as well as VK, I could also hear JA stations with it) why wasn’t it transmitting? 

The Activation – Schwarzer Berg

The trip from Buchberg to Schwarzer Berg took about 25 minutes and upon arrival at the parking spot, it was still as cold as it had been early morning but the skies were starting to look more threatening, despite the fact that the forecast said there would be no rain, I was starting to doubt that.
I decided not to bother with the big mast and tripod on this summit and just took the 6-metre one and the sun umbrella screw-in foot along with the radio equipment in the rucksack. At this point, I realised I could have tried with the HF-PRO-2 on 17 metres from the last summit as it covers all bands – but that was all too late now.
Once set-up, I started on 40m to try to get enough contacts into the log in case I had to abort quickly if the weather turned bad. There were no problems with calls on 40 metres though, I had what is now becoming usual, a pile-up of chasers calling, even managing 2 S2S contacts. Once the flow of calls finished, I decided that while it hadn’t yet started to rain, I would give 20 metres a go. The G90 has a band scope and after switching the antenna and rig to 20m, it was obvious 20m had passed its best, there was very little showing in the SSB part of the band.  I only managed one contact, that with Lars SA4BLM who had also called me on 40m – he was a lot stronger on 20 metres as the skip distance is better for Sweden and Greece on 20m than on 40m. Lars was my only contact on 20 metres, so I decided I might as well pack up and as I was packing up, the rain started. Only light, but my timing couldn’t have been better.
Once back at the car, I loaded everything and set off home. When I passed the lift up to Blomberg and Zweisselberg, it was raining harder and I could see the summit was inside the clouds. If I had continued with my plan to activate that summit, I would have been halfway when the rains started and probably have been soaked by the time I reached the summit. So all in all, even though I only accrued two activator points not five, the choice of summits was right.

 Photos – Buchberg:

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 Photos – Schwarzer Berg:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack with added radio section protection.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Sotabeams linked dipole “Band Hopper” (used on both summits).
  • LambdaHalbe J-Pole vertical antenna for 17 metres (used on Buchberg).
  • 10m DX-wire mini-mast (on Buchberg).
  • 6m LambdaHalbe mini-mast (on Schwarzer Berg).
  • Sun umbrella screw-in foot (used on Schwarzer Berg).
  • Surveyors Tripod (as support for the 10m mast – used on Buchberg).
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • 4000 maH LiHV battery (carried but not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.

Log – Buchberg:

Log – Schwarzer Berg:


  • I was lucky that I chose to change the second summit to be activated. Stuck on a mountain without cover in a rainstorm is not fun.
  • The Linked dipole has now been modified to work on 17m as well as 20 & 40m as the LambdaHalbe 17m J-Pole has issues.
  • I’m two points closer to Mountain Goat – only 4 more points to go.
  • Never trust weather forecasts – how often have I said that?
  • Radio propagation conditions are definitely improving as Solar Cycle 25 “wakes up”.
  • I still have to test the LiHV battery on an activation, rather than just carrying the extra weight.


DD5LP/P – December 14th 2020 – DL/MF-082 Schwarzer Berg – last 2020 activation before lockdown.


With the announcement that Germany was going again into a full COVID-19 lockdown from the light version that we had, had for 2 months, I decided I’d like to get out to a SOTA summit before I would not be able to. The initial plan was that the lockdown would run from December 16th 2020 until January 10th 2021 – but who knows how often it will be extended?

All ski lifts have been stopped for some time now and they will now not start operation again at Christmas as they usually do. So I was limited to summits that didn’t need a cable car or seat lift and one that I knew I hadn’t activated this year, which is a drive-up summit is Schwarzer Berg DL/MF-082. It’s a 90-minute driver from here but then a very straight forward summit to activate. I had activated it twice before.

The weather forecast had a chance of rain, so I decided to go with the quick “grab & go” equipment set-up in my medium-sized rucksack, with the X108G providing 20 watts to the tripod-mounted loaded vertical from Komunica Power.

I didn’t even have to pre-pack the car the day before as this was to be just an afternoon activation. I just put the bag by the door!

The Activation:

This was SOTA 2020 over for me. With the lock-down, running well into January this was the last trip out for 2020. So I wanted to keep things simple. DL/MF-082 Schwarzer Berg is only a 1 pointer, a drive-up, up a mud track (but an official road, not private, not forestry workers only). The reason for the public access is that there’s a restaurant at the top of the track but with the COVID-19 pandemic that’s been closed for a couple of months now and is still closed. The track is a favourite route for trail bike riders and I guess that’s why on the way up, I unexpectedly came up behind a police car! I think they were up there making sure no one was doing something stupid. I did think for a moment – “there wasn’t a restricted access sign at the bottom was there?” – there wasn’t so I was fine and the police kept going their merry way.

The walk from the small parking area to the lookout/water tower is only about 300 metres and at a slight climb. As I was only carrying the medium-sized rucksack, this may have been one of the easiest summits for some time but the point was to get out and activate one last time and I was rewarded with sunshine. It was still only about 5 or 6 degrees centigrade when I arrived but the sunshine was nice and most importantly, it didn’t rain.

The set-up was very straight forward and this time I remembered to add the radial wires to the tripod otherwise I may not have got any contacts, as with trees surrounding the site, a vertical is not the best antenna. A dipole would have been a lot better but the ease of carrying and putting up the Komunica HF-PRO2-PLUS-T loaded vertical and tripod is making this my favourite configuration.

I started on 40 metres, which was a little noisy but it didn’t take long to get a few chasers in the log. Seeing there were some other activators out, I listened for them and despite hear and calling a couple, I wasn’t to get an S2S contact this day. I finished off by switching to 20 metres and indeed got another couple of calls there.

I could have stayed longer but as the calls had dried up, I decided to pack-up and head home. An uneventful trip with a bonus of going by a petrol station with a good discount on fuel, where I filled the tank of the car.


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  • Xiegu X108G.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hardcase LIPOs).
  • Komunica HF-PRO-2-PLUS-T and my modified photo-tripod.
  • Thick plastic painters sheet.
  • Smartphone PocketRxTx App and USB cable.
  • SOTABeams linked dipole (as backup in car).
  • Screw-in sun umbrella base (as a backup in the car).
  • 6-metre LambdaHalbe fibreglass portable mast (as a backup in the car).



The radio conditions were not good but good enough to execute the activation and get out before the lockdown. The fact that I can easily activate and work around Europe with my medium-sized rucksack only half full when compared to what I used to carry to summits is a real luxury.

73 ’til the next Summit!