DD5LP/P – April 20th 2022 – DL/AM-001 Peissenberg.

Preparation:

As conditions have improved greatly as Solar Cycle 25 “ramps up” several SOTA activators on the SOTA Reflector decided to go out to try for EU to VK contacts (ideally S2S). This was an independent effort, not the “semi-official” VK-EU S2S event, just one or two activators in VK and ZL heading for summits late in their afternoon to try for contacts with activators in Europe and the UK who would be out early in their morning. Contacts were mainly planned to be on 20m as it was expected to be open the whole week (18-22nd of April).

I had time on Wednesday of this week to try from my side and decided to keep things simple by heading to the Peissenberg summit. It has the advantage of not needing a cable car to access the summit. Some Cable cars are stopped for maintenance and while we still have astronomic numbers of new Covid-19 infections at the moment, being couped up inside a cabin with people I do not know, was a risk I decided to avoid.

I looked at the site and decided that I would attempt to put up the linked dipole in a North-South direction so that its side lobes went East-West. Due west is the direction I needed for long path propagation to Australia.

As this is a drive-up summit, I decided to take my surveyors’ tripod and my 10 metre mast. Apart from that the rest of the equipment would remain “standard” with the Xiegu G90 and the SOTABeams linked dipole and a couple of battery packs. All was packed into the car on Tuesday evening for an early 6:30 am (0430 UTC) start on Wednesday morning. 

The Activation

The trip down was uneventful, a route that I know without the need for maps or GPS as I have been there so many times. What I wasn’t sure I would find, however, was how full the car park would be. This is a favourite spot for camper van owners to drive to and stay overnight, to watch sunset and sunrise over the valley. I was glad to see when I arrived, that the car park was empty. I bought my 3 hour, €2 parking ticket and headed to the opposite end of the car park. I would normally aim for somewhere in the middle where there used to be two benches (now only one) so that I could set up the antenna long-ways along the grass field next to the car park and have my station on a bench. That puts the dipole in an east to west direction however and any directivity on 20m would then be north or south – 90° away from what I need for the long path to Australia. For that reason, I had intended to set up at the far end of the car park with the antenna running north to south. When I got there, however, the farmer had fenced off the area of grass that I had planned to use and so I went down into the normal field instead with my large tripod and 10m mast. 

It took about 15 minutes to lay out my groundsheet, unpack everything that was needed from the rucksack and set up the linked dipole on the 10m “travel mast”. As I was adjusting the inverted-V antenna to get the mast more vertical, it did what it has done on several other occasions and collapsed into itself bringing the feed point crashing down and breaking off one of its mounts.

This was of course a setback and I wondered whether to try again with the long mast but as I was already feeling the cold by this point, the chance of going through raising the mast again only to have it collapse again was too much of a risk, so I took the 10m mast out of the tripod support, laid it to the side and put in my backup 6-metre mast instead. While this would not have the antenna so high, it would stay up! Luckily I was about 20 minutes ahead of my plan and so the lost time with the mast collapse did not create timing problems.

 Tuning around 20 metres the band seemed quite quiet as the MUF was still below 14MHz but it didn’t take long until I could check the DX Cluster and then tune and hear the ZL and VK stations. Being portable, away from metro noise, is a real treat. My home location is rural and I can’t think of how bad it must be trying to operate from within a large city but being out portable (even on a cold morning like this one) remains a pleasure with the clarity and strength of incoming signals even with the simplest of antennas.

 After trying to call some of the Oceania stations and being hammered by QRO stations with big beams, I decided to find a free frequency (while there still were some), spotted myself on the SOTAWatch cluster site and started calling CQ. What a surprise – the first caller was Andy ZL1TM from Auckland, New Zealand. I guess my signal was getting out OK on the lower mast then! I also posted my frequency to our “Comms testers” Signal group and Ernie VK3DET was the next in the log. After chatting with Ernie for a few minutes, my next call was an S2S contact with Andrew VK1AD/P on VK1/AC-039 “Yellow Rabbit Hill”. Andy ZL1TM had told me that Andrew VK1AD was on the air and I had told him that unfortunately, I had a large carrier signal from somewhere in Europe exactly on Andrew VK1AD’s frequency and so hadn’t called him. After our QSO Andy went off called Andrew and asked him to come down to my frequency and so we managed the S2S. Thank you, Andy. Thank you, Andrew.  

That wasn’t the end of the DX though, two more contacts (which were a little more difficult as the band was deteriorating) followed with Ian, VK5CZ and Gerard, VK2IO, both of whom I haven’t spoken to in years.

It was interesting that I was not getting any calls from SOTA chasers in European countries. My thought is that as the skip was long, the DX contacts were working well but other stations in Europe were simply not in range of my antenna. After Gerard, Jack OH3GZ from Finland did call me with a true 5-9 signal but after Jack, the band seemed to be really dead. 

Peissenberg is only a one-point summit however I know that SOTA chasers just love to get as many activators in their logs as possible, so I decided to switch from 20 metres to 40 metres and the world was a different place! I worked 37 chasers in 20 minutes. 

During all of this time the temperatures had not been rising, rather the cold breeze was getting stronger and the mist over the valley had only lifted a little (as you will see in the photos below), so it was time to pack up and head home. At least the trip back to the car was only a couple of minutes rather than the 20-30 minutes that is more usual on the summits around here.

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Surveyors Tripod and 10 metre DX-Wire fibreglass “travel-mast”.
  • Lambdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • 4000 maH LiHV battery (not used)
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.

Log:

Conclusions:

  • The DX-Wire mast continues to disappoint even though it has behaved for a few activations. The fact that it is designed to be short and relatively light when packed means that it has many short sections with thin walls and that does not make a good strong mast.
  • Even when the temperature is forecast to be a “warm” 4-5°C never underestimate how a small arctic breeze can take that temperature down very quickly.
  • Overall the activation was a big success with an S2S into Australia and contacts into Australia and New Zealand as if they were local. It won’t be long before we get back to 2014 standards and we can bag half a dozen S2S contacts between Europe and Oceania in an activation with just a few watts of SSB and a dipole!

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – December 20th 2021 – DL/AM-001 Peissenberg.

Preparation:

As I hadn’t activated a summit recently, the radio conditions appear to be getting better and the threat of new COVID lockdowns is getting ever closer. I decided to activate one of my closest and simplest to get to summits – Piessenberg. I have already activated Peissenberg this year and hence won’t give me any additional activator points, not even winter bonus points, but for a quick activation it is a drive-up summit, and it’s a summit that I can get to early in the morning (to take advantage of Greyline or Long Path contacts into ZL/VK).

I decided to take the reliable Xiegu G90 and linked dipole combination but with the 10m mast and the surveyors tripod to support it (of course, other options would be along in the car “just in case” there were any problems). The car was loaded the night before to allow an early departure, the plan was to be on the summit and operational by 0800 UTC or 9 am local time – which was around the time that the 20m-band has been opening to VK recently. The weather was another factor. This is winter in southern Bavaria and Monday was to be the warmest day of the week, with temperatures getting as HIGH as zero degrees! Between minus 9 and minus 6 was forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The Activation

The trip down took nearer to 50 minutes rather than the expected 35 minutes, due to being stuck in a queue of traffic following a slow truck with a trailer which refused to travel at more than 60 km/h on the country roads where 100 is allowed. Peissenberg was reached therefore at 8 am (0700 UTC) and the first surprise was new signs in the previously free car park, stating that it is now privately owned (but still not very well maintained) and hence costs money to use. I paid my €2 for 3 hours although others who came and left seemed to ignore the signs and machine completely, so I don’t know how often it is checked, most likely at this time of year not at all but I did the right thing and paid.

Once I had parked, it’s only a few metres to the benches where I set up. The tripod, I set up with the 10m mast and linked dipole, I thought quite close but a couple of steps further and the coax wouldn’t have reached (it did, just). 

Ernie VK3DET in Victoria Australia had agreed to listen for me and Mike 2E0YYY/P had headed out to a HEMA Summit in the UK, so we had a group of three of us. As it was too early for 20m to be open, I started on 40m and after a little tuning around, I found Ron ZL4RMF calling CQ from the south island of New Zealand not getting any replies. So I called him – hang on, no output – Oh dear, what is going on? Well, I have been testing using my Bluetooth headset and for that to work, the microphone audio has to be switched to the line input connector on the ACC socket. I had forgotten to switch it back. After a few attempts, I remembered what I had to press to get to the menu setting to change it back and then everything was fine again. By this time others had found Ron and were calling him. I threw my call in to have a try and Ivan (sorry I can’t remember his call, from Russia, said to Ron when he had finished his contact – there’s a portable station in Germany calling you – please take a listen for him (thanks to Ivan – that was very thoughtful and kind of you). So my first entry in the log was a 5 & 6 contact with New Zealand and a few words with Ron, who I hadn’t spoken to for a while. After working Ron, I realised the speech compressor had not been turned on (another change due to the BT headset tests) and I know that makes a difference, so I turned it on for the rest of the contacts.  

I now found a free frequency and put out some CQ calls and was surprised to get calls back without even spotting myself. Mike had, had a delay as his antenna was reporting a bad VSWR reading on 40m and indeed when I did get to work him, he wasn’t as loud as usual. That could have been conditions but other UK stations were strong, so I think Mike must have had a bad contact in the antenna somewhere. Once we all switched to 20m, Mike was not so strong to start with plus he had S9 QRM across the whole of the 20m-band (we believe this could be from a timer/light level switched floodlight on a nearby building at Mow Cop as all interference disappeared later). As the band changed, Mike was so strong that there was no background noise when he spoke and the S-Meter was up around 10 dB over nine. He was like a local 2m FM station. Later again, he dropped to just above the noise within 30 seconds but this was radio conditions changing, not a faulty antenna. The 20m-Band was really variable during this period. I never managed to hear Ernie VK3DET although we tried several times. I did hear VK3XAT at about 3-3 at one point but he could not hear me. I think the extra “hop” needed on the long-path route for a VK signal to get to me rather than to the UK makes a lot of difference to the signal strength.

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Surveyors Tripod and 10 metre DX-Wire fibreglass “mini-mast”.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • 4000 maH LiHV battery
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.

Log:

Conclusions:

  • Overall a successful activation with lots of good reports for the G90 – Linked dipole combination.
  • Greyline propagation into ZL is a reliable thing, especially when other hams help you get through the pile-up.
  • The equipment, even the smartphone, needs me to operate without gloves on far too often. In winter this is a risk as when operating alone, simply packing the gear away can be difficult with hands going purple with cold.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – June 30th 2021 – DL/AM-001 Peissenberg.

Preparation:

Despite the fact that I have already activated Peissenberg this year and hence won’t give me any additional activator points, it has two advantages. Firstly it is a drive-up summit, so for testing, I can take a lot more equipment with me and secondly, (normally) it is a quick summit to get to, so that early morning activations (Greyline or Long Path contacts into ZL/VK).

I say “normally”, but more of that later.

One thing I had been working on before the COVID pandemic was a directional wire HF antenna, called the VP2E (Vertically polarised 2 Element) – all the details are on this website, here. As the pandemic lockdown situation combined with winter weather, I never got my comparison tests completed. Hence along with trying for a contact with Mike 2E0YYY/P in England, Ernie VK3DET and Ian VK3YFD in Victoria, Australia, this activation was meant to act as a test of my 20m version of the VP2E.

The car was loaded the night before to allow an early departure, the plan to be on the summit operational by 0600 UTC. The weather was questionable having had two evenings with thunderstorms and high winds – one of those storms, bringing down one of my antenna support masts at home (repaired in 15 minutes, no real damage). The forecast was for a mixed day but with several other appointments in the week, it had to be this Wednesday morning or not at all.

The gear would be the new XIEGU G90 and battery box in my rucksack and several antennas including the HF-PRO2 antenna (and photo tripod), the SOTABeams linked dipole and of course the VP2E for 20m. To support the VP2E and linked dipole configurations I packed the surveyor’s tripod and 6 and 10 metre squid poles.  

The Activation

Peissenberg has two good activation points. One on the very summit alongside the church and one in the car park below the graveyard. The first has a nice seat and fence where I can attach the mast and run the wire antenna out to a flagpole in one direction and down around a try to a second bench seat in the other direction. The best for antenna tests with lots of room is the car park.

But first I had to get there! Everything was going to plan as I left home at 7 am local time (0500 UTC) and the trip down over the country roads, I could probably do almost with my eyes closed, I have driven it so often. It was on the last turn-off onto the road up to the TV transmitter tower and church, that I caught a sign that is normally not there, something about “full hours” – Where it was located on the junction it was difficult to see. It became clear what it had said when I got halfway up the road and there was another one (see below) – there were major roadworks in process and the road was closed until the next hour. It was 07:35 local – bang goes my chance of being on the air at 8 am (0600 UTC) – I had to wait the 25 minutes until the road section was opened and the various road working machines moved out of the way to let the traffic through. I guessed at this point that probably the road in the downward direction would be open only on the half-hour as there is no way two-way traffic would work with all the holes that had been dug along the side of the road (more of THAT, later).

I sent Mike and the guys in VK a message to say I had been delayed. Mike let me know that 20m was open to the US and just starting to open to VK.

When I arrived at the car park it was almost completely full of campervans. Obviously, this is a favourite location for the brilliant view. I did find a spot to park, not too far away from one of the two benches there and unloaded and set up the gear.  Half an hour after arriving I was listening for Mike. He was weaker than usual but an OK signal in any case. At this point, I wasn’t going to do any antenna comparison tests, with the lost time I wanted to concentrate on seeing if I could indeed hear the guys in Australia – and I could! The problem was they couldn’t hear me!

The receiver in the G90 is impressive – combine that with a low background noise level and you can hear the weakest signals. The fact that I run 20 watts when I am portable, not 450 watts will be a factor but not the main one. The fact was that despite an SFI in the mid to high 90s 20m was not good and by the time I got on the air. It was already suffering deep QSB on signals and soon went short. I could easily make contacts around Europe and even locally into Munich. Mario DJ2MX compared my signal on his beam and his vertical antenna and I was stronger on the vertical. As the VP2E is supposed to be vertically polarised, that was good news even though Mario would be off the side of the antenna – not in the direction of its gain – that was definitely pointing towards England and Long path to VK over the US.

After spotting on the SOTA cluster I had about 8 more contacts in the log, most of them giving me a good signal report. When those calls dried up and because another station had started called 2 kHz above my frequency, I went back to see how Mike was doing on his frequency. He also had no calls, so I called in again and we both agreed the DX capabilities of the band were gone and we both had storm clouds coming in but before we both packed up, Mike agreed to give me a comparison report between the VP2E and my normal linked dipole. It would have been best if I had had both antennas set up but I didn’t so there was a 10-minute break between the tests and while the VP2E appeared to give a 1 point advantage over the linked dipole, with the QSB on the band, this was probably not a good test. (1 S-point stronger is what it should be theoretically). I think my best bet is to use WSPR on both antennas as a true comparison at the same time or at least switching between them.

One Mike and I finished the test, I saw that half of the campervans had or were leaving – I looked at my watch to see it was quarter past the hours, so I thought, the road must be open at half-past for downward traffic, so I used to pack everything up into the car and get down while the road is open, otherwise I would have to wait another hour and with the storms coming in, that might not have been much fun.

  When I got to the closed section of the road, there was one Dutch campervan waiting at the traffic lights and a sign saying the road opens on the hour. I don’t know where the other campervans went – either they got through late on the previous hour or they knew some other route down the mountain on the farm tracks.  In any case, I had a good half an hour to wait, so I took the time re-packing the radio gear that had been just dropped into the back of the car.

One pile of wire (the linked dipole) had to wait until I got home to be un-tangled – that was a long job as you can see:

 Once the lights changed to green we DID meet some traffic coming up the hill but managed to manoeuvre past each other. There seems to have been a miscommunication between the two workers who were controlling the traffic lights manually. They had intended to get the cars down the hill first and then let the ones free to go up the hill.

  By the time I got home the next rain front was coming through, so staying longer would not have been pleasant. Overall the activation did not deliver what I had hoped for but it was a trip out and next time, I may try some of the farm roads to get up to the summit.

 Photos:

 

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Surveyors Tripod and 10 metre DX-Wire fibreglass “mini-mast”.
  • Six-metre fibreglass mast.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • VP2E wire “beam”.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.

Log:

 

Conclusions:

  • Sometimes unannounced road works can mess up your plans. There is a good possibility that I had been on the summit 30 minutes earlier I may have made a contact into VK3 with at least one of the two guys.
  • Comparing antennas alone on a summit does not give accurate results, especially if they are not both set up together and you can switch between them. Perhaps next time I will test using my WSPRLite unit.
  • The G90 continues to amaze me with its receiver performance.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

DD5LP/P – February 5th 2021 – DL/AM-001 Peissenberg & DL/AM-176 Rentschen.

Preparation:

As the pandemic lockdown situation combined with winter weather continuing, I was eager to get out onto a couple of simple summits and bag a few contacts along with some winter bonus points. My original plan was to head to a group of four which are reasonably close together but two of the four can be difficult to access depending upon the ground condition and as we had had multiple days of rain, following 2 weeks of snow, I was not hopeful for those, but depending upon how the first two summits went and what the ground was like on those, I could add one or two of the others into the day.

The gear would be the (now standard) X108G and battery in my rucksack and HF-PRO2 antenna but also taking along the old linked dipole and the surveyors tripod and 10 metre mini-mast as the main two summits are easy to access and have room for the mast.  

The Activations

As it turned out on the first two summits Peissenberg and Rentschen, there were large patches of soft wet ground and so the decision was made early not to attempt the two more susceptible-to-rainwater summits (Ammerleite and Kirnberg) this time, rather leave them as a pair to be activated when the ground dries out somewhat. So here are my reports on the two summits that I did activate.

Peißenberg DL/AM-001

Peissenberg has two good activation point. One on the very summit alongside the church and one in the car park below the graveyard. The first has a nice seat and fence where I can attach the mast and run the wire antenna out to a flagpole in one direction and down around a try to a second bench seat in the other direction. While this was still quite early in the day and we are still in lockdown, I didn’t expect that many people to be around. It seems that since this was the first fine day in some time all the local walkers were out and two had decided to sit at the bench that I normally use. If this wasn’t in the middle of a pandemic, it may have been possible to position myself closeby but mounting the mast would be an issue and being close to this pair who seemed to be going to stay there for some time, forced my decision to head down to the other location (still in the AZ). There I am glad to say was free of the public and indeed gave me lots of room to put up the surveyors tripod, 10m mast and linked dipole antenna.

The activation from Peissenberg was straight forward and I had 26 chasers call me (all at once it seemed) on 40m. With so many in the log, I decided to leave 20m but as I found out only later, I should have tried 20m as communication between portable stations in the UK and Australia was taking place via the long path. I had hoped for some greyline propagation on 40 metres but that did not eventuate, in fact, contacts were somewhat shorter distances than I am used to with only one contact from the UK and nothing from Scandanavia.

I had one member of the public who came by to ask if I had been taking photographs when I explained it was Amateur Radio he showed some interest and so he got a small brochure and my QSL card.

Once I could hear no more callers, I packed up and set off for my second summit.

Rentschen DL/AM-176

On arriving at Rentschen and almost getting stuck with the car at the spot where I always park, it was clear that the other two summits were out of the question with the land here being so boggy the other two would be underwater almost! I did manage to find a little harder ground to set up my station, right next to the Trig point Stone which marks the absolute summit. As Rentschen is a large flat plateau, it was easy to get the linked dipole strung out again, supported by the 10m mast and surveyors tripod.

Again I started on 40m, this time I worked a total of 30 stations before the clouds came over and a cold wind arrived. This was just around noon, so I decided after the calls dried up to pack up and head home as I had some AR podcasts to publish and some other computer-based AR work to complete.

l was happy to have got out away from the house, got some fresh air and make some radio contacts.

It’s interesting that I am now noticing some “new regulars” in the chasers calling me. I can only presume these are either people working from home or others that have returned to the hobby because of the lockdown. In any case, welcome! It’s good to have more join the party of SOTA.

 Photos:

   Peissenberg:

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   Rentschen:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu X108G.
  • Surveyors Tripod and 10 metre DX-Wire fibreglass “mini-mast”.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone with PocketRxTx App and USB cable acting as an external display to the rig.

Logs:

DL/AM-001 Piessenberg:

DL/AM-176 Rentschen:

Conclusions:

  • The grab-and-go approach works well combined with bigger antennas as well – this time I had more time and so decided to put up the big mast and dipole antenna, which takes longer but the simplicity of laying the rucksack on the bench or floor and simply opening the side and plugging in the antenna cable makes life really easy!

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.

Preparation:

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.

Peissenberg:

  • 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.

Laber:

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

Log (Berndorfer Buchet):

Log (Peissenberg):

Log (Laber):

Conclusions:

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 – February 5th. 2018 5 summits in a day DL/AL-169 & 179, DL/AM-001,176 & 177.

Preparation:

As it’s now a new year and we still have the winter bonus of three extra points to the activator in force, I decided to put together the well tried and tested gear and head off to five local, easy access summits. Originally I had though of including a sixth – DL/AM-178 Ammerleite however since the easy access road has been made private, there is a long walk of about 2 kilometres from another road and the last part of that route is not on a prepared track, rather across a field up to the summit cross. this last part can be problemsome. I have been up to my knees in snow on this last part of the ascent and even if the snow has cleared the ground will almost certainly be very muddy. Not a good candidate for a “quick” activation.

Equipment would be the “tried and tested” Yaesu FT-817ND plus modified Ramsey HF amplifier, the SotaBeams band-hopper linked dipole and my 6 metre fishing pole plus this time a screw-in Sun umbrella base.

The Locations:

Auerberg is accessed from the church and restaurant’s car park and then a walk of about 50 metres up the side of the church (quite a steep climb but not long). Around the back of the church this is a bench seat to sit on and fence posts to attach the antenna mast to.
Weichberg is accessed from a forest car park and then walking up through the forest about 150 metres to the Chapel with table and bench seats outside.
Rentschen is a drive up summit formed by a plateau. Once there I walk across to the trig-point stone and set up. No bench at this one, take something to sit on.
Kirnberg has no car park so I drive to the farmers gate and then walk up alongside his fence to the cross (this farmer is really cool, he towed me out when I got bogged once – typical country guy). There’s a bench at the cross here as well.
(Hoehen-)Peissenberg is the easiest of all, you drive to the car park and then walk up the concrete steps and path to the other side of the church and set up on the bench there.

My plan was to activate DL/AL-169 Auerberg, DL/AL-179 Weichberg, DL/AM-176 Rentschen, DL/AM-177 Kirnberg and DL/AM-001 Peissenberg in that order. The order seemed reasonable however as I later found out, it would have made more sense to reverse the first two as the route from DL/AL-179 to DL/AM-176 took me back through the village underneath DL/AL-169. Oh well, next time I should know better. In the same way the route from Auerberg to Weichberg could be along main roads but leaving my GPS Navi to do the route planning it took me along single track country roads, in at least two places these went THROUGH farm yards on their route! Oh the fun of GPS-Navis!

The Activations:

The weather at home although cold there was no snow to be seen. Surprise, surprise all summits were still snow covered from snow that came down a couple of weeks ago! Temperatures varied from -9C on Auerberg “up” to -4.5C on the last summit Peissenberg. I was glad of taking my thick winter jacket but despite that, the way I felt when I arrived home, I believe I suffered some Hypothermia.

Apart from the realisation that I should have done the first two summits in the opposite order, the drives to the summits were uneventful.

Auerberg (my first summit) has a surprise for me when I arrived apart from the horribly cold temperature (-9°C) access to the summit had been closed as renovation work on the church building that sits on the actual summit has started and everything was fenced off. At this summit, even down to the car park is part of the Activation Zone so I set up on the short track up to the church. Of course now I had no bench seat, so I put out my painters sheet which kept sliding down the slope on top of the hard packed but also frosty snow. This was not starting off the day well! After spotting and calling for some time I did manage to get 5 contacts despite at one point, my smart phone being so cold that it stopped working actually “froze up” and then rebooted. This was cold. So as soon as I didn’t hear any more calls I packed everything up and headed back to the warmth of the car. Even folding the painters sheet was difficult in the cold and several items simply got pushed untidily into the rucksack.

After a scenic run along single lane country roads, I got to Weichberg. While there was still the bench seats and table here, a small tree that I used to strap the antenna mast to was no longer there and I had to use a fence post some distance further away. The end result was that the coax from the antenna was not long enough, so I had to put the station on the painters sheet on the ground again. That new antenna location can’t be very good as I had difficulty getting contacts just managing the minimum four required before packing up. Even though the temperature had now risen to -6°C the small rubber reels that I wind the antenna leads onto was really stiff and that combined with the, mandatory in these temperatures, gloves meant winding up the antenna took longer than normal. Everything takes longer than planned in such cold temperatures. To add to the fun, the antenna wire broke when I was taking it down and so got a quick repair so that it could be used on the next summit.

It was while driving to Rentschen, I realised that I was driving back past Auerberg and could have activated the two Algaeu summits in the reverse order. Apart from that the drive was uneventful. On arriving at Rentschen I decided to park just half off the road to avoid getting bogged, took the usual two packs plus my sun umbrella screw-in base as I knew at this location, there is no where to strap the mast to. I set up about half way between the road and the trig point stone (the whole plateau here is in the activation zone). By now the temperature had risen to -5°C and a lot more chasers were active. I managed 15 contacts on this summit in 12 minutes and then started the pack-up again. While I could have tried 20 metres for more contacts, I was already running late on my planned schedule, so I only operated 40m SSB on each summit.

The next summit about 30 minutes drive away was Kirnberg and I here I left the car parked on the road (I learnt my lesson getting bogged once before here). The wind had increased and the temperature had fallen one degree down to -6 again. Once I walked up to the summit cross and put the gear on the bench seat, I again used the screw-in base to support the mast. I have strapped it in the past to the fence posts but it has often tilted over a lot, so while I had the base with me, I decided to use that. This summit brought me eight contacts in five minutes before I packed everything up again and headed back down to the car. Just one more summit to go.

The drive over to Peissenberg was probably the longest and went past the point where I would have turned off to do Ammerleite but the overall direction was heading towards my home now. I grabbed a little lunch (I had brought a pack-up with me) before setting up at my normal spot on the bench overlooking the valley from the side of the church. This time 15 minutes brought 12 contacts and an interested visitor who I talked to for five minutes. Now that I had enough contacts on 40m, any thoughts of perhaps activating 20m were curtailed by the fact that my Smart Phone (which had been running 4G comms for watching and spotting all day and Bluetooth for hands-free while in the car) had 100% drained its battery. Without being able to self spot, no one would know that I was on 20m looking for contacts. So it was definitely time to pack up and while packing away one of the link connectors in the antenna broke away from the wire  – another thing to fix at home (along with the broken wire, which was now wound together and taped). Peissenberg was a “warm” -4.5°C by the time I left for the well used by me, country back roads route to my home.

Photos:

   1. DL/AL-169 Auerberg.

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  2. DL/AL-179 Weichberg.

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  3. DL/AM-176 Rentschen.

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  4. DL/AM-177 Kirnberg.

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  5. DL/AM-001 Peissenberg.

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

SOTABeams “Band-Hopper” linked Dipole.

LambdaHalbe 6m telescopic fishing pole.

Screw-in Sun Umbrella base.

Modified Ramsey QAMP amplifier (30-35W on 40m).

Logs:

   1. DL/AL-169 Auerberg.  2. DL/AL-179 Weichberg.  3. DL/AM-176 Rentschen.  4. DL/AM-177 Kirnberg.  5. DL/AM-001 Peissenberg.Conclusions:

I was surprised by the fact that there was still snow on these low summits (at home it had melted 10 days earlier) and especially the wind that I found made the low temperatures even worse. It took longer than normal to get anything done.

I am glad I didn’t try for the sixth summit, it could have ended with me being very ill by the end of the day. Do not under-estimate the effect of cold on the human body.

I decided to stay with the same equipment on each summit. Had I used my Aerial-51 OCF dipole instead of the SOTABeams band hopper, I could have switched to 20m without having to take the aerial down but it probably was wise to stay just on 40 metres when I had limited time available for each summit.

73 ’til the next Summit!