As the opportunity came up to get to Berndorfer Buchet as part of an action to drive the wife somewhere and while I had just managed to match the Antron A-99 (CB/10m) vertical on 20m I decided this would be a great opportunity to try everything out before the following Saturdays UK/EU <> VK/ZL/JL S2S QSO Party. To support the Antron antenna, I have a large surveyors tripod so it would need to go along as well. to avoid having to struggle up the steep and slippery last part of the track to the actual summit will this extra weight, I did some research to see how far the activation zone extends and where possible find a spot with less trees as the vertical antennas do not perform well between trees.
In fact simply walking further along the access track brings one to a more open spot with plenty of space away from trees.
Of course I would pack the linked dipole and mast “just in case” something doesn’t work or 20 metres is dead and I need to go onto 40m (which the Antron can’t cover even with matching components.
A nice coincidence was that the 100 Watts and a Wire “FALLOUT” event was also going to be on, so I would take part in that as well by mentioning the group on-air as part of my CQ calls, and explain it to anyone who asked.
What I was to find out there was another, not so nice, coincidence in that the Scandinavian Activity contest was taking place also up until 1200 UTC and the bands would be full of crocodiles taking part in it (big mouths little ears). It’s especially a shame when these stations operate in the “non-contest” parts of the bands but no matter which contest it is, no one seems able to take action against these bad contest operators (note not all are bad, mainly it’s the wanna-bees – the top operators are no problem).
My timing would be about 0900 to 1000 UTC so too late for any hope of any contacts “down under” this time. So lets see how the equipment works out ….
As mentioned above actual set-up location on Berndorfer Buchet was changed because of the heavy vertical antenna but the access is still the same track as is the parking spot on the road down to Kerschlach from the Weilheim to Starnberg B2 road.
As I carried all of the extra equipment to the different location, the ideal spot in the grassland seemed to be being worked on, there was a reel of cable there and some other item, so rather than set-up there only to be moved on if the workers came back (unlikely of course as it was Sunday), I decided to set up at the end of a small track, which was certainly better for the vertical antenna than if I had set up by the trig point stone in the forest on the actual top of the summit. after un-packing, I first set-up the Antron A-99 in the Surveyors tripod (pictures below) and then connected up the gear on the laid out painters plastic sheet. As it turned out this was NOT going to be an easy activation!
I experienced the following problems:
- The sunshine! – the display on my Xiegu X108G Chinese HF radio is totally unreadable in sunshine, I set up a lot of things to try to create shade and I had to strain my eyes to get on the right band let alone frequency!
- The voltage regulator board in my (2x 4S 5000maH LIPO) battery box decided to become a wide band noise generator across 20 & 40m. I’ve had this problem before but thought I had it fixed – it’s back.
- Even my Cell phone checking in to the cell towers managed to get into my headphones lead to cause audio problems.
- I set up the Antron A-99 vertical antenna initially to see how it performed but it picked up nothing but noise. Some of this was from the battery box but I think there’s something else on this summit that is also creating electrical noise, (perhaps something underground that was being worked on with the cables on the ground about 10m away from me) which of course vertical antennas are more prone to hear. I didn’t have this problem when I tested the antenna in my back garden.
- After taking down the Antron and putting up my fibreglass mast and linked inverted-V dipole, I found the BNC plug or the BNC to PL-259 adapter has an intermittent contact, so so careful positioning was needed to get this to stay connected.
- CONTEST TRAFFIC – both 20 & 40m was full with crocodiles – in principal for a test a contest can be useful but not when a contest station doesn’t even acknowledge you calling and later a station from the same part of the country gives you a 5-5 report – so the contest station can only be bothered with 5-9 signals it seems!
DESPITE ALL THAT, I did manage eleven contacts including 4 x S2S contacts (see log below) in just over an hour, by which time it was time to pack up and go and collect my wife.
- Xiegu X108G Chinese 20w HF transceiver “outdoor” model.
- Antron A-99 vertical antenna with capacitive matching circuit for 20m.
- Surveyors tripod.
- SOTABeams Band Hopper linked dipole.
- LambdaHalbe 6m Mini-mast.
- Thick plastic painters sheet.
- Sun Umbrella screw-in base (not used).
I suppose it was too much to hope for that a newly organised antenna would work in the field without problems on my first attempt however as this model is used to great effect by 2E0YYY from the UK, I was hoping for better than what I got from the Antron. I don’t expect that I will take this antenna for next Saturdays S2S event. It needs some more “normal” activations before it can be trusted to work correctly.
I have had a look at the battery box and cannot see anything obvious why it should start and create so much noise on the bands. It did appear to be radiating from the board (over the air) rather than down the power cables, so this will need some work this coming week to try to resolve.
The SOTABeams linked dipole “saved the day” again and deserves a new BNC connector on its cable if that’s where the connection problem is – that’ll get checked and replaced if needed.
73 ’til the next Summit!