Wank is an easy access summit. As you will have seen from my earlier posts, I like summits that my wife can accompany me on and that means access with a cable car to a summit with a restaurant on it. This one has two restaurants on top of it. I was surprised to realise that the last time I activated Wank was in 2014. I have no idea how I missed this summit in 2015 and 2016. If you have read my last couple of reports, you’ll know that I have had problems with both of my HF dipole antennas. I managed to break the centre feed insulator on my SOTABeams Band Hopper linked dipole antenna and the wires coming out of both sides of the BALUN on my Aerial-51 404-UL OCF were frayed. Both antennas have been repaired and this activation will be used to test out the repaired antennas. I also still want to try to get some 2m SOTA contacts just using a HT with my new RH770 antenna, so I’ll be taking that along as well.
Looking back at my report from 2014, I saw that I had some problems finding somewhere to support my mast, so this time I decided to take my sun umbrella screw-in base with me with the hope of finding some softer ground.
The rest of the kit will be the usual FT-817ND plus my 25/35w amplifier and my 6m LambdaHalbe fibreglass mast and as noted above the Wouxun HT and antenna will also be packed.
The Wank mountain is located above Garmish Partenkirchen on the Bavaria / Austria border about an hour and a quarter from my home QTH. The cable car takes about twenty minutes to get from the valley to the summit. Technically interesting is the fact that the 4-seat cabins actually run on two cable car systems changing from one to the other at the middle station. You don’t need to move from one car to another, the car changes over between the systems. So to reach the summit, stay in the car, don’t get out when the door opens at the middle station. From the mountain station (where the Sonnenalm panorama restaurant is located) it’s a short walk and about 40 metres climb up to the actual summit, where as well as the Wankhaus restaurant, there is also the Cross and several transmitter stations and their antennas. There’s actually an amateur radio repeater in one of these huts.
My in-car GPS is a couple of years old now and has reported non existent speed cameras around Garmish Partenkirchen the last couple of times I have driven through there, so I had updated the speed cameras file on the card and, even though I knew the route, I let the GPS Navi, tell me the way there and indeed, no more false warnings! I also tuned into the American Forces radio station (Garmish is one of the last remaining locations for the American forces in Germany, kept as a rest and recuperation resort in the most part for soldiers returning from conflicts before going home). It seems they have reduced their 90.3 MHz FM transmitter power down to 50 watts so that it only now covers the base and the town. Previously I could receive it from a lot further away than I can now (or perhaps VHF propagation was a lot better the last time I came through?). Interesting for a change in style of broadcasting compared to the German stations in any case.
The drive down was uneventful and thankfully, this being a week day, the cable car was not busy and I got a cabin to myself both for the trip up and down, allowing me to take some photos using my smart phone (see below). I arrived pretty well on schedule and sought out a spot on the very summit (although there is a large area within the activation zone if others come to activate on a busy day). Indeed here I found what I found last time – only brush wood – none of it strong enough to support the mast, so I took out the sun umbrella base and found some soil where I could screw it in, with enough room at each side to run the antenna out without it obstructing any of the paths. Although there are also some nice bench seats on the summit, none were near enough for the antenna lead, so I got out the trusty painters sheet (a thick PVC sheet) and put it down on the rough rocks and then pulled out and set up the rest of the gear.
Although this summit is high, it seems none of the towers are a cell phone repeater and Internet access was patchy. I tried both of my Networks, Deutche Telekom and Vodafone. I suspect the problem was, that being so close to the Austrian border, the phone was switching back and forwards between roaming mode to an Austrian phone network and my local cell networks.
My first transmit test unfortunately showed that my amplifier wasn’t going onto transmit. I use RF triggering, rather than a PTT line to switch the amplifier into circuit and at the time I thought that it could be something in this circuit that had failed. After getting everything home and taking a look inside the amplifier however I found the main fuse had blown, which is the past has been caused by one of the two push-pull power transistors shorting power to earth. I will need to confirm this and repair it before my next activation. For now however, on the summit, I took the amplifier out of circuit and packed it away, connecting the lead from the SOTABeams linked dipole antenna which I had put up, directly to the FT-817 and ran the whole activation at 5 watts. Even the unsuccessful (no calls) two metre part of the activation was at 5 watts as that’s what the Wouxun HT puts out on 145MHz. So this was a true QRP activation on all bands used.
Given that I made 26 contacts across 40m and 20m in about 45 minutes, I think even at only 5 watts I was still getting out, albeit some people were having more difficulty than usual in copying me.
As is often the case, I had one couple come up to me and ask what I was doing, they were interested to hear that our hobby and technology exists but I don’t think they will be looking any further into it. It was a nice short chat in any case.
The bottom half of the 40m band was full of interference, I suspect from one or more of the microwave transmitters on the summit. 20m was clear of interference and the easier band to operate this time around.
All in all a nice activation and at around 1pm local, I was already back in the cable car heading down the mountain, to both miss the forecast incoming storms (that never came) and also to be able to take care of some chores when I got home.
For those visiting southern Germany, this is a nice summit to visit, easy to activate and even nice for any non-radio people coming long. I certainly wont be waiting another 3 years before activating this summit again.
Repaired SOTABeams band-hopper linked dipole.
LambdaHalbe 6m Mini-mast.
Modified QAMP amplifier (35W on 40m, 25W on 20m – when it’s working …).
Thick plastic painters sheet.
Sun Umbrella base.
A nice activation weather wise, luckily the threatened storms never arrived.
The repaired SOTABeams band-hopper worked perfectly which is more than can be said for my amplifier but as long as the FT817 continues to work, even 5w gets out when there are a lot of chasers looking for you. The repaired Aerial-51 still needs testing, that’ll have to wait for the next activation.
Two metres was a disappointment again, despite this really great location. Sad but it seems 2m SOTA is not very popular in Southern Germany.
73 ’til the next Summit!