DD5LP/P – September 30th 2021 – DM/BW-695 Teck & DM/BW-078 Römerstein.

Preparation:

I have had these two summits on my list for a while and as it’s quicker to bag the points with a couple of high-scoring summits rather than several lower-scoring summits, I had decided, based on the weather forecast 4 days earlier to head up to the Stuttgart area where these summits are on Wednesday 29th September. Of course, as seems to be a very common occurrence these days, the weather forecast changed and checking the forecast the day before, the area was expected to get rain and high winds. Both of which are not welcome on these summits. As it turned out the rain didn’t arrive but the high winds did, so I am happy that I rescheduled to Thursday the 30th of September.

I decided to use the repaired linked dipole for these activations to make sure it was working correctly again. This in turn meant taking the small 6-metre mast and for Römerstein something to support the base, so I packed the screw-in sun umbrella foot and indeed used that on Römerstein. On Teck, I was able to simply strap the mast to the end of the wooden table.

The Activation – Burg Teck

The drive from my home to Teck is straightforward as most of the route is on the Autobahn system and it took just under 2 hours start to finish (finish being the Hörnle Car Park at the other end of the ridge to where Castle Teck and the summit is located).

Teck has a long and for most of the 2-kilometre track, steep, walk, which, with a heavy backpack is very draining. (see pictures of the track later). Eventually, however, I got to my operating position and the area was fairly empty of visitors as the castle restaurant had not yet opened and a lot of people time their walk up the hill to coincide with that.

It always seems to happen, as it did again on Teck. I search around and find a clear frequency put out 2 or 3 calls to make 100% sure it is clear, then spot myself and start calling CQ SOTA. Within 5 minutes, some Idiot has started up 1 or 2 Kcs above or below of my frequency. Even if they say they can’t hear me as I’m running low power with a small antenna portable – they MUST hear the chasers calling me. In most cases, they simply don’t care and don’t check.

I’m then left with the situation – what do I do – do I move off and try to find a better frequency, where the same problem will happen again most likely, or do I “stick to my guns” and keep working on my frequency as there are also chasers who manage to get through and to hear me. After all, as an activator, I only need 4 contacts – all after that are a bonus – but I do try to work everyone who calls and can get through.
 
The pile-up on Teck was enormous, so much so that by the time I had worked all the stations I could on 40 metres, I had no time to move to 20 metres. That is sometimes the way of things.
While packing up someone came over and I explained to him in my best German what I was doing, only to find out this 80-year-old gentleman was in fact a US citizen (born in Germany but emigrated at an early age) who was visiting relatives in Stuttgart. Once we switched to English we had a nice and interesting conversation. We often say that one can learn about other cultures through talking to other amateurs over the air, in this case, the amateur pursuit of SOTA put me in a situation where I could talk to someone without the radio.
The drive from Teck to Römerstein took about 30 minutes including a forced detour for a closed road (my SOTA activations wouldn’t be complete without having to detour from the expected route!). After a little checking, I eventually found the other car park and the start of the track up to Römerstein “Türm” (Tower).
 
 

The Activation – Römerstein

After loading up at the car, the walk up to the summit is shorter than my previous route but also steeper, so the first order of priority after getting to one of the tables on the summit was a drink of water and a short rest. The summit was almost deserted with just one couple cooking their lunch on an open fire in one of the prepared fire-pit areas. This appears to be an area that is prepared for usage by boy scouts and similar organisations.
 
As I had not got onto 20m on Teck, I started on 20m looking for some S2S contacts and also to make some contacts. The Over the Horizon Radar was “swooping” up and down 20m unfortunately but despite that in total on Römerstein I worked 64 chasers in 30 minutes including taking the antenna down twice to switch bands between 20 & 40m. The pile-ups on both bands were really “Over the Top”. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that it was a 10 point summit?
A lot of people were giving 73 and 44 at the end of a contact, and some who were in parks giving me their FF number, so much so, that I wondered if I was on a WWFF preferred frequency. I was on 7162KHz. So after returning home I’ve searched the web for a list of preferred frequencies and found that WWFF is in fact 7.144 so I wasn’t stepping on anyone else’s frequency. In fact, the closest frequency was 7160 kHz which is listed for SOTA usage.

I received the strongest best (real) reports that I have had for a long time, both 20 & 40m were good inside Europe (but no DX) – I had 3 x S2S contacts from this summit and 5 from Teck  – I had lots of 5-9 or 5-9+10 reports and general comments about it being a real strong signal. I was using the G90 with the speech compressor turned on and the linked Dipole at about 5 metres AGL on both summits.

 Photos – Burg Teck:

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 Photos – Römerstein:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack with added radio section protection.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Sotabeams linked dipole “Band Hopper”.
  • 6m LambdaHalbe mini-mast.
  • Sun umbrella screw-in foot (used at Römerstein).
  • Komunica HF-PRO2-Plus-T HF/VHF vertical and photo tripod with radials (as a backup antenna – carried but not used).
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.

Log – Teck:

Log – Römerstein:

Conclusions:

  • Two great activations – the pile-ups were enormous – but controlled and polite. I have activated both Teck and Römerstein before but this time I tried a new (shorter) route up to Römerstein. Er – the summit is still the same height, so what does a shorter route mean .. Yes – a lot steeper track! It is a better approach though as the car park is larger and I guess this is the way you are supposed to get there up a track, not bashing through the forest from the other smaller car park as I used to do!
  • The Linked dipole is back working correctly again after its problems on the last activation (broken wire in the PL-259 plug).
  • The number of chasers eager to make a contact with these 8 and 10 point summits was overwhelming, I tried to work all of the callers but I’m sure I missed several in the “wall of noise” which wasn’t helped by the OTHR and splattering QRM and QSB!
  • The smartphone – an LG K42 was able to be angled to be visible but remains a weak component in the summit pack. It simply does not have the needed brightness and contrast to be able to be viewed in sunlight as my previous (3G only) phones had (3G is now decommissioned in Germany).
  • These were summits with steep climbs and the rucksack is still too heavy. The strengthening through the addition of the plastic box to form a protected section in the bottom of the pack for the radio, batteries and accessories worked well and hasn’t added much weight but I do need to do an activation with just the small and lightweight LiHV battery rather than the two 5ah LIPOs that I am presently carrying to each summit and then only using, at most, half of the capacity of one battery.
  • The 20 watts from the XIEGU G90 with its speech compressor turned on along with the linked dipole is the “sweet spot” for portable equipment. I was getting the majority of (true) reports as 5-9 or 5-9+ and I could hear stations very well once I managed to get just one station calling. In the pile-ups, it’s normal that the radio de-senses with so many signals.