DD5LP/P – June 25-26 2022 – SOTA DM/BW-348 Gehrenberg & DM/BW-854 Höchsten HEMA – DL/HBW-018 Galgenberg, DL/HBW-035 Lutsacher (was NoName) & DL/HBW-039 GalgenHöfe .

Preparation:

As I was attending HAM RADIO 2022 in Friedrichshafen, it is an obvious task to pick up the two easy 8-point summits nearby. On this trip, however, I also planned out some new HEMA summits to activate on my way home.

As well as my now fairly standard rucksack with radio, batteries, antennas and one 6m mast, I also added my large tripod with 10m mast and my old 10Ah battery box into the back of the car with the screw-in mast base support. In this way, I could decide to take out of the car what I thought I would need for each summit and avoid carrying everything to the summit. In the case of the two SOTA summits, I have activated these before and hence know what is the most suitable equipment. The three HEMA summits, however, I have never been to and hence I would need to plan when I arrived at them what I would take with me.

My original plan was to activate the 2 SOTA summits on Saturday evening and leave the three HEMA summits for my afternoon drive home on Sunday as the event effectively closes at lunchtime on Sunday.

As it turned out an appointment clash meant that only one of the SOTA activations was completed on Saturday evening and I decided to drop attending HAM RADIO 2022 on Sunday morning so that I could complete all of the activations.

The Activations

SOTA DM/BW-348 Gehrenberg

This was the Saturday evening (25/6/2022) activation with Chris M0TCH along to activate. He had visited this summit with me back in 2018 but has got more into the swing of SOTA lately and hence was eager to activate both this summit and Höchsten that we had planned also to activate.

We were delayed a little on our departure from the Messe by a ham wanting to talk about something and also when setting up on the summit we had two cyclists as visitors. The end result was that if Chris was to get to his dinner appointment later in the evening, we could not fit Höchsten in. a shame but in my case, I could simply move it to Sunday morning as I had decided not to head into the Messe on Sunday. 

After parking outside the forest at Gehrenberg, the walk up to the summit took a good 10 minutes and set up (with the interruptions) took about half an hour. I had Chris start on HF to get his needed four contacts and then he went a little bit away to try to get further contacts on 2m FM using a newly purchased larger antenna on his HT.

The equipment I used on this summit was the Xiegu G90 and the linked dipole on my lambdahalbe 6-metre pole supported with my sun umbrella screw-in base. Something to note on this summit is that there are tracks arriving at it from multiple directions so installing an inverted-V dipole antenna you need to make sure the wire is high enough as it crosses the track if some racing cyclist is not going to run into it!

As time was marching on and we thought we “might” get Höchsten in as well we kept contacts to a minimum and then packed everything up again. On the walk back to the car, however, doing some calculations it was obvious that we could not fit in the second activation and so we headed back into Friedrichshafen.

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SOTA DM/BW-856 Höchsten

This summit is a fairly recent addition to SOTA and was added when Aacheck was removed. It is a really easy 8-point summit with its own car park on the summit. On Sunday morning I was there, unpacked the gear and set up – this time using the 10 metre DX-Wire mini-mast supported by my large surveyor’s tripod as there is plenty of open space on this summit. This summit, like Gehrenberg, gets very busy around the time of the HAM RADIO event in Friedrichshafen as most SOTA activators can’t resist the easy 8 points for both of the summits. 

After working fourteen stations on forty metres, I packed up so that I could head to the first of my new HEMA Summits of the day. On returning to the car park Christian DL3EC came up to say hello. He had been working on 20m SSB from another field and we had not caused each other any interference at all. 

The weather was just starting to warm up, a sign of what was to come. 

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HEMA DL/HBW-018 Galgenberg

Galgenberg is the location of a microwave relay station between Vogt and Wetzisreute (to the east of Ravensberg) and once you have parked in the large pull-off car park, you need to cross the L325 road and head up the track that runs around the hill to climb at a reasonable rate for the radio service vehicles to get up. Once you reach the top, there is a nice grassy area behind the brick building at the top of the tower that fits well for putting up an antenna. 

Knowing from the map that I would have the climb, I had opted to take the same equipment in the rucksack to this summit as I had used at Gehrenberg the night before – the Xiegu G90, 6m mast and linked dipole. The day had now changed to be hot and humid with lots of annoying flies, some of which were biting me, so between contacts, I was swatting the little so-and-so’s!

As well as the weather changing, the band conditions also changed with very deep QSB and of course – as with every weekend QRM from deaf contest stations. Spotting on the HEMA cluster does not bring the same rush of callers as when activating a SOTA summit so I was searching around and calling CQ a lot from this summit. One of the stations that took pity on my long CQ calls with no answer was the main special event station out of England for the Queen’s platinum jubilee – GB70E. That was a nice surprise.

After the long drive up from Höchsten, it was getting near noon and I was getting hungry. So, after I had worked eight stations across 40 & 20m from this location, I packed up and headed back down to the car, to set off to the next HEMA summit.

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HEMA DL/HBW-035 Lutascher (NoName)

The reason I have written “NoName” in brackets is that is what this summit was called in the HEMA database at the time that I activated it. When I surveyed this region I could find a name for the summit on any of the official, detailed maps. I have now asked for the name to be changed in the database.

On arriving at this summit and parking outside of the forest, it was getting rather warm. I had not found anywhere along the way to grab something to eat and so, again I hoped for a quick activation and then to get on the road again. it was not to be so. the bands had got even worse than before.

This is an interesting summit and the actual highest point is in fact on top of a grass bank covering the water tank that supplies the local farms. There is a LOT of cycling activity around here – it seems this location south of Bad Wurzach and through “Waldfeld” is a favourite for the cyclists.

Once I got past a barking dog, (who was more afraid than aggressive) whose owner came along 5 minutes later looking for “Sara” (on a bicycle of course) – I told her the direction the dog had gone, I could climb the grass bank on to the water supply system and set up the gear (which was the same as used on Galgenberg).

This was another summit where getting contacts was difficult because of the band conditions but I did manage six contacts on 20m before the 4Ah LifePO4 battery finally dropped below the voltage needed by the G90 and set off an alarm tone. no issues, I also had my 4 Ah LiHV battery with me but even after connecting that no further contacts were possible, so – as it was now even hotter than before, I packed up and headed back to the car. 

I considered whether to drop the last planned summit but in the end decided that as it was on my direct route home, I should be able to manage it.

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HEMA DL/HBW-039 Galgenhöfe

This summit is just off the L309 road between Seibranz and Unterzeil. The area is shown on maps as Galgenhöfle however when you arrive the signs don’t have the L in the name. You will need to check the coordinates on the map as you don’t want to go to the hamlet of Galgenhöfe rather you need to go into the forest directly on the other side of the L309 road. There is a large gate and cattle grid. I parked just before that as the rest of the track is only for forestry vehicles’ use.  From that point, it is about a 7-minute walk on a track that goes off to the left and you will see when you get to the top of the rise. Some scrambling is needed over branches and the like on the floor to get to a reasonably open area, where I again set up the G90 and linked dipole. At this summit, it took me 20 minutes to get the required 4 contacts. two on 40 metres and two on 20 metres. The last contact of the day was with Christian DL3EC who I bumped into at Höchsten. He was now on a different SOTA summit – DL/AL-146 Sonneneck, after also visiting DM/BW-348 Gehrenberg on the way.

 

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast (x2 – one spare).
  • DX-Wire 10m travel mast.
  • Surveyors tripod.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella support.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • SotaBeams random length end-fed antenna (not used)
  • 4 Ah Eremit LifePO4 battery.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs) (just as 2nd backup – not used).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery.
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Gardeners nealing pad.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot on either SOTA or HEMA. 

Logs:

SOTA

DM/BW-348 Gehrenberg (25/6/22)

DM/BW-854 Höchsten (26/6/22)

HEMA 

DL/HBW-018 Galgenberg (26/6/22)

DL/HBW-035 Lutascher (26/6/22)

DL/HBW-039 Galgenhöfe (26/6/22)

Conclusions:

  • The common knowledge is not to activate on a weekend (because of contest QRM) – in this case, that made 40 metres difficult however on 20m at least some contesters obey the IARU rules and don’t use frequencies above 14300 kHz. It’s a shame the band was all over the place.
  • The new LifePO4 battery performed well powering four of the five activations.
  • After its total re-build, the linked dipole appears to be working fine.

73 ’til the next summit(s).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – June 3rd 2022 – HEMA – DL/HCG-005 & SOTA DL/CG-094 Ratzinger Höhe.

Preparation:

Having activated a SOTA summit last time and a GMA one before that, it was time to get to activate a HEMA summit again. I looked on the map for the next one that I haven’t yet activated and came up with Ratzinger Höhe which overlooks Chiemsee in the east of Bavaria. I was looking for a summit to the east of Munich so that I could activate with Rob DM1CM and as Rob can only do limited climbing this summit looked ideal. The downside was that it wasn’t very close, taking between 90 and 120 minutes to get there depending upon the time of day as I have to drive around Munich, where the traffic can be horrendous at times. As I wanted to start off the activation with a contact with Ernie VK3DET, down in Australia, I would need to be operational by 0700 UTC going by previous experiences. Unfortunately, the radio conditions on the days coming up to the planned Friday were not good and so this might be a case of only European contacts to qualify the summit, which would be my first summit in the DL/HCG region of HEMA and the first time that it had been activated in HEMA at all.

I still need to test out my vertical Moxon antenna on 15m, but with the band conditions the way they were, I was not hopeful however I would take it along in case things were good and the MUF was over 21 MHz.

When looking at the map to find parking and access tracks, I realised that this was also a SOTA summit – this is another case of a sub 150m prominence (actually 136m) being in the p150m SOTA region for historical reasons. As Rob prefers to activate SOTA summits, this would fit well. I would also activate the summit in SOTA after I had finished my HEMA activation as I have not been to this summit before, let alone activated it.

There is also a Gasthaus “Weingarten” (a small hotel with a restaurant open to the public) close by so that would fit very well as a way to round off the activation before heading back home. 

Given the long drive and possibility of unexpected delays, I planned to set off by 06:45 am local time, which meant rising at 05:30, so the plan was to load everything into the car the previous evening so that I could get away with the minimum delay and noise in the morning.

The Activation

The drive took 95 minutes so a good run and the “wanderparkplatz” was easy to find. On arriving, Rob had arrived before me, so at this point, I decided what equipment I would carry up the last part of the hill. The parking spot is actually well within the activation zone, so one could activate from the field by the car parking spot and hence come back easily to the cars for any extra needed equipment. There was also a port-a-loo here should it be needed, not something you expect in a country walkers car park. I decided however to leave the 15m Moxon and also the large tripod and 10 metre mast in the car as I thought band conditions would not be suitable for 15 metres. I later found out that assumption to be true, however, had I been able to arrive 30 minutes earlier, the 15m band was actually open for DX.

In any case, my decision was to take my usual rucksack and equipment (radio, 6-metre mast, screw-in base, etc) and set up with the linked dipole running north-south with the hope of managing a contact on 20 and perhaps 17m into VK.

On walking up the hill through the house and farm shown on the map as “Berg” we passed a small path off to a couple of seats at a lookout spot but continued on to where the coordinates say the real summit it. This was somewhat of a surprise as a bee-keepers club have put their hives and a meeting hut on this spot and several bees were busy leaving and returning to the hives across the public right-of-way. This was obviously not going to be suitable for our activation and so we decided to head back down the road to the first lookout point which indeed carried the Ratzinger Höhe name sign. The lookout spot has two benches under some trees opened out into a relatively flat field and while Rob set up his equipment close to the trees with his small tripod and Komunica Power HF-PRO2-PLUS-T multi-band loaded vertical, I moved further into the field and set up the mast and linked dipole. At this point, I contacted Mike 2E0YYY/P in the UK and Ernie VK3DET in Australia via the Signal App that we use as our “back channel”. I had agreed with Rob that I would start on 20m and he would start on 40 metres and then we would switch. One interesting fact from this activation was that although we were only about 20 metres away from each other neither of us caused the other any interference when using the 20 & 40m bands.

After several tries, I was unable to hear Ernie in VK3 but I did make a contact with Mike who was using the special 2Q0YYY call sign for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. As Mike was willing, I then suggested we try 17 or 15 metres – both bands were unfortunately dead however and trying to operate on 15m while Rob was transmitting on 40 metres was impossible as he wiped out the whole band. So another point learnt, the second harmonic of a 40m signal on 20m is not a problem however the third harmonic on 15 metres certainly is!

After working Mike on 20m, I also worked another three stations on 20 metres under the HEMA activation. Rob, who had been activating the summit under its SOTA number on 40 metres then agreed to switch to 20m so that I could get some HEMA chasers who were waiting for me on 40m. After working another 5 stations under the HEMA summit code, I then switched to using the SOTA code and went on to work 14 SOTA chasers on 40m.

After things slowed down, Rob and I agreed to call it a day. It had been quite hot in the sunshine and a nice cold beer was calling from the Gasthaus not far away!

After packing up and bringing everything back to the cars, it was a 2-minute drive to the restaurant, where they hadn’t yet started serving food but cold Weißbier was certainly available. The service was friendly and our waitress understood a lot of English. We were sat in the garden area with a wonderful view into the valley and out to the lake Chiemsee. The food was good quality Bavarian fair and it was a nice way to complete the morning’s radio activities before setting off home. the journey back took longer with delays on the Mittlerer Ring around Munich but after two hours I was back home just before the rains started. 

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella support.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs) (not used).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • 4 Ah LifePO4 Eremit battery.
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Logs:

HEMA 

 

SOTA 

 

Conclusions:

  • This is a nice (easy) summit with space to test antennas but it is too far to drive to catch the long path DX window into Australia.
  • The two G90s worked remarkedly well close together on 20 & 40 metres (but not on 40 and 15m).
  • The difference between the HF-PRO2 on a small tripod and the linked dipole on a 5-6 metre mast is not as great as I would have expected. We both covered Europe and into the UK.
  • We both used Eremit 4Ah LifePO4 batteries and had no problems with them.
  • The ability to compare similar sets of equipment is very useful when the operation takes place around the same time and from the same location.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – April 28th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HAM-015 & SOTA DL/AM-156 Schneidberg.

Preparation:

As conditions between EU and VK are so good at the moment, I decided to head out early to another summit and try out 17m as well as 20 & 40m (possibly even 15m).

As explained last time HEMA strictly adheres to its rule of including only summits with a prominence greater than 100 metres and less than 150 metres. For historical reasons, SOTA summits are not always over the SOTA rule of a minimum of 150m prominence.  Schneidberg is another such summit with a prominence of 103m.

With the long path window to VK, starting earlier and earlier, this would be an early start, getting up at 5:30 am to be on the summit by 8:30 am.  

The plan was to activate the summit as a HEMA summit for 30 minutes and then switch to SOTA. Alongside this, as this would be a Thursday morning we would try to get the “Comms Testers” net together. This consists of Mike 2E0YYY in the UK and Ernie VK3DET and Ian VK3YFD (both in Victoria, Australia) and myself in Germany. Mike also said he would go out portable to add to the fun.

I would again stick with the now tried and true configuration of my Xiegu G90 radio and linked dipole antenna on the 6m mast with everything fitting into or onto the medium-sized (40L) rucksack.

The Activation

The weather warnings were for frost however a bigger problem was fog which slowed the drive and caused me to miss a turn near the end of the trip, causing me to lose time. Despite that and the long walk from where I park the car, up to the summit, I did manage to be there, with all equipment set up by 08:15 am local time (06:15 UTC).

The activation did not start well. It’s not just the continental operators who need to go back to radio school one Welsh station forced his way onto a 20m frequency I had been on for 10 minutes and was in a QSO with Ernie VK3DET on. He could hear me telling him the frequency was in use and deliberately kept calling CQ over the top of Ernie and me. This is unacceptable behaviour and had the attitude of I have a 1KW amplifier and a big beam so you can go away and find a different frequency. What was really silly was after two contacts, he decided to go for his breakfast at which time Ernie was already on a different frequency. 

Putting that behind us, on the new frequency, I managed contacts with Ernie, VK3DET, Ian VK3YFD and Mike 2E0YYY/P – so we had the net complete and I had three of the four contacts that I needed to qualify the HEMA summit. Duncan MM5AJN/M on Aberdeen Beach then joined us and I had my needed four contacts. Rather than just continuing on 20m however, we decided to try 17m, so the mast came down and the links came out for 17m and up went the antenna again. Contacts with Ernie and Ian were again reasonably straightforward as they were both putting strong signals into Germany. Try as I may though, I could not get Mike into the log on 17m. Mike was hearing and able to work the guys in VK though, so I left them and went off to find another frequency, spotted myself on the SOTA cluster and see if I could qualify the SOTA summit just with contacts on 17m.

First was Jack from Finland OH3GZ and then with much stronger signals came Ron VK2AFW and Colin VK3GTV, both of whom I have probably not worked for over 5 years – that was a nice surprise.

As no more calls came I went back to the group to find that they were now moving up to try 15m. While I don’t have a “true” 15m link in my dipole I do have some 1 micro-henry plug-in links that should make it possible to use the linked dipole on 15m while it is set to 40m, by substituting both links at the 20m stages with these extra inductances. When I set up my antenna this way, although I could hear some stations on the band, I could hear nothing from Bernie or Ian. I put this down to conditions (apparently the Kp Index had gone up to 4 which can easily suppress the MUF). I was wrong, while setting up to go back to 20m, I realised that I had not closed one of the 17m links, so it’s no wonder it didn’t work! I couldn’t ask the guys to go back to 15m again so I left it for another day and we had a short QSO back on 20m again.  

At this point, Mike texted me that a lot of SOTA chasers in the UK were waiting for me on 40m, so I agreed to move to 40m and hope to find a free frequency (something that as it was getting close to 10 am would not be easy). 

My first contact on 40m was an S2S call from special event station TM2IF/P on F/CR-216. I only found out later that this was a special event station in memory of a recently lost to Cancer and much loved Spanish SOTA activator, Guru EA2IF. I wish I had realised it at the time. Congratulations to Alain F5ODQ for organising the special call sign and I hope that through its use we will all be reminded about all the good things that Guru did for the hobby before he was taken, far too young, from us. 

I then continued to work three more stations on 40m but although I could hear Mike 2E0YYY/P, he could not hear me. The reason became apparent when I was packing up the station. I had managed this time to leave one of the 20m links open when moving to 40m, so the antenna was one half 40m quarter-wave and one half eighth wave, no wonder it was not working well! The ATU in the G90 matches just about anything, so I didn’t notice a horrible SWR which would have been apparent if I had been using a radio without an inbuilt ATU. 

At 10:10 am local time, I packed up and headed back down to the car as with the winds increasing, the temperature had been dropping with the wind-chill factor taking the temperature back down towards zero centigrade.

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella support.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Logs:

HEMA 

SOTA 

Conclusions:

  • The weather got colder as time went on, due to the cold winds increasing.
  • The main purpose of the activation – was to try out 17m and indeed that went well, even though 20 & 40m were fraught with QRM and idiots. 17m does seem to be a better band to use for DX communications when open.
  • I had two times when I accidentally left one of the links in the dipole open when it should have been closed. I need to find some way to be able to see this from the ground as the radio matches into anything when asked and hence the usual “bad VSWR” that would tip me off to a problem is hidden.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P & DL20SOTA – April 23rd 2022 – HEMA – DL/HCN-004 & SOTA DL/AM-180 – Berndorfer Buchet (for EU-NA S2S & First HEMA DL-G H2H).

Preparation:

Because of weather worries, I decided to head back to Berndorfer Buchet which is a current SOTA and a current HEMA summit.

As explained last time HEMA strictly adheres to its rule of including only summits with a prominence greater than 100 metres and less than 150 metres. For historical reasons, SOTA summits are not always over the SOTA rule of a minimum of 150m prominence.  Berndorfer Buchet is one such summit with a prominence of 135m.

The reason for the activation initially was to take part in a long-planned Europe to North America, Summit-to-Summit activity day. It seems the date of 23rd of April was a favourite for others as well and coincidentally this is also International Marconi Day, where many special event stations on both sides of the Atlantic are expected to be on the air. As this year marks 20 years of the SOTA award scheme, the SOTA Baden-Wurttemberg group applied for and got the special DL20SOTA call sign for use during the year. They, however, have a meeting planned for the 23rd and while several US SOTA activators would love to get a Summit-to-Summit contact with the special call sign, I offered to operate their call sign during my already planned activation and this was agreed (I am now a member of SOTA-BW).

This plan was originally based on my going to the DL/AM-060 Laber summit however with the weather forecast saying that heavy rain would start on Laber and surrounding mountains at the time I would be activating, I had to find an alternative. The forecast for Berndorfer Buchet was that there would be no rain (it actually started just as I got back to my car after the activation). So the summit was now to be DL/AM-180 Berndorfer Buchet and I was allocated the DL20SOTA call sign from 2pm local time. I intended to be on the summit at least 30 minutes before that, which meant I could activate the HEMA code for the summit (DL/HCN-004) under my own call sign as a test of equipment prior to starting with the special call. While the DL HEMA association has not as yet had an H2H (Hema to Hema) contact, perhaps that would also be possible.

So I had a lot of things planned in what would be a somewhat more complex action with two call signs and two hill references. 

I would stick with the now tried and true configuration of G90 radio and linked dipole antenna on the 6m mast with everything fitting into or onto the medium-sized (40L) rucksack.

The Activation

The trip to the car parking spot for the summit was uneventful. It took under 30 minutes from my home. On arrival, there were three other cars in the parking spot (normally it’s empty) so I thought I might run into some people during my planned 3-hour stay – I didn’t.

After a determined walk into the forest and up the last part of the summit, I arrived at around 12:45 local (1045 UTC) and started to set up the station. As some of the trees here have been cleared, I thought I would see if I could find the trig-point stone which I found several years ago. I couldn’t – perhaps it has been removed or one of the forestry vehicles has run over it and pushed it into the ground?

I had arranged with Rob G7LAS that I would be looking for a Hema H2H contact before 14:00 local (1200 UTC) when I would be switching to the special event call sign and the SOTA summit reference and I expected to be kept quite busy. I started on 40m expecting that 20m would be too close for a contact to the UK with the skip distance. I planned to start using DL20SOTA/P on 20m at 1200 UTC with the intent of giving some S2S contacts to some North American activators. Unfortunately, Rob was delayed in getting to his summit and it was 1220 UTC before we made the contact. At first, it was not G7LAS calling me but rather Rob’s son Ben 2E0VOO/P. I was somehow able to weave this first H2H contact in between the DL20SOTA activation calls. We made contact easily on 20 metres (that should have told me conditions were short skip and Dx would be difficult).

In HEMA, it is not all points, points, points from summits – indeed unlike SOTA where a summit can have a “value” of between 1 and 10 points, in HEMA all summits are worth just one point and the scale of measurement is how many unique summits you have activated or worked and how many H2H contacts you have made. The very first H2H contact between two associations also wins a certificate, so Ben and I will be getting those.

Once the HEMA related activity was out of the way with six contacts in the HEMA log, I could get back to operating DL20SOTA and giving out the SOTA summit reference.

It was interesting that both on 20m and 40m there were bursts of activity mixed with times where the caller liked to talk a little (which is fine). Those wanting the contact waited patiently until the long call was over and then we were off again, just giving an exchange and moving on to the next caller.

DL20SOTA/P under my control made 70 contacts from around Europe. Of those 10 were unique S2S contacts with another three that were activators sharing a summit with each other. So I could say there were 13 S2S contacts. The one non-European contact was “interesting”. While calling CQ on a 20m frequency that I had been on, for over half an hour, I heard another station calling CQ when I released the microphone. This was VU2DED in India, I pointed out to him that the frequency was in use but I would be happy to give him a QSO with the special event call. We had a reports exchange and then he started calling CQ on my in-use frequency again and European stations started calling him. I decided to leave him the frequency and switch to 40m to see what was happening there.

Overall the equipment worked very well with mostly 59 or 59+ reports and a good flow of callers. It’s a while since I have been able to get the voltage down on one of the two 5Ah LIPO batteries so that the radio closed down but it happened on this activation. 

I would have liked to have achieved a contact with a North American activator but it wasn’t to be. Perhaps this is the wrong time of day for the propagation or simply that it was too early for the US and Canadian hams, most of whom were probably still in bed, depending upon how far west they are located.

With the fact that 20m has been open from  Europe to Australia and New Zealand every morning this week, we should have had the EU-VK S2S event, not the EU-NA one on this day but as these events are planned well in advance we cannot predict what propagation will nor even less what the terrestrial weather will do!

 Photos:

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella support.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs) – both batteries used.
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Logs:

HEMA (DD5LP/P)

 

SOTA (DL20SOTA/P)

 

Conclusions:

  • The weather was colder than predicted and I was glad I had my thick winter jacket on, I had considered changing to a thinner one but it’s always better to be too warm than too cold.
  • It was complex handling the change-over between HEMA and SOTA and those who called me for both summit codes and call signs were confused. In the end, I hope everything was clear.
  • The main purpose of the activation – S2S contacts with North American stations did not work out. The only North American stations that were spotted were either using 2m FM or 10m CW. As far as I know, no one managed a cross-Atlantic S2S on SSB, perhaps there was one or two on CW (but even that isn’t clear at the time of writing).
  • I was really happy that the equipment worked reliably however the fact that when the voltage gets low on the G90, it turns off is fine but that it also turns the power down to 1W from 20W and turns off the speech compressor surprised me. I’ll know next time.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – April 12th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HAM-002 Rösenau Kreuz.

Preparation:

The weather had been very changeable – not uncommon for April but the radio propagation had also been very noisy with the K Index peaking over 6! When the opportunity came for a day out in the sunshine with good radio conditions, I decided to jump at the chance.

I decided to activate my closest summit, as I have not activated it this year as yet. My hope was for a nice warm and sunny morning with contacts around Europe and some DX. The standard equipment would be used – the Xiegu G90, 6m mast and SOTABeams linked dipole, which I have added a link into, to allow it to operate on 17m.

As the summit is a 20-25 minute drive from home my rucksack was prepared and with the mast and the screw-in sun umbrella base, left ready to pick up on Tuesday morning with an around 8 am local time (0600 UTC) planned.

The Activation

The trip to the car parking spot for the summit was uneventful. The walk up to the summit area as well, so by 06:45 UTC (8:45 am local). I was set up and ready to try for contacts on 20m. I was a little earlier than I had told Ernie VK3DET, so I sent him a message via the Signal messenger and when I got no reply decided to tune around. At which point I heard Dave VK5MRD in Adelaide South Australia, booming in and called and had a nice short conversation with him. The band was well open as I was also hearing VK4 and VK2 stations, unfortunately, others in Europe and the US were also hearing them and I had little chance to contact them. At this point, I got a reply from Ernie, who was heading for his radio shack. After searching to find a clear frequency at both ends we eventually managed an easy contact and we decided to try 17 metres as well. Mike 2E0YYY was also monitoring via the hack green WebSDR. Mike could hear Ernie but not me on 20m, which is the usual situation when the skip is long. He could hear neither of us when we went to 17m and indeed we also had some difficulties but managed a basic exchange with Ernie being 5-3 with me and I, 4-3 with him. After we finished on 17 metres I checked the band and there were NO other SSB stations audible on the band, so I think we were very lucky with the timing of our contact! I’m happy that the new link for 17 metres in the dipole works fine and Ernie is looking forward to when he will have his log-periodic beam up again (this contact was made using his 20m beam). 

Mike then suggested I try 40 metres to give some HEMA chasers a chance at this rare summit. Mike reported he was hearing me very strong on 40m into the UK however I hit the problem that is becoming more and more common in Europe these days. The band was full end-to-end with signals, many of them splattering over large sections of the band. Once I found a free frequency there was no guarantee that I would be able to keep it with stations simply starting up on top of other stations without listening first. I managed one Swedish, one German and one Italian contact on 40 metres, all of whom were booming 59++ signals but others had no chance of getting through. I am fairly sure that I heard at least one UK station but as soon as I started to understand their call sign the splatter from a mega-station a couple of kHz away would wipe them out.

After an hour and a half on the summit and the temperature not rising from about +2°C, I decided it was futile trying to get any more contacts on 40 metres and decided to pack up and head home, happy with the easy VK contacts on 20m at the start of the activation and very happy with the contact with Ernie on 17 metres.

 Photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Decathlon mast base spike (not used).
  • Sun Umbrella screw-in base.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Log:

Conclusions:

  • While the weather was sunny (which lifts the spirits) it remained cold which was a disappointment however I do not regret going out as the next days looked like they would be a lot worse both weather and radio conditions wise. It’s good to be able to “grab and go” when the opportunity arises.
  • I was really happy with the 17metre contact with Ernie VK3DET and the ease of the contacts with Dave VK5MRD and Ernie VK3DET on 20 metres.
  • Thanks to Mike 2E0YYY who rounded up HEMA chasers for me but the QRM from other stations on 40m made it impossible for me to hear them.
  • It’s time to re-check the solder joints on the linked dipole as at one point it gave a high VSWR for no apparent reason.

73 ’til the next summit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – March 24th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HAL-037 & SOTA DL/AL-171 – Eisenberg.

Background – Double summit.

Some of you may recognise the name of this summit from my previous reports. Eisenberg is a current SOTA and a current HEMA summit. How can this happen? Well HEMA strictly adheres to its rule of including only summits with a prominence greater than 100 metres and less than 150 metres. For historical reasons, SOTA summits are not always over the SOTA rule of a minimum of 150m prominence.  

Preparation:

This activation was planned to be a little after the normal time for our twice-weekly “Comms Testers net” on 14.242 MHz which normally runs from 0745-0815 UTC on Monday & Thursday mornings, because of the somewhat longer distance to this summit.

Ernie VK3DET had promised to wait until I got on the air and Mike 2E0YYY would listen from the UK and we would use Signal as the “back-channel”.

Eisenberg has popular castle ruins on top of it and in fact, the wooden platform within the ruins is where I always set up. One big advantage to Eisenberg is the mountain restaurant where I would park my car and head there for a beer after completing the activation. It has a great view out over the valley. I avoid this summit on weekends because of the tourists but weekdays are fine (except Monday when the restaurant is closed).

The climb from the restaurant car park to the castle is steep and in winter very slippery. I have needed to fit spikes to get up the ice-covered path in the past but that certainly should not be needed on this activation, with a dry sunny and reasonable warm day forecast.

As usual for early starts, I loaded the car Wednesday evening with all but my food and water so that all would be ready for a 7 am (0600 UTC) start the following morning.

The Activation

I knew there was one part of my route closed (and has been closed now for 6 months while the complete road is renewed for about 5 miles through Seeg – I know the diversion well for this and it adds hardly any time to the trip. What surprised me though was the total closure of the major east-west route including some newly constructed parts of the road on the way to Markt-Obersdorf. It looked like cars were coming through from the other side, so the return journey should be fine (or so I thought). The signposted diversion in fact took me past 4 SOTA summits, all of which I could have easily diverted to but I wanted to activate Eisenberg, so I pressed on. Actually arriving about 20 minutes earlier than I had expected at the restaurant’s car park! I had not been driving any faster than allowed either, while this was the one day in the year that all of the speed traps in Bavaria are set up, especially on the country roads. The police chiefs say this teaches the drivers to slow down but an investigation looking at data from the last 5 years of these actions, carried out by Passau University, found that car drivers ONLY slowed down on this one day and increased speed the following day again. This is purely a money-raising action for the local governments.

On arrival, at the car park, it was still a little chilly but not nearly as cold as it has been over the last few weeks. It looks like we might have spring arriving after all!

The “trudge” up to the castle took the usual about 20 minutes and I found the place deserted. While setting up the antenna and radio, I got an inquiry from Ernie asking how long I was going to be and a few minutes later, he came straight back to my 20m 20w SSB CQ call on our net frequency. We exchanged 53/54 reports and I tried to explain to Ernie that this summit has two codes, one for HEMA and one for SOTA. During my conversation, I noticed what I at first thought was some idiot causing deliberate QRM by playing music on the frequency but later I realised it was over a larger section of the band and I now believe it was the third harmonic of one of the high powered Shortwave broadcast stations that have been re-started to send propaganda into both sites of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Someone at the stations needs to put a spectrum analyser on the transmitter’s output! 

The next surprise was that my radio turned off without warning! Right in the middle of one of my overs with Ernie. I had been running on my 10AH battery box but I also carry a spare supply in the firm of a LiHV battery and when I got that out and connected up, I was working again but with less battery capacity available, so I would not be able to stay as long as I had hoped.

After I had worked Ernie, Mike 2E0YYY kindly spotted me first on HEMA and later on SOTA but today instead of the usual pile of callers, it took a while to gather enough to qualify the summit! Even after switching from 20m to 40m, I was not getting many calls and while Mike reported that I had a “booming signal” into the North of the UK, the only two contacts I made on 40m were into the southwest of England with low signal strengths in both directions. The bands were definitely strange. I thought perhaps there was a break in one of the links in the 40m section of the dipole so I tested it when I got home and it was fine. It was band conditions at the time that I was on that were strange.

My 20m contacts were mainly into Sweden and Finland to the North and Greece and Portugal to the south, suggesting the band was “long”.

In any case after the troubles finding contacts (I ended up with thirteen which is more than enough to qualify the summit but a lot less than I would normally get) and seeing the LiHV battery voltage dropping, I decided it was time to pack up and head back down the hill, arriving at the restaurant a few minutes after they opened and I was able to relax looking out over the valley in the sunshine and drinking a lovely weissbier.

The trip home was not as easy as I had hoped. I headed back using my normal route only to find the main B472 road was indeed completely closed in both directions and the diversion from Markt Oberdorf had obviously been worked out for large trucks as it added over 30 minutes to my journey by avoiding taking me up the small roads that would have reduced the journey time, not only because it would have been a shorter route but also I would have avoided being stuck behind slow-moving trucks, that on this “Speed-trap-day”, had the added danger of a speeding fine while overtaking. 

 Photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Bothy bag (emergency shelter) (not used).
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs). (failed)
  • 4000maH LiHV battery.
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and for back-channel comms. 

Logs:

HEMA

SOTA

Conclusions:

  • The weather is getting better – I needed no gloves while operating this time.
  • It was a pleasure to get an immediate contact with Ernie, which probably would not have been possible from home. The lower noise level when operating portable is a great advantage.
  • I checked the dipole when I got home and found no breaks – this must just have been radio conditions or obstructions causing the problems.
  • The failure in the battery box turned out to be a simple broken wire, which must have been breaking over a long time through being plugged and unplugged and over time, breaking a strand at a time and then the final strand not being able to handle the current burning through (picture in the slideshow above).

73 ’til the next summit, be it HEMA or SOTA – or perhaps BOTH again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – March 14th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HAM-014 & SOTA DL/AM-176 – Rentschen.

Background – Double summit.

Some of you may recognise the name of this summit from my previous reports. Rentschen is a current SOTA and a current HEMA summit. How can this happen? Well HEMA strictly adheres to its rule of including only summits with a prominence greater than 100 metres and less than 150 metres. For historical reasons, SOTA summits are not always over the SOTA rule of a minimum of 150m prominence.  

Preparation:

This activation was planned to coincide with our twice-weekly “Comms Testers net” on 14.242 MHz which runs from 0745-0815 UTC on Monday & Thursday mornings.

This net was formed out of a Signal messenger group and several years of attempts to make contact on SSB between Europe/UK and the state of Victoria in Australia. Those in the group and hence net normally are Ernie VK3DET, Ian VK3YFD, Mike 2E0YYY and myself. This net has only been formally running a couple of weeks as I write this report and it was created as an “attend if you have time” net but to give a point to start from for further communications tests.

Rentschen is a flat plateau with a road running across it, this makes this the ideal summit if multiple pieces need to be carried for testing and this was going to be the case for this activation. While I could have simply taken the same set-up as I had used on the previous two activations, I wanted to test out an antenna that I had built some time ago and because of the Covid pandemic had not been able to give a proper test on a summit. Now was my chance. the weather would not be as cold as it had been, no rain was forecast and so the 20m VP2E antenna (description here) would get its test on this activation. I was particularly interested as to whether what looks like a double-sized off-centre fed dipole would give the promised gain in the direction that I set it up in (pointing via the long path to Australia).

To support the VP2E only one of my 6m fibreglass poles would be needed however, I decided to take the architect’s tripod and my 10m mast along as well. I might put up both the linked dipole and the VP2E for comparisons in the EU-VK path. The 6-metre fibreglass mast would use the sun umbrella screw-in base as its support.

As usual for early starts, I loaded the car Sunday evening with all but my food and water so that all would be ready for a 7 am (0600 UTC) start the following morning.

The Activation

Although Google Maps suggested accessing Rentschen from the north, rather than through Wildsteig to the south would be almost 10 minutes quicker, after looking at a satellite image of the suggested route and seeing that it was a mud track rather than a normal road, I decided to take my normal approach route. I had enough time in any case.

The trip to the car parking spot for the summit took around 45 minutes from my home as there was limited traffic.

On arrival, it was not particularly warm and I was happy to have put my Parka on! I did a quick check of my usual set-up spot to find that the farmer had churned it up with his tractor recently, so I took a spot at the other side of the small track that runs from the road to the trig point.

I decided to initially set up the VP2E antenna as it was the one I wanted to test. Once that was up, I would go back to the car and bring the tripos and 10m mast for the linked dipole.

As I put down my painter’s sheet that I use on the ground, I received a message from Ernie and Ian, saying that they had a major thunderstorm coming through and they would have to disconnect all antennas and certainly would not be able to listen for me until the storms passed. Oh well “best-laid plans” and all that. There will be another opportunity I am sure.

I decided that as I had almost completed installing the VP2E antenna, I would continue to activate the summit with that antenna and Mike 2E0YYY would listen for me from the UK. The 20m band started long and then went short skip later but for the first hour or so, I could hear ZL1, VK2, VK5 & VK6 stations at or near S9 signal strength. Unfortunately, they were either in nets, calling an EU (usually EA) station or the pile-up to call them was horrendous!

Mike kindly spotted me on the DX Cluster and the HEMA website but to little avail. Eventually, as I was considering pulling the antenna down and putting up the dipole Lars SA4BLM called me and then after tuning around, I found Keith LZ4DJ who I had worked the previous Monday from the Berndorfer Buchet summit. After this, however, despite searching and calling, I was not getting any contacts on 20m. The band had closed it seems. Mike suggested I try 40m as he was sure there would be HEMA and SOTA chasers looking for me there. I was then faced with taking down one antenna and putting the linked dipole up on the same mast or going back to the car and bringing the tripod and 10m mast. Both options were not very inviting as with an icy cold breeze, the summit was not very warm.

Knowing that the G90 has an internal matching unit that could match the proverbial piece of wet string, I decided to try the 20m VP2E on 40m. The result? Receive is fine but transmit is terrible as regards putting a signal out. Despite that 10 SOTA/HEMA chasers worked hard and I got them into the log.

Lots of lessons were learnt from this activation, despite having to change plans around.

 Photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella support.
  • VP2E 20m antenna.
  • Surveyors tripod with 10m mast (not used).
  • SotaBeams linked dipole (not used).
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and for back-channel comms. 

Logs:

HEMA

SOTA

Conclusions:

  • The weather although bright was not as warm as it looked!
  • It was a shame that Ernie & Ian could not make the Net, but safety first and trying to work DX with a storm around you is not only dangerous but also quite futile with all the electrical noise that a storm produces.
  • I need to put the VP2E 20m antenna up in the garden and check that it has not gone off-resonance since it was built.
  • The plastic (one-use) medical gloves that I took with me do not keep the hands warm enough. The cloth version is better for this but the plastic ones allowed me to use the smartphone’s touch screen where the cloth ones do not.
  • SURPRISE! – I hadn’t realised but until the end of March, Rentschen gets 3 winter bonus points in the SOTA award scheme.

73 ’til the next summit, be it HEMA or SOTA – or perhaps BOTH again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – March 12th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HCN-015 & SOTA DL/BE-094 – Irschenhausen.

Background – Double summit.

Some of you may recognise the name of this summit from my previous reports. Irschenhausen is a current SOTA and a current HEMA summit. How can this happen? Well HEMA strictly adheres to its rule of including only summits with a prominence greater than 100 metres and less than 150 metres. For historical reasons, SOTA summits are not always over the SOTA rule of a minimum of 150m prominence.  

Preparation:

This activation was planned to coincide with Rob G7LAS being on a HEMA summit in England so that we could make the first H2H contact between DL and G HEMA associations. Luckily unlike other activations, this was aiming for a contact at a respectable time of 1 pm local (1200 UTC).

I originally had chosen a different summit however as this looked like being a sunny day and was a Saturday, I decided to avoid any place with lots of people. With the new COVID infections figure the day before the activation over 260,000 in Germany the risk of catching COVID despite the fact that I am fully vaccinated was simply too high.

As I activate Irschenhausen once a year for SOTA  I know the summit well and chose that as my summit while it is a deserted, safe summit.

The equipment to be used would be the same as used the previous week as I used for Berndorfer Buchet. Irschenhausen, like Berndorfer Buchet, is a forested summit with a 15-20 minute walk-in, so just one rucksack with the 6-metre fibreglass mast and the sun umbrella screw-in base.

The weather promised to be better and by noon, it should be warm enough, but I decided to cover my options with a thin and thick jacket that I could choose from when leaving the car.

The Activation

The trip to the car parking spot for the summit took around 45 minutes from my home as there was limited traffic. In contrast, the return trip took a full hour.

On arrival, it was indeed warm enough to go with the thin jacket and I loaded up ready for the walk. At this point, a farmer came by with his tractor and a log trailer. This didn’t sound any bells for me, however, it seems the local farmers were taking advantage of the improved weather to get their trees felled and transported. I set off up my well-known route through the forest but as I arrived up the last small track to the summit, it was blocked by another tractor. At first, I thought this was strange but could not see anyone nearby, so I pushed through the brush and up to the summit. It wasn’t long before I heard a chain saw in use though. This farmer had decided today was a good day to harvest the trees of the summit! 

This was not going to be a good area to set up my station with the possibility of having a tree dropped on me!

Luckily, there are plenty of other areas that are in the activation zone and soon, I found an alternative spot, closer to the main track that was well in the AZ. I even found a marker stone there – at first I wondered if this could be the summits trig-point stone but I think it was simply marking the border between two parts of the forest.

Despite the changed location, I was still in good time for my 1200 UTC sked and had my linked dipole set up on 40m and the station was ready to go in about 15 minutes. It’s so much easier when doing this in plus rather than minutes 10°C! Following a recent CME hit to the ionosphere, 40m was very noisy and I started to wonder if the contact into the UK was going to be possible. As I was early, I decided to simply put out a CQ and ended up with two quite long rag-chews with some Austrian and German hams. As this summit is in both the SOTA and HEMA schemes I was watching both spotting pages from my phone and when I saw Rudi OE7RDI who was visiting Germany on a SOTA summit, not more than 15 minutes drive away from me, I gave him a call and we had my first S2S contact of the day. This was difficult though with 52 / 53 reports exchanged – an indication of how bad the band was.

Karl 2E0FEH was next in the log, responding to my “CQ HEMA” call, but again, I only got a 33 report from him. At this point, it was 1200 UTC and I had not seen any spot from Rob, so I sent him a message via the Internet to which I got a surprising response! He had got to his summit and the field where the summit is was filled with a herd of bulls! There was no alternate location in his case and so the planned H2H could not take place. He was going to go to another summit but it would take longer than I was able to wait, so that first H2H between DL and G in HEMA will have to wait for another day.

After 1200 UTC, the band quickly improved and rather than packing up, I decided to go SOTA S2S hunting and worked a row of other SOTA activators on their frequencies around 40m. At the end of the day, I was to have ten S2S contacts in the log. While skipping between calling the other activators, I called for both HEMA and then later SOTA chasers – spotting myself in the appropriate systems to give the chasers a chance to get a contact with this summit. I had a total of 34 contacts from the summit. 

One could also say I had an eyeball QSO as well. While in conversation with another ham with my headphones on, I suddenly felt something next to me and it was a young medium-sized dog who had come over from the main track to see what I was doing! I looked around and there was a large family group walking down the main track, so I sent their dog back to them and then tried to explain to the other ham why I hadn’t come back to his last over!

 Photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella support.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and for back-channel comms. 

Logs:

HEMA

SOTA

Conclusions:

  • The weather was lovely for a change.
  • It was a shame that Rob and I could not make the H2H as the time is running out for this first H2H contact as it has to be done in the first year of the new association and the DL association started in April 2021.
  • Once again with the equipment – everything worked as it should including the Xiegu G90 radio which continues to perform well, despite mediocre conditions on 40m at the start of the activation.

73 ’til the next summit, be it HEMA or SOTA – or perhaps BOTH again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – March 7th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HCN-004 & SOTA DL/AM-180 – Berndorfer Buchet.

Background – Double summit.

Some of you may recognise the name of this summit from my previous reports. Berndorfer Buchet is a current SOTA and a current HEMA summit. How can this happen? Well HEMA strictly adheres to its rule of including only summits with a prominence greater than 100 metres and less than 150 metres. For historical reasons, SOTA summits are not always over the SOTA rule of a minimum of 150m prominence.  

Preparation:

This activation would be the first activation of a summit in the HEMA Southern Bavaria Central region and I wanted to get out to see what conditions were like portable into VK, early morning (around 0800 UTC). While a group of us had been making contact from home around this time, I seemed to be getting a far better report from Ernie VK3DET, than I was giving him. I have checked antennas and equipment and we are both running about the same power level. Ernie has a 3 element beam and I am only using a wire sky-loop antenna but none of this really explained the difference. I had also looked into whether the use of different antenna types, could cause the angle of incidence to the Ionosphere to be different and hence change the skip distance and coverage area at each end. Perhaps man-made noise levels could be the cause? The portable operation would be another research action. If I were to be able to work Ernie, this would be with an even simpler dipole antenna not far off the ground sending signals to Ernie’s 20m Yagi beam.

The weather had been extremely cold of late and was staying that way, so the early start needed for the radio window to Australia would be a test of my fortitude as well as a test for the equipment!

As usual, I packed the one rucksack full of equipment into the back of the car the night before the activation, so I could get an early start.

The Activation

The trip to the car parking spot for the summit was uneventful. It took around 35 minutes from my home.

On arrival, I could see that a lot of tree-felling had been done and the logs were pilled up ready for collection. Unfortunately, the track that I walked up to the summit was quite a mess, hopefully, the forestry people will repair it after they take the wood out. I had packed my screw-in sun-umbrella base on the side of the rucksack and this was the first thing to be unpacked on the summit. I screwed it into the same old tree trunk remains that I have used for the last five years. Next was the 6-metre fibreglass mast and linked dipole, with the links set for 20m as I had planned to only operate on 20m so that I would not need to be on the summit longer than needed.

Sending a quick note via the Signal app, which serves as our “back-channel” when we test, Ernie was there straight away in response to my CQ call. We exchanged 58 / 56 reports for this 24,000 km / 15,000 mile SSB contact via long path.  The 13 dB difference in power levels (I was using 20w, Ernie 400w) matches the 2-S point difference in reported signals. So this seems to confirm the point about the received noise level causing the imbalance in reports from the home location. After Ernie, I worked Keith, an ex-Pat Brit living in Bulgaria with the call LZ4DJ and Christos SV2OXS from Greece. Although spotted on the HEMA & DX Clusters I received no calls from the UK and Mike 2E0YYY using the Hack Green SDR could not hear me at all. The 20m band was obviously “running long” as normally I would get calls from the UK. I hadn’t planned to, but as I was still missing one contact to qualify the summit, I took the antenna down and switched the links to 40m where I bagged another three contacts reasonably easily.

The over-bearing problem on this activation was not the equipment, nor the propagation but rather the weather. When I decided to go QRT at 0900 UTC it was still minus 3 degrees centigrade and there was an icy wind starting. In these conditions, the best action is to close down and head back to the car, which I did.

 Photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Screw-in sun umbrella support.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Logs:

HEMA

SOTA

 

Conclusions:

  • The weather was on the borderline of dangerously cold and if this hadn’t been a summit that I know well, I may well have cancelled. Learning – know your limits and be prepared to shut down and go home earlier than planned.
  • It does seem that the reason that I can not give Ernie as good a report at my home station as he gives me, is the local noise level. Ernie is out on a farm where I live in a modern village. So electrical QRM is likely to get worse rather than better!
  • I was really happy with the contact with Ernie VK3DET – it just shows what a portable location can provide if you are there at the right time, even with low power.
  • No comments on the equipment – everything worked as it should including the Xiegu G90 radio which continues to perform well, especially on receive.

73 ’til the next summit, be it HEMA or SOTA – or perhaps BOTH again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DD5LP/P – February 28th 2022 – HEMA – DL/HAL-019 Sattlersbuckl.

Preparation:

The weather had been extremely stormy for the past month but at last, it looked like things were getting better. I had combined a trip with the wife to Kaufbeueren, four days earlier, where she wished to see an art exhibition and I did a survey of this summit (or “reccie” as I like to call it). I didn’t take anything along on the reccie apart from a small shortwave transistor pocket radio to check there was no horrible noise on the summit. There wasn’t and it took me about 30 minutes from the parking spot up to the actual unmarked (although it has a large microwave relay tower on the top of it) summit. That time needs to be taken as a maximum time as I also had our dog with me and hence there were “delays” en-route. Just before the summit (which is totally forested), there is a nice large grassed area that is well within the activation zone and so that would be the place to operate from.

The parking spot at the end of “Hektersteig” in Apfeltrang is about a 40-minute drive from my home, so this will be considered a “local summit” for me. 

I had been watching radio conditions and it looked like if I were to be set up on the summit by 10 am local (0900 UTC) I would have a chance of contacts into VK and possibly ZL on 20m. By 10 am also, the temperatures may get up to freezing point 0°C as mornings had been starting at -7°C recently. So the plan was laid to set off from home at a reasonably comfortable time of 8:30 am on Monday morning. 

As for equipment, with the long, if only a little steep for part of the way, I did not want to carry the large tripod or the 10m mast and decided to go with the rucksack packed with the 6m pole and linked dipole antenna with the backup of the Komunica HF-PRO-2 and the little photo tripod. the rig would of course be the Xiegu G90 to give me 20 watts output. As I thought I might be on the summit for over an hour, I decided not to rely on the 400mAh LiHV battery but also packed my large 10 AH LiPo battery box as well. The rucksack with all equipment was loaded into the car on Sunday evening so that I would only need to bring along my drinking water bottle and pack-up on Monday morning (these would also be packed into the rucksack).

The Activation

The trip to the car parking spot for the new summit was uneventful. It took around 45 minutes due to traffic in Kaufbeueren but still a relatively short drive for an activation.

On arriving at the parking spot, which is just after you drive under the power lines and before the no access except for farm and forestry workers sign and is used by people taking their dogs for a walk or going walking themselves in the countryside. the ground was was somewhat muddy as some foresting work has been going on and the logs are stacked covering part of the grassed parking area. While at the time of arrival it was about -5°C still however the mud was hard and OK to park on.

As I started up the hill, I realised I had left my printed out hiking map inside the rucksack however as I had walked the route before, I was able to remember points as I went up (it is fairly straight-forward), so I didn’t need to stop and take off my rucksack to get the map out. As I mentioned before, there is no indication of this summit on any of the signs along the path.

One very nice surprise was as I turned a corner about 100 metres in front of me a mother deer and her two foals ran across the road in the morning sunshine. It all happened so fast that I had no chance to get a picture of them. By the time I reach the point on the road where they crossed, they were no longer to be seen.

I arrived at my chosen grassy area in around 20 minutes – a little quicker than I had expected, so I took my time setting up as this was the first time I had used my new mast base spike from Decathlon. I’m glad to say it worked fine. I set up the antenna for 20m as it looked like that would have the best chance of a DX contact based on previous days. The first station in the log at exactly 0900 UTC was Ernie VK3DET from Victoria Australia, followed by Ian VK3YFD, also in Victoria. These are two radio amateurs that help me often with long-distance tests and while they were only receiving me at 3-3 (they were both 5-5 / 5-6) – I was happy with that! After that, I had no new contacts in the log until 09:50 and that had two main reasons – one was the fact that I went searching for other VK stations as I would have really liked to have the first 4 stations in the log, for this first activation of this new HEMA summit to be from VK. It wasn’t to be. Although heard by at least one of the other VK stations I could not get a contact as others called over the top of me. The second reason for the delay was that my Internet link had dropped and I hadn’t realised it so all spotting and reports never got to me. At this time Mike 2E0YYY had been busy and lined up lots of HEMA chasers for me on my spotted frequency (where I had worked Ernie and Ian). When I eventually realised there was nothing coming in from the Internet and I switched to my second carrier (I have a dual-SIM smartphone) – I saw several messages from Mike and returned to my previous frequency to work 10 further stations in less than 15 minutes.

I did have a couple of other interruptions. In one case a man on a tractor arrived and I was wondering if he was there to plough up the field but no that was not the case. I explained to him what I was doing and he had no issues with it. Later another local arrived in a four-wheel drive and drove right up to me. Again it was a simple inquiry as to what I was doing and we ended up having a nice chat. Both visitors were given a small brochure about Amateur Radio in German, so who knows – perhaps they may get interested in the hobby as well. They have their own HEMA summit, so that’s a good start! Of course all this time, I was off the air but at times, it’s nicer to take to people 2 metres away rather than fight the QRM to take to people on the other side of the world!

All in all, this was a successful activation and this summit (as you’ll see from the photographs) lends itself to testing new antennas out … once the weather gets a bit warmer!

 Photos:

  1. Reccie on February 24th 2022.

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      2. Activation on February 28th 2022.

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Equipment used:

  • Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
  • Xiegu G90.
  • Komunica Power HF-Pro2-PLUS-T loaded vertical antenna. (not used)
  • Modified mini photo tripod with clip-on radials (not used)
  • Lamdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
  • Decathlon mast base spike.
  • SotaBeams linked dipole.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs).
  • 4000maH LiHV battery (not used).
  • Painters thick plastic sheet.
  • Lightweight headphones.
  • Smartphone to spot and back-channel comms. 

Log:

Conclusions:

  • While the weather was sunny (which lifts the spirits) it remained very cold and I had made the right decision to keep the equipment simple and what I am used to rather than trying out any of the new antennas that I have built. They can be tested when the temperatures improve.
  • For once, I came home without anything needing repair or improvement!
  • I was really happy with the contacts with Ernie VK3DET and Ian VK3YFD being the first in my log but disappointed that trying to get the first four contacts (to qualify the summit) as VK stations was not possible. Not because of radio conditions, not because of mý equipment but because of the greed of the UK and European QRO stations calling on top of me. I’m sure I could have worked VK4, VK2 and another VK3 station by their strengths but that chance was destroyed by the greed of the high powered and big antennaed stations. A sad reflection on the state of amateur radio in Europe and the UK.
  • A great thanks to Mike 2E0YYY who rounded up HEMA chasers for me and for their patience waiting for me to get back on frequency along with thanks to Don G0RQL for holding the frequency for me while I was away.
  • The Decathlon spike worked fine. I have had one of these before, which sheared off, so I hope this one will last longer as it packs easily inside the rucksack.
  • The G90 radio continues to perform well, especially on receive and I don’t think going up to 50 or 100watts output from 20watts would have made any difference to the contacts that I made or those that I was trying for.

73 ’til the next summit.