Next week (6-12 Nov) I will be in EA8 on a family holiday with a few SOTA activations thrown in. This will be the 4th Autumn/Fall trip to EA8 with a view to activating SOTA. As it’s a family holiday SOTA is not foremost on the list of activities but I hope to get 1 or 2 days to myself.
I’ve been looking at VOACAP and trying to make sure I understand what it’s telling me. Sadly I don’t really because I am an opportunistic HF operator, I climb a hill and play on some HF bands till I have had enough of the WX or there are no more stations I can hear to work.
I will have an 817 with me and maybe a small PA capable of 25W. Antennas will be a 17m/20m/30m link dipole, a 15m/17/20m/30m loaded vertical. I hadn’t decided whether taking the 40m/30m/20m EFHW was worthwhile as operation is likely to be limited to 1000Z to 1800Z max.
VOACAP is suggesting that operation on 12m has a high probability that I will be able to make QSOs into Europe. I have a 12m 1/4w GP that weighs next to nothing and is trivial to deploy and I was wondering if it really would be viable. Or am I being suckered into seeing what I want to believe from the predictions? 3 years ago at this time of year I was able to work 60 stations on 10m SSB with a compromised 10m antenna from EA8/LA. It was immense fun. Now 3 years further into the solar minimum I would not have bothered with the higher HF bands. But those charts are seductive and drawing me like a Siren Song.
My question to those with some long term HF experience is simple? Would they really expect to be able to work 12m to EA8 at the current point in the solar cycle? (And yes I am aware HF conditions maybe a bit broken by the imminent return of a coronal hole.)