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Activation of Foret de Paimpont F/NO-024


#1

Hi All,

I have just returned from a most enjoyable holiday in the Val de Loire. There weren’t any nearby SOTA hills but I was able to set up my link dipole at the house I was staying at. At home the noise level on 40M is at least S5 and often much higher than that. Here in this small french village the S meter didn’t move at all. This made chasing on 40M and 30M so much easier. It was good to work Roger, F5LKW from various high summits in the National Park of Mercantour on 30M in the early mornings. Roger’s exploits are most impressive !

The XYL wanted to visit Rochefort-en-Terre on the way back home, a very pretty village with an unusually high population of various artisans and artists. Anyway I noted that the route from Rochefort-en-Terre to Calais passed close to Foret de Paimpont, F/NO-024 with only a minor deviation off the N24 required. So this activation was planned in. I also noted that it had only been activated once before by F6DYA back in 2008.

The Foret de Paimpont is a large dense forest of mainly oak and beech trees and is privately owned. However, it is opened up to walkers from March to September. The legends and myths of King Arthur and Merlin are much more popular in this region than in the UK. So in the Foret de Paimpont you will discover Merlin’s Tomb, The Round Table and the Fountain of Life amongst others. However, I was only interested in locating the summit! The walk in to the summit was a very easy 30 mins down a well defined road off the D40. I have left some tips on the F/NO-024 summit page if anyone else is interested in activating this summit. The summit is very flat-topped and indeed where I parked up was already well within the activation zone. About 2/3rds in there was a sudden very heavy downpour that forced me to shelter in the dense forest for about 20 mins after which it cleared up and blue sky returned. I failed to find the summit itself. According to the map it is just off to the left of the road I walked down just before a right fork. I could discern no distinguishing feature so I am not convinced it is marked. About 10M back from the right fork there was a clearing off to the right where felled logs had been piled up. This clearing was just right for setting up my 60/40/30M link dipole. The ground was very wet from the recent downpour so I set the FT857 up on top of the pile of logs, although this did mean I operated whilst standing up! A short CQ SOTA on 7.032 produced the usual wall of sound from goodness knows how many Chasers calling at the same time, all about the same strength. It took me a while to pick out a sufficient part of a callsign so it was a slow start. Anyway I managed to work about 25 Chasers, thanks for your patience guys. I then switched to 40M SSB and I found Barry, MW0IML on 7.118 activating GW/NW-053 so we had a nice S2S chat, although there was quite a bit of QRM. I then QSY’d a bit HF and called CQ SOTA but only got a few contacts. I was about to QSY to 30M but the rain started again and looking at my XYL we decided to sadly QRT. Nickie has accompanied me on all but one of my activations, I appreciate her support and help in setting up the /P station.

It was a bit frustrating on this activation not to have use of my 3G phone. It certainly would have worked but I was not going to pay the excessive 3G Eu data roaming charges. Hopefully in the not too distant future prices will drop to sensible levels. This meant I could not self spot but also I couldn’t check who else was activating at the same time. When I checked later I see that I could have had a couple of nice S2S contacts on 40M CW, d’oh!

Anyway thanks to all chasers who contacted me, a most enjoyable activation apart from the rain.

73s Andrew, G4AFI


#2

In reply to G4AFI:

the usual wall of sound from goodness knows how many Chasers calling

It warms the cockles of my heart to see long time licensed CW ops finding 7.032CW as challenging as us new boys do :slight_smile:

excessive 3G Eu data roaming charges.

For me I can have unlimited European 3g data roaming for £5/day. Otherwise its 69p/MB. It makes it well worthwhile to pay for the whole day’s access and is available to both PAYG and contract phones.

But sending a text message only costs an extra 8.4p plus the message cost. So SMS spotting isn’t going to break the bank.

Andy
MM0FMF


#3

In reply to G4AFI:

Many thanks for the very interesting report Andrew. Shoe-horning activations into family holidays is always difficult and requires careful consideration of the needs of the family, so I am pleased that you managed at least one on this trip. I was considerably more fortunate this year, managing to “escape” with the hire car for a day in addition to the pre-planned day of sight-seeing / summit activating “negotiated” prior to leaving the UK.

… I couldn’t check who else was activating at the same time. When I checked later I see that I could have had a couple of nice S2S contacts on 40M CW

That is often the case, but I have come to realise that the prime objective is to have a successful activation myself and that does not necessarily means having S2S contacts, pleasant though they are. Spending time pitching my 5W to a dipole against the power of the fixed stations has often proved to be wasted time, despite calling S2S.

73, Gerald G4OIG


#4

In reply to MM0FMF:

It warms the cockles of my heart to see long time licensed CW ops finding 7.032CW as challenging as us new boys do :slight_smile:

Hmm I have been licenced since 1971 but not had much experience over that time in handling pile-ups. Not easy to train for so you have probably had much more experience than I have Andy since I have only done 6 activations to date. I have to force myself to relax against the sense of panic that I initially feel. Perhaps a collection of recordings of initial responses to CQ SOTA on 40M CW could be made as a training aid ?

For me I can have unlimited European 3g data roaming for £5/day. Otherwise its 69p/MB. It makes it well worthwhile to pay for the whole day’s access and is available to both PAYG and contract phones.

But sending a text message only costs an extra 8.4p plus the message cost. So SMS spotting isn’t going to break the bank.

With foresight I should have registered with your spotting service Andy. And fair point about the £5/day data roaming option. Again lack of foresight!

Andrew G4AFI


#5

In reply to G4OIG:

Shoe-horning activations into family holidays is always difficult and requires careful consideration of the needs of the family

As I mentioned my XYL is very supportive of my SOTA chasing and activating activities. I agree that the key is to set/agree a balance of radio vs other things to do on holiday. We both enjoy walking so she doesn’t need much convincing to join me on an activation.

We have a week booked in Wales the beginning of September. We plan to do Cadair Idris as well as the NW-017 and NW-041 pair.

Spending time pitching my 5W to a dipole against the power of the fixed stations has often proved to be wasted time, despite calling S2S.

I experienced this recently on 40M SSB from G/CE-001. It took me 20 mins to achieve a S2S. I really enjoy S2S contacts but maybe you are right and the time might have been better spent.

Andrew G4AFI


#6

In reply to G4AFI:

I find that if you’re lucky you call a few times and one station comes back. Maybe after that QSO you get one more station that is easy to work but whilst doing that the 1st station is placing the spot. Then you call again and the world calls you and that gives me a huge rush of excitment. Of course there’s panic too. But once I’ve worked a few stations that initial panic subsides.

To practice I’ve used Morserunner on the computer. It lets you simulate a number of stations calling along with QRM,QSB etc. It’s still nothing like the wall of calls and it’s still a lottery as to whether you can ever pick a call out or not.

Andy
MM0FMF


#7

In reply to G4AFI:

My XYL enjoys walking as well Andrew, but the hour or so associated with activating can often be a frustrating time for her. She no longer accompanies me on activations in the UK as sitting for that length of time chills her considerably. Fortunately we were in Portugal this year, so she was able to sit out in the sun and read a book while I operated. She did, however, choose to let me go alone on the second day while she headed for the local beach.

My comment regarding time spent on trying to achieve S2S contacts needs to be considered against my method of activating. Usually I am dashing from summit to summit trying to get as many as possible activated. The allocated operating periods tend to be between 45 and 60 minutes and usually encompass two or more bands. Therefore, for me, time is an important factor. If I lived closer to the summits and had more opportunities to get out activating, then I am sure I would be employing a more relaxed mode.

73, Gerald G4OIG


#8

In reply to G4OIG:

In reply to G4AFI:

Spending time pitching my 5W to a dipole against the power of the
fixed stations has often proved to be wasted time, despite calling
S2S.

Firstly, thanks for the nice write up Andrew.

Second, easiest thing at the start of a 40M pile up is just answer to G4SSH. He’s always first there :slight_smile: (see http://youtu.be/Ffje8VVcUKk at about 4:00 mins if you have any doubts!)

Third, S2S are easier for me than the same chaser contact would be from home. Same rig, same antenna but huge advantage with low noise (40M has been sitting at S9+ since May) and better take off. That’s half the reason I continue to reactivate the local hill!


#9

In reply to G4ISJ:

Second, easiest thing at the start of a 40M pile up is just answer to G4SSH. He’s always first there :slight_smile:

LOL - in this case he was contact #8! The rhythmic nature of Roy’s callsign makes him easy to pick out of a pile-up.

That’s half the reason I continue to reactivate the local hill!

I am jealous - I wish I had a local SOTA hill.

Andrew, G4AFI


#10

In reply to G4AFI:
Thank you Andrew for nice QSO. Your signal was really strong and happy to meet someone early. We need chaser to valid our expeditions. You can listen your signal in my video.
Saturday 11th august, i’ll try another trip near briançon, then still need you early in the morning.
73 QRO - Roger (F5LKW)