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Advice please - ES summits in May


Hi, I have been invited to join some friends walking for a week in the Cairngorm region next April/May and was obviously wondering about combining it with a SOTA activity. The question is, what is the chance of completing an unanounced activation from ES-001 - ES003, ES-005, ES011 or ES-013 using just the FT817 and either the rubber duck, or one of the new SOTA verticals ?
My companions are not at all interested in radio so messing around with beams or HF is NOT an option. Mobile phone coverage is non-existant so spotlite is a no-no.
Would I be wasting my time (and energy) taking the rig or would I have a
chance ?
Any advice from someone who has been there ?

Keith G8HXE.


In reply to G8HXE:

Well on flat band conditions earlier this year Brian G4ZRP had a not too difficult QSO with Robin GM7PKT/P on WS-003 on 2m FM. Robin would have been using his Quad and about 5W, and Brian used an FT290Mk1 and a 2m colinear with 2.5W. That’s about 250miles on QRP FM and shows what can be done.

So in theory from the Cairngorms you should be able to work quite a few stations using simple antennas. However, I think you would want something more than just the rubber duck. Something to get a simple vertical such as a J-pole a few feet higher than your head should do better. The SOTA vertical maybe ideal.

The big problem I have found on 2m from GM is that it is awfully quiet. Perhaps people just don’t like my accent? But I’ve called and called and called at times on 2m and had nothing. I know the kit is working because I’ve had S2S contacts with Robin at 100+ mile distance on 250mW and been a fine and dandy signal with him. I know some others have had much more luck than me. But my biggest worry is that you wouldn’t be able to work enough stations to qualify the hills, even with a pre-announced activation never mind just appearing on spec.

Does that mean you shouldn’t try? Absolutely not. Even if you don’t qualify the summit you may work a few people and they would, no doubt, be absolutely delighted to work these rather infrequently activated summits. Perhaps the rucksack mounted vertical and the kit setup so you could start calling before you reach the summits may give you a fighting chance. That way should a chaser hear you they can drum up a posse! If you do fancy that, I’d ditch the 817 as it is too QRP and heavy and try one of the Yaesu VX-170 handies. They are frugal, bulletproof, have a real 5W on internal batteries and are much lighter. You may be able to borrow for the week to make the SOTA part feasible.

I think INKy uses one and rates it very highly. Him or Mick HJD.

I hope to do ES-001 sometime this spring as I want to see the wonderful yet bizarre landscape of the Cairngorm plateau. In fact I’d just like to do anything right now. I’m confined to the shack on antibiotics and not allowed out, or any serious exertion or alcohol! Looks like it’ll be Jan 5/6 next year before I’m allowed out on the hills. :frowning: