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Didn't manage to activate G/NP-006 - advice needed


#4

Hi Paul,

Sorry to hear you didn’t qualify the hill. I was listening this morning on both 145.500 FM & 5.3985 SSB & at various times had a station opening the squelch but unreadable on 2m & hearing someone answering a station on 60m that they couldn’t quite make out (I heard nothing here in Blackburn), I wonder if either of those were you?

Brushing off the Morse key is definitely a good idea as with the RBN Hole all you need is to be heard by one of the RBN skimmers & as long as you have alerted (which you had) a spot will appear on SOTAwatch.

Self spotting by SMS will help, & although an Text may get through when data / phone will not, in many places there is no signal at all.

You shouldn’t need more power than the FT817 provides, 5 Watts is plenty, although CW will work better than SSB.

Better luck next time!

Thanks & 73,

Mark G0VOF (Currently enjoying a nice E opening on 50MHz)


#5

Bad luck! I think most of us have been there at least once - my unbeatable record is zero contacts, but at least I did not get wet to add insult to injury.

Avoiding Wimbledon Finals and Silverstone GP is probably step one.

Also a dry day will give more chances of s2s operation.

I am increasingly finding it hard to get more than half a dozen contacts on HF - but got about 30 on a recent activation, so it does depend on radio conditions too.

Better luck next time,
73,
Rod

Edit - note that over 50% of QSOs for NP-006 are for 2m (I managed four (FM) and one on 433 FM) so perhaps the j-pole is not good in the wet.
Rod


#6

Hi Paul,

Well done for at least climbing and activating the hill, even if you didn’t qualify!

Judith 2E0MDY and I got to the parking spot for G/NP-017 and decided the weather was too horrible to proceed, so we returned to our base in Bentham and set up the portable 2m beam in your direction. I heard a couple of QSOs and a net on the band but nothing on 145.500 FM. We can work G/NP-015 using 5W and a simple dipole both ways from here, so I would be very surprised if G/NP-006 was completely screened by local hills.

Others have already given you excellent advice, but another factor to consider is take-off. I am not familiar with Great Shunner Fell, but on a flat summit you want to get close to an edge for VHF and UHF, rather than sit in the middle of a plateau, provided you are still within the 25m activation zone. It can make a huge difference.

Which route did you take to G/NP-006 today, and how was the going underfoot? I am currently evaluating local summits in the hope the weather will improve next week.

73, John M0VCM


#7

Yep, E is “Edge” the least speed and least effective Cell phone Internet connection. Usually with a G or 3G indication you’ll be fine but E is indeed marginal.

Not sure if SOTA Goat can also send SMS messages or not, or whether there is another SOTA app for iPhoneOS that will do as my phones are Android. Worst case once registered with the gateway, from home send a test “please ignore” spot via SMS carefully putting the fields in the right order, then when you need to spot from the summit, go back to that SMS, change the content to the correct summit and change the comment and then resend the SMS.

Ed.


#8

You could have tried answering the contest CQs on 40 and 20. It isn’t the most satisfying way to do a SOTA activation, but the only requirement is that you make 4 simplex contacts.


#9

In no particular order… it’s a bummer when you don’t get a big pileup and lots of chasers and welcome to SOTA.

HF conditions have been rubbish for sometime. At the sunspot max, you could guarantee success with plenty of contacts on any HF band. Now it’s much harder with QRP, you can’t get away with any old antenna anymore, you do need to consider efficiency now. Worse it’s summer, so day time absorption is worst (even though it’s not sunny here!) Things will improve by October when maybe there’ll be a little improvement in HF but a big improvement in LF bands. 60m is great from October onwards for UK contacts as 40m will often be very long. Probably 2m operation will increase. The last time HF was this bad, SOTA was a predominantly UK event and 2m was popular, FM and SSB with small collapsible Yagis. Now SOTA is worldwide, 2m popularity has declined but if you can work people on 2m and not on HF, then watch it become popular albeit for local(ish) contacts.

So things to do… alerting is important. Self-spotting. In an ideal world we should be able to just call CQ and have lots of chasers reply. But everyone can’t spend all day tuning about so self-spotting is important. Check you have best antenna you can, use most efficient mode (CW or maybe narrow data), pick the right band.

As things get worse on the HF bands, that CW will give you the edge of SSB.


#10

Thanks for all the advice. With hindsight should have spent longer trying on 2m rather than rushing to HF. Managed a couple of QSO’s on 17m and 15m so I was just about managing to get out. Thanks for the advice on 60m - I was active as a youngster between 1979 and about 1986 so 60m ( 30m, 17, 12 and 6 ) are a new concept, as is having some bandwidth on 40m!

Any suggestions for a 2m antenna? I currently have a j pole made from balanced feeder which loads up well, and have just finished making a 2m 6 ele yagi, although I am fairly sure that will need something more substancial than the sotapoles that I currently use to raise it up. ( Followed the design from M0UKD - again loads up really well but yet to try it in action on a summit )

Route - Parked car at Hardrow and followed the Pennine Way to the summit. Summit has nice shelter on the top ( a bit like Helvellyn ). Path is mostly good with large paved stretches so very few boggy bits and easy walking. Walked at quite a pace to reach the top before the rain. ( My 13 yr old son is getting fit for his upcoming Grouse Beating duties on a local estate…) 2hr 15 to the top and about 1hr 30 back down. Nice tea room at Hardrow that also seemed to offer camping. Hope this is useful!

73 Paul


#11

In these situations with your mobile trying switching it of for miniute and then back on or you can change your network connection setting to 2g or edge only, a lot of sites are apparently 3/4g.
You never see a farmer with a modern phone they always swear by the old style Nokia 3120 models.

73
Graeme

Forgot to say there is two repeaters nearby one in Richmond GB3IR and the other is Crook GB3CD easy to get into from most northern NP summits, you can ask a callsign nicely to move to a simplex channel to try and complete your activation.


#12

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the route details. Starting from Hardraw looks much more attractive to the rest of my family than the route from Buttertubs, with a better ratio of walking to radio and a more solid path. Now hoping for a reasonably dry day when we won’t all be blown around too much!

I have an SB270 (sadly discontinued) from Sotabeams and in the NP region often just use the driven element on its own as a vertical dipole for 2m and 70cm FM. The three element beam sees more use for SSB and for chasing FM activations from lower ground. I believe Viki M6BWA uses a vertical dipole for most of her activations on those two bands, and her log is far more extensive than mine. I am not sure how well a Slim Jim would perform if mounted on the same mast as an HF dipole - you might find the HF feeder cable interfered with the Slim Jim as they can be sensitive to adjacent metal.

73, John M0VCM


#13

Hi Paul,
It’s probably worth noting that although SOTA doesn’t officially have any “calling frequencies”, those supposably reserved for QRP operations - 14.285, 7.118, 7.090 etc. are worth calling on if they are free as a few chasers who do indeed monitor these frequencies looking for SOTA activators and once you have one of them contact you, they can spot you and then usually several more chasers will appear on frequency.

73 Ed DD5LP.


#14

> Any suggestions for a 2m antenna?

Try a moxon, here’s a lightweight one I made, you can see in the pic from Callow Hill how high it was up the fishing pole. Although last time I used it, being rather windy, it needed to be lower, otherwise the pole just swung about rather alarmingly :wink:

I’ve also used an ELK antenna, although it’s a bit of a faff to ‘build’, and being rather weighty, it can only go so high up the pole. I did modify the mount on mine, with the addition of a 15mm pipe clip (similar to the ones I used on the moxon) so that it’s fairly easy to swing it from vertical to horizontal, but again, the pole does have to be lowered to do so.

I’d also agree with not trying on a ‘sporty’ day, I think I tried on the day that Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France, and failed to qualify the hill on that day as well :frowning:


#15

That is a surprise Paul. G/NP is generally well served with 2m FM chasers, so maybe there was a sporting interlude as Mark suggests. I would have expected you to have no problems from that summit. It might be worthwhile checking your kit as Murphy has a habit of being present on summits, just when you don’t need him around.

I would have thought a J pole would be fine for FM, but if you are considering a lightweight yagi, I can recommend the designs by Martin DK7ZB - http://www.qsl.net/dk7zb/

Therein lies the answer to qualifying the hill. Bagging a contest contact is no shame - I agree with Tom wholeheartedly. I would rather do that any day than not qualify a summit - particularly pertinent when there is considerable time and effort involved in getting to the summit.

As for running more power, I certainly does help, but the downside is increased weight due to the requirement for more battery capacity. I carry a 2m amplifier for use with my 817, but use the rig barefoot on HF CW which, for me, is the best solution. You will no doubt have your own preferences.

I hope your next outing is infinitely more successful.

73, Gerald G4OIG


#16

Hi,

yes, if calling on 14.285, 7.118 doesn’t raise anyone, contest stations on 40 and 20 are often possible on remote summits, but it takes time. Even when there are contests on, there will be networks who are often kind enough to allow you to join and get multiple HF contacts.

73

MM0YCJ


#17

One such net is the WAB net on 7.160 MHz, however due to the current state of the bands where the critical frequency has been struggling to get above 5 MHz, it’s not been possible to hold a true net. However, numerous stations still monitor that frequency and there are members a suitable skip distance away (North Scotland, Sweden, Germany etc.) that will be able to give you a contact.


#18

Here’s a breakdown of activations in G/NP with the number of logged QSOs on 144MHz for 2016 so far…

Date                    Summit               Ref          #QSO_144
----------- -------------------------------- ------------ ---
2016-01-01  Pen-y-ghent                      G/NP-010     4
2016-01-01  Buckden Pike                     G/NP-009     13
2016-01-08  Pen-y-ghent                      G/NP-010     9
2016-01-08  Pen-y-ghent                      G/NP-010     15
2016-01-08  Pen-y-ghent                      G/NP-010     20
2016-01-13  Whernside                        G/NP-004     12
2016-01-15  Fountains Fell                   G/NP-017     10
2016-01-15  Birks Fell                       G/NP-031     9
2016-01-15  Fountains Fell                   G/NP-017     10
2016-01-15  Birks Fell                       G/NP-031     10
2016-01-15  Fountains Fell                   G/NP-017     11
2016-01-15  Birks Fell                       G/NP-031     11
2016-01-17  Wild Boar Fell                   G/NP-007     10
2016-01-17  Wild Boar Fell                   G/NP-007     6
2016-01-17  Wild Boar Fell                   G/NP-007     9
2016-01-20  Great Knoutberry Hill            G/NP-015     13
2016-01-20  Dodd Fell Hill                   G/NP-016     10
2016-01-20  Great Knoutberry Hill            G/NP-015     14
2016-01-20  Dodd Fell Hill                   G/NP-016     11
2016-01-20  Great Knoutberry Hill            G/NP-015     13
2016-01-20  Dodd Fell Hill                   G/NP-016     10
2016-01-23  Buckden Pike                     G/NP-009     12
2016-01-23  Great Knoutberry Hill            G/NP-015     4
2016-01-24  Burnhope Seat                    G/NP-003     9
2016-01-28  Great Whernside                  G/NP-008     8
2016-01-28  Great Whernside                  G/NP-008     9
2016-01-28  Great Whernside                  G/NP-008     8
2016-01-30  Whernside                        G/NP-004     4
2016-01-31  Hoove                            G/NP-024     7
2016-01-31  Hoove                            G/NP-024     7
2016-02-02  Cracoe Fell                      G/NP-032     13
2016-02-07  Cracoe Fell                      G/NP-032     4
2016-02-07  Sharp Haw                        G/NP-029     4
2016-02-07  Cracoe Fell                      G/NP-032     4
2016-02-08  Great Whernside                  G/NP-008     12
2016-02-08  Buckden Pike                     G/NP-009     5
2016-02-09  Great Whernside                  G/NP-008     11
2016-02-11  Buckden Pike                     G/NP-009     10
2016-02-20  Great Shunner Fell               G/NP-006     4
2016-02-20  Great Shunner Fell               G/NP-006     4
2016-02-23  Great Knoutberry Hill            G/NP-015     6
2016-02-23  Dodd Fell Hill                   G/NP-016     8
2016-02-23  Birks Fell                       G/NP-031     4
2016-02-27  Great Knoutberry Hill            G/NP-015     4
2016-02-28  Buckden Pike                     G/NP-009     4
2016-02-28  Cold Fell                        G/NP-020     8
2016-02-28  Cold Fell                        G/NP-020     12
2016-02-28  Great Whernside                  G/NP-008     9
2016-03-05  Cracoe Fell                      G/NP-032     7
2016-03-05  Sharp Haw                        G/NP-029     6
2016-03-05  Cracoe Fell                      G/NP-032     7
2016-03-05  Sharp Haw                        G/NP-029     5
2016-03-09  Rombalds Moor                    G/NP-028     4
2016-03-17  Whernside                        G/NP-004     13
2016-03-20  Great Coum                       G/NP-011     12
2016-03-20  Great Coum                       G/NP-011     12
2016-03-25  Cross Fell                       G/NP-001     14
2016-03-25  Cross Fell                       G/NP-001     14
2016-03-25  Buckden Pike                     G/NP-009     8
2016-03-31  Ingleborough                     G/NP-005     18
2016-03-31  Ingleborough                     G/NP-005     19
2016-03-31  Ingleborough                     G/NP-005     18
2016-03-31  Great Shunner Fell               G/NP-006     4
2016-04-02  Great Knoutberry Hill            G/NP-015     6
2016-04-03  Great Shunner Fell               G/NP-006     7
2016-04-05  Nine Standards Rigg              G/NP-018     6
2016-04-06  Wild Boar Fell                   G/NP-007     5
2016-04-09  Buckden Pike                     G/NP-009     9
2016-04-10  Whernside                        G/NP-004     38
2016-04-10  Cold Fell                        G/NP-020     3
2016-04-17  Burnhope Seat                    G/NP-003     15
2016-04-17  Burnhope Seat                    G/NP-003     16
2016-04-17  Great Knoutberry Hill            G/NP-015     16
2016-04-17  Great Whernside                  G/NP-008     17
2016-04-17  Cracoe Fell                      G/NP-032     10
2016-04-19  Burnhope Seat                    G/NP-003     9
2016-04-24  Fountains Fell                   G/NP-017     14
2016-05-05  Calf Top                         G/NP-022     2
2016-05-07  Ingleborough                     G/NP-005     5
2016-05-08  Nine Standards Rigg              G/NP-018     6
2016-05-08  The Calf                         G/NP-013     6
2016-05-13  Ingleborough                     G/NP-005     4
2016-05-15  Ingleborough                     G/NP-005     12
2016-05-15  Cracoe Fell                      G/NP-032     10
2016-05-17  Sharp Haw                        G/NP-029     6
2016-05-18  Cracoe Fell                      G/NP-032     12
2016-05-19  Rombalds Moor                    G/NP-028     7
2016-05-22  Hoove                            G/NP-024     6
2016-05-23  Pen-y-ghent                      G/NP-010     5
2016-05-23  Whernside                        G/NP-004     2
2016-05-28  Pen-y-ghent                      G/NP-010     10
2016-05-29  Sharp Haw                        G/NP-029     19
2016-05-30  Sharp Haw                        G/NP-029     8
2016-06-01  Buckden Pike                     G/NP-009     7
2016-06-04  Great Whernside                  G/NP-008     10
2016-06-04  Buckden Pike                     G/NP-009     12
2016-06-06  Whernside                        G/NP-004     3
2016-06-06  Great Knoutberry Hill            G/NP-015     5
2016-06-06  Dodd Fell Hill                   G/NP-016     5
2016-06-12  Pen-y-ghent                      G/NP-010     6
2016-06-15  Great Whernside                  G/NP-008     5
2016-06-28  Sharp Haw                        G/NP-029     5
2016-07-02  Great Whernside                  G/NP-008     12
2016-07-04  Ingleborough                     G/NP-005     12
```

#19

First; I agree with the comments about responding to contest stations (though sometimes it is difficult to work out what the exchange should be). I’ve had more success chasing other people than calling CQ.
Second; try dropping the “SOTA” from your CQ occasionally, I’ve spoken to a couple of people who told me they weren’t sure whether SOTA activators wanted “normal” contacts!


#20

I also sometimes add “Any station” to a CQ call in case “CQ SOTA” is interpreted as a directional call to SOTA stations only, whatever that is thought to mean.

I understand that SMS (texts) use the 2G connections that are in the 900 MHz band and thus have better coverage than 3G or 4G at double the frequency. Hence SMS are often more successful than web connections as used by the browser or by SOTA-specific phone apps.

I tried to self spot using the SMS gateway while in England but forgot that my temporary phone number was not registered, so my requests failed. Something to remember for next time.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH


A first attempt (G/SE-005)
#21

As he got 3 QSOs as opposed to 0, this won’t be possible.


#22

I had one of those days today, with more problems on a single activation than I’ve ever had before. I did qualify the summit & managed a Top Band S2S with John G4YSS but Murphy was definitely following me around today!

Report posted on the reflector for any one interested in my tale of woe!

Thanks & 73,

Mark G0VOF


#23

I feel for you. Been there, done that. I actually posted about it as well a while back. I had a multi-hour winter hike in difficult conditions with a heavy pack and made 0 QSOs. Thankfully the views made-up for it. I think you are doing the right thing, reflecting on how to improve. HF conditions are tough especially when working qrp. SSB QRP in the current conditions is going to be challenging for sure. An efficient antenna and CW will help. I wish you all the best for the next activation.

73,
Arnaud