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Disaster!


#1

“The Cloud” activation (G/SP-015) with my excellent 5 year old helper, Ben.

Sounds simple enough, but my only previous activations being Bardon Hill, twice, I was about to learn some important lessons. The lessons I guess all the “old hands” on here have each had to learn. Bear in mind this is a 1-point summit and an easy one at that! I’ve done a lot of caving in my time, 12 hours in freezing water, I’m not a pussycat!

Having left the home QTH of Swadlincote-in-the-sunshine, we arrived in the lay-by for the cloud at the correct time - in the pouring rain and heavy mist! Not a problem thinks I, we both have coats and it’s not that far to the summit. Ben, special-class trooper, took it all in his stride and we actually arrived at the trig point in good time. Now the fun was about to start - and it had everything to do with being totally under-equipped for the conditions.

The set up was a Baofeng 2m FM handheld rig (2w), a G7LAS Slim Jim, log book, pen etc…

Firstly the logbook failed to function… the pen simply didn’t make any impression on the page whatsoever. Even when I tried to mark up the typical “Callsign, QTH, Name, RX, TX” column headers - I failed drastically!

Being a pig-headed kind of a fellow I pressed on, connected the hand-held to the slim jim and began calling CQ. A nice gent from the Stafford Radio club returned my call, but I could hardly hear him. By now the rain was really starting to drive! I realized the hand-held was generating all kinds of non-existent signals (some up to 30 over 9) that did not exist in the real world… Some kind of strange internal signals (it’s a cheap Chinese radio/toy.) I’d heard these signals at home before while using the hand-held and assumed they we’re local interference! I was wrong!

Then the problems with the hand-held subsided for a while but the “real” signals began wavering… oh no! The “weather proofing” job on the Slim Jim (long overdue) was still overdue and the open end of the coax feed was pointing upwards - into the rain! The nice gent from the radio club was still calling me and I returned his call - just as the G7LAS “super-quick-click-a-trick Slim Jim fast release mount” popped it’s release pin and plonked the entire lot on the mountain side in a total mess!

This, combined with the lack of moral, only which comes from that mountain top drizzle - started to bend my patience.

Ben, a dedicated collector of the activator points, wasn’t pleased but… “THAT’S IT… WE’RE GOING HOME!!!”


#2

In reply to G7LAS:

ok ok ok … back to being calm now. I should have weather-proofed the antenna and checked the hand-held was faulty before we started going to the summit. Also should have made sure the G7LAS “super-quick-click-a-trick Slim Jim fast release” was sturdy enough for the job while at the home QTH.

However… lessons learned from others on here greatly appreciated (and what do you do for a logbook in the rain!?!? Bring a tent?!!??!)

All the best (and not put off by this experience!)

Rob


#3

In reply to G7LAS:

  1. Many handhelds will fail when you use a higher gain aerial than the rubber duck. Not only CheapChineseCheesey radios but premium branded gear too. You need a bandpass filter or a radio that will work under such conditions.

  2. Pen? Pen! No. Pencil. Sharpen both ends then when it snaps you can flip it over and keep going. You can sharpen it with a penknife whereas pens will not work in rain and cold etc.

  3. Waterproof log paper/books are available.

  4. Tent? Only for the feeble! A bothy bag is acceptable. But a tent is big and heavy. OK you wont be walking far with a wee lad but it’s the principle. He might find bothy bags much more fun than a tent.

Now you know what can go wrong you can prepare for next time. If you can design your system so you can rig it with gloves on then you can setup on the worst of days without get red raw hands. We wont go into the fun of operating in snow!

Best of luck for next time.

Andy
MM0FMF


#4

In reply to MM0FMF:

  1. Many handhelds will fail when you use a higher gain aerial than the
    rubber duck. Not only CheapChineseCheesey radios but premium branded
    gear too. You need a bandpass filter or a radio that will work under
    such conditions.

You can try to use the build in attenuator (20 dB? in VX7R) to hear what happens with high gain antennas.

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL


#5

Hmmm…

All-weather paper and pencils will probably do better for the logging side of things, but there’s also the radio to worry about; it’d be a shame if your rig fried itself because water got in where it shouldn’t. If it’s an all-weather rig then you’re in business. If it’s an 817 or something similarly un-weather-proof then there might be wisdom in calling an activation off. :wink:


#6

In reply to G7LAS:

Sometimes I have gone fishing and only caught a cold!!!

I have made all the mistakes you made too - just keep your chin up, learn from the mistakes, as you have, and look forward to the next hill.
Regards
Dave


#7

In reply to G7LAS:
Use your cell phone as voice recorder and write the log later?
I always keep my phone in a small plastic bag etc. when hiking, even though it wouldn’t not rain you sweat and the moisture gets inside your phone.

Lean-to built from trekking poles, guy wire and a few tent pegs weights only 1 kg or so.
Something like in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYMLQasLsMs

Jani OH9FZU


#8

A waterproof notepad and pencil is essential. It doesn’t have to be raining - even the slightest hint of damp in the air will render normal pens and normal paper unusable.

Bothy bags are good but for the two of you, do not get a 2-man bothy bag! Get a 4-man, otherwise you won’t have room to eat your lunch or play with your radio. Also you may find (as I did) that your relationship with your son sours very quickly in such proximity!

The less immune or wideband HTs can suffer from some mush on The Cloud summit, probably from the commercial mast on the hill opposite, Sutton Common. A second option is always a good idea, so I tend to carry FT-817 with HF aerial AND VX7 HT for VHF. So if there is poor propagation on the first choice band, a rig that has run out of charge or, at worst, got damaged, there is another option.

Anyway, who is calling tents feeble? I have sometimes set up a backpacking tent on an activation, if I knew it was going to be a long one. In the summer, I even hiked to the summit of Cadair Berwyn GW/NW-012, activated all day (over 300 QSOs) then slept in my Karrimor Ultralite overnight. A few more contacts, and hiked back down the next morning.

http://tomread.co.uk/cadair_berwyn_nw-012.htm

Feeble? :frowning:

Tom M1EYP


#9

In reply to G7LAS:

In reply to G7LAS:

ok ok ok … back to being calm now. I should have weather-proofed
the antenna and checked the hand-held was faulty before we started
going to the summit.

Sorry to hear about your woes, Rob.

Been there with the log books. I have two fine Papier-mâché examples, compliments of Shining Tor :frowning:

73 Mike
2E0YYY


#10

In reply to G7LAS:
Write in the Rain notebooks www.riteintherain.com/ dry out and the pages seperate I found to my delight. I wish there was a SOTA logbook version available from the SOTA shop.

For horizontal liquid sunshine, prevalent in the Lake District, then my VX-7R HT and a dipole works well. There aren’t too many commercial transmitters in the National Park. FT-817 and a small beam antenna on paging or radar rich summits seems to work well - in a poly bag.

Dad and I sat in one of those orange, pack away, survival shelters on Great Mell Fell. Worth it for the comedy value alone but it kept much of us, our sandwiches and the radio dry and out of the wind.

73

David

ps out on Friday on Carliber Isaf and Stingwern Hill


#11

In reply to M0YDH:

I would use one of those instant tents - only I watched someone try and pack one away once, talk about comedy routines!

73

Brian G8ADD

PS As for hill walking and operating in rain - been there, done that, worn out the T-shirt, nowadays I wait for a dry day, I’m too old to savor discomfort!


#12

In reply to G8ADD:

As for hill walking and operating in rain - been there, done that,

worn out the T-shirt, nowadays I wait for a dry day, I’m too old to
savor discomfort!

Can do you a lovely, brand new, T shirt from the SOTA shop

(Blatant Advert!)

73

Barry GM4TOE


#13

Thanks chaps for making me laugh, your kind words and advice.

Hopefully I’m going to get on a bit better tomorrow, Cleeve Hill G/CE-001.

Rob


#14

In reply to G7LAS:

All went fine today and no equipment failures. My double-ended pencil worked a treat! Packed a picnic blanket this time and this made my life easier.

Terrible QRM from the nearby masts bleeding over… Such a shame as I seemed to be tx-ing very well - just found it hard to hear anyone.

R


#15

In reply to G7LAS:

When I read the title, I thought it was a thread about the United/City game :frowning:

73

Richard
G3CWI


#16

In reply to G7LAS:
Cracking signal from you here Rob, good to work you this afternoon.

73
Jonathan
M6HBS


#17

one small problem with CE-001 is the masts but ive noticed it depends on the radio

CE-001 is my local hill for most contests etc and most of my portable radio activity ive noticed sometimes my VX-7R can be wiped out by the masts and other days its fine but when its bad i can not hear a thing i have occasionally noticed this on my FT-857D but on my FT-817ND i get very little unless im beaming directly at the masts and even then i dont get alot but someone else i know who has an ft-817 cannot even use it up there because its too noisey

another thing is occasionally i get what sounds like pager breakthrough on 2m but this i have found seems to be the colocated aprs digipeater when it transmits

some equipment seems more prone to others

on SSB however i never really have a problem i hear the odd burst of noise when the aprs digipeater transmits but that is about all and on 70cm ssb i get certain frequences with like a chirping sound but i was told by someone one of these frequencies appears to be the radar turning on clee hill - i dont believe it personally

with CE-001 ive found its a try different antennas and radios and see which works best for the 144mhz UKAC i use my FT-817nd with microwave modules amp to give me 10w output and a 9ele tonna ontop of my 35ft telescopic portable mast (height of antenna depends on wind strength on the day)

ive also noticed that depending where on the hill your stood depends on your signal strength too with some people up there i can hardly hear them and yet others are end stopping signal strange really considering i can almost see the summit on the hill from here

sometimes it seems to depend on the day you go up there and sometimes the equipment being used

bit of a strange one!

73
Matt M3WDS


#18

In reply to M3WDS:

Thanks for the info Matt.

I was using a slim jim antenna and a better-than-basic mobile rig, IC-E208.

At times the QRM was 20 over 9! Anyway, still had fun…

Rob G7LAS


#19

In reply to G7LAS:

In reply to G7LAS:

.

Terrible QRM from the nearby masts bleeding over… Such a shame as I
seemed to be tx-ing very well - just found it hard to hear anyone.

R Hi Rob Join the clan.I was on that hill a few weeks ago and at first tried a Icom IC T90 handheld .Absolutly zilsh not a sausage.I then set up for 60 metres.And only got 2 contacts on there thanks to Brian G8ADD and Paul G0HNW.I then had another go on 145.I walked all over on that flat topped summit and then went back to the Land Rover to try a last resort.This was an old £5 Pye/Phillips converted to 70meg handheld.And within 3 minutes got two contacts.73 Geoff G6MZX


#20

Up Bardon Hill yesterday (Sunday, G/CE-004) - excellent conditions.

All the equipment worked a treat, the antenna went up like a dream, double sharpened pencil slid across the logbook like Dancing on Ice. Nothing could go wrong… at last I’d got all the gear up to scratch and things were working nicely…

(wait for it… probably not for the squeamish!)

During the second QSO, Ben fell over and smacked his face on a rock! There was blood everywhere from his nose and mouth and I had to call 999. I had trouble convincing them that not everywhere in the UK was on a road, or had a post code but after this struggle I was advised to sit him down and not to move him - help was on it’s way. He was screaming uncontrollably but I got him to put his face in my beanie hat and not let go. It was clear he’d forced his top teeth and gums back on impact and it was possible he’d also broken his nose.

Believe it or not… we waited an HOUR and no-one came. I called again and went through the “what road is it” garbage again before finally realising the ambulance was at the bottom of the hill (my wife had managed to make it over from our home in Swadlincote and spotted them.)

Anyway… the upshot of this is that I ended up carrying him back down the hill to the ambulance myself (some diamonds met us up the hill and carried all my stuff for me - if you ever read this, I’m really indebted to you all - especially the little boy who carried my blood and snot covered beanie hat!)

At the bottom they were “just working out how they were going to get up to me” - a full 1h20m after my first call. We’re so so lucky it wasn’t more serious.

We spent 4 hours in Leicester Royal Infirmary, 2 hours in dentists today and Ben is in hospital tomorrow to have general anaesthetic and to have his top front 4 teeth removed (luckily still baby/milk teeth).

I’m chaining him to the fence if we ever go again…

Phew :frowning: :frowning: