So I decided to bite the bullet and finally use CW during an activation as well as SSB. Regular readers will know that when I’ve activated Wendover Woods on VHF, it has been a bit “thin” on callers but last time during a joint activation with Tom M1EYP, I managed a good few QSO’s on 5Mhz but no others on SSB on 40m or elsewhere.
So this time I was determined to cover more bands and/or modes. I kept a close eye on the weather and worked out that I should have a window between 10:00 and 13:00 local time. This was in fact “spot on” with showers “book ending” the activation but sunshine and blue skies in-between.
The other thing I had been watching was the Chilton data for F2 frequency. I theorised that the peak, that seemed to happen each day around 10:00 UTC, would optimise my effort on 5MHz if I timed it right.
I set off up to the hill about 9:30 local and parked in the lay-by near the scenic overlook. I walked up to the field with the trig point but decided that since the farmer had cut the grass, it looked as if it could be muddy and I fancied a better view anyway. So I came back to the “scenic” activation point and started setting up.
As I had the luxury of a very short walk in, today’s station consisted of the following:
Icom 706 II G - running 10W on SSB and CW
Double Norcal Doublet (88ft top) inv. vee with centre at 9m and ends at 2m
4:1 balun and LDG AT7000 auto tuner
Shack key (doh… too heavy and not so easy when your hands are getting cold)
So having set up just as a shower passed, I got cracking on 5.3895 at about 09:30 UTC where Terry G0VWP opened the log. Signals didn’t seem too strong at first and even Alasdair GW0VMZ was only 55 with me. However, signals from Scotland were good and solid with GM4COX, GM0AXY and GM4YMM in the log. I pressed on and made 11 QSO’s but by the end, signals were really coming up at about 10:00 UTC. So it seemed my theory about the F2 frequency data might have been the right one and maybe I should have waited a while until the skip shortened further.
So I declared my QSY to 40m CW and moved to 7.033 MHz. However, it seemed really busy and quite difficult to find a slot but I made a call and worked DL3JPN. But after that it really was too busy (even with my 350 Hz filter in) so I decided to move up to SSB and come back later.
I called on 7.120 and got an immediate response from EI8CE with good signals each way. This was followed by an excellent signal from Peter ON3WAB who was peaking 59 with his 10w and G5RV. 4 more QSO’s followed on SSB on a frequency that seemed to remain clear at my end making for easy “armchair” copy.
I then took a stab at 80M and made a few calls on 3.723 but to no avail. I tried calling a couple of the lighthouse special event stations but with no success. I don’t think the 10W and the doublet are very efficient on 80m but it was worth a try.
A quick QSY to 10.118 CW where I made a few calls but without a self-spotting facility, I was unable to rustle anyone up.
So back to 7.032 where I found a slot and started calling. Great! An immediate response from OK1HCG (and thanks for the spot) and I was rolling. 17 more CW QSO’s followed with some excellent signals including Mike GW0DSP blowing my ears off!
It was nice to work a good mix of stations and I hope my 18 wpm and pile up handling didn’t frustrate anyone. I also noticed my CW was getting a bit rusty as I was (surprisingly) getting a little cold as I sat hunched over the key. (Lesson learned)
I kept on going until the calls were drying up and I could tell the battery was going down with the CW tone starting to get a little rough. I eventually closed down after nearly 2 hours operation with the last QSO at 11:22 UTC with OK1KT.
Good timing as it turned out with skies clouding over and the rain coming just as I took down the pole… just as the shandy drinking, southern softy lad had planned.
So thanks to all that worked me and were patient on CW. The QSO breakdown is as follows:
36 QSO’s altogether…
11 on 5 MHZ SSB
19 on 7 MHZ CW
6 on 7 MHz SSB
I hereby declare my first CW activation a success… I’ll be back.
BTW… If anyone fancies living inside the G/CE-005 activation zone, I notice the house about 100m from the trig point is for sale for a tad under £1 million… nice VHF/UHF location.
73 Marc GØAZS