I haven’t been home long so this may be a little brief.
I would just like to say a huge thank you to any chasers who listened for me on 1.832 MHz CW this afternoon from G/SP-012 Easington Fell. Some may have seen my alert as I first posted it last night when I originally intended being QRV for 0800z. After mulling it over for a while I decided that as Saturday is the only day of the week that I can have a lie in I would change the alert for 1200z instead.
This of course would mean that conditions on 160m would be at their worst & I may well end up making all the effort of carrying my FT897 + 7AH Slab two poles & various other bits & pieces for no Top Band QSO’s.
As it turned out, I had the 80/60/40 dipole with what I thought were the 160m extension pieces set up well before my alerted time of 1200z. However a quick check of the SWR indicated that it was actually resonant at about 2.2 Mhz. It also did not look right as it should basically be twice as long as the 80m dipole, but it wasn’t, it was too short. Either I had made the extension pieces the wrong length, or I had picked up the wrong pieces, as these were made from thicker wire than those I thought I had made.
Thankfully, among my heavy pack I had an almost full 100m spool of wire from which I made extra extension pieces & after measuring the full size extension pieces along the ground against my 80m dipole & cutting them a few inches too long I checked the SWR again. This time it was spot on at the bottom end of top band, then all of a sudden “Crack!” I looked up & the relatively thin section of the carbon fibre mast just below the point I had fixed the centre of my dipole to had split & was now pointing down at the ground. The antenna was still resonant, but I though it prudent to drop the pole & make a hasty repair to avoid the whole thing collapsing mid QSO.
All this extra messing about delayed me somewhat & by the time I was ready to go on 160m I was already 45 minutes behind schedule. I know Top Band chasers are a dedicated bunch, as I am one myself, but to assist anyone that would be listening I posted a spot that I would begin calling at 1300z. This left me a little time for some refreshment before I led down in the sunshine & began calling CQ SOTA on 1.832MHz CW using 50 Watts. I have called CQ on CW from a summit before, just once from G/SP-007 in March last year but no QSO’s resulted from that particular call. I was a little relieved then as my CW then was very rusty. I have been using the mode more since & although I cannot ragchew at 35wpm, I can usually glean any relevant information from a QSO at around 20wpm.
I purposely set my keyer at 18wpm for this activation as I would be using my homemade key, which does not cope well with speeds above 20wpm, but then again, neither do I. Hi!
I knew in advance that Phil G4OBK who is a good signal on 160m would not be around but hoped there may be others in that dedicated bunch of top band chasers who would be, despite Easington Fell only being worth 1 chaser point.
So,after several calls at 50 Watts brought no reply I increased the power to 80 Watts, & called again. This brought no reply & I was beginning to wonder if a) there was nobody listening who could get back to me. b) I was simply not radiating a good enough signal. or c) band conditions were so poor that nobody would hear me anyway.
I have not used my 7Ah Slab since acquiring an FT817, for which a 2.2Ah Slab is much more appropriate, so despite having the 7Ah Slab on charge overnight I am certain it was not fully charged. This would mean that when I did increase the power finally to 100 Watts that there was probably quite a bit less RF reaching the antenna.
After several calls at an indicated 100 Watts still brought nothing I was beginning to think that top band was not going to happen for me, but then all of a sudden I heard a cracking 599 signal & a callsign I read first time Frank G3RMD
Knowing how different conditions can be at home compared to the superbly quiet conditions on a summit I assumed Frank would struggle to hear me so I sent his report several times. Despite some QSB, which wasn’t apparent to me unless I looked at the meter we eventually exchanged reports & I had accomplished not only my first Top Band QSO from a summit, but my first CW QSO as well
I was very pleased to say the least & would have happily just carried on with the activation on my usual preferred band on 5MHz, but as there may be others listening I thought I had better carry on on 160m until I was certain there would be no more QSO’s.
I carried on calling CQ SOTA for a several more minutes & then, not as strong as Frank, but perfectly readable I heard a callsign that must be very familiar to CW activators, but until today did not appear in any of my activator logs.
It was the very distinctive callsign of Roy G4SSH who only operates CW. Thanks Roy, I have finally got you in my log
Several more minutes of calling brought no further replies so I then QSY’d to 3.558 CW & put out a couple of CQ’s with no reply. A few calls on 3.666 MHz SSB were also fruitless so I moved on to 5.3985 MHz SSB where my first CQ was answered by Richard M0SNR, & followed by Frank G3RMD again & it was very nice to able to work Frank again, this time on a mode I am more familiar with.
After 12 Qso’s on 60m I thought I’d have a dabble on 40m SSB, as conditions have been quite good lately. I found an almost clear spot at 7.134 MHz & commenced calling. By now I had dropped my power to 20 Watts & one of my CQ calls was answered by Simon 2E0LHR who gave me 58 to 59. He was followed by another 13 stations including 3 mobile stations & one portable, Dave GM8UPI/P in a caravan at the northern tip of the Isle of Skye.
I had seen a spot for Martyn M1MAJ/P on 7.109MHz SSB so after working all who called me I went looking for him. I found him calling a DL1 SOTA station for a summit to summit, & at more less that moment I also heard Caroline M3ZCB/P calling CQ SOTA on 2m FM, so I gave her a call & had an S2S. I Mentioned that I had heard Martyn & would try to work him but by that time Martyn had finished on HF so we had the Summit to Summit QSO on 2m FM instead
I was then called by Chris 2E0CRZ/P from G/SP-014 Longridge Fell who was on his first SOTA activation & had been watching some of my videos. I hope you found them useful Chris, & once again congratulations on your first activation.
After a quick QSO with a friend of mine from Blackburn, Ken M6DLT/P who had been out enjoying the good VHF conditions from some local high ground, I saw that Lutz DL3SBA/P was active on 40m SSB so I joined the pile-up that were calling him. Despite only running 20 Watts I had the added advantage of those magic three little words “Summit to Summit”, which worked a treat when I managed to squeeze them in between other stations.
I had already qualified the summit before I started setting up, with an S2S QSO with Barry MW6BDV/P literally as I had just filmed some video showing where the edge of the activation zone is on Easington Fell. An S2S with Chris 2E0FSR/P & Neil M3UNG/P both on Whernside, & a quick QSO with Bob G6ODU which gave me my fourth QSO, so belated Thanks Bob.
Special thanks as well to Lee M0LMP & Mick M0PVA who volunteered earlier in the day to give me a lift back to Clitheroe on their way back from Dunsop Bridge. Despite the fact that I was still at the summit packing up, they waited at the parking spot on Fell road for at least 40 minutes for me to make my way down. Thanks! I owe you both a pint
I’ve had a brilliant day, lying on the grass in the sunshine & I now look like a beetroot, I may even be sore tomorrow…
But it was worth it
Thanks again to all stations that worked me & especially to Frank G3RMD & Roy G4SSH for the Top Band CW QSO’s & the Spots!
Video & Photos will be online in a couple of days time & will be posted on this thread.
My activator log should be uploaded this weekend.
Thanks again & Best 73,