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G4YSS: G/LD-001 on 160m + G4OOE,29-09-11


#1

G4YSS Activation Report for G/LD-001 on 29-09-11

SCAFELL PIKE:
G4YSS accompanied by Will & Jess (Spaniel Dog) and joint activation by G4OOE - Nick (2FM & 40CW).

QRO HF on 160m & 80m. QRP on 4m, using SSEG Club-call, GX0OOO/P.
Times: BST (UTC + 1 hr) UOS on 29th September 2011.
Route: Seathwaite - Stockley Br. - Sty Head - Corridor - Lingmell Col - LD1 - Esk Hause - Stockley Br. - Seathwaite.

INTRODUCTION:
‘Walking mate’ William had been working on me for some weeks reference a trip to Scafell Pike. I used every excuse I could find; it’s summer, we have the builders in, I’ve got man-flu, the WX is bad, we have the Irton village tree to save etc etc.

Will was not the only persuader. There was also Nick G4OOE, ‘If you’re going to do LD1, I’d love to come too.’ Will told me that he was free for the coming week then working solid afterwards. Though the weather was a bit on the warm side for my liking, we agreed a sortie. Nick could make it too so we were ‘on for tomorrow’ the 29th and no more excuses. The issue with the village tree was threatening to come to a head in the next two days because of an injunction but I sent my apologies via Hazel after doing the 10pm to 1am stint for almost a week.

EXECUTION:
The drive to Seathwaite in Will’s car, picking up Nick on the way, took from 03:15 to 06:20. This was longer than usual. From Nick’s house, the satnav told us to go via Whitby and sadly we believed it. By Middlesborough it started demanding apparent stupidity at which point we resorted to Will’s prior knowledge and road signs. It took 95 minutes just to get to Scotch Corner. We were walking in increasing daylight out through the farm yard and past the toilets, into a brisk southerly wind at exactly 7am.

ROUTE:
The route was over Stockley Bridge and up to the footbridge at NY 2346 0992 at which point you can see Great End and Lingmell. At the Sty Head stretcher box we turned left then a quick right, descending slightly to pick up the corridor route. After the minor scramble at NY 2189 0852 (a kind of Hillary Step in miniature where Jess needed help) I went on ahead over Peirs Gill. From there it’s out of the top of the corridor at Lingmell Col where a left turn is required to pick up the increasingly rugged path to the summit. About half way up this section visibility dropped to about 50m in thin low cloud. Despite a weather forecast to the contrary, this clag was to prove tenacious for some hours; ruining the views we’d hoped Nick would experience for the first time.

After telling Nick, who was a newcomer to England’s highest mountain that there would be at least 30 people at the top, there was just one walker sitting with his back to the shelter wall cowering from low cloud propelled by a strong, gusty wind. Summit numbers were to increase markedly by early afternoon.

It is always something of challenge to erect a dipole over a loose rocky surface and there was no respite from the wind due to the lack of available (free) space near the shelter and because of the footpaths, which radiate from it. My home-brew antenna system relies on a thin CFC mast and a light 80m-link dipole made from 24 AWG wire. There is no guying; instead reliance is placed on the dipole to hold the system steady. In a cross-wind, the included angle of each leg is adjusted by moving the end sticks into wind until the mast is vertical and wind pressure balances the forces produced by tension in the wires. That is all well and good when the antenna is on grass where infinite variability is an option. On rock the end stick positions are often a compromise.

Because Top Band in daylight is a bit like VHF, I wanted to remain as close to the highest point as possible so choices on the lee side were severely limited.

These factors, added to the effect of a wind which was varying between 10 and 40 mph, caused the 160m coils to whip up above head height for a time then sag to the ground in a lighter wind. The system was never designed to take coils which weigh 40 grams each and the effect of ground proximity on VSWR was all too apparent. This must have resulted in strange bursts of QSB on my signal. The conditions were having a bad effect on me struggling as I was to adjust the aerial whilst looking upwards and being blown sideways over sharp, uneven rocks. Any activator of LD1 and the like will know how this feels. The coax was pressed into service as a guy line but it helped only for a short time until the wind misbehaved once again.

In this way, some 35 minutes was squandered before it was time to cart a heavy flat rock a few metres to act as a seat. A lightweight sit-mat was not really an option in this wind. It was going to be uncomfortable but at least the temperature was relatively high.

SCAFELL PIKE, G/LD-001, 978m, 10 pts, 10:27 to 13:40, 12 deg C, 10 to 40 mph gusty winds. Low-cloud with short bursts of hazy sun and fleeting views. LOC: IO84JK – WAB: NY20. Intermittent Orange mobile phone coverage.

1.832 CW - 7 QSO’s:
More in hope than expectation on Top Band, a ‘CQ got a great response. Geoff was the first callsign deciphered from two, perhaps three simultaneous callers. EI7CC Pete, G4RQJ Rob, G0TDM John, G0VOF/P Mark, EI2CL Mike and G4SSH Roy followed in response to my 100W signal. This was a pleasing though unusual result on this band this late in the morning.

I also heard Frank G3RMD calling me on several occasions with what seemed like quite a usable signal considering the distance from Cheltenham but I could never get back to him. Likewise Phil G4OBK - and this came as a real shock - as he was sending NIL - NIL. This is the first time we have failed to QSO with QRO at my end and it was purely down to his noise level at the time. This made the QSO with G4SSH an even greater surprise. Roy, who of course has no aerial for 160, was coming in just over the noise and was probably 329. In shock I gave him the wrong RST - 559 - but he QSL’d it anyway and was therefore OK in the log. If he’d been any weaker I would have missed him but my noise level was miniscule.

Mark G0VOF/P had actually gone to the trouble of setting up a 160m station based around his motorcycle. He succeeded with a 559 plus signal. Many of the incoming signals were quite strong today - there was a certain amount of life in the band. With just a day before the end of the month I remember thinking that this session would give Mark something for his 160m news slot just in the nick of time.

3.557 CW - 8 QSO’s:
Given the great conditions on 160, I was expecting even better coverage on 3.5. In fact despite investing a lot of power here, the QSO count was just one greater. I tuned to 3.557 and heard Roy put his call in but somehow switched to the next memory down - 3.532 - without realising. That made me wonder why Roy wasn’t coming back and why I suddenly had some weird interference where none was present earlier. After a few minutes of calling on here the error was finally spotted.

First in were the stations that had missed out on 160m due to high local noise levels - G4RMD and G4OBK. OK1AU called in and we exchanged at 559/339 - not a bad QSO on 80 for this time of day. 70 to 100 Watts were used for these eight.

3.724 SSB - 14 QSO’s:
The switch to SSB produced almost twice as many QSO’s as on CW. The rig was set to 50W and later 90W for this session. GW7AAV was first in, followed by familiar chasers and a few SOTA / WABers. It was nice to welcome Nigel 2E0NHM back after a couple of years off from chasing.

At the very end I was surprised to hear the familiar voice of Hazel M6YLH calling from Scarborough on my FT817 and Windom. This QSO really put the urban noise problems faced by chasers into perspective. She gave me a report of 48 - later 38 and at times was struggling to hear more than the odd word per over from my 100-Watt transmission. Conversely Hazel’s QRP was coming in at 56 but I could hear every word like it was 2m-FM with next to no competition from QRN. Who’d be a chaser?

It was now time to move to the summit proper to put on VHF. Unlike when Nick had done his 2m-FM session there earlier, the lee side of the shelter was now thronged with walkers. I moved to the SE side - in the wind but away from the crowds. Southerly is where I wanted the signal be strongest, as it’s where the majority of the VHF chasers are based.

70.425 FM - 8 QSO’s:
Stations worked: G4BLH, G4UXH, G6LKB, GW7AAV, M0XAT, M3RDZ, G1KLZ and G4PEW. All were full scale on my meter but the response to my 3-watt signal varied from 55 but mostly 59. I was using the usual 2m duck with an extension rod plus counterpoise fixed to the IC-E90 H/H. A man walked gingerly past me with bare feet. I wondered if he was doing Scafell Pike for a bet. Will saw him too.

Mike G4BLH told me he’d not only become a grandfather but doubly so in a short time. Congratulations to Mike G4BLH and his XYL Louise G8CME. Life will never be quite the same again Mike! You can have my Jack-Pack soon; the lad’s getting a bit heavy for carting up SOTA’s with HF radio gear. Either that or you could design a carrier with two side-facing seats.

Before moving position for VHF, I offered some of my remaining battery capacity to Nick. He didn’t hesitate so whilst I had a chat on 4FM, G4OOE/P was going out all over Europe and the UK with 40 Watts on 7.033. Nick logged more than 23 QSO’s at a rate of one a minute but he looked cold when I returned. In fact it was quite cool in the low cloud with a strong wind. Instead of 17C forecast for the top, it was actually 12 to 13C.

Will and his dog had been gone an hour by the time Nick and I packed up the HF station and set off down via the Esk Hause route. We were soon heading down the hill then up again to pass Broad Crag - a route ‘glitch’ featured in a Julia Bradbury TV programme. Her heart had dropped here when late in the day’s ascent she could see Scafell Pike’s summit then realised that she would have to loose height to get there. We clambered steadily on through the rock field, which reminds me of WAB area OV00 without the slime, talking to a couple from Brighton who had done Scafell Pike for the first time and who were mildly nervous of getting lost in the fog.

Will was encountered just below the Grains Gill gorge. On the lower part of the mountain despite the breeze, it became hot humid and uncomfortable. The QRO pack was chaffing my back and my only thought was to get rid of it. Perhaps risking a stumble, I pressed on from here to Seathwaite, arriving at 16:14. Nick, followed by Will and Jess were all safely back within a few minutes either side of 17:00. Will came in limping due to some damaged toe nails and blood blisters resulting from the long downhill slog impacting his toes into the front of his new boots. Nasty!

It had been a tiring day but we all had the warm glow of satisfaction. It was now down to Will for the drive home.

Ascent / Distance: 991 m (3251 ft) of ascent including return reascent, 14.6 km (9.1 miles) walked.
Drive home: Approx 17:40 to 21:20 inc dropping off Nick. Approx 295 miles in day (out via Whitby - back via Thirsk.)

QSO’s - G4YSS:
160m CW: 7
80m CW: 8
80m SSB: 14
70 MHz FM: 8 (IC-E90 – 3.5 W)
Total - G4YSS: 37

(QSO’s - G4OOE):
(2m-FM: 25)
(40m CW: 23)
(Total G4OOE: 48).

Equipment:
IC706-2G with home-brew composite panels, wiring & breakering. CW ‘key’ in microphone.
Link Dipole for 80-60-40-20 with tuneable coils for 160 at the 40m break points.
5m CFC mast – 1m ends.
IC-E90, 4-band H/H with 1.3Ah battery with 145 Mhz normal mode helical and extension for 4m.
Two RCM 4.3Ah Li-Po in parallel making 8.6 Ah. 11V nom (12.6 V fully charged) 0.7kg.
Battery Utilisation: 8.6 Ah Li-Po, 79% discharged (including 23 QSO’s on 7.033 by Nick G4OOE). Plus H/H usage.

QRO pack-weight: 11.5kg including 1.75 litre drinks.

Thanks to all stations worked and also for spotting support from Roy G4SSH. Spotters: G4SSH, G3RMD, G4OBK, G4BLH.

73, John G4YSS.
(Using SSEG Callsign GX0OOO/P)


#2

Fab as ever John. The Seathwaite - Corridor Route is definitely my favourite of the three I have done. Itching to get out into the Lakes again after reading this. Jimmy and I may get a couple of outings in around October half-term time. Just 10 LD summits stand in the way of completing all G for SOTA. Fingers crossed for favourable weather and pass-out opportunities.

Tom M1EYP


#3

In reply to G4YSS:
Hi John,
Thank you for another excellent report. I got quite tired and cold reading it!
Sorry we did not make it on 160m. Daytime conditions on the band were not great at this location. Phil (G4OBK) was a good signal here but not as strong as usual, and all of the stations you worked were inaudible here. My noise floor on the N facing receive loop, with preamps on in the IC-7000, was less than S1, and S9 on my transmit antenna. I was quite surprised I could hear so little!
Glad your expedition went well and thank you for doing top band.
73, Frank


#4

In reply to G4YSS:

Another excellent report John! Thanks for giving me a something decent to write about :slight_smile:

For once I didn’t miss out on a weekday activation, & looking at the reports exchanged it looks like my motorcycle did perform much better than expected on Top Band. I did notice the very rapid & deep QSB on your signal but had put that down to conditions. Now that I can picture your antenna in my mind blowing around in the wind, the rising & falling VSWR would be the cause of your fluctuating signal, more so than “normal” QSB. I did detect QSB on Phil’s signal, but it was not as deep or rapid as that on your signal.

The weather conditions at the summit surprise me a little, but I suppose the Lake district does have it’s own climate & you did get the uncomfortably warm weather at lower altitude.

It would have been nice to hang around & work you & Nick on other bands but work was calling so I had to go. It was certainly worth the experiment though, that’s for sure :slight_smile:

Thanks for the Top Band QSO & 10 chaser points!

Thanks & best 73,

Mark G0VOF


#5

A late reply John to keep your thread at the top of the list for a wee while longer. I take the daily update, so sometimes only catch up with the messages every few days.

Satnav can be deadly if followed to the letter. Your time of 95 minutes to get to Scotch Corner is not too bad. I’ve never done it from where I live in less than 60 minutes keeping to speed limits, so I reckon your detour only cost you an extra 10 minutes tops.

Sorry for the embarassment by calling on top of you on 160m. I couldn’t hear Frank G3RMD, Roy G4SSH, Mark G0VOF/M (Nice 160m mobile set up Mark on the mobike!)or anyone else. I hadn’t been on the band since August when you were on Whernside, but since then soemthing has happened. I discovered that I have local noise source producing S90+30 QRN hash every 70 KHz in the 1.5 - 3.0 MHz region and giving an overall minimum noise level on the band of S9+15db in between the peaks night and day. 80m is not affected. No wonder I couldn’t hear you! I think this QRN emanates from a nearby power line which I believe is running at 33 KV. Further investigation is needed, I just haven’t the time at present. The LF DX season is upon us though, so I must look into it as soon as I get the chance. Until the noise source is found top band is unusable for me.

I like the sound of your route up, never done it to the full extent but have joined it at the Lingmell Col when coming in from the Wasdale side.

Glad Nick had a good day - I like the photo Roy sent me of his ascent.

Your friend Will sounds a patient type and it’s good he is prepared to drive the (almost) 300 miles on what is a long day for all concerned.

Sorry to see the tree come down in your village after the injunction. The only winners here are the contractor, the resident when he gets planning permission to build another house by garden grabbing, and the person who will feed his wood burner with the logs this winter.

73 Phil G4OBK


#6

In reply to ALL:

Tom M1EYP
Hi Tom, Thanks for your response. Seathwaite always wins over Wasdale because the latter is terrible to access from Scarborough. I have been to it a few times to do the Gable Group, Scafell Pike, Seatallan and Illgill Head etc but it’s the better part of 4 hours travelling one way. Even when you are staying at Keswick it’s an hour or so.
I was very surprised when you mentioned you’d done all England but for 10. I haven’t even done the 1-pointer’s yet and certainly nothing in the south. It’s been a nice autumn, though now colder so let’s hope it stays good for you at half term. Good luck getting the final ten. You have done really well. 73 John.

Frank G3RMD:
It was quite cold but nothing compared to the winter months. We all got acclimatised to warm weather and that was the main problem here. Yes, I was really disappointed that I couldn’t get back to you or Phil. It’s understandable re Phil’s newly arrived noise source but shame I couldn’t penetrate through S1. It is a long way though and a lot to expect for 160m daytime. If we do make a QSO as we sometimes do, it’s probably a bonus. At least I got Mike EI2CL in the log and that can be difficult so condx must have been reasonable. I had to be aware of ground proximity all the time - sending when I thought I had the best chance.

I suppose I could try to improve my aerial and its AGL etc but it all means extra weight which might all but rule out the bigger hills like this one. I can’t see any way to increase above 100W so the improvement would have to be at the antenna. I have been experimenting with a kite but results are not great and I won’t be rushing to use it. That’s just the kite not the wire I would have to add. We’ll just keep trying. 73, John.

Mark G0VOF
Hi Mark. I have just read your Top Band report which I thought would be a one-liner due to Roy having the copy before my last minute activation. None of it - your report is detailed so first of all well done on that and hopefully you will soon get someone else to write about besides me! The QSO tally was seven. It would have been nine had I been able to reach Frank & Phil but it’s difficult to tell just listening. G4OBK should have been easy but Phil now has a serious problem that I hope he can solve soon.

I must congratulate you on your persistence in logging these 160m activations whenever humanly possible, especially this time with the whip on the motorbike. I have done Top Band mobile once or twice with a great 11 foot home-brew monster on the top of the old Landy I used to have or from a Saab 96. From what I have read the efficiency is so bad that only 3 Watts from 100 get radiated or at least that’s the kind of equivalence. It’s amazing that this was the /M band before we came on the scene. Truly local I would think. Judging by your report on Phil’s signal it would seem we had one form of QSB modulated by another so it’s surprising I got anybody. As for the WX. Yes it was quite wild but it’s hard for me to imagine on a nice sunny day on the east coast what some of these activators are going through. Many thanks for the QSO bearing in mind your effort invested, 73 John.

Phil G4OBK,
Thanks for the reply. I’m not sure I like my reports all that visible! I wish I could remember how long to Scotch Corner normally but I can’t. The roads around here can be quite tedious though as you know. It’s easy enough to slip up & down the country but you have to fight your way accross. It’s a disaster this noise you’ve got. Those are horrendous levels even between peaks. Is it looking like the fundamental is at 70KHz then? Could be a duff insulator perhaps. When you get around to it you might have to go mobile like Mark did. At least you can use an ordinary trani with a ferrite rod. Tune it to top of MW and you might find you can cross bearing the source. Good luck with it - these things can be a nightmare to find and if it’s the power line that’s not a point but linear source or even worse branching into other nearby lines.

The route is by necessity. It’s just too hard to reach Wasdale. My doc does it from there though - he had a familiar panorama of stuck-together prints in his office. I recognised the shape of Scafell and Mickledore. He said he ‘did it the easy way from Wasdale’ but I have done it from there once - my MG day - and I thought it was harder than Seathwaite being much steeper even though closer.

As for our tree. A lovely Beech - very healthy and the centrepiece of the Irton hamlet. We have no church, pub, village hall or shop and now no tree and it’s all for trivial reasons. All we have left is a nice Victorian waterworks! I counted the rings in the few hours before the stump was shredded - 128. It’s galling when you spend hours down there - most nights 10pm to 1am or even 02:30 and once all night. What price a TPO now? Roy is appauled too and none of us thought it could ever come to this.

Yes, Will is a good man - very even tempered. Bit like Nick really. I would have driven but his car is better for three with rucksacks and boots than my heap. Hope you get that noise sourced soon. Good luck with it. 73 John.

Thanks to all respondents - CU on 160 (pending enthusiasm - hi.) J


#7

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John,

I do hope your enthusiasm for 160 doesn’t wane, I had been contemplating what I would put in my Top Band report & it would have been more than one line (HI!), but there is no comparison with a good report of a successful activation. Maybe I should just keep that other idea up my sleeve for future month when there have been no 160 activations.

I really have to thank Roy G4SSH, who did allow me a little extra time to submit my report.

Thanks again Roy :slight_smile:

The QSO total of 9 as added by Roy was based on a telephone conversation on the evening of the activation & was more accurate than my (“at least 3”) comment in my original report. That just shows how “close to the wire” your activation was in SOTA news terms.

Sorry to hear about the tree, I had seen the odd mention of it on the BBC news site, but hadn’t looked into it in any detail. Having seen some of the photos & video footage online, I have to say, the comment made by someone that “he just wants to build more houses” does seem correct. Only time will tell, but in my opinion that will sadly turn out to be the case.

It’s strange how some can ride roughshod over planning regulations, but I would never get permission for four totally unobtrusive little 600ft masts & maybe a 2GW high power permit to go with them Hi!

To be fair, that last bit wouldn’t be a planning issue, & would probably be more likely to be approved than the masts…

But how would I fit them in my rucksack?

Phil’s noise problem does sound quite serious, & without wanting to sound like I am trying to teach my grandmother how to suck eggs, I would assume Phil has eliminated everything in his own property as being the source? This can be something as small as a plug in the wall mobile phone charger, or a new satellite / freeview box.

What does the noise sound like on an AM receiver, this can often be the most imformative thing to listen for.

With 70KHz spacing between noise peaks I doubt the overhead transmission line itself will be the problem, but once all equipment at Phil’s location has been eliminated, something fed directly from that transmission line in a nearby property could well be the source. I will contact Phil directly with regard to this, as I too value his capability on 160m.

Thanks again John for a very detailed report, & more than that, for activating on Top Band :slight_smile:

Very Best 73,

Mark G0VOF


#8

In reply to G0VOF:
Thanks Mark - you’re a gud un’.

160 seems to have a well established place as a SOTA ‘interest’ band with occasional practical use too, such as campovers and I really enjoy putting it on. In part it’s because the chasers who can get on there (equipment wise) and actually do hear me are very enthusiastic. I know this because they have proved it time and again by getting out of bed very early to log 160. It’s only the driving (after 53,000 SOTA miles in 10 years) that gets to me. Maybe if I had a quality car like Gerald’s it would become a pleasure again? I could always move house I suppose.

Our tree has gone but there’ll be others under threat. I like trees not least because they look good and I can fasten dipole ends to them but also the small matter of being the planet’s lungs etc.

What you say about the noise makes sense. I hope Phil can locate it. I was listening to a test transmission of Radio Seagull on 1395 KHz this morning when a very nasty racket suddenly wiped it out. I had switched nothing on and the XYL wasn’t in. I have killed my mains a time or two to prove it’s not me. Noise for us amateurs is 50 times worse nowadays but not a new problem. I remember listing in to offshore radio on MW in the 60’s; OK until next door switched their TV on!

Keep writing the reports & thanks for the QSO.
73, John.