G4YSS: G/NP-004 Summit Camp 19th to 20th April 2018
G.NP-004 - WHERNSIDE on 160m-80m-40m-20m-4m-2m
RSGB 70 MHz-SSB (CW) Contest
G4YSS using SSEG Club Call GX0OOO/P
BST (UTC+1) for walking etc.
UTC for Radio operations (denoted ‘z’)
Sun Times: 05:55 & 20:20 BST
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M HF 50 Watt Linear Amplifier (80 thru 10) with 160m capability
Adjustable link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20 with loading coils for 160m
5m home-brew CFC mast with 1m end sticks
3 x Turnigy 11.1V, 5 Ah Li-Po batteries
70MHz (from 28MHz i/p) 10W Transverter (400gm) fitted with a 2A thermal CB.
(From Ukraine as recommended by MM0FMF. Thank you Andy!)
3-Ely Home-Brew Yagi (480gm)
PVC Mast extension for use with lower two sections of HF mast.
IC-E90 4 Band VHF-UHF 5 Watt Handheld
2m Band Vertical J-Pole on 1m carbon rod
Viper-2 Ridge tent (1988/ 2.2kg)
Sleeping bag 1.6kg synthetic
Airbed (Cheap - 4 GBP eBay 490gm)
Pack-weight: 19.06 (42 lbs) inc. fleece (carried - not worn), 1.75 ltr fluids & 0.5 ltr Ice
Garmin Geko 301 GPS
Hitachi MP3 Player
Goretex Bootees worn for use if leaving the tent
There were two reasons for this particular summit camp. Firstly to give points out in the RSGB 70 MHz Contest evening, trying out new equipment at the same time and to do some 160m night operating.
G/NP-004 - Whernside was chosen because it is relatively high, easy to climb and overlooks the south and west of England well. Two previous overnight summit camps, for the purpose of taking part in the 432 MHz and 50 MHz contests respectively, had to be cancelled mainly due to the weather which left the 4m band next in line.
This was very frustrating because I was not properly equipped for operation on the 4m SSB band. I had a transverter available. It had been ordered in July 2017 after a tip-off from Andy MM0FMF. The cost was 61 GBP including postage but then I promptly forgot about it and the carton had never been opened. I had nothing but a vertical half-wave for the 4m band so a horizontal beam had to be built quickly.
Using some 20mm PVC conduit for the boom and six 1/8” x 1m long aluminium welding rods which I happened to have in stock, I knocked up a 3-Ely Yagi, closely mimicking the highly successful G3CWI 2m SOTAbeam; scaled up accordingly to resonate on 4m. Garden tests pointed to reasonable performance and so it transpired.
WEATHER - MWIS mountain forecast at 600m ASL:
In stark contrast to previous mountain forecasts, the weather for 19th & 20th April was predicted to be quite favourable with no more than a stiff breeze, temperatures just into double figures and sunshine. I don’t like the latter very much but the rest was welcome after the mean easterlies of February and March.
Just like previous plans for the 70cm & 6m contests, this one almost didn’t come off either. The MOT for the old Fiesta ran out the day before the expedition and I hadn’t realised. I ran it down to Pete’s garage on Roscoe Street and it only failed on one thing; a broken rear spring but a new one was to be delivered at 16:30 the same day. Needless to say and just my luck, it didn’t turn up but by then the car was in bits.
Pete kindly offered to come round early the next morning to remove one from the scrap car which resides on my front lawn. I said I’d do it that evening so instead of preparing for the SOTA, I found myself grovelling under the wreck. After 45 minutes and skinned knuckles, I had the right hand rear suspension leg in my hand which was when I noticed it too had a broken spring.
This exercise was repeated at the nearside with identical result. If the job couldn’t be completed by the next morning I wouldn’t be going anywhere and after putting ten alerts on SOTAwatch, this would be exceedingly embarrassing. Sadly the only recourse was for Pete to put the original leg back on after which I collected the car an hour before I was due to leave. All this did nothing for my nerves but what MOT ever does when you run a 17 year old banger?
On leaving home in Scarborough late morning, I called Roy G4SSH on 145.400. We had a short discussion about the schedule, a copy of which I had dropped off for him. Once again he said he would be available to do some spotting for me.
Starting at 11:30, the 95 mile drive via A170, A684 Hawes and over the Coal Road, took until 14:15. (Used to setting off at 03:30 am, I just couldn’t face the lunch time traffic on the York Bypass and through Harrogate).
Calling through GB3HG on 145.625 MHz on the way, I worked a Scarborough friend, G0OII/M Richard. He and I are down to man the Special Event station that SSEG will be running for the Tour de Yorkshire bike race on the morning of 5th May.
While I was getting ready to leave, a group of eight walkers came down from the summit and asked what the equipment was for. They told me that it was ‘heaving up there’ and that they’d been warned by some sort of ranger not to frighten the birds. ‘It’s breeding season.’ Apparently he’d been patrolling the paths on a 6-wheeled vehicle. Ten minutes later a solitary female walker told me the same thing. I was hoping not to meet this chap, then have to explain what was in and on the massive rucksack.
Leaving the car with the 42 pound pack at 15:07, I started the ascent in warm afternoon sunshine. It was a case of grin and bear it, while trying to take my mind off the pain by listening to music. After the stile and stream crossing, there is a short rise to a particularly awkward bog. This must be crossed. The choices are to detour right for slightly better ground or take a direct line by the fence, stepping on some rotten wood which has been laid in the mire. Either way, there’s a strong possibility of wet feet; something I didn’t desire to sleep with.
I topped out to a deserted trig point at 15:53. The ascent had taken 46 minutes and fortunately there was neither sight nor sound of the official or his vehicle. After worrying that questions might be asked as to why I was erecting a tent and lengths of wire on such a popular summit, apart from one man the next people I would see didn’t arrive until 08:00 the next morning.
G/NP-004 WHERNSIDE, 736m (2,415ft). 15:53 on Thursday 19th April to 12:28 on Friday 20th April 2018. 14 Deg C on arrival, 6C overnight and 10C next morning. Wind SW at 10 mph, decreasing slightly overnight. Blue sky & sunshine on Thursday; low-cloud on Friday morning from 04:00 to noon. WAB: SD78. LOC: IO84TF. Trig: TP-0702. Less than 50% reliable EE phone coverage.
For rapid deployment, the tent and fly sheet are carried outside the rucksack and the latter has its poles, guy lines and home-brew carbon pegs pre-attached. The single-handed job usually takes less than 3 minutes after which the tent is hung inside the fly and pegged down in 6 places. This 30-year old Lichfield Viper-2 ridge tent weighs under 5 pounds. I would love to replace it but fears about modern backpacking tents taking longer to pitch, is stopping me. Also if it works, why bother? No supplementary guy lines or pegs were needed today. In fact I broke with tradition of rear into wind, thinking some cool air would be welcome. The ground was squelching underfoot and I pitched quite near a pond full of frog spawn; something I was later to regret.
The HF dipole was run parallel to the wall with the J-Pole for 2m-FM to one side. Coaxes have to be routed in such a way that the inner tent door can be zipped up overnight.
145.400 FM - 21 QSO’s from 16:06z
This was not on the SOTAwatch schedule but was included because of time to spare. Using 5 Watts from the FT817ND to the J-Pole, I heard activity on 145.400 MHz. G7LAS/P Rob and 2E0YYY/P Mike were worked S2S on G/HSP-020 Maw Cop, a HuMP. After a chat with Mike about combining some DX’ing early the next morning, I took the frequency when their activation came to an end.
Further stations worked over the next hour and a half were: G7CDA Dougie near Garstang; G6HMN Ray in Colne; MW1FGQ John (a regular 4m contact of mine); G1OHH Sue in Lancaster (soon to be a Great Grandma); 2E0TBT/M Nick in Milnethorpe; GM4WHA/M Geoff at Annan; 2E0MOW Chris 2 miles north of Blackpool who explained Fusion radio to me and M0HZP David, who was using 2 Watts from a freshly restored FT290; QTH Fleetwood.
Another CQ brought in: G6XBF Walt in Leeds, just in from garden tidying; M3PQT/M Steve passing M6-J38. Next were 2E0LKC and 2E0LMD – Peter and Ann near Manchester A/P; 2E0XLG; Chris at Thornton-in-Craven (who has access to a 1,600 foot ASL shack) G4BLH Mike in Clitheroe testing his new aerial; G4JNN Paul in Bradford (we had a good talk about our mutual knowledge of the place); M0RSF Chris in Leeds; M0IGG Steve (ex M1ZXY) on Walney; G7OEM Tony at Blackpool reporting recent overcast (Whernside would have full sun until it set); and finally G0TDM John in Penrith.
A good session with lots of time for chatting. I was asked several times about Blackpool Rally. All being well, Roy G4SSH and I will be attending on the 29th of April.
At the end of our 2m QSO, John MW0FGQ and I tried to make contact on 4m-FM. However, John’s double zepp antenna had been half wrecked by the weather and I only had a set-top antenna. I could hear him but it was one-way only.
3.557 CW – 4 QSO’s from 17:45z:
First item on the schedule was 80m CW at 17:45z and that was the exact time of the log entry of the first caller, Roy G4SSH. He was followed by G4OOE Nick on his local SOTA summit, Bishop Wilton Wold G/TW-004 (S2S).
G4WSB Bill in Swindon preceded Hans OE7PHI and then there was silence. Reports were mainly 599 both ways apart from a 559 from Roy and a 449 QSB from Austria. Power was 30 Watts to the dipole.
3.760 SSB - 14 QSO’s from 17:56z:
First in was Phil G4OBK, almost totally exhausted from concreting his Tennamast base followed by some carpet fitting. After Phil I logged: G8ADD Brian in Brum; M0JLA Rod (Hereford City); G0RQL Don in Devon; G4OOE/P Nick on TW4; EI3GYB Michael in Mayo; G8VZT Dave a WAB operator from Shropshire; MM3PDM Peter in Peterhead.
Next in was G8VNW Nick in Thresfield with broken-up modulation; G0GWY Geoff, a well known WAB collector; GI0AZA Esther (Ian was out mending the Landrover Defender); G0VWP Terry in York; GM4WHA Geoff in Annan and GW4VPX Allan - Pencader.
Power was again 30 Watts and reports were all 59 or 59 plus with just a couple of incoming 57’s. 80m was working magnificently.
14.052.6 CW - Nil from 18:30z to 18:40z:
Despite being bang on the alerted time and frequency, disappointingly there were no replies to CQ’s on here. I tried to spot myself. In fact I tried several times on this expedition but none of the spots I sent, actually appeared. Half the time the phone wasn’t working which probably caused the problem. One text to my son arrived hours after I sent it.
14.285 SSB – Nil:
This was the alerted frequency but unfortunately it had two USA stations chatting. Their signals were not strong. After some darting to one side or another I gave up. Without spots it would be almost pointless and the time for the 4m contest was looming.
RSGB 70MHz Contest Evening 19-04-18, 19:00z to 21:30z:
Apart from Top Band, the Contest Evening was the main reason for all this effort. I had assembled most of the beam earlier. It just remained to remove the top two HF mast sections, laying these and the dipole with its previously tuned 160m coils carefully on the grass to save time later on. The extender to take the beam could now be fitted above the remaining two sections. I did think of bringing a dedicated mast for the beam but it wasn’t worth the extra weight.
Now for the proof. Would this cobbled together beam and spanking new transverter actually do the job? I took a few photos of the low sun before going back inside to start the contest a few minutes late. By then cloud was filling the valleys below. Combined with high atmospheric pressure, was this perhaps a good omen for enhanced VHF conditions?
It was now a matter of unplugging the HF linear power connector and coax from the FT817 into the transverter but why wasn’t the green LED on? I had forgotten to push in the circuit breaker. Phew! I selected the 28MHz band on the 817 and tuning around revealed the welcome signals of 4m contest stations. 70MHz SSB being as I thought, a slightly obscure entity, I expected no more than a dozen but there were more than that. They were strong too.
Settling on 70.160MHz (28.160MHz i/p from the 817), I gave G4HGT several calls but he wasn’t hearing me. What now? You fool! You need to plug the PTT phono lead from the ACC socket on the FT817, into the back of the transverter. Now it works perfectly thank goodness. We exchanged with 59 both ways at 19:06z for my first ever QSO on 4m-SSB. That made me smile!
The exchange for these contests is RST, Serial number and Maidenhead locator. Over the next two and a half hours I worked a total of 45 stations in the contest:
G4HGT; G8PNN/P (name Gordon giving ‘QRZ?’ but frustratingly, rarely a callsign); G0EHV/P; G0EAK/P; M1MHZ; G4BFJ/P; G1YBB/P; M5AFG (Dave G8VZT using 1W from an IC7300 to a linear running 160W); G0TVM; G8ONK; G8EOP; G4CLB; G4BEE/P; G0CDA (I work the op for this station in VHF-NFD every year. Then he is in IO84AD whilst my QTH at the top of Great Whernside G/NP-008 is IO94AD. We remark about it every July but this time we were both in different locations).
GM4NFC; G3WRA/P; M5DWI; M0MDY; G3PHO; G3TDH; M0MJK; 2E0OLG; G3SQQ; G4SEQ; GW8ASD; M0ORY; G8DMU/P.
G4NTY; G1EZF; G3PWK; GW4ZAR/P; 2E0DXK/P; G4OAR/A; G4EHD; G6CQC; G1FFH; G0ODQ; G0CER; G3YJR; G3VCA; G4FZN/P (IO94JF on Sutton Bank); G3PYE/P (top scorer); G4ODA; G8BUN (Robert – the chairman of the 807 Radio Club, specialists in VHF contesting, with whom I had a brief chat). Finally at 21:28z I logged G8SFI/P. The contest was over and the band went quiet apart from a few stations chatting.
Several stations remarked about the ‘tongue twisting’ club callsign and I had two breaks, one at 21:10z for 25 minutes and another later on at 20:51z for half an hour. These were partly breaks of my own making and partly the fact that nobody came back to calls I made during those periods.
The first seven and the final four stations were hunted down. The remaining 34 stations were worked on a spot frequency of 70.236MHz from 19:35z to 20:50z. This was as close as I could get to my SOTAwatch alerted frequency of 70.232MHz, which was somewhat randomly selected beforehand and alerted on the hour and half hour.
Workload was reduced on the spot frequency by means of a voice keyer that I built up a few years ago. This is a stand alone device with a small speaker. You simply hold the mic. over the speaker and press both the start button and PTT simultaneously. You can program in what you want such as, ‘CQ Contest; CQ SOTA, Golf X-ray Zero Oscar Oscar Oscar Portable,’ which I used on this occasion and for VHF-NFD in July every year.
The first 5Ah Li-Po battery went flat three quarters of the way through. I was half way through giving my locator at the time but the station concerned remarked how quickly the new battery had been connected. The beauty of standardisation using EC5 plugs and sockets for battery inputs.
The transverter, rated for a 10W output on 70MHz, was excited using the 2.5 Watt setting on the FT817 set to the 28MHz band. Bench tests beforehand showed no difference in transverter output for either 5W or 2.5W inputs. Even 1W in gave a 95% output. It seemed stupid to waste power in the transverter’s attenuator network pushing in the recommended 5 Watts.
IO82; IO83; IO84; IO91; IO92; IO93; IO94; IO95 & JO02. No overseas stations were heard but signals were of good strength and the band was very lively. Only one or two ops requested a repeat from me and I logged everybody on the first attempt. I didn’t turn the beam very much but when I did it was evident that it was working as a beam should.
Every station got the SOTA summit ref and mountain name whether they wanted it or not. I felt slightly guilty about the five extra seconds this added to each QSO when I was hunting but once on my ’own’ frequency and calling CQ, which was most of the time, I could do as I liked. Almost all operators heard the reference to SOTA and acknowledged it in some way. Most responses were very positive and the word ‘effort’ was used a number of times. Almost all seemed to know about it but one said, ‘I don’t know what that all means but thanks for the QSO.’
Half a dozen knew the mountain well because they’d climbed it in the past. One, G8BUN – Robert told me that he’d done VHF from there years ago and climbed it with his XYL. I winced when he told me that he’d carried a car battery to the top. Yes, there was life before SOTA!
I had only allowed 15 minutes in the schedule for taking down and dismantling the 4m beam and re-erecting the dipole for Top Band after the contest had finished. One great thing about staying on a SOTA overnight can be the sights you see. It’s very often foggy but this night was as clear as it gets. Stars, the odd shooting star and a sliver of moon with earth shine. My camera is nowhere near good enough to capture such things so I pressed on with the work.
In the dark it took a little longer than it should have. The screw and nut which hold the two sections of boom together are very small and fiddly and I still had to reconfigure the station inside the tent to enable HF operation.
1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s from 21:47z:
I wondered whether the skip would be too long to allow the closer stations in at 11pm but propagation was good. With the FT817 set back up to 5 Watts, the linear will produce 50 Watts. First I called G4SSH in Scarborough. Roy came back immediately but he was very weak. In fact he was at the bottom of an SSB cycle but once I’d confirmed it was him, we exchanged at 559 both ways. That was perhaps a bit optimistic.
Next to call was Mike G0HIO coming in at 559 from Burton-on-Trent. Mike gave me 449. He was in the log but in QSB and noise, wasn’t 100% happy, coming back later to confirm the QSO.
A loud signal completely destroyed the noise. This was OH9XX Marko and he was 59 plus to me. I got a 579 from him but if the rumours are true, it was Marko’s antenna that was doing most of the work.
Finally GI4ONL called in. Victor was very loud too and entered the log easily at 599 both ways.
1.846 SSB - 9 QSO’s from 22:03z:
Continuing with 50 Watts, I worked (or reworked) the following stations in SSB: GI4ONL Victor in Bushmells giving me a 59 plus 10dB report – amazing for my setup and Top Band; EI3GYB Michael in Mayo (59/ 57); G8VNW Nick in nearby Threshfield this time with steady modulation (59/ 49); SM6CNX Dan, who I sometimes meet on the WAB nets (57 both ways).
Next G8ADD Brian in Birmingham who can often copy me even if I can’t hear him (56 both ways); G6WRW Carolyn in Kidderminster struggling with static (57/ 42); OH9XX Marko (59/ 57); GI0AZB Ian in Londonderry back from his Landrover fixing (59 both ways) and the final QSO of the day, GM4WHA Geoff in Annan, just scraping in at 33/ 31.
Apart from Geoff, conditions were such that it was possible to have a short conversation with everybody and the session lasted 25 minutes. What a successful 160m activation. I was thankful to chasers for coming up so late in the day but with conditions this good, it was certainly worth it.
Victor stuck with us to the end and he came in again to marvel over the signal he was getting from me. I can’t claim any credit for that. When you consider what is required for Top Band, my antenna setup is little more than pathetic and the maximum power I can run is 50 Watts. It was all down to conditions and the time you can come up is everything.
Before retiring I nipped outside to QSY the dipole to 20m for the morning alert on CW at 06:30z. This turned out to be something of a mistake. 40m would have been better.
At least I could have some music to get ready for bed and have supper to. The 817 was tuned to 648kHz and Radio Caroline, a loyal friend since 1964, was coming in a treat at SIMPO 54544. Not bad for a kilowatt. The skip distance from the east coast must have been just right.
It wasn’t exactly warm outside and eating is one way to keep warm. After making myself light headed blowing up the cheap PVC swimming pool Lilo, something I should have done on arrival, it took significant effort to get into the sleeping bag, it being higher at the foot than at the head. The fleece jacket would not slide over the cotton liner which resulted in at least 5 minutes of reverse Houdini struggle while jambed under one side of the inner tent sloping roof. Another 5 minutes were wasted with the full length zip and careful positioning was required to avoid the hump in the tent floor whilst still remaining on the centre-line of the airbed.
There are many things that can stop you sleeping and in such circumstances, I had my fair share. We won’t expand on certain physiological characteristics which cause regular interruptions but men of my age group will readily sympathise. Turning over is an operation in itself as there’s always the danger of flicking the airbed sideways. The latter is not the warmest of things from a convection viewpoint, having as it does just four large air compartments as against thousands for foam. To be fair, it does however iron out lumps very well and unlike New Year on Pen-y-Ghent, this one did stay inflated all night. It takes up minimal space in the rucksack and its low weight allows more batteries to be carried.
My sleeping bag is not of the best quality either. A twenty quid wonder from a local shop many years ago, it comes out every time despite owning a high spec Rab down one that is far too expensive to actually use. I do however take it out of the cupboard now and again to admire its fine quality and put it away again. Sometimes I wish I’d never been born a Yorkshireman. We can perhaps afford things but we can’t always thoil them.
I did manage 2 hours of fitful sleep from about 12:30am but what was that unfamiliar sound? Yes, the breeze was flapping the tent slightly but this is something you get used to. It was then that I regretted having pitched near the frog spawn pond but at least the croaking did stop at 3am.
Around four am I heard dripping noises. ‘Drip, drip, drip’ but no rain was forecast. A search around with the headlamp revealed nothing. It was just water condensing on the dipole from the low-cloud which rolled in around that time and dropping on the flysheet.
At 5am the birds started. Skylarks in fact, though you can’t knock that cheerful sound. By 6am the discomfort was too great for further rest. I should have broken out the ‘stove’ and made a breakfast cuppa then, something which I regretted during a later CW session when suffering from brain fog due to significant dehydration and hunger.
Friday 20th April 2018:
Back to work.
145.400 FM – 1 QSO at 06:07z:
G4DEE was taking calls on the channel I happened to be monitoring. I was hoping to hear Mike 2E0YYY. Tony, located in Manchester and I exchanged reports at 57/ 53. Power was 5 Watts from the IC-E90 to the vertical J-Pole.
14.052.6 CW - Nil from 06:30z to 06:33z:
I was bang on time with the alert but the band didn’t seem particularly open. After this disappointment I flicked down to 40m SSB to look for anything interesting, all the time bearing in mind what Mike 2E0YYY had told me.
7.188 SSB – 1 QSO at 06:46z:
The first station I came across on 40m gave his callsign as ZL2RNN (or similar suffix) and he was a solid 56 despite the antenna link selection, which was still on 20m. By the time I’d got my boots on, gone out into the fog and swapped the links, he had gone QRT. Little did I realise that Mike 2E0YYY/P was working antipodean stations from the summit of Shining Torr G/NP-004, at around the same time on the same band.
I found Mike a little later still calling on 7.188 SSB and we had an interesting conversation about DX after logging our S2S that is. He thought it was getting a little late for 40m and that 20m might open up in the next 30 minutes. Inviting me to join him on 20m, we QSY’d to see what could be done there.
14.320 SSB – 2 QSO’s from 06:59:
Mike called ‘CQ SOTA’ and I listened whilst doing a few chores around a very untidy tent. He worked a couple of ‘G’ stations in the midlands but I couldn’t hear them. I did manage to log one station courtesy of Mike and this was SV3HJW – 57 both ways. Another contact was made by Mike but he got away from me.
Despite his efforts on his cold, damp summit, Mike was not lucky enough to reach Australia or New Zealand on 20m today. With his knowledge and experience of SOTA DX, he had been in the right place at the right time earlier – 40m. No amount of calling on 20m could persuade nature to cooperate, so with my 80m sked overdue, we said 73. Mike lugs a heavy CB vertical up his SOTAs for pulling in the DX. That’s dedication for you!
3.763 SSB – 1 QSO at 07:40z:
About this time my son G0UUU got a text through to me, asking about 80m. Phil was in Scotland on a week’s holiday at Isle of Whithorn D&G. He was also there to do some WAB activating mainly on 3.760 but there was a ragchew on there at this time.
I suggested we try 3.763 MHz. Conditions were marginal but we managed to exchange reports, me giving him 33 and getting back a 55. His rig, an FT857D, was up to its tricks again, shutting down at 100 Watts. This is an intermittent fault, probably of the mobile installation. Dropping the power to 40 Watts did the trick without much loss of signal detectable at my end.
Phil told me that he’d been recording some of my 4m SSB and 160m CW/ SSB QSO’s of the day before, using the internet receiver at Nantwich.
3.557.6 CW – 13 QSO’s from 07:49:
3.557 was in use but life was made easy on here due to a timely spot from Phil G0UUU. I had sent some texts to Roy G4SSH but they were delayed by over half and hour. It was even worse with self spotting. Nothing I sent ever appeared. The system worked perfectly the last time I used in from TW4 in February so it might have been my location and the fickle phone signal. However my son pointed out that I should have selected ‘SMS’ before pressing send. Oh dear, Dad gets it wrong again!
In the Log:
G4WSB Bill; PA0SKP Sake; ON3YB Lucas; ON4VT Danny; G0BPU Mike; G4SSH Roy; G4OBK Phil; DL2HWI Dietmar; G3RDQ David; M0BKV Damien; DJ5AV Mike; G0TDM John and G3RMD Frank down in Cheltenham.
Power was 50 Watts. Half the reports were 599 ranging down to 559 with a 229 from G4SSH 339’s from DL2HWI and G0TDM.
3.724 SSB – Nil from 08:14 to 08:23:
Unfortunately 3.760 was still occupied but it was nobody I recognized as having anything to do with Worked All Britain. The alternative frequency in the alerts was 3.724. No luck and not the wherewithal to make any. That was the end of the pre-made schedule, so it was ad-lib from now on.
145.400 FM – 4 QSO’s from 08:27z:
Did I hear my name mentioned? Yes, there was Nick G4OOE calling me on S20 and on his way to Cross Fell with Dave G3TQQ. They had just arrived at the car parking place; the barrier on Great Dunn Fell’s radar road. Using a handheld to a car roof antenna, they weren’t too strong but we managed 51 both ways with an update on progress at both ends.
The two further stations worked were M0NOM Mark in Windermere (59/ 55) and M0PXP/M Chris (59 both ways). Leg pain, fatigue and dizziness preoccupied me now, so I may not have been 100% lucid. Apologies.
7.033.7 CW – 12 QSO’s from 08:54z:
There was battery power and time to spare so I tried 40m CW. There was no spot but I soon had replies and it proved quite lucrative. See below:
DJ9MH Hajo; SP9AMH Mariusz; DL3HXX Lothar; HB9AGH Ambrosi; ON4FI Karel; PA1BR Pascal; OE7PHI Hans; HB9BIN/P Jurg S2S HB/LU-024; HB9CGA Uli; HB9DBM/P Mark S2S HB/BL-014; OE5WLL Willy and OK/DL2DXA/P Bernd S2S OK/LI-042. (Sorry for calling you ‘Fred’ Bernd. Fred is DL8DXA so it can be a bit confusing especially when your brain is as addled as mine was then).
I had to swap to the third and final 5 Ah Li-Po just after the start of this session. Band conditions were not that great with reports averaging between 559 and 579 and a 439 from PA1BR. Power was 50 Watts.
Without so much as a drink, let alone anything to eat, I had become very dehydrated. Sending Morse is not an ideal thing to do when you are below par and I was dizzy, light-headed from lack of sleep and in pain from either kneeling or laying propped up on one elbow. When faced with sending something as complex as ‘OK/DL2DXA/P’ I could barely get it out in my current state. Neglect of yourself in favour of the radio is not a good thing, especially for a chap of my age but it can so easily happen when you’re preoccupied.
I was soon to be faced with getting what had come to resemble a bomb site back into the rucksack. Knowing it would take me an hour to 90 minutes, I set about trying to ameliorate my poor physical condition.
Better late than never, I decided to make a brew. A rudimentary ‘stove’ hastily bent up from a single 1/16 inch mild-steel welding rod, to include pan stand, ground spikes and a platform for a single hexamine tablet, was deployed in the porch area. The pan is just an empty Dole fruit can and for the handle I used a pair of wire snips. A baco-foil surround keeps out the breeze. A 500ml bottle of water, topped up with water from the ice bottle boiled up fairly quickly. One and a half hexamine tablets made two steaming mugs of tea, which in my current state was a welcome pick-me-up. A bite to eat and I felt better but it wasn’t nearly enough.
145.525/ 145.550 FM – 7 QSO’s from 09:35z:
This started off as a check on the progress of the Cross Fell party. By now they were set up, and running on 145.525. I exchanged 59’s with both Nick G4OOE/P and Dave G3TQQ/P at the summit of G/NP-001. Thanks for the 8 points lads! Suddenly the signal disappeared but it wasn’t until later that I heard that their antenna had fallen down and apparently broken internally. Good job they had HF available.
Just after this, Phil G4OBK called in from Pickering (58/ 55) followed by a few other callers but just in case Nick & Dave wanted their channel back, I QSY’d ‘one up’ to 145.550, continuing there. G4ZRP Brian followed me up and also G6LKB Dave, G4WHA/A Geoff at the shop in Penrith and finally 2E0MOW Chris from Thornton-in-Cleveleys.
I hope I wasn’t rude to anybody but I did quite a lot of moaning and groaning regarding the gross discomfort I was suffering by this stage. I was certainly glad when finally there was silence. There was still plenty of battery power remaining and I could have done plenty more, for instance trying 20m again, but the deficits were time and patience.