Saturday 4th August 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015
Rather frustratingly, I had a gig booked on North Pier, Blackpool for Saturday 4th August 2018, but it got cancelled with just 24 hours notice. Even more frustratingly, I’d been offered a wedding band gig three days earlier, which I had to turn down.
Well, I firmly believe the trick is to turn any negatives into positives - so this surely meant an opening for a Saturday night DX-hunting activation! I was set up and QRV on The Cloud G/SP-015 by 2020z, and soon working a steady stream of stations on 20m FT8. I split about 50:50 between calling and chasing, with the vast majority of QSOs coming from Western Europe. The highlight was when I called CQ and was answered, and worked, by PY2BEK - Brazil. It was nice also to work John DK9JC, a SOTA chaser, to give him his debut digimode SOTA chase.
The Western EU theme (DL, EA, F, G, GI, GM, HB, LX, ON, PA, RA, UR) continued until just after midnight BST, when I finally “crossed the Pond” again with FT8 QSOs with KC9WPS (Wisconsin) and KP4JFR (Puerto Rico). Not long after this, my Windows 10 Acer tablet ran out of charge, so that was the end of datamode ops for the activation.
Before venturing out, I found to my surprise that my WSJT-X 1.8 on my tablet was actually NOT the latest version. Checking this was prompted by the comments of Ron VK3AFW. I updated Windows on the tablet, then upgraded the WSJT-X software. Sure enough, I now found that I could identify as M1EYP/P, and still be picked up by the autosequencing. In that autosequenced QSO, everything would revert to M1EYP, but the big positive difference was that a station calling me would cause the QSO sequence to be initiated.
The only downside was now that furnishing my call with the /P counted as my extra “word” - so no grid locator (IO83). Maybe v2.0 will address this? Or maybe not - it doesn’t really matter - though I did see someone send a comment on air the other day “NOGRID NOQSO”. Hmm…
A lad and his girlfriend wandered up to the summit, using only her mobile phone screen for light. He was very friendly and genuinely interested in what was going on. He was fascinated by the radio stuff, but even more take by the sound of scores of FT8 data signals coming out of my FT-817 speaker. He explained he was into sound production and experimental music. He said he “loved” that noise and asked if he could make an audio recording of it on his phone! I gave him my business card and asked him to send me a copy of anything he did with it!
With FT8 now out-of-action, I deployed the Mini Palm Paddle for CW. The North American QSO Party was in full swing, though only a handful of signals were strong. I worked W1TO, and SOTA chaser W2SE to round off the activation. Total QSOs: 35 (33 x 20m FT8, 2 x 20m CW).
Saturday 5th August 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015
Things started well with two NA CW QSOs inside a minute at 0003z - W2SE (New Jersey) and NI5M (Texas). The next one didn’t come until 0022z - S51FM, and then I was struggling to work anything. I was extremely tired, so I packed up.
I had an urge to make a fourth contact, for no reason whatsoever. I called CQ on the 2m FM handheld, and worked Dave G7RYN over in Winsford. On the calling channel, several other stations answered the initial call, including SOTA chaser Pete 2E0LKC, but I never found them again. Total QSOs: 4 (3 x 20m CW, 1 x 2m FM).