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GT7OOO in GD last week


#1

For the last 3 years my XYL and I have attended the Isle of Man Walking Festival and activated all the excellent summits in the Isle of Man. As this year is probably going to be the last visit for a while it was decided that a full HF QRO effort was needed and so off we went. The festival starts with a welcome reception on the Sunday night, followed by five days of walking of various grades, social events, tours and three ghost walks.

I recommend the festival to anyone who is sociable and into walking, and the island is very good for SOTA.

Saturday 16th May GD/GD-005 Mull Hill

With sunshine, wind and heavy showers forecast we left the guest house in Douglas to make for the south of the island around Port Erin. Judy had brought a book and had decided to remain in the car during my activation of GD-005. After waiting for the rain to stop I made my way from my vehicle the few hundred yards to the WW II pillbox on the top of the hill:

No sooner had I started to unpack when the heavens opened, and I took shelter inside the pillbox to set up the station in the dry. It soon stopped raining and I was able to continue to set up the link dipole outside. MIND YOUR HEAD! Bang…that was me hitting the lintel on my way to go outside. You live and learn. It was pretty dark inside there, and quite clean unlike a few of these structures I have been in previously.

A quick call to dial a spot (Roy G4SSH - thanks) and I was away on 3532 KHz with Roy first in the log and then another Scarborough station Kevin G0NUP next. The problem I had was I couldn’t see…by now it was bright outside and the light from the small square windows was blinding me. So I could see the radio controls and digital readout on the FT-857 I pressed the F key to turn the display on for a few seconds at a time when it was necessary. I got by and after 36 minutes of operation and 45 QSOs on 80/60/40m with 10 DXCCs I called it a day in the interests of domestic harmony… and the chance of doing GD-004 together later on.

We retired to the railway station cafe in Port Erin for sandwich, cake and tea ready to face GD/GD-004 Bradda Hill later in the day.

TO BE CONTINUED…


#2

In reply to G4OBK:
Don’t worry Phil, your poor head didn’t affect your nice CW… !

73 Alain F6ENO


#3

In reply to F6ENO:
…but was the pillbox damaged?:wink:

73

Brian G8ADD


#4

GD/GD-004 Bradda Hill 16th May 2009

No damage was caused to the Pillbox on Mull Hill BY MY HEAD (tnx Brian!) and suitably refreshed we continued after lunch. We parked at SC192687 (the car park of the former Bradda Glen Car Park) and started our circular walk of 3.5 miles taking in GD-004 Bradda Hill. It was extremely windy and that always makes the XYL Judy miserable as this picture of her near Milner’s Tower on Bradda Head shows:

We reached the summit cairn at 1415z and I started erecting the dipole. As I was attaching one side to the fence CRUNCH! :

The pole was shortened but not by choice and is now scrapped after over 60 activations. I had a spare one back in the car. Sheltering behind the wall was cosy and G4SSH was first in the log at 1448z, followed again by G0NUP and several more on 80m CW. The loss of antenna height wasn’t a problem and 75w QRO was used to good effect:
80m CW: 7 QSOs
60m SSB: 12 QSOs
40m CW: 22 QSOs
30m CW: 13 QSOs (QRT at 1542z)
S2S with Gyula HA2VR/P on HA/KM-010 on 30m
DXCC: 15

We continued the walk down into Fleshwick:

This is a lovely coastline which we returned to 4 days later as a walk as part of the Walking Festival from Port Erin to Peel when we again crossed over Bradda Hill.

Phil G4OBK/GT7OOO/P

TO BE CONTINUED…


#5

3 days after activating GD-004 we opted to tackle a Grade A walk as part of the festival from the top of Snaefell GD/GD-001 to the sub-Marylyn of North Barrule and then down into Ramsey. By taking the mountain railway our walking group got to 2036 feet ASL very easily. Snaefell was in mist and as the group awaited the next train up and the rest of the walkers, I asked G4SSH to tip me off by using the dial-a-spot service(TNX Roy). I dissapeared into the mist for 10 minutes with my FT-817 and rucksac special…

Only 6 QSOs were made on 2m FM with:

GM8OTI/P
G4RQJ
G6LKB
2W0DER/M
GW0DSP
M3LQP

I needed to activate GD-001 again on HF, so pledged to return again with HF gear weather and time permitting, later in the week.

The group left without me and I made my way down through mist to the Black Hut on the TT course, catching them up just before that. We then started the ascent to North Barrule (1854 feet). This is a nice ridge walk to the very peaky sub-Marilyn:

The walk continued after lunch down into Ramsey. We made slow progress and I excused myself at 3.00pm to head for the coast road to catch the 3.10pm bus back to Laxey Mountain Railway Station where I had parked my car. This would allow me chance to activate GD-002 Slieau Freoghane on HF for the first time, but on the way there I had an encounter with a motorbike…

TO BE CONTINUED…


#6

I was driving from Laxey towards Cre-ny-Baa, which is a pub at a road junction at the end of the mountain road. On Tuesday 19th May the mountain road was closed for TT race preparation until 4.30pm so my plan was to get to the Creg-ny-Baa pub and await the opening of the mountain road which would allow me to get to Injebreck - a convenient place from which to climb up to GD-002. As I was rounding a slight bend on the single track road from Laxey a 16 year youth came into view on a 125cc Yamaha Virago. I stopped easily but due to the speed of the motorcycle he lost control of it when trying to pull up, just managing to stay upright as he snaked towards me. He didn’t stop his machine in time though running down the side of my stationary vehicle and caught my rear offside before he came to rest. Body damage to the tune of about £350 but no injuries. He was a lucky lad. We exchanged details and continued on our way…well at least I did, His bike wouldn’t start so he had to ring someone up. Hopefully I will get my car repaired this week before I go off on my main holiday.

I was on pole position at Creg-ny-baa and sure enough at 4.30pm the road workers arrived to reopen the road. Off I went to my parking spot at SC 342866. A gravel byway took me to SC 344880 (accessible by 4X4) where I took off over the moor to the top of the hill - it took around 30 minutes to reach the top of the 4 pointer from my car, not bad.

I had with me the FT-857, 7 AH battery, 11m pole and link dipole for 30/40/60/80m. The WX wasn’t particular good with a cold wind, but it was at least dry and had been all day. I lashed the big pole to the old lighting post:

on top of Slieau Freoghane with two bungies, tied off my aerial and sought shelter from the wind behind the cairn. The cairn is quite low and didn’t afford much so I soon felt cold. I like this summit though and it was about time I activated it on HF. On my two previous visits it had been “handheld smash and grab” 2m FM only due to me being part of a walking group, so it was nice to be able spend a little time here for a change.

Dial-a-spot was contacted (Thank’s Roy G4SSH) and off I went on 80m CW (3532 KHz) with G4SSH and Jeff G4ELZ first into my log. It wasn’t comfortable and I did have a dinner date with entertainment after that, plus I needed to visit the police station in Douglas to report the accident, so I decided to restrict my activity to 80m CW, 40m CW and 60m SSB. I finished up with 61 QSOs with the activity starting at 1625z and finishing at 1720z. 17 DXCC countries were worked. I took the shortest route I could back across the heather hitting the byway lower down before driving back to Douglas.

TO BE CONTINUED WITH GD-003…only two more to report.


#7

Wednesday of the Isle of Man Walking Festival dawned. There was no time for SOTA that day. We caught the early bus to Port Erin to join 12 other souls who were destined to walk to Peel - a 14 mile walk across GD-004 Bradda Hill and 3900 feet of ascent. Five of us followed that with a pub meal and a few jars in The Creek Inn Peel, and then undertook a spooky two hour ghost walk with “Alan” a man who makes his money out of telling gory stories and frightening people. I fell into bed at 11.30pm and decided that an early rise to meet the “breakfast club” at 0630z from the top of South Barrule (GD-003)next day was not a practical proposition, so on Thursday I went for doing the walk in the middle hills above Douglas from Crosby with my XYL and other walkers first and then activating at the end of the day. I had parked the car up in Crosby so Judy took the bus back to Douglas at the end of the walk and I drove to the foot of South Barrule. I parked at SC 247756.

GD-003 South Barrule
FT-857 with 7 AH Battery
7m pole
Link dipole 80/60/40/30m

I had a little more time today, as I hadn’t encountered any motorcycles on my drive to the hill. The top of the four pointer was reached in less than 20 minutes. Dial a spot was contacted (G4SSH) and activity commenced at 1543z. Conditions were good and I gave 80m SSB a shot at the end of the activation working a few of the usual suspects:

GW0DSP M3RHJ 2E0PXW G0TDM G0VOF MOCOP and G0RQL.

I went QRT at 1700z with:

13 80m CW QSOs
11 60m SSB QSOs
30 40m CW QSOs
21 30m CW QSOs
7 80m SSB QSOs
Total 82 QSOs with 17 DXCC Countries

A rain shower threatened at the start but and a few passed me by.
This had been a great activation.

TO BE COMPLETED WITH GD-001 ON FRIDAY…


#8

It’s old news now but I will finish off my report of my trip to the Isle of Man with my second visit of the week to Snaefell GD-001.

I had already been there via the mountain railway on the Tuesday when I had 6 QSOs on 2m FM, now it was Friday and our last day at the Isle of Man Walking Festival.

We tackled a walk from St John’s first, which is the old capital of the Isle of Man before Douglas Port took over. I did 7 miles before exiting the walk to catch the bus to where I had parked my car. This got me to the mountain railway at the Bungalow for 3.20pm to find that I had just missed the 3.15pm train to the top. I asked the attendant “When is the next train up the mountain?” to which he replied “It might be 3.40pm but then it might not”. He was serious and did not know for sure. He said there would for sure be at least one more train at around 3.55pm. I questioned him further but he was so vague about the next train time that I decided to walk up. 30 minutes later at 3.55pm I was up top away from the cafe by the fence and erecting the big 11m pole…the next and last train pulled into the mountain station at 4.20pm leaving at 4.40pm, but I had always expected to walk down.

GD-001 Snaefell (8 points)
FT-857 with 7 Ah battery
130 feet inverted L for 160m with two 66 ft ground radials
Link dipole for 80/60/40/30m

The weather was good despite being in mist, which I passed through at about the 1800 feet level. This mist did not attenuate the sound of the motorbikes below me, presumably riders practicing for the forthcoming TT Races. Despite the mist there was no wind and the anenometer on the NATS building was motionless. It was warm and comfortable and I had never experienced this level of comfort in mist before.

After bungying the pole to the metal fence that runs around the concrete perimeter track I set up the link dipole about 6 feet from the top of the pole with the inverted L above it on the top. To prevent interaction I pulled one side of the dipole down against the mast and tied of the end of the inverted L to the fence some distance away and off I went on 160m from a SOTA for only the second time. My wire was resonant at about 2 MHz when tested and I did not have an ATU. The SWR on 1832 KHz was about 5:1. I hunted around for about 6 feet of spare wire but didn’t have any in my bag. The only solution was to hack about 6 feet of one of my two 66 feet radials and fasten it to lengthen my wire with a chocolate block. This brought the resonance down to around 1870 KHz so the aerial was quite usable on 1832 KHz!

I started at 1523z and 3 top band QSOs were completed initially with G3WPF EI2CL and G0TDM. Signals were all very good. I also heard Frank G3RMD several times calling me at 579 but no response came back. Cheltenham to the Isle of Man at 1530z in summer was just not possible. I QSY’d to 80m and decided to return later to 160m to hopefully make a 4th QSO.

80m CW was in fine fettle and I noticed how conditions on the bands had improved as the week went by. 12 stations were contacted on CW before I moved to 60m SSB and 40m CW to work the usual callers. I had a little more time thanks to walking up rather than catching the very late train, so 80m SSB was tried and 12 more stations were worked on that band/mode. Top band was again finally tried as I thought advancing another hour towards the end of daylight may make a difference. Frank G3RMD was again heard calling at 579 but without responding to my return, but Mark G0VOF was worked easily at 59 both ways. A QSY to 1870 KHz SSB and a CQ call produced just Mark G0VOF in Blackburn for my last QSO at 1636z.

QSO Tally:
160m CW: 4 QSOs
160m SSB: 1 QSO
80m CW: 12 QSOs
80m SSB: 14 QSOs
60m SSB: 11 QSOs
40m CW: 30 QSOs

Total 72 QSOs with 16 DXCC Countries

The mist cleared towards the end allowing me to take this photo:

So it was time to pack up as I had a meal with my XYL booked for 7.30pm and then the final social event of the week - a ceiledh with The Calor Gas Ceiledh Band in Douglas to attend. This used to known as “The Blister Ball” until the organisers decided this might put people of coming.

We left the Island on the 8.15am boat on Saturday morning, bound for Heysham. That was my week in the Isle of Man.

73 Phil G4OBK/GT7OOO


#9

I would like to thank Roy G4SSH for assistance with spotting on SOTAWatch (via the dial a spot service)and for the printing of QSLs through the auspices of Scarborough Special Events Group. The QSL route is via G0OOO and this is the QSL card:

I would also like to thank the many people for spotting my activity and for all the chasers for the 320 SOTA QSOs completed.

Phil


#10

In reply to G4OBK:

Many thanks for the interesting reports on your IOM activation.
I must admit that I had hoped for at least one QSO with the five summits. When you were on GD-002, the one I “needed”, I could hear you 519 for all of the 40m CW session but obviously you did not hear me in the pile-up. On the other hand, when you were atop GD-001, I was more than pleased with the success on 160m CW.

73

de Mike, EI2CL


#11

In reply to G4OBK:

Thanks for the excellent report Phil & a brilliant read :slight_smile:

I knew you were on your way over to GD land but as most of your alerted activations were to take place during the week, when I would be at work, I didn’t fancy my chances of working you.

As it turned out I don’t think I did too badly :slight_smile:

I managed to work you on GD-003 on Thursday 21st just after arriving home from work & seeing you spotted on 80m SSB.

I also was fortunate enough to catch you on the Friday from GD-001 also at a time when according to my log I must have hardly had time to get my helmet off before firing up the radio!

After being one of the 12 stations to work you on 80m SSB I followed you down to 160m CW. Not being too good at CW & having at best a mediocre antenna for top band I replied to one of your CQ’s & was very pleased indeed when you came back to me :slight_smile:
You were a cracking good signal here & there was nowhere near as much noise as you get on 80m, so I was very surprised to be the only station you managed to work on your second go at top band CW. I do have to say though, that I am over the moon that I was contact number 4 on that band & mode, for obvious reasons I would think :wink:

Top Band is a difficult band for many stations to be active on as there are not many people who have the space to erect a good full size 160m aerial. The aerial I use is the remains of what was a quite good top band “long wire”, which I only had up for two days & nights, many moons ago. It is now more or less a full wavelength 80m horizontal delta loop, although it is cut & fed in an unbalanced way. 20m is fed as a counterpoise connected to ground at the transmitter, with the remaining 60m as the driven side. No coax is used between the ATU & the antenna feedpoint. It is a bit strange but it evolved this way to work on more bands & give less EMC problems than any other arrangements I have tried here.

It is by no means a good antenna for top band, but you were once again a brilliantly clear signal on 1870KHz SSB, & I am very proud to have been your last contact from GD-001 on what was, I am sure, a very memorable trip.

Thanks Phil :slight_smile:

73,

Mark G0VOF


#12

A very interesting read Phil. I used to live in Ramsey - but it was a long time ago hi! Never been back since, and would love to, to do the five SOTAs. I’m sure it will happen in the next few years.

73, Tom M1EYP


#13

In reply to Phil:
Hi Phil,

Finally read this. Excellent and detailed. Liked the pics. Windswept Judy, smashed mast, great bluebells but who made that cracking QSL card for you? Yes, Roy kept me up to speed on your exploits especially the accident day. I will admit to a tinge of envy at the news that you worked into Dublin on Top Band! Mike would be highly delighted at that, I’m sure.

I would love to try GD again. Haven’t been since 1975 & I wasn’t licenced.

73, John.