Lake District Expedition to achieve 500 points certificate
In the 2010/2011 Winter bonus period, I had the idea of pushing myself to achieve my next activator certificate at the 500 points level. My score was 397 points and I thought I would be able to gain the 103 points without much trouble. I only actually managed to get out three times during the 2010/2011 Winter bonus period, so my score ended up at 416 points. Another two activations squeezed in during the Summer brought my score to 428 points.
At the end of 2010 I started to build kits and this continued throughout 2011. I started scratch building my own gear in early Summer 2011. I was aware of, and shown interest in, Kjell, LA1KHA’s PP3 Challenge, but I felt that I didn’t have the necessary skills to take part.
My last activation in Summer 2011 was my first attempt at qualifying a summit using only CW. I succeeded and I enjoyed myself very much, it was such a buzz hearing chasers come back to my call using my FT817 and a simple dipole.
In October I attended the G-QRP Convention at Rishworth, where I chatted with Kjell, LA1KHA, Åge, LA1ENA and Halvard LA1DNA. I also spoke to Richard, G3CWI. On my return home, thoughts turned to Kjell’s PP3 challenge, and it must have happened to Richard G3CWI also, as he headed out to the hills to fire up his ‘TGS’ PP3 challenge rig once more.
I had reached a point in my home brew activities where I thought I could take part in Kjell’s challenge. I decided at that point that I would build a rig to run from a PP3 and use it to get my 500 point certificate. I knew that my CW would not be up to much, but I thought at least I would improve and if I designed my rig correctly, it would compensate in terms of current used - higher speed CW should be more efficient, but I would make up for this using less current for my slow CW.
I set my goals for the 2011/2012 Winter Bonus period:
Improve my CW
Qualify each summit using PP3 powered CW
Achieve my 500 points Activator certificate
Follow LA1KHA’s challenge rules to the letter, do the best I could
As of the morning of March 12th 2012, my score was at 472 points, I needed at least 28 points to achieve my goal.
I set off from my QTH at about 0645, a little later than I had intended. The roads were clear all the way to the parking place, so I made good progress, arriving at the lay-by at Mill Bridge on the A591 at 0830. Suitably attired, I set off walking at 0845, following the Patterdale bridleway to the Ford, where I departed the bridleway and followed the path to the right of ‘Great Tongue’. I followed the path until I reached Grisedale Tarn, where I turned right at it’s far end and cut across to join the path from Cofa Pike to St Sunday Crag. Just shortly after joining this path on the ridge, the mist cleared and the sun shone brilliantly. I was quite emotional, the beauty of the mountains above the sea of cloud was breathtaking!
I gathered myself together and walked the last part of the path in glorious sunshine - I literally was in my shirt sleeves.
St Sunday Crag G/LD-010, 8 points +3 bonus, 841m
I set up my usual inverted vee dipole on the North part of the summit, just a little way past the cairn. I thought the grassy bit would be good for my mast pegs! I thought that I would start my activation using a RockMite 40, which I had modified during the previous week. I took out the 5V1 zener regulators and replaced them with a single 5V supply from a low drop out TS2950ct-5.0 regulator. This improved the current consumption on RX considerably. All this benefit for only 99p - a bargain!
I wasn’t sure what to expect, I had not used the RockMite before and I hadn’t had much experience of the 40m band. I self spotted using MM0FMF’s spotting service and within a few minutes, LA1ENA, Åge was in the log at 1121utc- great, the rig worked, and there were people out there to have QSO’s with! Things were looking good. A nice stream of patient callers followed, finishing with Mark, M0MSW at 1143 UTC.
I had worked 12 stations, so with time in short supply, I decided to skip doing 30m.
I packed up and headed over Cofa Pike towards Fairfield, eating my lunch along the way. The last time I did Cofa Pike, it was icy and rather windy, it certainly made for an ‘exciting’ experience, this time though, the weather was mild and there was no wind at all, making the passage rather pleasant!
Fairfield G/LD-007, 8 points +3 bonus, 873m
I was all set up by 1320, again choosing my RockMite 40 to start things off. A self spot netted GM0OAA at 1326utc. Contacts followed again in a nice steady stream. At this point I was approached by a man with a very handsome Labrador carrying what looked like a fishing pole and a 144MHz mobile antenna, this man turned out to be Derek, 2E0MIX. I continued with my activation whilst Derek was setting up just North of my location.
My last contact was a new DXCC for me on CW - George, GI4SRQ at 1347. During my QSO my ‘dit’ paddle started acting a bit erratically, so my CW was not even up to my usual standards- sorry George! I cleaned the contacts on my key with a bit of logbook paper and this cured the problem. I again decided not to bother with 30m
I packed up my gear and went for a chat with Derek, 2E0MIX, who had quite a large pile up on his hands! I had just walked alongside when I heard Mike, G4BLH coming through the speaker on Derek’s radio. Mike was asking if I was still on the summit. Derek replied that, yes, I was stood right at his side! Derek offered to put me on the microphone, but Mike, G4BLH, replied that he had already worked me on the key.
After chatting for longer than I should have (my fault!) and helping some lost souls without maps to find their way, I set off for Seat Sandal a little later than I had intended.
I walked West off the summit of Fairfield, down the scree path towards Hause Gap. From Hause Gap I walked straight up the Eastern face of Seat Sandal. It looks impossible from the bottom, but actually it is not too bad. I arrived at the summit cairn of Seat Sandal at about 1510utc.
Seat Sandal G/LD-022, 6 points +3 bonus, 736m
This was it - at this point I had 494 points, I was only 4 QSO’s away from my 500 Activator point certificate. I set up my dipole as before, but this time though, I set it for 30m. I wanted to achieve my final QSO’s using the little rig I’d designed and built myself. Yet again the self spot system worked a treat, David, G3RDQ, was in the log on 30m at 1527utc. The QSO was difficult, at first David was about 579, but within seconds David’s signal faded to 449.
OE7PHI provided another new DXCC, followed by OK1DVM for yet another new DXCC! My fourth and qualifying contact was provided by Franz, OE6WIG. I had done it! I now had 503 points! Two more QSO’s with DL1FU and DJ5AV rounded the number of QSO’s up to six, just to make sure! I then swapped on to 40m using the RockMite. Six QSO’s followed quite quickly with Michael G0BPU last in the log at 1609. I then sent QRT TU and someone who was 599, sent - 73 TU in reply! Thanks, whoever that was!
I descended to my car, following the same route that I had ascended - back to Hause Gap and then following the path down to the Ford, joining the Patterdale Bridleway for the final bit. I reached the car at 1730utc, my GPS showing a distance walked of 8.08 Miles. The drive home was without problem and I reached my QTH at 1945.
A fantastic mountain day, made even better by achieving all my radio goals. The weather was perfect all day, very mild with no wind.
Congratulations to Roy, G4SSH, and Kevin,G0NUP, who worked me on all three summits.
I think my little ‘mint tin toy’ behaved itself very well! OK, the RX is very wide, but it seems sensitive enough. My PP3 challenge battery powered both of my radios during the day and the voltage has dropped to about 8V - still plenty of life in it! My QSO tally now stands at 104 QSO’s with this battery - another milestone achieved during the day - 100 QSO’s from my battery
So much fun - an entire Winter bonus period, 104 QSO’s, 17 DXCCs and 72 SOTA points all provided by one tiny 9Volt battery, still with more to come!
Thanks to all the chasers - without you, none of my goals would have been achieved.