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Just the way I like it!


#1

I was pleased to see that the WX forecast for today was predicting much calmer weather than of late. Sunny skies and cold temperatures were predicted - perfect!

Because of the good WX, I could elect to use my favourite antenna, a home brew ultra light dipole using a 4m pole for support. I cant quite quantify why, but of all my radios, my favourite rig is my second 2 band KD1JV Mountain Topper, despite it being heavy at 170g (steel case, grrrr!). Today, I chose to use the Mountain Topper, which was welcome relief after fighting the FT817 keyer yesterday whilst I had a dabble on 10m.

It took some effort to get out of bed but I was at the top of my first summit, Great Whernside G/NP-008, before 9am. I’d even stopped off for breakfast at McDonalds on way (porridge and a coffee).

The fence across the summit had amazing rime formations

I was warm inside the bothy bag and this time I took a pair of headphones to try and I could hear the MTR’s audio much better. I’d built myself a little AF amp but it was not needed at all.

<img src="/uploads/db9433/original/2X/5/5e551341eea85db2430a302d7a5ef0ad3ddcc011.jpg" width="690"height=“388”>

About 30 QSO’s were had in a short time, signals were generally excellent. I really enjoyed the operating session, I was happy with the rig, the signals were good and the pile up was lively. I got a little bit frazzled by the wall of noise at one point and thoughts of ‘should I have tried split’ ran through my head, but in the end I just got on with it and I managed OK.

Dodd Fell Hill

At the last Craven Radio Amateur Group (CRAG) meet, we were talking about Dodd Fell Hill. I have never done G/NP-016 before but I’m trying to maximise my points score because I targeting Mountain Goat for 2016. I took the road from where I had parked for Great Whernside down to Kettlewell and had a brief break in the public car park to study the map and eat lunch. I decided that I had enough time to try to do Dodd Fell Hill. I headed towards Buckden and split off at the turning for Hubberholme. The Hubberholme road is amazing, it’s like Postman Pat country! Drystone walls enclosing a single track road with green fields all around.

I used the tips in the summits pages to park near the Pennine Way path at the end of the gated road. Visibilty was excellent, so it was easy to spot the little cairn marking the diversion from the Pennine Way to the summit of Dodd Fell Hill. The notes said that the ground is very wet, but today the ground was more or less frozen. The views from Dodd Fell were breathtaking. I especially enjoyed the view of Ingleborough G/NP=005 (on my to do list, saving it!)

I again used my lightweight dipole on 4m pole and KD1JV MTR powered by a 2S lipo with about 2.5w output (I’d used the same battery for G/NP-008).
Again, signals were good and the pile up was another wall of noise. I’m truly amazed that such a tiny setup can work so well. Icing on the cake was working Phil, VE1WT in Nova Scotia - I mean how does that even work? A tiny QRP rig, running less than 3watts, prowered by a tiny battery into an inverted vee, made from thin equipment wire, fed with a length of RG-174 at about 3.75m above ground, working across a few thousand miles - it’s mad!!

One of those golden winter SOTA days when the radio works and the WX works! Using the over ear headphones was a huge improvement, I think I’ll have to invest in a second pair.

73, thanks to all chasers.

Colin


#2

Fully agree, Colin.


#3

Hi Colin,
very well done! Glad the weather was fine enough for you to do the activation.
I received you very well from NP-008. I’m surprised to read you were just running abt 3w. Signals really pulling through here. Dipole never lets you down and MTR is a solid performer!

Congrats and thanks for your nice photographs.
72 de Ignacio


#4

Thanks for the QSO Ignacio, was a pleasure to work you. Signals from EA were strong, I’m used to them being a bit weaker than the HBs, DLs and OEs.

I’m sold on dipoles for SOTA, they seem to work well. I don’t buy into the argument that they are hard to set up. An end fed is not much different yet people say they’re easier to set up. How? Yes, I understand that an end fed doesn’t need a feeder, but it does require an impedance transformation. I’d take a bet that the loss of the impedance transformation (tuner) negates any advantage of not having to use a short length of feeder.

My MTR seems to be working nicely now that I have increased the AF gain a little and tweaked the RX band pass filter values. I use a 2S LiPo for power, it shows about 8.4 volts fully charged and drops to just below 8 v after a day’s activating. I’m not even getting down to the nominal voltage, I think my battery is way too big (1000mAh). I do carry a small 3S LiPo for if conditions get tough, but I prefer not to run the rig so hard.

I keep thinking it would be nice to obtain another MTR for 20m/30m but house it in an Altoids tin, that way I could shave off another 90grams in weight.

I think 20m and 30m is a really good combination of bands for SOTA, it gets you away from contests if needed and QRP works well. I find that QRP on 40m can be hard work, it’s easy to get lost among the big local signals. Using a 4m pole, a 30m dipole seems to be a nice size, whilst a 40m dipole is just a bit big. I have a 5m pole which I must try with a 40m dipole. Sure, the antenna will be low, but that’s also an advantage as I see 40m as a means to work G chasers and the higher my angle of radiation, the better!

I’m taking a short break from activations but I hope to be back in March to do G/LD-007, G/LD-010 and G/LD-22. I hope we can work then!

Vy 73,

Colin


#5

Hi Colin,
interesting thoughts.
I’m okay with End fed; I prepared a light feeder with which I get rid of tuners. I agree dipole is not so different when compared with end fed installation. I spent a couple years doing SOTA with random verticals but nowadays I think I will stick with EF (bye bye tuner and radials). I prefer to avoid the coax on the pole, although RG174 is a good option if you put enough care with it.

I use a 5m pole here. In the end, if I compare the ffrequent chasers who use to catch me from summits, I always see similar results along the years even with different configuration…

My MTR is a 40/20. I do agree 30/20 is the ideal combination for SOTA.
Concerning 40, being EA in the most western corner it’s difficult to have easy SOTA activations from EA.
In the other hand I see daily many activators running on 40m because they are in central Europa and it’s easy to get plenty of qso from there. As for me, if I see activators running on 40 beyond DL I see I’ll have no way to chase them. Therefore I was happy to catch you on 20m last day !!

For that reason I use to run most of my activation on 20m then too.

I also have a 2S 1000 mAH batt; large but light, right? And it’s so nice to run your MTR 3w then…
I am considering the RX improvement of my MTR,but I am a bit lazy to start opening and changing it… A bit of a thrill…

Take care and hope to catch you back in March. 73 de Ignacio