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My first HF Activation - GM/WS-021 Sgurr Choinnich


#1

Sue and I are up here whittling down the last few of her Munros.

These days she like “day on, day off”, so I got yesterday free to build my first dipole and experiment with the fishing pole I bought to create an Inverted Vee.

This morning I was pleasantly surprised when shouldering my pack with the “extras”. The pole, downlead, FT-817 and my rather basic dipole only made my bag feel like a “normal” winter rucksack.

A steady four hour walk took us from Glen Nevis, past Steall Falls up to the summit of Sgurr Choinnich Mor.

Sue helped me get set up, which took about 15 minutes. Probably not a record time, but not bad for my first go.

I was using the internal battery on the FT-817, which as far as I can tell means just 2.5W PEP.

I tried 2m first and managed just one contact to Derek in Helmsdale - quite a good distance for VHF I think? Thanks Derek. I tried calling for a while on 2m without any further success.

By this point Sue had my “emergency duvet” coat on… now she was warm I could keep on trying! :slight_smile:

I moved to 40m SSB and found lots of stations working. I then spent ages trying to get in to anyone - probably my lack of experience showing I suspect. I tried calling CQ on a clear frequency for ages with no response.

Eventually I was spotted by a few people and managed a fantastic S2S all the way to the Isle of Wight (over 700km I believe). Not bad for my 2.5W and my ham fisted attempt at a dipole!

Thanks to everyone else who I contacted and those who “let me in” to their nets, including the Royal Signals group.

Well, think I’m hooked now.

Another 10 days up here yet, so hopefully a lot more summits activated.

Gerald
MW6AQU (MM6AQU/P this week!)


#2

In reply to MW6AQU:

Thanks to everyone else who I contacted and those who “let me
in” to their nets, including the Royal Signals group.

I was in the Royal Signals net on 40m, when you called in. M0OIC, was running the net but couldn’t hear you. IIRC, G4BXQ worked you. I was desperately trying to get back in the net to give you a S2S. You were 5/1 on G/SP-013.

Never mind, I’ll find you later this week

Well, think I’m hooked now.

Yep, there’s no escape…

Another 10 days up here yet, so hopefully a lot more summits
activated.

Good luck with the activations Gerald.

73
Mike 2E0YYY


#3

In reply to 2E0YYY:

In reply to MW6AQU:

I was in the Royal Signals net on 40m, when you called in. M0OIC, was
running the net but couldn’t hear you, IIRC, G4BXQ worked you. I was
desperately trying to get back in the net to give you a S2S. You were
5/1 on G/SP-013.

Never mind, I’ll find you later this week

Shucks! I seemed to be doing better the further south I went - maybe the way the “skip” was working? (sorry if that is nonsense - I’m still learning)

Well, think I’m hooked now.

Yep, there’s no escape…

Ha ha!

73
Mike 2E0YYY

73
Gerald MW6AQU


#4

In reply to MW6AQU:

Shucks! I seemed to be doing better the further south I went - maybe
the way the “skip” was working? (sorry if that is nonsense -
I’m still learning)

The skip zone was being particularly annoying today. I heard you working G4OIG/P and I heard other folk working 2E0YYY/P but I couldn’t actually hear either of them myself… :wink:

73, Rick M0LEP


#5

In reply to M0LEP:

The skip zone was being particularly annoying today. I heard you
working G4OIG/P and I heard other folk working 2E0YYY/P but I couldn’t
actually hear either of them myself… :wink:

The weather was glorious on G/SP-013 today Rick, which is more than can be said for the radio :frowning:

Worked only 40 stations all day, a veritable drought for Gun. My only DX contact was on 15m, YB0NFL in Jakarta.

Ah well, there’s always Shining Tor :wink:

73
Mike 2E0YYY


#6

In reply to 2E0YYY:

Worked only 40 stations all day, a veritable drought for Gun. My only
DX contact was on 15m, YB0NFL in Jakarta.

What a difference a few days can make. I worked Shining Tor a few days back on 40, with five and nine both ways. Yesterday I could just about hear you as something in the static. Gun is maybe five or six miles closer to me than Shining Tor, but no more, so I guess the difference was mostly down to the band being in poor shape for short hops…

73, Rick M0LEP


#7

In reply to MW6AQU:

I was using the internal battery on the FT-817, which as far as I can
tell means just 2.5W PEP.

It means 2.5W default, you can still use the power menu to cycle through all the usual power settings including 5W. But, it will deplete the internal battery quite fast. You should probably look at getting a LiPo battery to give you more endurance (as opposed to a SLAB to reduce your personal endurance ;).

Colin G8TMV


#8

In reply to MW6AQU:

A baptism of fire Gerald. 40m SSB with a QRP setup is challenging for experienced operators never mind someone trying it for the 1st time ever. For a start there’s never anywhere quiet on the band. With it being so busy, people will just set up shop right on top of you and not be too concerned how it affects you. Not very helpful but they know someone will be along to do it to them soon enough.

You can improve your chances by using as much power as you can, an external battery will take the 817 to around 5W. It’s a doubling of what you have now but the effect is not as striking as you would expect. Alerting that you are active helps with SOTA especially if you’re a bit weedy and in and out of the noise. If people know where and when to listen then they will persevere with you. It helps also because the pile up calling will help keep other stations off your frequency when they hear other activity.

The 817 doesn’t have a speech processor. You can make one easily, but it’s essential you “talk up” the radio. Don’t be polite and softly spoken when operating SSB. Bellow like Arthur Scargill at meeting of militant strikers!

Choice of band helps. 80m is quieter but it’s not a band to use in the summer around midday, better mornings and evenings. The sun is waking up after its slumbers and the higher bands are now viable for QRP SSB operation. 20m should give you access to all of Europe easily, 17m is quieter still. 15m will allow you real worldwide DX and 12&10 when they are open really work for QRP operation.

So much to do and learn and it is all so much fun. I’ve left the obvious till last… learn Morse. It will make your 2.5W on 40m an easily worked signal and you’ll create quite frightening pile ups in an instant, especially if you’re going up rare hills like WS-067. I was always concerned I may not get 4 QSOs when I was using HF SSB only with an 817 but now I can scrape by on the key I know the limit to the number of QSOs is simply the time I can spend operating.

It’s all rather jolly good fun as you hopefully found out. If you think you’re hooked now, just wait till you’ve got a wee bit more experience. Then you’ll realise how addictive it is.

Andy
MM0FMF


#9

In reply to MM0FMF:
Thanks Andy for all the superb info!

I should be on Ben More on Mull tomorrow. Fingers crossed for good weather and good radio.

Gerald


#10

In reply to MW6AQU:

In reply to MM0FMF:
Thanks Andy for all the superb info!

I should be on Ben More on Mull tomorrow. Fingers crossed for good
weather and good radio.

Hi Gerald
Will try and catch you from G/SP-015…

73
Mike 2E0YYY


#11

In reply to 2E0YYY:
Sorry I missed you Mike. 40m not working out for me, just one contact then I went back to 2m and finally managed to activate Ben More.

73
Gerald


#12

In reply to MW6AQU:

In reply to 2E0YYY:
Sorry I missed you Mike. 40m not working out for me, just one contact
then I went back to 2m and finally managed to activate Ben More.

Sorry to hear about your 40m problems, Gerald, I managed to work a few more on 40m, but HF is far from easy (especially working QRP.)

At the moment, the higher frequencies are particularly challenging.

Managed four S2S…Two on 2m and two on 40m.

If you’re around Saturday, I’ll look out for you from G/SP-004.

73
Mike 2E0YYY


#13

In reply to MW6AQU:

Eventually I was spotted by a few people and managed a fantastic S2S all the way to the Isle of Wight (over 700km I believe). Not bad for my 2.5W and my ham fisted attempt at a dipole!

Excellent indeed Gerald. Pleased to be at the other end on Brighstone Down G/SE-012. Conditions on 40m were exceptional while I was on the Isle of Wight.

Hopefully speak to you again soon.

73, Gerald G4OIG


#14

In reply to G4OIG:
Thanks Gerald! Not too many of us Gerald’s about… we should stick together… :slight_smile:

I’ve had some “big” days on the hills since and only managed to carry a 2m hand held with dipole - mixed results as you might imagine.

I have managed to activate a few of the rarer GM summits though, so pleased with that.

Today was GM/WS-033 which has only been activated once, nearly 6 years ago, by Robin GM7PKT.

Glorious wall to wall sunshine, but quite chilly on top.

73
Gerald
MW6AQU


#15

In reply to MW6AQU:

Well done on your first HF activation Gerald :slight_smile:

Whether you decide to concentrate on VHF or UHF in the future, you will find HF capability very useful, especially on some of the more remote summits.

Best 73,

Mark G0VOF