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NI Visit 6-20 June. Looking for VHF and UHF contacts using a VX-7


#1

We (Viki M6BWA and Rod M0JLA) are going to Dublin this Friday and driving up to the Mourne Mts for a week (5-13), followed by a week (12-20) at Ballycastle near the Antrim Hills. Rod is also hoping to activate at least 2 EI summits on HF (see alert for Friday 5) during our stay. I shall be using my usual activating rig which is a 5w VX-7 with a dipole supported on a rather flimsy waterpipes. This means that using a beam (2m or 70cm) means that the mast bends so much that the beam is not horizontal. I want to, as much as possible, get my own contacts rather than ask for HF help. Am I likely to be successful and what can I do to increase the likelihood of contacts?

I fully realise that using a fishing rod will hoist the beam (or dipole) up higher but I find the extra weight involved takes me over my personal limit. Even carrying a beam (or two) and a feeder adds to the weight and this is even more of a problem as I twisted my knee 6 days ago when descending Heath Mynd (G/WB-007) and I have yet to discover whether I can go up and down hills at all. (My apologies for those who were waiting for me to turn up on Corndon (MW-013) as I was a lot slower than expected.) I have a number of questions (mainly concerning the Mournes but also the Northern Antrim Hills) and would welcome advice:

a) will I find locals listening on 2m fm and/or 70cm?
b) will I find interference on 2m fm even when not on a hill with an obvious mast nearby?
c) will I be able to talk to chasers in England and/or Scotland with only 5w on 2m and just using a dipole (even if on one of the lesser summits)?
d) will we be able to spot ourselves on any of the summits (Orange and O2)? We are assured we have good wi-fi where we are staying so hope to alert the night before but details may change depending on weather and fitness.
e) have I any chance at all of getting even one contact on 70cm from any of the hills? I gave myself this challenge last April and I have had some very surprising successes (including talking to EI9GLB from the Rhinogs and Cadair last week) but also some disasters, especially in mid-Wales and other areas with small populations. Reminding listeners to remove the repeater offset has increased the number of chasers that I can actually hear as so many people only use 70cm on a repeater.
f) if I am on Slieve Gullion (G!/CA-001) will it be feasible for me to walk over to Crosslieve (G!/CA-004) (knee permitting!!) Will I have to walk to Forkhill - and then where do I go? I was thinking of trying Tievecrom (005) as it is nearer but this doesn’t seem to be a popular ascent!! (Thanks to EYP and HGY for their very helpful accounts). The car and Rod will hope to be activating in E! at the time.

Thank you very much for your advice (even if it is ‘don’t’!)

Viki
M6BWA


#2

Hello Viki and Rod,
I cannot answer your spotting questions for this trip, however, I do have a suggestion if you have not tried it already and this will make the flimsy water pipe stiffer. Assuming it is of the 19mm diameter type, either push a suitable bean cane up the middle of the pipe as this stiffens it considerably and if you leave about three inches extending below the pipe’s lower end, this acts as a ground spike as well as a hard end piece to enable the pipe to be used as a walking/climbing stick. (I use this myself and I weigh almost 90 Kgm). The extra weight of the cane to carry is negligible.
Plan B if you don’t like that idea, replace the water pipe with a tougher ABS type material of same diameter. It is much stiffer and a stronger material if you stand on it accidentally. I found a source in NE England via Search engine.

Good luck with your Expedition. Hope to work you both soon?
Rob G0HRT


#3

Hi Viki

Quick answers to your questions are

a) FM activity on 2m and 70cm is low, I find I need an hour or more on summit to get four contacts. Most contacts are on 2m with 5w and 3 ele yagi.

b) I have never had any interference problems in the Mournes.

c) Under normal band conditions you will have no problem working southwest GM, west coast G and north GW from the Mournes, but depends on band activity.

d) Mobile phone signal is not a problem in the Mournes however you might find you are connected to EI network so watch for extra charges if you use data.

e) 70cm will be a real struggle, my only sota contacts on this band have been ssb during contests.

f) Walking from Slieve Gullion (GI/CA-001) to Crosslieve (GI/CA-004) is not something I would do and public transport is likely to be poor in that area. If you are on your own I would suggest being in the Mournes, which would allow easy access to more summits.

Hope this is of help. I do hope to be in the shack or on summit during your visit so do post an alert. If you need more info you can contact me direct with call at yahoodotcom.

Darrell GI4KSO


#4

Hello Viki

I was in the Mournes in March 2014 and was using 2m FM. I was either using just a handheld (4W) with its standard 2m/70cm inefficient rubber duck antenna or a handheld with a SlimJim strapped to a fiber mast. Due to high wind conditions I could only use the lower segments, so the top of the vertical was around 3m.

From MM001 with just the handheld I worked only GI stations. From MM003, MM004 and MM011 I worked a good mix of GI/EI (Portadown, Newry, Dundalk, Drogheda) and further afield, the Lake District and North Wales. There’s a good radio path across the Irish Sea down the east coast of Ireland (Arklow / Gorey / Wexford line).

I started on 145.500 and also checked 145.400 which seems to be a local club frequency. Did not try 70cm unfortunately.

I can recommend MM-003 Slieve Binnian, not only a beautiful walk and climb but also (from the rocky outcrop) superb views over the reservoir and Inner Mournes.

Enjoy your stay and SOTA activations in the Mournes!

73, Phil ON4TA


#5

Check out Caroline’s (M3ZCB) logs from May 2014. We did mostly MM summits and a couple of AH. The only one where she didn’t get enough 2m FM contacts to qualify was MM-014 (2 contacts). The logs show a good mix of stations in Ireland and Great Britain. Many of the usual suspects who chase LD summits appear. We were mostly doing the higher MMs though, so your unfortunate injury may be a problem.

We have no 70cm contacts logged but I can’t remember whether Caroline tried the band.

Martyn M1MAJ


#6

http://tomread.co.uk/ah.htm
http://tomread.co.uk/ca.htm
http://tomread.co.uk/mm.htm


#7

Thank you all for your very helpful comments and suggestions. It sounds as if I should be able to get my 2m contacts IF I can get up the hills (AND, probably more of a problem judging from my efforts on Corndon a week ago, get down again!) I was fairly sure that 70cm would be unlikely but I’ll give it a try.

Martyn, M1MAJ, thank you for the suggestion I looked at Caroline’s log and I see she was very successful on the higher hills. What aerial was she using? I do like Rob’s G0HRT idea of a bamboo cane and will go and look in the garden when it stops raining!

Thanks again and I will let you know how I get on - or you could always listen out for me, preferably from a high summit somewhere in the appropriate area!

Viki MBWA


#8

I was mostly using a SOTABeams MFD on the summits, sometimes using the SOTABeams rucksack antenna. I don’t think I tried 70cms (I have a 2m/70cms Diamond whip I tend to use for 70cms). Perhaps more significant if you are trying to use a handy is that I noticed quite a lot of breakthrough on several summits on my Kenwood TH-F7E which I have attached to the rucksack antenna when walking. I didn’t have any problems with the FT-187 which is my normal summit rig.

Good luck with the activations.

Caroline M3ZCB


#9

Tom (and others),

I paid very careful attention to Tom’s activation reports. Thank you for several tips on places to park; we hope to put some to the test in the next few days.

However, I must learn to read Google satellite pictures more carefully having had a huge surprise this evening when the farm lane I drove up VERY carefully took me to five masts instead of a farm and arrays of microwave dishes of all sizes as well as dipoles and other bits of metalware. Never seen so much stuff; hundreds of them (but I have not done Winter Hill yet). I assume it was not coincidence that noise on 40m was a fairly steady s8 but somehow most reports were 59 both ways. We have proper maps for the Mournes so hope not to get caught that way again.

I listened out for you on 10m several times recently but heard nothing at all; not even QRO stations responding.

WX improving ? later Saturday so out later in the day.

73 all,
Rod


#10

Rob,
As mentioned during QSO, the cane wedged inside the pipe is brilliant. We made it a bit too long so it stiffens the joints at both ends as well as the pipe.
73,
Rod


#11

Good luck Viki and Rod. On the matter of pipes, the 22mm plastic water pipe is designed to be flexible. Use the 20mm plastic electrical conduit, which is much more rigid. Comes with all the connectors etc. I use a length clamped on the spike of my upturned walking pole, and it takes my 2m Moxon with no trouble.

73 John 2W0XOT


#12

Sun shining brightly and forecast for all day and this was going to be a much needed rest day. Will set off for Slieve Binnian MM-003 and if legs and water permit, Slieve Lamagan MM-006. Both 2m and 70cm are flourishing and I had difficulty closing down 70cm on Slieve Donard MM-001 yesterday as more calls kept coming in. About 21 on the 2 frequencies including 70cm with GW4ZPL and M0XSD in Frizzington - and a s2s with MM-002 where MI0JLA was struggling with 40m.

Thanks for the contacts and also advice from Darryl GI4KSO. Hope the legs are still functioning,today!

73 Viki MI6BWA/P


#13

Apologies to the many who tried to work me today on MM004 and, more so on MM005 and VERY many thanks to all who persisted and allowed me to qualify the summits.

As I had reverted to QRP (there was no way I could carry the 857 etc up these two summits as well as the necessary water, food and clothing) I was disappointed but not unduly surprised to be heard so poorly. However, when taking down and putting away I noticed that the feeder was no longer attached to one leg of the dipole. How much connection there has been for the last few activations is uncertain but by the end of today’s there was none at all. I have a spare, so activation of the Antrim hills will go ahead as planned. Not very many of them: the Antrim week was always planned to be tourism rather than SOTA. I will try to alert or self-spot.

Very many thanks for the contacts and spots during our Mournes week which has been absolutely wonderful. We now need a rest - really :smile: .
73, Rod