I haven’t been out and about doing any SOTA activating for a very long time. However the spell of fine weather and a free morning (at last) gave me the opportunity to go up to Wendover Woods and shake things down ready for the summer.
I gathered my gear and decided on a few things I might want to try out. The main comparison was whether I could notice any appreciable difference between the 44ft and 88ft doublets so I popped both of them in the rucksack.
I noticed that the intermittent problem with my Palm Paddle still seems to be there (I’m in touch with the manufacturer about it) so I found another old paddle that seemed to be working fine (although more of that later).
Finally I decided to take the PFR-3 with it’s internal AA cells as I really want to run them down and put a fresh set in sometime soon.
Having gathered the gear I put an alert on SOTAwatch for the anticipated start time and set out for the normal parking spot in The Woods. Fortunately I managed to get there before the school holiday rush for the adventure playground which arrived about half an hour later. I decided to get close to the summit cairn and set up the station in BBQ area no. 2 within a spitting distance of the “official summit”.
I soon had the 44ft doublet up on the 7m SOTApole and tuned ready for 30m with the PFR-3. A CQ and a small shift in frequency brought a run of stations from across Europe. So far so good and things seemed to be working OK apart from the paddles. The “dit” paddle seemed have become rather intermittent and some characters were being a little “obstinate” when trying to sent them. At one point I did send a QRX whist poking around with it to no avail so I assume I will need to take a bit of fine paper to it to clean the contacts.
Anyway I QSY’ed to 40m and made a few CQ calls. I caught a few QSO’s here but I must admit I thought everything sounded a bit too quiet and I didn’t get the normal run of stations I would expect, even with just the 5W.
I QSY’ed to 20m and called for a few minutes on 14.057 but didn’t raise a QSO. At this point I wasn’t impressed with the results so far and, as I had some time, I decided to compare the 88ft doublet on 40m to see if there was any difference.
A couple of minutes switching them over and tuning up and things did seem to sound better. I thought I could actually hear a little more noise and stations seemed louder. I heard Norby OE/LX1NO/P so a quick call to him seemed to confirm things were OK with a nice S2S despite the dodgy paddle playing absolute hell with me trying to send my summit reference… it kept on missing the first dit in the C and ended up as G… It must have sounded ridiculous but I got there in the end.
A couple of CQ’s lower down brought a nice run including another excellent S2S with Kurt HB9AFI whist only being marginally hampered by some QRM and my paddles. Calls dried up and I closed down after an hour or so sitting in the warm sun in the clearing. Very nice…
28 QSO’s from 13 DXCC entities. Not bad and a few things noted to be put right in my kit before the next outing. I think I’ll stick with the longer doublet as I have done before. It’s not really heavier and seems to work better.
Thanks to all chasers, to Norby and Kurt for the S2S’s and to OK1CZ and DL1FU for the spots.
By the way, the station that sent a 419 report to me at 11:21 UTC just as I finished my last CQ calls, you never did (re)send your call and hence you are “not in the log”… sorry.
73 ES CUL Marc G0AZS