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Sota Fun Evenings


Wx is awful. One QSO in the 6m FMAC then gave up and descended. Not bothering with the UKAC.

I’m off over to Gun G/SP-013 for a quick 2m FM activation.


Well that wasn’t the evening I was anticipating. Around 90 fewer QSOs than I’d hoped for - yet twice as many activations!


Well here we are again, and fingers crossed the weather is a bit better than last time out. It could hardly be any worse.

I’ll be QRV on 2m FM between 7pm and 8pm, and thereafter mainly on SSB, right up to 10.30pm.

I’ll be on The Cloud G/SP-015, so one point to all you chasers, though if you do get me on FM, I’d still be delighted to work you again on the SSB after 8pm. :wink:

Anyone else out tonight?


Tuesday 6th March 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015 - QRV 1908 to 2227 UTC.

114 contacts on 2m (37 on FM and 77 on SSB) - yet I still feel a sense of disappointment with that. There were many more stations out there that I didn’t work, and a large number of locator squares I didn’t get into.


You were 1 of only 2 IO83 stations I worked! That square seems alot quieter than it used to be, not sure as to why?

I was pleased with my haul, mainly Searching and Pouncing all evening, but that yielded a nice spread from around the country.

Great to have Dave G7RAU living on the Lizard for IN79, equally pleasing were the West Welsh stations.
Only GM was GM3SEK, normally can hear GM4JJJ and GM4JTJ for IO86.

Hopefully the weather was more mild on the hill, than recent weeks?


Matt G8XYJ


Some nice stuff there Matt. While my QSO total was OK, it was well down on the many 100+ scores I was hearing from around the UK (but not IO83 - the “IO83 effect” anyone?). While my QSO total was OK I missed loads of important mults like JO03, IN79, IO72, IO73, IO64, IO95, IO70, IO80, IO90, IO85, IO86, IN99 or indeed anything else from the continent.


Why would you maybe not hear IO85/IO86? Not sure how many fixed stations you hear in those squares but perhaps the fact that we’re still up to our noses in snow could limit portable operations.


I heard GM4BYF from IO85 last night but didn’t manage to work him. The stations I normally work from IO86 are home-based, not portable.


Thursday 8th March 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015

This was to be another mammoth 3.5 hour evening activation, with the 6m FMAC (1 hour) followed by the 6m UKAC (2.5 hours). I had been using just my old soon-to-be-decommissioned VX7R for the 6m FM section, and making just one QSO (GW8ASD) each contest! I decided to try to cobble up a roll-up dipole to hang from the SOTA Pole.

It was all a bit of a rush job, and once on the summit I realised I had not given sufficient thought to the angle at which the feeder would approach the feedpoint. I managed to get something possibly viable by hanging the dipole lower on the mast, and looping the feeder around the halfway point of one of the guy cords.

But it still didn’t work. VSWR was very high, and only seemed to drop (slightly) around 33MHz. So I had clearly made a fundamental error at some point. So it was the same result as January and February - just Tony GW8ASD in the log, worked on the VX7R (carried up as back-up) with helical + extension, on 51.470MHz FM.

I also heard G8ZRE and M0RKX/P, but they clearly weren’t hearing me.

I’ve got a different idea to try next, for a 6m vertical for the FM part of the band, which should address the issues encountered.

At this point it was 1950z, and I still didn’t have the SOTABEAMS SB6 set up for the main event. (The RSGBCC still has this silly rule where, effectively, a /P station operating QRP in the FMAC and UKAC events, needs to change antennas on site between the two. I am trying to improve my speed at this task to squeeze it in between 19:59:59 and 20:00:00, but I am not there yet).

Happily, the SB6 was working perfectly, although the conditions were at the opposite end of the scale from “perfect”. A total of 56 QSOs were made in a very slow-moving 150 minutes. It was very cold, so uncomfortably so at 1 degree Celcius, that I deployed the bothy bag for that all-important “boost” of a couple of degrees.

Activation totals:

57 QSOs.

6m CW: 1
6m SSB: 55
6m FM: 1

F: 1
G: 51
GW: 3
GD: 1
GI: 1


Another SOTA VHF Fun Evening opportunity tonight, this one on 70cm.

FM from 1900 to 1959z
SSB from 2000 to 2230z

The WX here looks much better than recent weeks, albeit still a bit chilly towards the end of the night, so maybe I won’t be the only UK activator?


Have you thought of one of these?? My 4m variant works very well.

No need to put it in conduit, just heat shrink the area where the outer black plastic has been removed!

For the choke, wind it around the former, then simply cable tie it in place whilst it is there, then remove the fomer!

It should roll up in your ruck sack and will give you omni vertical!


Well, it’s 70cm tonight, not 6m. I do need to chop a bit of aluminium rod when I get home to facilitate that. I’ll have another look to see if I can see where the issue is with the MFD too if I get time (Jimmy broke that one, not me).

WRT a 6m vertical, for the FMAC next month, I am now thinking along the lines of a GP antenna. I’ve had much more success building these than other aerials, so I’ll stick to what I know for now!


Tuesday 13th March 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015

70cm - 70 QSOs!

FM - 26
SSB - 44

Before setting out, I cut a new 70cm reflector element to replace the broken one from my SB270. This worked a treat, and the antenna was behaving perfectly once more. Having established a fully operational beam, I removed all the director and reflector elements, leaving just the driven element - so effectively now just an omnidirectional dipole, and in accordance with this year’s silly new rule for QRPing in the FMACs.

That all worked, and 26 QSOs were made on FM. Lots more stations were using the all-mode section from 432.525MHz to 432.975MHz. On these evenings it is nigh on impossible to get a slot in the more usual 433.400MHz to 433.475MHz QRGs, while contest QSOs are not allowed on 433.525MHz to 433.575MHz.

At 2000z, I had to lose a few minutes of time to change the antenna back to the beam, but then got going. By 2123z I’d made 44 contacts - but then the lights went out! Quite literally.

My current Petzl headtorch has a rechargeable lithium battery, that you charge via a USB to micro USB cable (like for an Android phone) - which is good, but it seems to make the headtorch lose the functionality of giving you a warning flash when the battery is running down.

I am used to getting a warning flash - at which point I know I’m down to 3 hours of light - so I know to replace the batteries. So if I don’t get a warning flash, I’m still in the habit of not thinking to take action. After this, I will now recharge the battery for each nighttime outing.

In any case, there was a little moonlight (thank goodness). Not enough to continue operating, but enough to start packing my gear away. While I was doing this, I left my headtorch battery recharging from my LifePO4 battery pack, and this gave me enough light to check I hadn’t left anything lying around, and to walk back down.

From past experience, I’d have only probably added ten QSOs or so in the last hour anyway, and 70 QSOs for a 70cm SOTA activation is not exactly a bad haul.

On the way home, I was listening to BBC Radio 5 Live, and the news that Chinese take-aways could possibly be forced to start labelling the salt content in their dishes due to a concern about high salt levels. I hadn’t had my tea, so called at the Chinese take away on the way home. Unfortunately, it was just closing for the evening, so I had to get a curry instead. Prawn saag and pilau rice.


Sorry for the late notice, but I’ll be doing an evening activation tonight. 2m FM 1800-1859 UTC / 7-8pm BST and 2m SSB 1900-2130z / 8 to 10.30pm BST.

Probably too late notice to hope for some S2S, but you never know!


It’s obviously not raining where you are. It started yesterday at 1100 with rain, then we had light snow till 1900 then heavy snow till 0500 (needed a comfort break, getting old) then rain from 0700 till now, 1745.

So much wet stuff has fallen out of the sky most of Scotland is now under water :frowning:

What we want is :sunny: and not :cloud: :cloud_with_rain: or :cloud_with_snow:


Sun, rain and snow icons not found.

But guess that’s what was intended…

Edit: the missing icons appeared after posting this comment. Pls ignore.


Tuesday 3rd April 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015 - activation # one-thousand-and-something

As I got in the car, I remembered I was ill-prepared. I remembered that last time I did a night-time activation, my headtorch ran out on me, and I didn’t think I’d charged it back up in the meantime! I plugged in my phone charge cable in the car, and planned to use the SOTAbeams PhonePole unit to continue charging it from my LifePO4 battery on summit. I hoped that with being on daylight saving time, by the time I needed it, it would have enough juice.

As it was, I was only 15 minutes into activating when the headtorch battery was showing as fully-charged, so I could relax. Well sort of; the FMAC started at a thunderous pace with very high activity levels. Before that, a mountain biker rode across summit. “You know cycling isn’t allowed on here don’t you?” I called across. He replied “I am entirely aware of that but thank you for letting me know” came the sneering and dismissive response.

The footpath restoration works had progressed since my last visit, and the measures taken do appear to be successful in defining the path and keeping walkers on it rather than spreading out. The downside is that there are now some boggy sections on the route in places where there never used to be!

I took the SOTAbeams MFD for the FM hour 1800-1900z, and recorded a pleasing 49 QSOs in that time. Squares worked on FM were IO82, IO83, IO84, IO92 and IO93. At 8pm BST, I lost a few minutes while I swapped over to the SOTAbeams SB5 beam antenna, which I hadn’t had chance to build before 7pm due to running late.

In the main UKAC on 2m SSB, I made 92 QSOs. Squares worked were IO64, IO74, IO81, IO82, IO83, IO84, IO85, IO86, IO90, IO91, IO92, IO93, IO94, JO00, JO01, JO02, JO03 and IN99. I was disappointed not to find IN79 (Lizard) which was active, and suspect I missing far too many squares in the IO70s. I did hear PA (Netherlands) with a decent signal, but on someone else’s frequency. I also heard my friend and SOTA MT colleague Barry GM4TOE calling CQ, but couldn’t make my replies heard.

At the end of the contest, I change the antenna back over to the MFD and had a go on 2m C4FM (Fusion). Just one QSO was added, with Tony M0TAB in Shepshed, Leicestershire.

DXCCs: 6 - F, G, GW, GI, GD, GM.

142 QSOs:

2m FM: 49
2m SSB: 92
2m C4FM: 1


OK, I’ve had a go at building an omnidirectional vertical antenna specifically for 51MHz FM. I’ve set it up in the garden and all seems well.

I wonder if anyone is on hand to try a quick test QSO? Listening 51.510MHz FM - and monitoring Sotawatch!

If all is good, I’ll be using this antenna from 1800z on G/SP-015 later.


Thursday 12th April 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015

Well, I never did manage to make a QSO from the garden, so all I had to go off was the seemingly good VSWR indication, the “centre” frequency of the antenna appearing to be around 51.5MHz, and all testing for continuity and shorts with the multimeter returning desired results. So it was just a matter of taking it up the hill and seeing if it actually worked.

I actually got my timings right for once, and had the new antenna (quarter-wave vertical for 51.5 MHz, with elevated groundplane) up, plus the SB6 (Moxon) assembled ready for the swap-over at 8pm, all by 6.55pm. Of course, I really shouldn’t be struggling with the most basic of trigonometry, but it was nonetheless satisfying - and a bit of a relief - when the radials and cords were all the desired length and created the 45 degree angle to the mast when deployed, and that the RG58 coaxial feeder was long enough - but not too long.

In the 6m FMACs so far this year, I have only had my old VX7R handheld with rubber duck available. In each of the contests so far, I have reached the dizzy heights of serial number 001! So I really was hoping for a PB with the new antenna, together with the FT-817.

And yes, the plan came together. 6m FM is hardly the busiest of places, but QSOs came at a steady rate, and I made a total of 13 QSOs. It doesn’t seem a lot, but I expect that to place me in the top two or three for the contest. I was mostly chuffed that the antenna I had built earlier that day worked - and was effective. The new guying collars from SOTAbeams made this little project incredibly trivial and quick to complete.

I managed to complete the changeover of antennas in a couple of minutes, so did not lose too much of the contesting time. This one started like a train, with 25 QSOs in the first 17 minutes! Like all contests though, it soon slowed up, and there were some big gaps in the times in my log by the end. It was also bitterly cold for an April evening, so not the most comfortable night out.

In the 6m UKAC I made 68 QSOs, working into squares IO64, IO70, IO71, IO73, IO74, IO80, IO81, IO82, IO83, IO91, IO92, IO93, IO94, JO01, JO02. As ever, there were others out there; they just never came my way.

A total of 81 QSOs for the activation: 13 on 6m FM and 68 on 6m SSB.


It sounds like you only had one antenna up at a time, it would have been very interesting to compare the two antennas a/b with a switch. You might have been able to decide whether to adopt one or the other as a standard.