Well, that was fun, if not as busy as I thought it might be!
I activated Cadair Berwyn GW/NW-012 on 23cm, using the SGLabs transverter and FT817, running about 2W to a 15 ele yagi. Arriving a few minutes after the start of the Microwave Group low band contest, I fully expected the band to be buzzing as it is on the tuesday evening UKAC events. But had it not been for the reassuring radar “ziz”, I would have questioned my equipment.
However at 10:35 a spot and a quick CQ brought in a welcome call from Simon G4TJC/P on The Cloud G/SP-015, and 59 reports were exchanged.
No more signals heard, so at 10:50 I tipped the yagi vertical, and put out a call on FM. Straight back came John G3XEV from IO82WM running 1 watt to a vertical colinear, and true 59 reports were exchanged (92Km).
Nothing else on FM, so back to SSB. Now 11:00, I found Peter G3SMT and Roger G3OHH in IO82WM and IO83VC respectively. They both commented that the southern stations tend only to beam north towards the end of contests, something to remember for next time, perhaps!
11:24, and I hear G4ZTR calling CQ. I reply, and after he peaks his beam, we exchange 59 / 57 reports with considerable QSB - but not enough to spoil things. He is in JO01KW, which gives me my best DX yet on 23cm, at 305 Km. Yea! See what happens when these southerners beam north! I wonder if this might have been a fortuitous aircraft bounce, as I heard nothing else from that direction.
Over an hour later, at 12:35, I’m listening to Simon calling CQ as I start to pack up. He takes a call from Laurie G0MRL in IO83RO, and I jump in after the 73s, inviting Laurie 10KHz up. It turns out that he is only recently back on 23cm, using a triband vertical. He seems chuffed to have worked us both, as I’m sure we both were to work him.
So, 6 contacts in 2 hours may not seem a great result, but: the weather was good, I qualified the summit on 23cm, I had a rare (for me) 23cm S2S, and I improved my best DX. What’s not to like?
I think 23 is a good band for SOTA, low power and small antennas can be very successful, and even relatively high gain antennas are quite small. So, come on, where are all those SGLabs transverters, and 23cm capable handhelds - and when should we have the next activity period?
A few photos, the general arrangement:
Looking up from the operating position:
It may look a bit precarious, but it is fairly well balanced in both weight and wind resistance. The cables stay connected to the transverter, and coil up inside the box for transit, making for a fairly quick setup / takedown.
Operating position - a plywood shelf suspended on cords. Thin ply is great for this, plenty stiff enough, but also sufficiently flexible to fit the contoured back of my rucksack. Gaffer tape trim to avoid splinters: