I managed a new DXCC on 13cms this weekend. I was down at my club's VHF contest site near Gatehouse of Fleet in SW Scotland. My SOTA target to tick off was Bengray GM/SS238. I wasn't planning any microwave activity as I was on duty at that contest site and had to sneak off. Anyway, John GI7UGV lives near GI/MM-017 and the path plot between there is good. We arranged to see if we could work something. Unbeknown to me Jack GM4COX decided to see if he could get a QSO to John from Lowther Hill.
It was very blustery on Bengray. John and I started of on 2.1GHz (3g text message) then tried 145.400FM. Handy to handy John was 54 and a good signal. Jack popped up at 57. A quick test and John was 59 on 13cms, he used the 4ele PCB and I used the bowtie. In fact copy was effortless on 13cms and was much better than 2m! John tried his Vivaldi wideband antenna and was 1S point down on before which makes sense.
When John and Jack beam at each other they were 45degs off me but pointing my antenna so it was equally off on Jack and John, they were still 51 signals. I listened as they tried for a contact. Jack was suffering from strong to severe winds and driving rain. I'd had that the day before during the contest.
So for me, that is DXCC #2, 98 to go on 13 and it was John's first 13cms QSO.
I've now had 13cms QSOs as a chaser or activator with GM4COX,GM4TOE, GM4GUF, GM8OTI, MM0GLM, GM3UAG & GI7UGV. 3 of my contest group are QRV 13 and waiting till activations are possible to their QTH's in Edinburgh. Talking about this it turns out another contest group member has the gear and is giving it a fettling so that he can chase from his QTH out Dunfermline way.
I was expecting a success rate of about 10% with anything better be a bonus. To be sat at 100% success now after 5 activations and 1 chase is way beyond my wildest dreams. This idea is working because we have a small group pushing along activity and it seems to be encouraging non-SOTA people to dig out old and infrequently used gear to use from home as their is a greater chance of a QSO from a domestic location. Not everyone lives in the ideal location for microwave activity but if you can persuade SOTA-loonies to take their microwave gear up hills, a lot more relatively rubbish domestic environments become viable.
What would be wonderful is if some stations in GW and G would consider getting going on the band. There are easy paths possible from the bigger SS summits to bigger Snowdonia peaks and to the bigger Northern LD fells. These are the guaranteed to work paths. Lots, lots more is possible including bouncing signals of mountains when no direct path exists. My contest group regularly bounce our 13cms signal off Black Combe so we can work GD0EMG on the Isle of Man as Snaefell directly in the path.
I have been impressed enough with the SG Labs 13cms transverter that I'm likely to get the 23cms unit. HF is so rubbish at present that if we can get a few more out on 13cms and 23cms, I can ditch all the HF antennas and just have 2m, 23cms and 13cms with me with sufficient confidence to activate the summit and revert to HF when I know there is less chance of activating on 23/13.
So please consider giving this a try, the transverter is plug and play and antennas can be built with simple hand tools with materials bought from the local DIY store. The last time I was this excited about amateur radio was when I got good enough to have CW contacts after 19 years of just SSB and data modes. This has added a whole new layer of fun on top of getting out in the countryside and have radio fun.