I decided I need a 13cms fix and with possibly the HF conditions being poor after the X class flares, 13cms would work nicely if not much else would. A message to the gm13 reflector got replies from Jack GM4COX and Jim MM0GLM. Jim was going to Stronend SS-163 which is LOS to anything in the Pentland Hills. My choice in the end was Scald Law SS-125.
I parked and booted up and having made sure I had all the gear (I nearly left the good 13cms antenna at home) I set off up the easy walk. It starts gently but the final km is steep. I did this for the first time in December 2006 and the effort was nearly enough to kill me. No excercise for 30 years meant I was an unfit slob. It took 1hr30 to summit. Today after 11 years exercise and some 12-14kg weight loss, it took me under 45mins. That made me feel so pleased any 13cms QSOs would be a bonus!
I'd arranged with Pete GM4BYF for him to be QRV. He lives at the foot of Allermuir Hill SS-171 and there 400+m of rock between him and Scald Law but only 5 km or so. Must be doable on 13cms. I called for Jack on 2m and also tried to see if Jim was QRV. I was bushwacked by Christine GM4YMM and Ken GM0AXY on my appearance on 145.400. 2 QSOs. Then Steve MM0XPZ called from Greenock and that was 3. I found Colwyn MM0YCJ/P up on WS-021 in the Grey Corries for 4 QSOs on 2m and that was the hill qualified. Finally I found Jim in QSO with Andy GM8OEG. 2 more QSOs and S2S contacts.
I QSY'd to 13cms and Pete GM4BYF was an easy QSO. Whist waiting for Jim to setup on 13 we tried experiments with different antennas at Pete's QTH (67ele Yagi vs 10db Horn) and also trying for reflections. A reflected signal from the Moorfoot Hills (Meikle Says Law, Spartleton etc.) was a better signal that the direct. But I reckon the direct signal was lots of scattered signals really with the amount of rock between us. Jim called in off the back of my antenna was S8. He was louder when I pointed at him!
OK I tried for Jack and it was hard going. He gave me 52 but he was barely there, 31-41. We completed the QSO but it was a struggle. It was later I learnt the path was not LOS at all, I thought it was but hadn't checked. I was worried Jack may have a TX problem with the transverter but it was a poor path and a nearly flat battery. Phew!
I QSYd back to say Sayonara to the others as I was chuffed out with 3 QSOs and a fast ascent and wow! Wow! Wow! Dan GM6CMQ, a member of our VHF contest group GM3HAM, was in QSO. He'd seen the messages on the gm13 reflector and knew Scald Law is LOS. He was my 4th QSO on 13cms and I qualified on 13cms. That gave me a wonderful feeling.
We'd had a shower early on and the WX did not look good so I packed everything away and made a fast descent to the car. I did have a problem with the semi-rigid feeder to the antenna due to poor design choices I made. I have fixed it for now but I need to make another antenna that avoids this stress point in future.
A few spots of rain after a slight shower. Beaming at GB3CSB on 2320.985. This is the work of Dave Anderson GM6BIG (the first QSO I had with GM on 70cms in 1990 when I lived near Liverpool was with Dave). I will buy him a beer for building this beacon as it really makes 13cms SOTA viable here.
The SG Lab transverter in a plastic bag. Connections are antenna, RX antenna, power, 70cms IF, PTT lead. The funny bit of UT-141 in the antenna lead makes the SWR just peachy.
The antenna on the pole. The sky looks really threatening but it did improve a lot during the activation.
A much better sky near the end of the session. This is looking towards Dan GM6CMQ's QTH in Fife.
The new Queensferry Bridge and the old Forth Road Bridge. Another of our contest group was schoolboy and attended the opening of the FRB in 1964 and the 50th Anniversary in 2014. He also managed to get a ticket to walk across the new QB before Brenda opened it earlier this week.
Hmmmm.... some rather wet WX coming my way, time to go.
The still lovely WX as I descended as quick as I could. I didn't want to get wet!
This was a great on the spur of the moment event. I'm really pleased at how we can manage to get lots of activity on a band under threat. It just needs a few people to keep going out and playing on these bands to persuade more peope to come and play.
With the sun being a bit broken, microwaves and VHF/UHF will still work. It's well worth you and your mates considering buying a job lot of gear and organising yourselfs into activation squads.