It all started with a simple misunderstanding. On the local Hannover UHF repeater, I only mentioned that the 'Bulgarian 23 cm transverter' got some good criticisms when Ralf DL2RLA instantly returned that he's gonna buy one an join my order. Aha... What was I supposed to do, then? I couldn't resist and didn't want to be a killjoy, so we were committed. My friend Lacki DC1AP and Chris DG5OAC, both local hams, too, shortly later joined the order. No need to say that 23 cm transverters were the hot topic on the repeater the following days. And it turned out that there was kind of need to re-start activity on 23: more and more local stations from then said on the band they were happy to hear our plans or that they'd just reactivate their rigs if there was activity.
The transverters arrived just the other day and I couldn't neither keep my fingers off it nor not-tell the good news on the repeater. Wolfgang DK1HW (a dedicated SOTA chaser) offered on the repeater to give me a CW signal on 1296 MHz and I was able to copy him 59 in my inner-city shack with the transverter and its HB9CV attached in my hand over my head catching the best reflection! But he couldn't hear me, so I packed my rucksack and went off to the local summit Lindener Berg. More a pimple than a hill but with an excellent take-off to his direction. And it's only a 15 minutes walk from my door.
Arriving at the summit I spotted Stefan DO7OZ and his telescope right besides the DL0TY club station (kind of an overseas container) . He listened to DK1HW and me on the repeater and had already prepared a folding table to host my 23 cm test setup. My FT-290RII (I dropped the Mark2 in the other thread, anyway still hoping to gain some old school bonus points when it's gonna come to an activation with this rig) didn't power up and so I had to borrow Stefan's FT-2 to make a QSO. The supplied HB9CV was directly attached to the transverter wich was connected via a thin coax to the FT-2. I was curious how this was going to work. Meanwhile DK1HW alerted his neighbouring station DK4OS. Both were an armchair copy in FM and so I got two QSOs that night, both about 15 km. It's working, first test passed! Then the FT-2 slipped off my hand, fell to the ground and ripped the tiny piece of coax off the plug. So no SHF operation anymore, but later I got some amazing views of the galaxy through the telescope and Stefan's brilliant explanations. That was on Wednesday.
On Saturday I was equipped with a new coax and did the first real outing, no SOTA activation though. Kronsberg (GMA DA/NI-268) is in the outskirts of Hannover and peaks at 118 m asl what is not that much but you have to take in consideration that most of the surrounding area is avout 60 m asl. I clamped the transverter to my SOTA pole and raised it up to 3 m above ground. Couldn't give more due to the dc-cable. May consider to make a longer one... First QSOs were, again, DK1HW and DK4OS, this time with really big signals in SSB. And then in FM Chris DL1CR, a dedicated SOTA activator. However, this time he was at home in the city and making the contact with his FM HT from the attic window. Meanwhile he ordered a transverter, too, to operate in SSB rather than in FM. But it's still on its way and hasn't arrived yet. I also made one QSO via FM repeater DB0XY which was a good 70 km from my position. Everythig worked fine on the outing except I had the FT-857 with me, not as intended the FT-290RII. I wasn't able to spot the issue with the FT-290 and so I set up the 857 according to VK1DA's advice and it seems to work well.
Now it was time for a SOTA activation. DM/NS-160 Tafelberg, not one of my VHF favourites but it has a viewtower helping to bring the antenna above the trees and most of Hannover county is in LOS. We started in FM since DL1CR still hasn't got his transverter but only his FM handie.
According to my alert, I was a bit early and even had a short natter on the announced 144 MHz FM frequency before DL7OQ was the first in my log on 23 cm, a new personal GHz simplex-ODX, 42 km. Big signal, owes me an S-meter now. DL2RLA was next operating under weird circumstances while holding the transverter and his FT-817 out his window to copy me. As a SOTA activator DL1CR knows when the time is right to show up and was my number 4. Yeah, I qualified a summit on 23 cm on the first attempt!
But more than that: On 144 I got the information Lacki finished his works to get the transverter working and was QRV. However, he lives in the city and has 20 m of RG213 between the transverter and the vertical antenna in his attic. That must be microwatting on microwave! DK1HW, DJ7OQ and me tried to copy Lacki but it was no good. I then changed to vertical polarisation and I was able to hear him in the noise. The QSO was really hard work and I even only got fragments of his callsign. However, the QSO is valid because we've known each other for 40 years now and I clearly identified him by his voice coming back to my call. It then took endless minutes to get his '31' and rogers as he was 21 with me only when the QSB lifted his signal for a second. That's a 5 QSOs and 184 km in total, I'm quite satisfied.