I don’t think the propagation was bad at all. It actually was great with several VK activators making the trip wonderfully to my location in EA2. Not all of them could be logged today but that was due to traffic rather than poor conditions.
What we should bear in mind is that at such early in the morning times, in the valley of the solar cycle where we are now, conditions are good for DX with VK-ZL via long path but it’s too early for copying the relatively nearby Europeans at that same time.
I can report shockingly bad propagation to Oceania from Northern Europe on the 20m band.
I am glad I did not go to the touble of building a 20m band ground plane antenna especially for the event.
Due to the weather forecast for heavy rain, which was accurate, I operated SSB and CW as a Chaser station from my car from the Hole of Horcum, a well known beauty spot in the North York Moors National Park by the A169 road between Pickering and Whitby. Parked off the main road I had a good take off to the south west. To save confusion I did not use a /P or /M suffix. I strung up a link dipole on my big 10m pole as an inverted vee. On the 20m band I could have heard a pin drop - no interference whatsoever, nothing on the S meter. I had SOTAWatch working and followed all spots for VK/ZL/DX on 20m. Not a single station heard. At 7.15am I was approached by 2 Police Officers as I was sat in my car listening. They were curious, took my name, address and date of birth and asked me if the aerial mast I was using was permanent!!
The loudest station with me was Neil G0WPO/P on Pendle Hill 115 Km away. Neil told me he was running 50 watts (I ran100 watts) but what a big signal from Neil. Whatever the antenna was - Neil was loud, the propagation mode is a mystery, as the signal was too strong for ground wave. Neil was a steady 59 in QSO and every time I tuned across him.
At 0800 I gave up with SOTA DX on 20m and brought the dipole down so I could close my links to go on 40m, where I swept up a few EU SOTA QSOs before I packed up and returned the 8 miles home.
It was an interesting excercise if nothing else operating on HF as a SOTA Chaser from the passenger seat of my car. Pics attached.
Was raining hard at 7.00am and it’s raining hard now at 12.45.
I think you missed your chance of suggesting you were waiting for instructions from your FSB contact whilst telling them N. Yorks was so much nicer than Wiltshire. But maybe you had something to do today and didn’t fancy the tour of the local constabulary!
I was listening at home from 0630 but heard very little - 20m was dead. The only SOTA station I heard was G0WPO/P on Pendle Hill so that’s almost line of sight! Heard a few stations on 30m but none of the SOTA spots on either band were audible. I definitely need a better aerial!
Beautiful day in VK6 with temps about 30C. A bit windy on the summit but still had a great afternoon.
35 Qso’s in the log with 19 different Summits logged and a couple of VKFF Parks that were not Sota Summits. Countries worked Spain, Bulgaria, Japan, New Zealand and Australia for S2S and also got chased by Croatia.
Just love these Events as they are so much fun, thanks to everyone involved in getting this happening.
I was late, basically. I got up at 5am, and was QRV on The Cloud G/SP-015 at 0650z. This was too late, for not only did the DX path open early, but it closed early too.
I could hear a couple of VK activators still at this time, but my 5 watts wasn’t up to the job of getting back. Half an hour earlier, I reckon it would have worked; should have moved myself a bit faster after the alarm!
Nonetheless, 12 QSOs including S2S with G8JSM/P on G/SP -017, G0WPO/P on G/SP-005, SV2RUJ/P on SV/MC-075 and 9A6CW/P on 9A/DH-082.
20m CW: 8
20m SSB: 3
2m C4FM: 1
As others have said, EU contacts on 20m only became available later on, and most of mine were after 0900z. Before that it was the dying embers of the DX path and groundwave only for me with a GP antenna.
Thanks to VK2WP, VK1AD and 2E0YYY for the SWL points. There were a couple of heavy showers during the activation. My backpacking tent kept me and my gear dry, but couldn’t shelter my RX from the rain static.
I imagined myself struggling to manage the pile-up of exotic DX chasers interspersed with the odd S2S on my first SOTA activation.
I actually managed only 1 contact this morning, so failed to qualify the summit! And that was with Mike @2E0YYY who was on an adjacent hill and I expect - had it not been misty - I could well of seen with a pair of binoculars!
Started a bit closer to 7 rather than 6.30, spent some time CQing on 20 with a self spot but no response heard. Then tuned around as I thought my aerial might be broken. Didn’t hear any other SOTA stations on 20M. Back to CQing and got the S2S with Mike. Then some more tuning around, but no joy.
Tried 40, heard a few summits but couldn’t get through the scramble of chasers. Tried a home station calling CQ, but no response. before I knew it 2 hours was up and I needed to depart for family duties.
Had fun though, and got to try everything on a summit, albeit a drive on. And the forecast rain held off!
I decided to join the event although wasn’t very confident with propagation and WX… It did worth again, as for the previous events!
WK: KX3 set to 10 watts and EFHW inverted L (appex 6m).
9 S2S, being 3 of them VK summits (VK1AD/2, VK6NU/P & VK1DA), all on 20m.
EU S2S: EA2IF/P, SV2RUJ/P, SV2HJW/P, OM/OK2PDT, DL4TO/P & OE5YYN/P.
1 DX ZL (ZL1BYZ) on 20m, loud as usual John
I heard a few more VK summits but not succeeded to log. I tried to hear JA but not any sight.
At the end of the activation I switched to 7 MHz to work some EU.
I had difficulties to put up the antenna because of very strong winds (speed of 60 km/h shown on the local weather web page). I finally decided to extend half of mast height and deployed my EFHW inverted L. I lost some time because of that trouble and got ready for the final part of the EU-VK window open.
It’s interesting as your story is the 1st time I’ve heard of that happening for years. It was common in the 80s and early90s to be asked by local constables what was happening but it’s not something mentioned anymore.
To get ontopic, the contacts made and heard need plotting on a map along with antenna type to see just where there was and wasn’t propagation. Even over a small area (from an HF point) as the UK, there are people who heard and people who didn’t. You heard no DX yet 100miles away it could be heard and worked.
As many others observed 20 was completely dead today, if it wasn’t for the SWR being god I would have thought my antenna was disconnected. This is a very stark contrast to last night, when 20 meter conditions were excellent. I even heard a US SOTA station (no QSO sadly), and heard at least 10 other normal stations.
40 was quite good for me, and I got 18 of my 22 QSO’s here, with 10 S2S qso’s. 80 was better than 20, but still horrible. Local stations that are usually 59+20 registered at only 53-55 (and that wasn’t just at my end), but I managed to get 4 QSO’s (3 in Norway and 1 in UK).
This morning someone else was at the summit while I was chasing. I have no idea who, as I hadn’t heard them outside the tent, but they had been walking around 144MHz from the tent and probably wondered what the hell was going on in there…
It’s interesting how varied the DX success (or lack thereof) reports are this time. Some activators seem to have had relatively good luck on 20m, working multiple DX S2S, while others heard nothing at all.
For me, 30m was the money band, with 5 different VK summits worked, plus three VK/ZL chasers.
On the other hand, 20m didn’t work so well for me this time. The only VK/ZL activator that I heard between 06:00z and 08:30z, despite checking the spotted QRGs very often even in between my own CQ calls, was @VK1AD, to whom I would have given a 45 report if we had managed a QSO – however, Andrew did not seem to hear me. It seems that his setup was doing well though, as I even heard him later on 40m SSB at about a 46 (but I couldn’t transmit on that band). I did get a QSO with @VK3DET on 20m SSB, but it was obviously hard work for Ernie.
As usual, I was running 100 W into a vertically mounted EFHW on a 15 m pole. WX light rain at about 6 °C. All in all it was worth getting up at 4:30am Thanks everyone!
Like you Tom I was late, but it was the idea of getting on air at 06:30 that was wrong, not my timing. I got up at 3.30 a.m., left home at 04:15, drove the 85 miles to Walbury Hill G/SE-001 and was QRV at 06:35. My first mistake was to spend time assessing whether 30m was open. It may have been, but the only faint signal I could hear was Manuel HB9DQM/P – unfortunately not strong enough to work. After some minutes and a check on my phone, I could see all the action was on 20m, primarily SSB.
After resetting a link on the inverted vee dipole and a quick couple of photos, I tuned around the top of 20m and heard Mike 2E0YYY/P working Wade VK1MIC. I managed to make the S2S with Wade at 06:53 for my first HF contact using my G8 call. Just after 07:00, Mike was found in QSO with Andrew VK1AD/2 and I attempted to follow on, but Andrew couldn’t hear me even though he was up to S5 with me. I spent around 20 minutes calling in the hope that conditions would pick up, but they went the other way.
I did a lot of checking frequencies where spots had been placed, but signals were rather weak all around. At 07:40 I noticed Andrew VK1DA was on CW and he was reasonable copy with me, but unfortunately again my signals did not make it. I could hear VK and ZL stations calling him, but I was not being heard even when Andrew had a clear frequency.
Several attempts were made to make more contacts to qualify the summit, but it was not until 08:20 did I receive a response to my calls on 30m and that was from Alex S53OM. My signal was rather weak with him, which made me suspect the antenna. After checking the antenna and not finding any fault, I decided to go back to 20m and found Jarek M/SP9MA/P calling from G/SE-013 – I had no problem in making this one. So with three in the bag, I wondered whether failure was on the cards.
Having heard a few non-SOTA calls on 30m, I returned to the band to try to pick up a fourth contact and was pleased to find David VK3DBD calling CQ. We had a pleasant QSO for around 15 minutes which made up for the failure to make contacts earlier.
The weather was dry up to 09:00 when a light shower arrived, but it did not dampen my mood which improved when I worked David. The outcome of this activation goes to reinforce my belief that in terms of what can be easily erected on a summit, for 10MHz and lower frequencies an inverted vee is okay, but for 20m and higher a vertical is better. Goodness knows why I didn’t pack it!