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Yet Another G/WB Activation


#1

I guess the top G/WB summits are hit hard during the Winter Bonus period as they are all reasonably easy and quick ascents. A recent report by Phil G4OBK shows how the four G/WB 2-pointers plus GW/MW-013 can all be done in a single day. However, this was my first trip into the Welsh Borders and I would be travelling with my XYL Nickie and so we would bag them at a much more leisurely rate! When I discussed the G/WB summits with Nickie she was not keen to do G/WB-005 Long Mynd due to the somewhat scary roads to access it, especially in icy conditions. So this summit was crossed off the list for this trip.

We travelled up from Hampshire on Fri 22nd Feb and headed for G/WB-004 Titterstone Clee Hill. This uneventful journey took just under 3 hours. We parked in the large car park area beneath the summit, which had stunning views. We ascended quickly to the trig point just pass the golf ball radar and I began to set up at the stone shelter adjacent to the trig point. I haven’t many activations under my belt but I know the drill. However, this was my first activation in really cold conditions and I was surprised how much longer it took to set up. The temperature was about -5degC with a substantial wind chill. I set up for 7.118 and self spotted. First in the log was a long standing uni friend, Howard G3YZY. We recently met up after approx 35 years! It was a bit sluggish at first, which surprised me. Later I discovered that my SMS to Andy’s SMS service took 20 mins to arrive for some reason. I could immediately tell when I had been spotted as the pace picked up considerably. I managed a S2S with M0CGH/P on G/NP-008 to start me off on the S2S Award. I had intended to also use 30M and 20M but after 40 mins Nickie was shivering despite wearing thermals etc and so it was time to pull the plug. Packing up the station took even longer in the cold and I had to remove my gloves to collapse the pole - my hands almost seized up after that and I had to warm them up before I could continue. At least the descent to the car would be quick and then head for the B&B. We had booked into the recently refurbished Talbot Inn at Newnham Bridge (other B&B establsihments are available). Once in the room Nickie filled a hot bath and then I could use the separate shower, nice! We later enjoyed a lovely meal at the Inn, which also meant we could make our way through a nice bottle of red since no driving was involved.

We had a leisurely breakfast on Sat with a hearty full english. We then headed off for G/WB-003 Stiperstones. We parked up at the large car park for Stiperstones and made our ascent. This was easy going but as it flattens out the route becomes quite rocky so we had to watch our footing. The trig point perched on top of a pile of rocks does look quite funny as you approach it. The temperature was around -2degC but surprisingly little wind so it was much more pleasant than yesterday. I set up for 40M ssb and turned the rig on still set to 7.118 to find Mark G0VOF almost at the end of a QSO. He kindly allowed me to take over the freq and spot me. However, for some unknown reason I gave the Ref as G/WB-005! I persisted with this false Ref for some time but confusingly added Stiperstones from time to time. Mark thankfully corrected the Ref and posted on the Reflector my mistake. Appologies to all Chasers who had to correct their logs, sorry! I had a good run on 40M but by the end the QRM from the F contest was becoming impossible. However, I managed a S2S with Simon 2W0CHV on G/MW-013 quickly followed by another from Mike 2E0YYY on G/SP-004. After I packed up the station I turned on my Alinco HH and was amazed to hear GW7RKC and GW6OVD on GW/SW-009. I managed to get through on my meagre 2W so more S2S - excellent. We then descended back to the car and onwards to the nearby GW/MW-013 Corndon Hill.

By the time we reached Corndon Simon 2W0CHV had already left the scene so I missed meeting him. I knew that Corndon had a steep ascent but I wasn’t prepared for how steep! I don’t know what the exact ascent angle is, but it feels like 45deg no joking. Just before the ascent I heard Mike 2E0YYY on my HH, still on G/SP-004. He was saying that he was about to pack up so I called him and asked if he could wait till I got to the top of Corndon to which he agreed. My HF pack is not light and I am not as young as I once was, so I had to stop several times during the ascent to catch my breath. Finally the trig point came into view and I noticed a vacant wooden bench to the left of it. I plonked myself down just as Mike called to see how I was getting on. We had a good chat and I asked Mike if he had done Corndon. I couldn’t imagine how Mike could drag his 22AH SLAB, poles and collinear up that steep slope! I will say this though - whenever I have heard Mike on 2M FM he is always putting out an end stopping signal so his set up defintely works extremely well. I then set up 40M SSB but when I turned on the rig it was now wall to wall with 59+++++ F content stations, no chance for me at all. OK, I thought, well let’s try 30M CW then. I plugged in the mini Palm paddle only to discover that a wire had broken at the paddle connector, plenty of dah’s but no di’s! I had a quick try of using the mic keyer option but no way. OK 60M SSB it is. It was then I discovered I hadnt packed the extra jumpers for my 60/40/30 link dipole! I tried 2M FM but only made 1 QSO on the HH. In desperation I tried 60M anyway with the link dipole set to 40M. Rather magically I was amazed to find that the FT857 wasnt complaining. Somehow the TX was pumping out the power without shutting down with the SWR indicator blinking at me. (I have subsequently repeated this at the home QTH and as expected no chance at all). So magic it was then. It was a bit slow whilst the spot kicked in but then a nice run of QSOs. I packed up and made a careful descent back to the car down the sleep slope. Then back to the Inn after a successful day.

Another leisurely start on Sunday with full english. Nickie wanted to do some non-SOTA stuff before returning home so I agreed to a short activation of G/WB-002 Brown Clee Hill. We parked up at the Shropshire Way start to the ascent and started up. A very enjoyable ascent with spectacular views. When I reached the trig point I noticed a wooden post just at the bottom of the steps and decided I would bungee the pole to that. This would mean that one leg of the dipole would cross the path but I put the apex at about 7-8M so the wire was well clear of any walkers. The 40M F contest was still on so straight to 60M but this time with the proper links inserted! 5.3985 was already taken as was 5.3715 so 5.4035 it was. (I know there are more freqs available now but they are not in my head yet nor programmed in the rig). Again a bit slow to start with before the spot kicked but then a good steady run. I started at around 1208z and was informed that the RSGB News Bulletin would be starting on this channel at 1230z. No probs as I only intended a short activation anyway. Last in the log was G0LGS at 1226z. The RSGB news reader amusingly told me that contests are not allowed on 60M! I informed him it was a SOTA activation and I was closing down. During the descent I had a nice chat with a local on the HH. He told me that the flat section just before the summit can get very boggy. No probs for me as it was as hard as rock. I guess in boggy condx it would be better to use the transmitter road approach. It is funny to see a tarmac road just adjacent to the trig point !

So I bagged 3 G/WBs and GW/MW–013 which has boosted my activator points somewhat with the winter bonus. Also had a good number of S2S, which has given me a good start on the new award. All in all a very enjoyable trip and my first experience of very cold activations.

73s to all Chasers contacted

Andrew G4AFI


#2

In reply to G4AFI:

Thanks Andrew for the report. Glad to catch up with you on 60 & 40 on the 23rd.
40 was the worst I have heard in a very long time for QRM.

73
Mike G6TUH


#3

In reply to G4AFI:

Andrew

Good to catch you at the other end of an activation for a change. Hope for more soon.

BTW, I think you have been hijacked by the spellchecker because MW-013 is Corndon Hill.

73,
Rod


#4

In reply to M0JLA:
Corrected - thanks


#5

In reply to G4AFI:

Later I discovered that my SMS to Andy’s SMS service took 20 mins to arrive for some reason

It’s a real pain when that happens. Sometimes it’s caused by your phone hearing too many cellsites. It then will stick out its bottom lip and sulk. It’s really irritating when you can see you have service but not any kind of service you can use.

had a steep ascent but I wasn’t prepared for how steep!

But the ascent is over quickly. Ben More SS-001 is steeper and is about 20times the distance. So much so I’ve still to do it!

my hands almost seized up after that and I had to warm them up before I could continue

That’s why you invite your better half to accompany you so that you can warm your hands on her! Of course you don’t want to let her know this is the plan. And you can only get away with this once!

was informed that the RSGB News Bulletin would be starting on this channel at 1230z

Oh dear. Of course the world would end as we know it if the news was late by 10mins whilst they waited for you to finish!

Glad you had fun. They’re nice summits, incredibly popular but very enjoyable strolls. If your QTH is down in Hampshire then there must be some summits in Northern France which are as close as Shropshire. You could nip over, bag some summits and then bag some wine and cheese. Maybe even some “viande de cheval” although that seems to be readily available in the UK nowadays.

Andy
MM0FMF


#6

In reply to MM0FMF:

It’s a real pain when that happens. Sometimes it’s caused by your phone hearing too many cellsites. It then will stick out its bottom lip and sulk. It’s really irritating when you can see you have service but not any kind of service you can use.

Indeed! I found that mobile coverage is poor throughout the Welsh Borders and just as bad on the summits. I had to hope Chasers would spot me!

there must be some summits in Northern France which are as close as Shropshire

Probably true but only 1-pointers so no good for the winter bonus. I will be in France this July so hope to do more activations from F land.

73 Andrew G4AFI


#7

In reply to G4AFI:

Indeed! I found that mobile coverage is poor throughout the Welsh
Borders and just as bad on the summits. I had to hope Chasers would
spot me!

Indeed, Andrew,

The most frustraing place is G/WB-004 Titterstone Clee. The best summit in the Welsh Borders for take-off and the worst for mobile coverge, certainly on the 3 network.

I’m off to my favorite Welsh summit GW/NW-061 Y Golfa, tomorrow and that too is a mobile signal desert.

73 Mike
2E0YYY


#8

In reply to 2E0YYY:

I’m off to my favorite Welsh summit GW/NW-061 Y Golfa, tomorrow and that too is a mobile signal desert

I passed that on my way to my N Wales hol last September. It looks very imposing from the road. I wonder why that is your favourite Welsh summit ?

73 Andrew


#9

In reply to G4AFI:

I passed that on my way to my N Wales hol last September. It looks
very imposing from the road. I wonder why that is your favourite Welsh
summit ?

Its difficult to put a finger on it, Andrew. Some folk say its a good VHF site, I disagree, …well working with a vertical anyway. The summit is very pretty and from the golf club car park, not a difficult walk 20/25 minutes, depending how many SLABs are stuffed in my rucksack. At the trig, you can watch the golfers, the veiws are nice but not what I would class as stunning by Welsh standards. You will see other people on this summit but just the odd one or two.

http://www.sotawatch.org/article.php?summit=GW/NW-061&id=5737

Y Golfa doesnt see that much activity, so if youre ever passing again, well worth a visit in my humble opinion.

73 Mike
2E0YYY


#10

In reply to G4AFI:

Indeed! I found that mobile coverage is poor throughout the Welsh
Borders and just as bad on the summits. I had to hope Chasers would
spot me!

Just another great reason to throw away the mike and get the key fixed (assuming you need another reason)
RBN is the best spotter around. If you can radiate a signal at all it finds you, even in the WB!

Anyway thanks for the contact from Brown Clee. Yes it is a bit of a bog fest on the top when not frozen. http://flic.kr/p/dNiMgd

Couldn’t agree more about setting up in the cold. I’ve learnt an awful lot in my last 4 activations, all well below freezing, on what does and doesn’t work.

I really take my hat off to those hardened winter activators out there.

Pete


#11

In reply to G4ISJ:

Just another great reason to throw away the mike and get the key fixed (assuming you need another reason)
RBN is the best spotter around. If you can radiate a signal at all it finds you, even in the WB!

I havent operated in the cold before so was playing safe with SSB. I guess I need to practice sending CW with gloves on too. I did take my soldering iron with me and so repaired the broken wire to the keyer that evening at the Inn. I might try CW on another Winter activation.

I really take my hat off to those hardened winter activators out there.
Couldn’t agree more! Until you have tried you can’t imagine the difficulties you will experience.

73s Andrew


#12

In reply to G4AFI:

In reply to G4ISJ:

I really take my hat off to those hardened winter activators out there.
Couldn’t agree more! Until you have tried you can’t imagine the
difficulties you will experience.

You’ll get a cold head for a start! :wink:

Andy
MM0FMF


#13

In reply to G4AFI:

Thanks for the S2S, NP-008 to WB-004 Andrew, my first S2S for the new award also. It seems like we hit the air at the same time. I did a stint on 20m SSB first in a successful bid to have a transatlantic QSO. I really struggled to find a QRM free frequency on 40m, so we timed it just right when I took over your frequency when you went QRT.

I can confirm it was a very cold day on Friday, my hands also suffered badly; my skin cracking open around my knuckles - yuck! Today I heard about Sir Rannulph Fiennes abandoning his latest expedition due to frostbite in his hands caused whilst fiddling with his ski bindings in -30c temps.

My bothy bag helped enormously during the activation, I didn’t feel the cold at all whilst inside.

73,
Colin


#14

In reply to M0CGH:
Hi Colin,
Glad you were able to use 40M. I went from G/WB-004 to GW/MW-013 and by the time I got set up it was no longer usable so between the two of us we squeezed the max out of 40M that day!

Sorry to hear you didnt manage to make it across the pond on 20M. I wonder what antenna you use? I use a 20M EFHW vertical which works really well and I usually manage W and VE. On a recent activation of G/SC-008 I was called by N1EU om 30M, which really surprised me. I don’t know if you do CW but that certainly helps as well. Hopefully you will be successful on your next activation.

OK on the bothy bag. I did have one with me so on reflection I should have used it.

73 Andrew


#15

In reply to G4AFI:

Andrew, I did work across across the pond; I was called by Bill, W4ZV :slight_smile:

I was using a SOTAbeams Band Hopper Four in inverted vee configuration. Yes, I do do CW, it’s rare to hear me on SSB these days; I braved QRP SSB as it was a weekday :slight_smile:

I do keep thinking about making some sort of vertical for 20m and up but to be honest the dipoles I use seem to work well enough!

73, Colin


#16

In reply to M0CGH:

The advantage of a vertical over an inverted V dipole is that it will be much more of an omni than the dipole at HF. On LF the apex is normally very close to the ground and the inverted-V is really an omni. But by the time you get to 20m and above it will be becoming a lot more directional. If you don’t mind, you just aim the inverted-V at your target area, you just need to spend a moment thinking about the setup.

My own vertical also has some directivity. Lowest angle of radiation is along the direction of the single elavted counterpoise. But a 1/4wave GP should be trule omni. In my case I noticed that pointing my counterpoise NW (great circle route to the USA) resulted in more US stations that UA stations this time on 15m. Last time it was pointing in a more E, SE direction. On 20m I worked all over Europe with the counterpoise still point NW.

This is the nice thing about wire antennas, they’re reasonably easy to play with. The biggest challenge with them is engineering them so you can set them up without hassle when it’s cold and windy and your fingers have gone numb.

Andy
MM0FMF


#17

In reply to MM0FMF:

I’m giving this a try, Andy, a wire vertical for 20 with a ground plane of three elevated wires, based on a commercial dipole centre fixed to the pole with a tool clip. I’ve tried it out beside my greenhouse for a more comfortable operating position but it has S8 noise in my suburban environment, lets hope its quieter on a summit! I am now trying a 20 metre OCF dipole to see if that is an option for the hill, the 4:1 balun is a little heavy for the pole and I am mulling over using 300-ohm ladder ribbon and my Z-match, which is about the same weight but the weight is at the bottom of the pole.

73

Brian G8ADD


#18

In reply to G8ADD:

My vertical is barely usable at home due to the noise pickup. It’s low down so it’s amongst all the domestic RF smog. Different on a summit though :wink:

ANdy
MM0FMF


#19

In reply to G8ADD:

but it has S8 noise in my suburban environment
I have the same issue at my home QTH Brian, verticals are no use at all. But on summits I usually get no noise at all, which is brilliant. I use a 20M EFHW vertical with links for 17/15/12/10 to avoid having to mess with radials but that does mean I have to lug a 10M pole and a matching box though.

73 Andrew G4AFI


#20

In reply to MM0FMF:

Previous dumb question deleted Andy, perhaps you didn’t notice it.

Anyway, just wondering, how high is the elevated counterpoise and do you keep the end off the ground? I’m going to give one of these a go, although I’m happy with my inv vee it might be bettered I suppose.

Ian, MM0GYX