It was rubbish this morning.
Wednesday 29th October 2014, and despite the late night contesting the evening before, I was up at 5.30am to go and try for some VKs from The Cloud G/SP-015.
As I pulled onto Cloudside there was a bit of mist in the Dane Valley, but nothing that was going to afford a repeat of the spectacular scenes from the previous early morning activation here. I hardly noticed the steps and ascent, even though it was less than eight hours since I last encountered them. I do think my fitness is on a gradual upward trend at present.
I first set up the 20m groundplane, identical to those built in the July YOTA workshop in Wolverhampton. Unusually, I began on SSB rather than CW, but this was because I knew Mickey 2E0YYY/P wouldn’t be anywhere near the CW frequencies, and VK activations tend to be predominantly SSB.
After working three European stations, I worked, with difficulty, Andrew VK1NAM/P on Mount Majura VK1/AC-034. This was immediately followed with a second S2S, but this one slightly less distant - Mickey 2E0YYY/P on the very next hill South-East of me - Gun G/SP-013. Andrew VK1MBE/P made it S2S #3 from Mount Ainslie VK1/AC-040 while #4 came from Mirko S52CU/P on Gora S5/RG-038. In between these were a further five QSOs on 20m SSB, including two more VKs in the shape of Tony VK3CAT and Paul VK5PAS near Adelaide.
Eventually I judged that 20m SSB had given me all it was going to, with my paltry 5 watts anyway, so I left it to Mickey. 20m CW started well with two more VKs - Andrew VK2UH and Gerard VK2IO. Mickey had told me that Matt VK2DAG was looking for me. Now Matt is usually the first VK into my log on an activation, and he works all modes - SSB, CW and PSK - so I was anticipating a call on 14.026MHz CW. Unfortunately, the call never came, but I couldn’t possibly be disappointed with six VKs (including 2 S2S) in the log with my 5 watts and homemade wire antenna.
I continued on 20m CW, adding 16 European stations to the log, plus a monster signal from CU3BL. When things got rather thin, I took down the 20m GP and replaced it with the 10m GP. This antenna is heavier, bulkier and not as well made as the 20m version, which had been optimised by SOTAbeams laser-cut components and ultra lightweight wire in preparation for the YOTA session.
It still worked though, but the 28MHz band was hard work. Just two QSOs on each of SSB and CW were all I could manage before the prospect of a filled oatcake increasingly felt like a more pressing priority than playing more radio. One thing I have noticed on the last couple of activations is terrible QRM throughout the CW portion of the 10m band. This is, apparently, due to an Iranian radar system, and has been around for around 20 months - which shows you how much I have neglected 10m in the last couple of years.
31 on 20m, 4 on 10m.
21 on CW, 14 on SSB
4 S2S QSOs
Outside Europe: TA (1), VK1 (2), VK2 (2), VK3 (1), VK5 (1)