Saturday 26th November 2016 - The Cloud G/SP-015
Tuning around the CQWW CW contest at home on the Saturday morning revealed that 15m appeared in reasonable shape, but would have gaps in the spectrum to make SOTA activating viable. I was also keen to get my SOTA PSK portable set-up going again.
As reported earlier, the Arnova G3 tablet I “uninformedly” purchased for this purpose is not up to the job, as the headphone jack is just that - a 3.5mm 3-pin headphone jack. I spent some time in phone/tablet buy/sell shops in Macclesfield at lunchtime trying to upgrade to an Android tablet that would work with my Wolphi-link interface. I was on the point of getting a Samsung Tab 3 when the store I was in advised that there would be a 2 hour wait before my existing tablet could be tested and valued for part-ex. That old chestnut.
So I ditched that idea, I was now well behind schedule and wanted to get a bit of a walk and fresh air in. It occurred to me that my HTC One Mini smartphone in my pocket was a different unit to the one I had a few months ago which “bit the dust”. I thought I might as well see if my current one worked, as it was a surprise that my old one didn’t.
I drove through thick fog from Macclesfield to Bosley. Fog, that I was later to learn, caused the abandonment of the Macclesfield Town vs Dover Athletic football match that I had elected not to attend. As I drove up onto Cloudside, I emerged from that fog, so I began to really look forward to my short walk.
Sure enough, as I neared Cloud summit, the views all around were spectacular with the dense fog filling the valleys either side and completely covering the Cheshire Plain and all points north. There was hardly a breath of wind at the summit either, so for once I wasn’t huddled under one side of the topograph, but set up right on the edge of the escarpment so I could enjoy the views throughout my activation.
It was good that there was no wind, as even the slightest breeze would have applied a notable chill factor to the zero degrees temperature. I started off by connecting up my phone and interface to the FT-817 for PSK31. And this time, everything worked perfectly! It was clear from the waterfall that signals were being detected via the interface and cables, and the transmit side worked straightaway. I wondered if my previous phone of this model actually had a fault in the 3.5mm jack socket?
What I couldn’t find was any other PSK31 signals on the 15m band, although the “bleed over” from the CQWW was up to 60kHz beyond the normal datamode QRGs. I did find a decent gap just above 21.070MHz and did a fair bit of CQ SOTA calling there on PSK31, but without getting any replies. So I guess I cannot yet be 100% certain that my system is working - but it looks like it!
I had been on summit a while, the temperature was dropping into the subzero and it was getting dark. I thought therefore it might be a good idea to actually make some QSOs. So I disconnected the PSK gear and installed my Mini Palm Paddle and Code Cube instead. Yet even when I found a gap and self-spotted, I still couldn’t solicit any replies. What seemed like gaps to me though could have been very busy with contest traffic in other parts of the world of course.
So it was now a case of trying to answer some CQWW contest calls. Which I did, just four of them (successfully):
EF8R - Gran Canaria
K4OAQ - Tennessee
V26K - Antigua
CN2AA - Morocco
I tried to answer many others, including several in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, St Kitts & Nevis, Bonaire and Cape Verde, but didn’t make myself heard. I normally am successful in getting through to this level of DX, but I suppose they will be hearing lots of traffic on their frequency, and 5 watts won’t make it. On a non-contest day, I’m sure it would.