2m FM + 2m SSB tonight

It’s the first Tuesday of the month of course, so it’s 2m SOTA Fun Evening.

I had hoped to be QRV from 7pm in the 2m FMAC, but I’ve been unexpectedly allocated to collecting Liam from his vocal lesson - at 7pm!

So I’ll get to the summit of The Cloud G/SP-015 as fast as I can after that - and if I am set anytime before 8pm, I’ll try to do a few FM contacts. After 8pm it will be predominantly 2m SSB.

Hi Tom
I was listening for the whole hour here in Leicestershire, but never heard a thing, must get the 2 M yagi in the air.

So the original plan was to be QRV by 7pm local and win the 2m FMAC. The the next 2.5 hours would be devoted to a top 5 finish in the 2m UKAC. All good intentions…

It was a great night with huge activity, lots of high-scoring bonus squares on offer (as much as I detest the current B2 handicap system) and decent conditions. A great night with 150 QSOs there for the taking by any competent and well-prepared SOTA activator. Unfortunately, that activator was not me…

It all started to go wrong when She Who Must Be Obeyed advised me that I was picking Liam up from his vocals lesson, not her. That wiped out any involvement in the FMAC 7-8pm and put me in “last minute” territory for the main UKAC. It was a good job that I therefore decided to make up the SOTAbeams SB5 antenna in advance, so I could just grab it out of the boot and carry it ready-made up the hill…

…Because the two rods for the driven element were missing. I hunted high and low for these after bringing Liam back, eventually finding them, inexplicably, behind the shoe box in the front porch. More time lost.

Fast forward to setting up on The Cloud summit, and me thinking “Why is there only one crocodile clip at the end of that bit of RG58?” There were two when I packed the car earlier. I glanced around the vicinity just in case it had only just come apart there, but no joy. This meant stripping some of the insulation from the core with my teeth, wrapping the wire around the driven element and attaching some tape to try and keep it in place. More time lost.

Imagine my (relative) joy when finally switching on and seeing that it was only 1907 UTC. Remarkable with the last minute arrangements and all the time lost that I was only 7 minutes late QRV. I found a frequency, but no-one was interested in working me. Maybe with all the “exotic” squares on offer, IO83 was just not going to cut it.

I went into S&P mode but I had difficulty directing the antenna. The issue was twofold: Firstly I had not got round to replacing the bottom disc in the SOTAbeams rotating guying kit, which blew away on Merryton Low while packing up one very windy night. This isn’t normally problematic, but in windy conditions it proved to be, and my telescopic mast kept collapsing in on itself. Secondly, I had somehow pegged the guys out incorrectly so they were getting all twisted at the top, increasing the strain on the mast, and making it nigh on impossible to direct the beam. More time lost.

I had made two QSOs by 8.30pm. I could have cried! I kind of got going then, but it was still rather stuttery, and all prospect of competitiveness had evaporated, so the enthusiasm tank was running on empty. I picked up some nice squares - IN99, IO74, 76, 80, 81, 82, 83, 85, 86, 91, 92, 93, 94, JO00, 01, 02 and 03 - but missed plenty of others - IO64, 72, 73, 75, 84, 87 and 90 for instance, plus Belgium ON which was coming in really strongly. Worse still, I ended on a pathetic 50 QSOs - all 2m SSB except for one on 2m CW.

It’s a good job that I’m not going to make the 8 sessions for a “full score” this year due to all the gigging, as this performance would have been a “killer blow” for my chances in the overall table.

Still the pie and pint at the Harrington Arms, Gawsworth was nice.

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Well I would have liked IO83, but suffered from the worst splatter I have ever heard on any band in nearly 50 years of operating. The person responsible didn’t even have the courtesy to take his linear offline when told about the problem and he even persisted on waffling inanely about the issue for an extended period. Overall an evening to forget I’m afraid. I am coming up your way next month… where it is quieter. :wink:

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We had someone nearer to us that was “barn door” wide as well Gerald (unless it was the same person). I suspected he was wide when he appeared on 7 frequencies in addition to his run frequency.

I’ve seen some big amplifiers being used in my near 30 years of radio and it’s possible to run them to indecent levels and be a clean signal. OK you will get overloading due to nearby stations still but I think what you are both describing is a poorly setup station. That’s really not on. It maybe a contest where the aim is doing better than your fellow contestants but being able to setup a clean station is part of the skills you should have as a contester. It’s probably worth commenting about this on the entry forms. If enough people complain the contest committee may take action.

I concur with Andy, there were two QRO stations in IO87 within a few km of each other and I don’t believe any mutual problems were caused. There is absolutely no justification for continuing to radiate a poor signal - but - how many of the problems are actually caused by poor front ends on receivers/preamps?

I will now replace my tin hat and wait for incoming :slight_smile:

Well a push of a button will bring in the attenuator or by-pass the pre-amp in most rigs and the signal can be further attenuated by turning the beam, so it should be pretty obvious when a bad signal is fouling the band!

That’s a typical defence of wide stations - “Oh you were using an 817, so your observations are meaningless”. Thing is, I’ve been using an 817 often enough and for long enough to tell a bad signal from a good signal. Several others remarked on this particular station on-air and on email afterwards - I only hope that, like me, they recorded those observations on their entry forms - otherwise it will be swept under the carpet as the fault of the 817’s RX, as usual.

That wasn’t an attack on the 817, per se, it was a comment about the parlous state of some radios and, more particularly, preamps. I have absolutely no doubt you can tell a good signal from bad and your comments are most valid.

There have a number of reports about the state of some transmit signals from last Tuesday and, I believe, action will be taken! One well known GD station was told that he had poor audio by a very well respected participant but a number of us have come to the conclusion that this was actually very bad phase distortion on his signal as none of those that worked him considered his audio “bad” - horses for courses?

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And my comments weren’t an attack on your comments either Barry, but a reflection on an often-heard response over the years when someone with an 817 reports a wide signal.

Hopefully, if I can manage a less calamitous evening next time, we can make contact. IO87 would be VERY welcome in both my contest and SOTA logbooks!

Sounds like his linear wasn’t… perhaps he’d forgotten the FM contest had finished :wink:

I was listening (and working a few) from a very sub-optimal location in downtown Wigan, there seemed to be something strange going on in the sky as several stations had very peculiar sounding audio at times - almost a cross between auroral and aircraft reflection flutter.

Tom, did pick out your call (weakly - you must have been beaming the other way…) on the edge of my passband, tuned to about what I thought would be the right frequency and waited for you to call again but you didn’t… must have caught the moment you switched to S&P just my luck! Hope to find a loftier perch for next month :slight_smile:

73 de Paul G4MD

Did the offending station happen to have a callsign not too dis-similar to mine?? :slight_smile:

If so, I think we all experienced the same issues


Interesting, because late-on there was a smidgeon of aurora around and I was hearing CW with noticeable auroral overtones but with weird phase changes more like multipath reflections or AS - while beaming South!

Not Erik the viking per chance?

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I am game if you are, the main problem is more at your end as you have zillions of stations around you and I have (at absolute most) three. Means I would need to know your QRG and then keep an eye out for a suitable plane - unless Tropo or Es are playing ball. The usual caveat - if I can hear you I should be able to work you.

Other players also welcome!

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