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2m FM is alive and well!

Rather than chase the NP Fun Day gang from the comfort of the home station I decided to visit my favourite local hill, Foel Fenlli NW-051, and do the chasing from there.
Left home at 1130 and was in the car park 20 minutes later, booted up and set off up the steep path on the northern side. As expected everywhere was very icy but the going was good underfoot and I arrived at the summit at 1220.
I set up the station comprising the FT817 on 5W, 7Ah SLAB, 3 ele sotabeam at 5m high on my Aldi 8m Activator pole. The great advantage of these poles is that the sections push together so that it cannot telescope inside itself like the usual poles. The disadvantage is that it is quite heavy to carry!
For 4m I had one of my military radios, Racal TRA-967 (4W) and a half wave wire dipole to fasten to the pole.
I was ready to go at 1245 and tuning round heard Phil, G4OBK/P in qso on NP-024. After a couple of calls he heard me and we exchanged 54 reports, not bad for a distance of 170km. This was both Phil’s and my best dx of the day although I also worked Geoff, G4WHA in Penrith at the same distance.
I then found a clear frequency, 145.400, called cq on S20, and Keith, G8HXE was first in the log. (Many thanks for the spot Keith)
There then followed a wonderful non-stop pile-up of 48 stations lasting until 1415 when the frequency was at last silent and I could stop for a bite to eat and a coffee!
I had set the beam pointing just east of north and did not have to move it for the entire session, so apologies to any Midlands stations who were looking for me.
I had alerted for 2m ssb also but as time was runniong short due to the longer than expected run on fm I decided to go straight onto 4m. Plus I had lugged a fairly heavy 4m rig up there so I was determined to use it!
First cq call brought in Mike, G1AJI nr. Bolton, then John, G0NAJ in Dukingfield, followed by Brian, G4ZRP on the Wirral (who I also worked on 2m) and then Harold, G3LWK nr. Southport.
I was then about to close down when I heard Gerald, G4OIG/P on NP-015 in qso so I gave him a call for a rare 4m S2S!
So, a very successful afternoon with 50 2m contacts and 5 on 4m.
11 NP summits worked, 2 SP and 1 LD scoring 51 chaser points (plus 8 points I scored before leaving home by working Gordon, GW0EWN/P on Y Garn!)
During the activation there were several showers of very powdery snow leaving a very thin coating on the ground so I decided that it might be safer to descend via the less steep southern side of the hill.
Even this path is fairly steep where it leaves the summit but levels off to follow the Offa’s Dyke path around the western side of the hill.
The path from the summit was very slippy in places, especially the grassy bits so I very gingerly made my way down to the junction with the Offa’s Dyke path.
There was a group of ‘strollers’ on that path just wearing trainers or everyday shoes but the annoying thing was that they were coping with the slippery path much better than I was!
I was slipping and sliding like a drunken ice skater and several times ended up on my backside! A possible cause I suppose is the treads on my boots clogging up with hardpacked snow and ice or the fact that I was unbalanced with carrying a fairy heavy backpack whereas they had none.
I was certainly glad to get back to the car park!

So, 2m fm is certainly alive and well, I think that it’s simply a case that many activators prefer to use other bands and modes.

Ron,GW4EVX

1 Like

In reply to GW4EVX:

Interesting, Ron. I quickly realised that I would hear virtually nothing on 2m FM, so spent my time on 2m SSB and the DC bands. I worked 3 activations on 2m SSB, 2 on 80m and one on 60m. A bit frustrating knowing so much was going on but being unable to latch onto it, but that’s the luck of the game - and if a similar jamboree is held in the Welsh Borders there will be a lot of frustrated people in the frozen north!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

…there will be a lot of frustrated people in the frozen north!

But you are “up North” Brian… Spare a thought for the flatlanders :slight_smile:

73 Marc G0AZS

In reply to G8ADD:

I’m glad the 80/60m plan worked Brian, I suspect Geoff G4CPA and I worked the highest number of southern and far northern chasers prior to the 2 metrefest. As always, great to get you in the log.

Thanks for the s2s Ron, not bad considering I was only on my handheld at that time.

73
Mike GW0DSP

In reply to G0AZS:

Oh, all right, just as a special concession…right, that’s enough of that!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to GW4EVX:

Pleased you came onto 4m Ron. You certainly were a cracking signal. The six contacts on the band made it worthwhile lugging the Ascom SE550 and 12AH battery up the hill. it was the best 4m session yet. Hopefully speak to you on the band again soon.

73, Gerald

To Brian G8ADD - apologies, I had every intention on activating Great Knoutberry on SSB and even on 70cms, but the pile up on 2m FM was huge. Next time I’ll have to drag Paul northwards so we can cover both modes.

To Marc G0AZS - this “flatlander” got his backside out of bed and went up norf. Mind you, many say that I’m not normal…

In reply to GW4EVX:

“So, 2m fm is certainly alive and well, I think that it’s simply a case that many activators prefer to use other bands and modes.”

Just a comment on this Ron - I think the issue is that often when 2m FM is used, you can become tied up by ops sitting in warm shacks that have no inkling of what conditions can be like on a summit and they waffle on giving every detail of their station, the breed of their dog, what they had for breakfast, etc. This certainly makes me shy away from the mode. Thankfully the ops up north are more clued up - I was working one a minute with report, name and QTH details exchanged and that was that. Absolutely brilliant! Well done those chasers!

73, Gerald

In reply to G4OIG:

To Marc G0AZS - this “flatlander” got his backside out of
bed and went up norf. Mind you, many say I’m not normal…

…and you’re further “norf” than me :slight_smile:

Maybe a joint pilgrimage might have been a good idea… next time.

73 Marc

In reply to GW4EVX:
Hi Ron, good to hear about 2m FM still alive! I have to ask about your Aldi 8m Activator pole. Are these fibre glass or carbon fibre? Im not familiar with these poles so heres another qeustion…are they the same diameter or do they taper like a telescopic pole? Thanks in advance. Sean M0GIA

In reply to G0AZS:

Yes Marc, I am oop norf from you, but not that far away. TomTom gives the mileage from your QTH to my first summit as 236 miles - for me it was 210 miles - so you’d have had a round trip of something like 490 miles… bordering on a weekend visit ;-}

I would admit that it was an effort as I had raging toothache and a head cold the evening before. However, this just made it impossible for me to sleep and so I left home earlier (02:38) and I managed about 45 minutes kip in the car when I arrived at my first parking spot.

73, Gerald

P.S. If you fancy a joint activation, then I’m certainly up for that. The only hills I have left to do south of here are SC-012. SC-013, SE-003, the pair in Kent and the pair on the Isle of Wight. All will be done post winter bonus. Might manage a later leaving time than my normal 03:30 - 04:00, if you ask nicely, Hi.

In reply to G4OIG:
Hi Gerald,
If you need any information or interested in doing a joint activation of the Isle of Wight pair then just let me know. I live within 8 miles from both of them.
It was good to contact you on Great Coum NP-011 during the NP event. Was testing my new 5 element yagi mounted on the roof of the house.

73 Robert G0PEB
Isle of Wight.

In reply to G0PEB:

It was good to work you Robert - rather unexpected, but the phrase Isle of Wight cut through the ether. The IoW pair are likely to have to wait until we have another holiday on the island, so it will be good to hook up with you then. I have done them without radio pre-SOTA.

73, Gerald

In reply to G4OIG:
Are you gents using horizontal polarisation on 4m FM?

73 Graham G4FUJ

In reply to G4FUJ:

Hi Graham,

I use a slim jim that hangs down from the top of the mast which works well. It would require an extra bit of effort to take a beam - 4m (for me at least) is an “add-on” band. Enjoyable nonetheless.

73, Gerald

In reply to G4OIG:
Ta for that - I was thinking more just a horizontal dipole (a beam would be getting a trifle large for carrying up hills!).
Must refurb or replace my 6/4m dual band beam and feeders…

73
Graham G4FUJ

In reply to G4FUJ:

Are you gents using horizontal polarisation on 4m FM?

Hi Graham,

For FM I use a 2m length of wire with a LC matching network built into a 35mm film canister. I then fasten the wire to the top of the fishing pole. It’s a design by Ross, G6GVI and there are details on the Four Metre Website.
I take a three element Yagi for SSB use in contests and was using that when I worked you last February from NW-051.

Best wishes,

Ron,GW4EVX

In reply to G4OIG:

‘…often when 2m FM is used, you can become tied up by ops sitting in warm shacks that have no inkling of what conditions can be like on a summit and they
waffle on giving every detail of their station, the breed of their dog, what they had for breakfast, etc.’

Good point Gerald and I entirely agree, having been caught out on many occasions!
I used to use FM as well as SSB in the 2m Backpacker contests until I realised it was not very time effective and many ops did not know their QRA locator because they usually had no need to use it, so a lot of time was wasted taking exact details of their QTH.

Best wishes,

Ron,GW4EVX

In reply to GW4EVX:

The trick in contests is to ask for their postcode. In most cased this maps nicely to a QTH locator and saves lots of time during the contest. A few don’t know their postcode either of course.

A surprising number of recent radio amateurs don’t understand signal reports though :frowning:

73

Richard
G3CWI

In reply to M0GIA: Re Aldi 8m Activator pole.

Hi Sean,

The poles were available at Aldi last August but my local store still had one up to a couple of weeks ago so you may still be able to get one.
They are made of black coloured glass fibre and cost £19.99.
The base tube is about 1.2m long and contains the seven tapering sections.
They fit together like a conventional solid fishing rod but the sections are tubes instead of solid rods.
The diameter of the base tube opening is about 35mm and the top section is about 4mm with the actual tip about 2mm. The Sotabeam fits at about the 5m agl point. The wall thickness is about 1mm.
It weighs roughly 1kg so is a bit heavy to carry!

Hope this helps!

Best wishes,

Ron,GW4EVX

Operated from G/SP-015 for just over four hours this evening (1904 - 2306z), entirely on 2m.

Made 125 QSOs.

2m FT8: 15
2m SSB: 94
2m FM: 16

The 16 2m FM QSOs were all non-contest and took place 2240 - 2306z.