Well at first on Saturday I thought I was about the only one interested in 2m SSB, but perusing the spots over the last 72 hours I’m pleased to see there were a few more 2m SSB activations - even if some were not exactly within range geographically!
I’ve been off the air since about November but the fine weather on Saturday persuaded me out for a short amble to see what the hill conditions are like after all the rain earlier in the year. In fact Pibble Hill, which can be a bit boggy at the best of times, was not too bad at all; I’ve certainly seen it a fair bit wetter. The walk is less than a couple of miles, maybe 3km including twists and turns, with an ascent of not much more than 100m. It’s probably shorter coming back, since you can see the quad bike tracks more easily from above!
I took the 5-ele beam and my little home brew PA which can give about 25W from the FT-817 running at full output, along with some LiPo batteries. There’s a very small cairn at the summit, with a vertical stone to which a SOTA pole can be attached with re-usable cable ties.
Being an optimistic soul I started off by calling CQ on the 2m SSB calling frequency. I gave it 10 or 15 minutes - not a sausage. No one interested. So I self spotted on SOTAwatch for 144.320 (I still think this is totally daft, we use a huge mobile phone and internet infrastructure to set up a simple point to point radio link!) and within a minute or so was talking to Don G0RQL - the first chat for quite a long time, and great to hear Don again. The path from SW Scotland to N Devon is clearly not too tricky - we’ve managed a QSO on 2m SSB on quite a few occasions.
However after the QSO with Don, I called on both 144.320 and 144.3 for a while but with no joy. Time to take off the PA, and use the batteries for 2m FM instead. Instantly I found Jack GM4COX/P in QSO from GM/SS-070 so we had a nice S2S and a bit of a catch up until his battery ran out, when I was contacted by Andrew MI6DUR in Bangor, then Mark MI3WWF who heard me talking about SSB and wanted to test his FT-736. I suggested starting on 144.3 so we moved there and did a few tests (well no one was around earlier, and I thought a bit of frequency use might stir up some activity) until another GI station came on and asked us to move off the calling frequency. Result!
We shifted to 144.320 and were joined by Brian GI0RWO. I think Mark was quite surprised by how easily I could hear him when he was only using 30mW output (but the dB difference and S difference in fact matched well!). I was at least pleased that there was some 2m SSB activity outwith the UKAC evenings - there are some folk around listening even if they don’t necessarily answer!
After that very pleasant set of QSOs I had a last listen on 2m FM - and was delighted to find Chris 2D0RGE/P on GD/GD-002 for another S2S. So all told, a very nice little outing and it was good to get back on the air again. I must admit I like being able to have a pleasant chat - that’s my sort of SOTA!