526th SOTA activation

Well I suppose it’s a landmark of sorts…!

It was a late December afternoon walk up The Cloud G/SP-015 with a VHF handheld. Seven QSOs made on 2m FM.

I was hoping to use HF and more interesting modes like CW and FT8, but 60mph gusts at the parking spot soon amended my aspirations for the activation!

Activation #527 should take place on Christmas Eve… See you then. The wx forecast indicates that the wind will still be an issue, but at only 50% of the previous day’s intensity. Fingers crossed!



The airline industry allow people to share miles and give to others.

I only need 25 more to get to 250 and wondered if you would share some with me given the lock down…

Just joking, that’s a crazy good accomplishment.

Well done.



That’s a very impressive number. Congratulations. You should be getting the hang of it now. :rofl:

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Congrats Tom, well done.

Unfortunately, this value is no longer entirely unique. The Altberg HB/ZH-015 has been visited by Jürg HB9BAB/P around 1199 times (logged also as HBBAB/P (5x) and as UHB9BAB/P (1x)).

That shouldn’t discourage you, you’re still young and I am sure you can still reach this mark one day :wink:

I have activated The Cloud G/SP-015 1474 times. My 1475th activation of this summit is coming up today. Jürg HB9BAB is a beginner… :wink:

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All right then, but we were talking about HB9BAB and not HB9BIN :wink:


Oops - edited!

Activation #527 consisted of just one 2m FM QSO with 2E0SAE in Oldham. The Cloud summit was busy, but the 2m band was not. Serves me right for not getting out earlier and doing HF as planned!

Activation #528 will therefore be Christmas Day, and this time I WILL get up early and I WILL deploy HF!

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Dear Tom,
May be I’m a bit clumsy today but I can’t figure out what you really mean by 525th SOTA activation in the thread title because, in you later post, you said you’ve activated The Cloud 1474 times.
Is it your 525th SOTA activation this year?
73 and MX,


It seems you CAN figure it out after all Guru!

I wish you a very happy Christmas.

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I’ve been hearing quite a few folk working you on 40 metres this morning but The Cloud G/SP-015 is one of those summits that’s now at an awkward distance for me, too far away for U/VHF (using FM, at least) and HF ground wave, and too close for normal ionospheric HF propagation. Last time I caught it was back in 2017 from my old QTH (in JO01ai) on 60 metres CW.

From my new QTH (in IO81tq) I’ve chased Gun G/SP-013 on 80 metres CW and 6 metres FT8, Kinder Scout G/SP-001 on 80 metres CW, and Shining Tor G/SP-004 on 20 metres (Es or ground wave?) CW, but that’s it for summits in G/SP. V/UHF FM does let me reach several summits in G/CE and G/WB, which is a lot more than it ever got me from the old QTH (from which, on a good day I might hear VHF FM activators on Detling G/SE-013 or Botley G/SE-005).

I would have thought 80m would have been a better bet. I spent a good length of time on 80 before going into 40. I worked a GW in IO81 square.

I was up with my alarm at 5am and soon enjoying a breakfast of coffee and one of the homemade Scotch eggs that me and @M0HGY made on Christmas Eve.

The car needed a considerable ice scraping before setting off. It was a very cold icy morning with all the muddy ground thankfully frozen hard. The first hour or so of activating was by torchlight in darkness but after sunrise it was a stunningly clear morning.

I judged that I would need 80m and 40m and so took the SOTAbeams Bandhopper 4 linked dipole.

The Cloud G/SP-015, 0649-1049z: 77 QSOs

80m FT8: 14 QSOs
80m CW: 8 QSOs
80m SSB: 1 QSO
40m CW: 23 QSOs
40m SSB: 6 QSOs
40m FT4: 18 QSOs
2m FM: 7 QSOs

5 S2S:

PB2T/P on PA/PA-006 - 40m CW
PB2T/P on PA/PA-006 - 40m SSB
M0BKQ/P on G/NP-010 - 2m FM
LB8CG/P on LA/BU-129 - 40m SSB
MW7LCX/P on GW/NW-054 - 2m FM

I then took advantage of the now Christmas Day-only travel restriction easing to bob over the authority border to Gun G/SP-013.

Just a single 2m FM QSO from this activation!

Merry Christmas!

…and that takes me to 528 activations so far in the year 2020. Despite enforced periods of inaction due to lockdown, back problems and getting ill with Covid!

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Indeed, it’s the band on which I’m most likely to chase someone on The Cloud successfully, but this morning that would have involved me being awake while you were there. :wink: By the time I was awake and caffeinated you’d been on 40 metres for a while. :coffee:

On Thursday mornings I catch the 0900z GB2CW morse practice broadcast on 3.605MHz from IO82rr Telford, and very seldom get anything less than a 599 signal, but skip length does affect it at times, and this week it was getting quite a bit of continental QRM until about 0915z. Just recently I’ve spotted the re-emergence of the Tuesday and Friday evening broadcasts (also on 80 metres) supposedly from Prestatyn, but so far that’s shown all the signs of being in the dead zone for me, so maybe it’s no longer coming from Prestatyn…

Ain’t HF propagation wonderful :wink:

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Onto activation #530, for which I returned to The Cloud G/SP-015 this morning.

This time I opted for 30m, alternating between CW and FT8. The Boxing Day activation wasn’t as productive as the Christmas Day one, but still worthwhile and enjoyable.

32 QSOs:

30m CW: 22 QSOs
30m FT8: 8 QSOs
2m FM: 2 QSOs

S2S: 4

F5LKW/P on F/CR-229, 30m CW
OM/SP9MA/P on OM/ZA-061, 30m CW
HB9CEV/P on HB/ZG-001, 30m CW
HA2VR/P on HA/EM-002, 30m CW

SWL: EA2BD/P on EA2/NV-032

I called Ignacio a few times, but didn’t manage to get through.

Having done activations on 80m, 40m and 30m now in this Christmas week, and with a “proper” 2m activation planned in for Tuesday evening, I’m now going to try and work through the HF bands for my other activations in the remainder of 2020. 60m will be tomorrow morning’s focus, a band I’ve not been on in a long time. I’d better check up on what the up-to-date bandplan is for 5MHz!

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On CW 5.263MHz worked fine for intra-UK calls, though there was a little interesting QSB. I usually go for 5.3545MHz CW which also gets you out into Europe.
On SSB 5.3985MHz is still the go-to channel for SSB in the UK and also gets you EI. There are plenty of intra-UK fall-back channels for SSB (and even a few wide enough for AM), but for Europe you need either 5.354MHz right on top of the CW, or 5.363MHz which sometimes gets in the way of digital modes, neither of which is entirely satisfactory.

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Love the tea-cosy hats, Tom!

I came across some bass playing that I think you will appreciate, Tom, though heaven knows what you will make of the singer!

Not so sure what is particular noteworthy about the bass playing on this, though it all fine, nothing wrong with it. I do like the composition and arrangement, especially the switching between 7/8 and 6/8 near the start. As for the singer - very good, though I prefer her natural voice to the sections in which the SFX were applied!

No SFX except for a little doubling of the voice in places. That growl is real, I even tracked down a voice coach describing how to do it. I think she was expressing the duality of pisces? Somehow the bass spoke to me, though.

Activation #533 took place on Shining Tor G/SP-004 this morning. It hadn’t snowed overnight and the roads were clear up to the Cat & Fiddle. A few patches along the ascent were a little slippery, but otherwise a pleasant if cold early walk. A little light snow fell throughout the ascent.

Setting up the 12m/10m GP was tricky as the ground was frozen hard. Fortunately there was very little wind so I could get away with relatively weak pegging points.

The temperature boost experienced by getting inside the bothy bag was most welcome. This comes with a “health warning” though - but more of that later.

I received a weak CQ from a G station in IO91 on 12m FT8, but that station vanished before I had chance to call. Both 10m and 12m were otherwise completely dead - as anticipated at this very early hour - so I went onto 2m FM for the time being.

Six stations were worked on 2, following which I tried again on 12m FT8. This time two stations were worked. The band was again empty, but there now appeared to be activity on 10m. As I listened though, I heard that most unwelcome but recognisable sound - the swell of static noise - snow static in this case!

I could hear the light snow continuing to patter against the bothy bag, but I didn’t lift the bag to actually take a look. It was nearly time for a low angle pass of the ISS so I switched to MMSSTV to try and RX another image.

I started to hear the signal from the ISS, and my tablet began to decode in PD120 mode. But then a very weird noise and lots of flickering and blacking out on the tablet screen. The noise was identified as the G4ZLP MiniProSC interface rapidly switching itself on and off. I tried to switch it off and disconnect without making contact, but I accidentally did and got a shock from it. I insulated my hands with my dry fleece as I tried to disconnect the FT817, but got shocks through the fabric anyway.

Only one thing for it - lay the aerial on the ground, carefully dismantle the gear, and abandon the activation.

When I emerged from the bothy bag, I found to my shock (a different kind of shock) that the “patter of light snow” was, in fact, heavy snow that had dumped about 8 inches on the ground in the last hour! And that is the health warning with bothy bags - they can give you the warmth, dry and comfort, but with it a false sense of security and a potentially dangerous lack of awareness of the outside conditions.

It was hard to pack all the gear up without it getting wet in now very heavy snow. Even harder - to the point of impossibility - was collapsing the SOTA Pole, which was frozen solid. I had to attach it to my rucksack at full 7m length to carry it down to the car.

Once I was back at the parking spot, the A537 had vanished under the snow. I wondered if I was going to be able to safely drive down to Macclesfield. The bottom few sections of the pole would now collapse, but the upper sections were still frozen. I could now - just - get the pole into my car, between the boot door and the front windscreen!

The drive down to Macc was mainly in second gear at 20mph. The road was fully whited out until the canal bridge, well into the town. A lorry and several cars got into trouble between the top of town and Walker Barn blocking the road for eastbound traffic.

After my ordeal camping out on Shining Tor on the night of that huge storm in August, I think we can now officially describe G/SP-004 as a shocking summit!