My Sunday morning jaunt was not primarily intended to be a SOTA trip. The main intention was to give my FT-847 a rare airing in the RSGB 70MHz Trophy contest. With the additional weight, and the bigger battery, it made sense to choose a location where I could drive to the top, so I chose Botley Hill (G/SE-005) - a quick half-hour journey along the M23 and M25.
Having arrived and parked on the wide grass verge along the B269, I carried the gear a few yards and set up. Bearing in mind that I only have a whip antenna for 4m, I was not expecting fabulous results, but, with a clear view across London to the north, I felt confident of making a few QSOs.
As I switched on, I was surprised not to hear any signals at all! I checked all the connections and rig settings, and everything appeared OK. Transmit indications were normal, but nothing could be heard except background noise and occasional ignition noise from passing traffic.
I was beginning to believe that I had got the contest date or time wrong when, after ten minutes of increasingly desperate tuning around, I eventually heard a signal! There was G0VHF/P, somewhere near Southend-on-Sea, but painfully weak. Normally, wherever I am, they are an end-stopping signal. No point in calling as they would never hear me.
Having admitted defeat on VHF, I decided to try a more familiar 40m CW. The antenna was quickly erected, and the band was full of big signals. Luckily for a Sunday morning, I found 7032.5 unoccupied. A quick CQ SOTA produced a monumental pile-up – delicious! I started to work through the heap of callers, but, after half-a-dozen QSOs, the rig started to misbehave. The symptoms looked like a low battery, so I tried my usual trick of reducing output power. Still the problem persisted, even with power down to about five watts. With just seven stations in the log, I admitted defeat once again.
Now back at home, the battery seems OK. So I must investigate further as to the cause of the problem. My apologies to those many stations still calling as I switched off. I will return to SE-005 with a fully-functioning rig sometime soon!
73 de Les, G3VQO