It started with a comment a few weeks ago about getting out and trying an activation but living in Cambridgeshire means that the “local” summit is at least a 200 mile round trip! Obviously, this sort of excursion deserves proper planning and attention to detail, especially as this was the first ever activation attempt. So, the decision was made to try to activate Bardon Hill on Sunday 20th July 2008. When was this decision made? Well, 8pm Saturday night of course…plenty of time for planning!
Sunday morning started at 0900 in glorious sunshine and blue skies. Excellent. I collected Daryl (G0ANV) and Rob (M1XZG) from their respective QTHs and we made the trip to the summit. The weather was certainly diminishing as we neared our destination. Not promising. We arrived in Vercor Close at around midday, grabbed our gear and started the gentle ascent. As we broke through the tree line and neared the summit the wind became very evident. The three of us managed to deploy two HF antennae and a 2m SOTA Beam around the trig-point. I was using a Norcal Doublet (88ft total length) fed by my FT-817 via a portable SGC autotuner. Although learning Morse, I am nowhere near good enough for ‘live’ contacts so this was primarily used on 60m SSB. Daryl deployed a linked dipole and was operating 40m CW using an Icom IC-703 and Rob set up his 2m SOTA Beam to be fed by his hand-held on FM.
Although conditions were best described as erratic, I managed the required four QSOs in less than 20 minutes on 5MHz and, as all went quiet, I began scanning around the bands for other activators. I found Steve (G1INK) on 40m on a summit in North Wales and Nigel (G6FSP) on 20m in France. Two summit to summit contacts on my first activation left me extremely chuffed with the experience. Daryl managed a total of 23 QSOs on CW, also managing two S2S contacts. Rob, unfortunately, was having trouble on 2m FM, often his SOTA Beam doing an impression of a weather vane and always pointing in the direction of the now very strong wind!
Various other commitments meant that we had to begin the close down and pack up at around 2pm, making it back to the car before the ever present black clouds off loaded the rain.
All in all, an enjoyable trip, leaving us intent on carrying out more activations in the future. Who said SOTA wasn’t addictive!!
Many thanks to the chasers and other activators who were gentle with us on our first time out.
Regards and 73
John, M0EAV/P, Daryl, G0ANV/P, Rob, M1XZG/P