Activating Fan Fawr GW/SW-005 on top band (160m) - report

Activation report - Fan Fawr GW/SW-005 on top band - Wednesday evening 8th Feb 2023

Joint activation: @MW0KXN Kevin & @GW4BML Ben

Route taken:

This is becoming to be a standard mid-week madness evening where Kevin and myself discuss our plans through-out the week, check the wx forecast and if all looks good - we crack on :slight_smile: over the past few weeks we have realised that 80m doesn’t always work the best in the evening, so our mission this last week was to build a home-made 160m dipole to try out on Fan Fawr GW/SW-005:

We both met in the small gravel car park South of the Beacons reservoir which lies between Pen y Fan GW/SW-001 and Fan Fawr GW/SW-005 at approximately 18:00 UTC, had a quick chat and gathered our gear together. We had two heavy rucksacks to carry this evening, especially with Kevin brining his 10m spider beam pole to hoist the 80m’s of wire in the sky!

There is always plenty to talk about for me and Kev, so after a few different topics discussed and looking across at Pen y Fan watching a queue of head torches descending the summit in the distance, we were soon amongst the mist close to summiting Fan Fawr. Once we reached the top, our mission was to set up our office beside the actual trig stone which is in the AZ, to help anyone who wanted to work the trig as well as the summit:

Man, it’s one long walk to the trig stone from the actual mid point of the summit - it felt like ages until the stone was in view. We quickly had a summit selfie and then started work:

Kevin began by erecting his 10m spider beam beast of a pole while I gathered all the guys ready to tie it down. Once we had everything in order (it took longer than we thought) the 160m home-made dipole was released from its bag and the centre piece was mounted to the top of the 10m spider beam pole. We both hoisted the pole up in the air and guyed it down. It was another 40m walk for both of us to guy both dipole ends down using our walking poles:

Right, we were all set up and ready to try our new idea out :slight_smile: we used yellow wire for the antenna @GW4VPX Allan so the UFO’s could see it when flying past :rofl: (a home joke we have). The equipment used consisted of:

  • Icom IC-705 transceiver
  • MAT-705 external tuner
  • 13.8v battery enabling the 705 to push 10w
  • 10m Spider beam telescopic pole
  • Full sized 160m dipole (80m in total length)

A spot was placed on the SOTAwatch website for the frequency we chose and a ‘CQ CQ CQ SOTA’ was called out… WOW, the antenna really worked with us having a nice pile-up on 160m entering 16 stations into our log. That wasn’t the response we were expecting, so thank you all very much for your support who called in :+1: we didn’t receive any S2S contacts which I thought was odd??? hahaaa. As you’ll see from the antenna images, we really had gone out in style on a mission to qualify this summit on 160m:

It was time for a cup of tea and a cake to celebrate our success - no Welsh cakes on this occasion @MM0EFI :rofl:

I quickly had a call out on 160-CW where I found the IC-705 to have a completely different tone to my normal KX2, this threw me out slightly, so apologies to the stations I asked to repeat their call-sign, you were a good signal, it was just my ears :slight_smile: Phil @G4OBK came booming in, was great to work you on 160m :ok_hand: I need to change the settings on the 705 to match the KX2, nevertheless I was impressed with the little radio.
Kevin then joined me on 145-FM where we shared the microphone and worked a further 9 stations to end our fantastic evening!

What a great evening had; a home-made working antenna which received good radio reports, plenty of food and drink to keep us warm and great company with loads of friends to talk to over the radio - we really are enjoying these wild Wednesday evening activations! I must apologise if anyone was waiting for us on 80m, we had alerted for this band too, but because it took a little more time to set up than we anticipated, we run out of time. We will work 160m & 80m on our next wild Wednesday outing to make up for it!

I’d like to thank everyone from the SOTA community who called into us - great support as per normal. I’d also like to thank everyone who passed on the word that we were out activating on 1.8MHz :slight_smile:

Until the next evening of fun and madness, I’ll say 73, Ben & Kev


Good to get you both this time. Cracking signal on top band with 5/9 SSB and 599 CW each way. 73 both.


Ben & Kev thanks for your super efforts, that is a lot of weight to carry. Your full size dipole antenna made such a difference, what a signal on 160m! Lucky to catch you after seeing the spot late in the day. I was pre-occupied with 3Y0J when you were on phone. It just shows it’s worth keeping the @MM0FMF SOTAWatch Cluster connected until late on a Wednesday night to alert me of your nocturnal adventures. I had more success in working you on 160m than Bouvet last night, cheered me up no end!

73 and GOOD DX for 160m next time you are out

Phil G4OBK


Damn, Ben, I missed you by 15 minutes, waited an hour from the alert time and then walked the dog! Better luck next time, I hope, I’ll certainly give it longer. Incidentally I use a 40m long doublet on Top Band, it seems to work very well. It might be easier for SOTA than a full size dipole and is only a few percent less efficient, but the con side is that you need a decent tuner as the typical internal tuners probably wouldn’t hack it!


That is a very high imedance feed Brian at half the design frequency. If coax fed a very high loss would be the result on the line. You may have used open wire line though I guess… not so bad in that case.

73 Phil G4OBK

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Hi Ben, great activation! Your dipole obviously worked well. Sorry I missed you both, though 160m from home is a challenge for me.

It is possible, though not many outside of VK / North America yet:

I’ll watch out for your next top band expedition, and try to get out at the same time. I’ve used an 8m pole, but that is quite small in terms of wavelength above ground, I’ve been thinking of trying it just layed over the heather, maybe with the ends lifted clear of the ground…

I’ve used red wire, I hope the UFOs can see that too :crazy_face:



Yes, S2S quite rare on 160m - easier if pre-arranged skeds can be arranged. Any offers to list a few more? Adrian @g4azs is in the list, and of course John @g4yss.

Only 24 UK stations have activated a summit on 160m. Some are no longer doing SOTA:

73 Phil G4OBK


Yes, I use 300ohm ribbon to the tuner. It strikes me that a careful selection of feeder length might give 50 ohms at the rig so no tuner would be necessary, I’ll have to look up the velocity factor for the ribbon.


Great to get you both ITL especially since these were my first ever 160m QSOs with anyone! Keep up these Wild Wednesday Night activations.


Was great to make the contact on both modes Allan, you were also a great signal! Thanks for calling in and we look forward to the next time :slight_smile:

Thanks for the kind words Phil - it was a nice surprize to hear your call-sign booming in on CW. Sorry it took a few attempts, that was my fault :see_no_evil: I’m glad it cheered your evening it - we plan to continue our Wednesday evening adventures using top-band, so it will be great to work you again soon!

Agh gutting, I’m sorry Brian. It took us a little longer to walk from the summit to the trig point which was an extra 500m. It also took more time setting up, but we know for next time now! We plan to keep this up on a Wednesday evening, so look out for us next week, would be great to make a contact! Thanks for supporting.

Thanks Adrian - I think it surprized us both, especially to de-key the mic and find there was multiple stations calling into us :slight_smile: good times! Maybe we’ll be able to make a QSO next time? I think we’re going to try the 7m pole next time, much faster to deploy and lighter on the back. We’ll see if it makes much difference. A S2S to VK or WA would be amazing, you never know! And that red wire will hopefully be seen by the UFO’s, hahaaa.

It was great and a pleasure to work you Robert - I’m really glad we were your first contacts on top band :slight_smile: we will certainly keep up the wild Wednesday madness and look forward to working you again soon!

Thanks all for your support :+1: 73, Ben & Kev


Great to see your call sign on the reflector Robert.
Thanks you for being such a loyal chaser and yes, it was very exciting to make contact on 160m.


Interesting report - well done both of you. I couldn’t be bothered guying my 7m pole yesterday on Little Mell Fell. My beloved “volunteered” to hold it up for me for a quick VHF activation. I think she’d have struggled with a 10m pole in the wind :grin:

When it warms up a little I’ll try and get out for a Wednesday evening S2S.


Thanks Andy - it was a fair set up, especially on top of a 6 point summit :rofl: we look forward to this S2S on a Wednesday evening on top band!

Take care and 73, GW4BML. Ben