They do say that SOTA is addictive & I am beginning to see what they mean.
I received a text from Scott 2E0RCS on Thursday 23rd asking if I fancied a trip out on Sunday to activate a local summit. Scott had just acquired a Yaesu FT857 & after not having much success with HF using his FT817 & 5 Watts, was hoping for better luck with the FT857. An early start would be out of the question for me as I now read the GB2RS news at 09:30 in this area, but as we wouldn’t be setting off until 11:00 it looked do-able
I had only used my work boots on previous activations, which being a motorcyclist,had left one sole with hardly any tread, which made Pendle Hill on 1st March quite interesting!!!
A trip to a local emporium saw me kitted out with proper boots,jacket, trousers, & various other bits & pieces. I could have spent several times as much as I did, but fortunately I didn’t.
After reading the news I packed my FT897 & various antenna’s, & after being collected by Scott we were on our way to G/SP-008 Boulsworth Hill-Lad Law.
We started our ascent from SD915338 & after passing through the open barrier we followed a pleasantly dry vehicle track to the turning area at SD928348 which was occupied by several vehicles of the Lancashire Countryside Rangers, who gave us a friendly wave as we passed. ( That was very refreshing after hearing about the anti-radio Rangers on Kinder Scout)
My new walking poles were working quite well & certainly made gentle slopes much easier & offered that little extra leverage on steeper sections. Upon arrival at the summit we compared pack weights & I have to say mine was substantially heavier than Scott’s! I really will have to cut some weight out somewhere, or get fitter, if I am going to tackle more strenuous summits.
As the main objective was to get Scott some HF success, I elected to work VHF & we set up our equipment accordingly. Scott was using an FT857D with a 7Ah slab & an automatic ATU into a linked Dipole for 80/40/20M. I set up initially for 70MHz FM with a j-pole taped to a 7m fishing pole & the very popular Wouxon KG-699E Handheld.
After a couple of calls on 3.666 SSB without success we tried 40M & heard Lutz active from a German summit on 7.118 SSB. After a couple of calls Scott worked Lutz & after the QSO was called by Mike G4BLH & Scott QSY’d to 7.125 SSB. After a chat with Mike, Scott was spotted & Mike said he would listen for me on 70.400 FM so I left Scott working on 40M & called Mike on 4M.
Me & Scott didn’t see much of each other for the next half hour or so, which I took as a good sign I worked 6 stations on 70MHz FM & after checking how Scott was getting on (He had worked 11 stations on 40M) I set up for 6M SSB with 20 Watts from the FT897 & a telescopic Dipole at 6M AGL.
I have terrible noise at my home QTH on 6M which makes working certain directions difficult & others impossible! What a nice change to be in a location with zero noise
There is not much SOTA activity on 50MHz SSB, or even 50MHz on any mode, which makes it a little like 160M, in that any SOTA activator is usually most welcomed! This turned out to be the case as a CQ SOTA call on 50.150 brought a reply from John G4MBN in Sheffield at 59+20. Thank you for the very nice QSL card that arrived this week, I will send one in return
I worked a further 3 stations on 6M at a very leisurely pace, reclining in the in one of the very comfortable gaps between the rocks at the summit of Boulsworth Hill. I doubt a comfy sofa would have been any better, what a marvellous summit in that respect!
After 6M I set up for 2M SSB using 20 Watts & the 5 element Sotabeam, beaming South & after a couple of calls was answered by Dave G2BOF in Sutton, Surrey. Not a bad distance at all, but strangely my only one on 2M SSB as my further calls went unanswered.
I flipped the beam over to vertical polarisation ready for 2M FM, which, as is the case from most summits is certain to attract some chasers being as it is, probably the most widely used amateur band. Remembering a comment Phil G4OBK had made requesting people to think of beaming his way when activating some of the Pennine summits I decided to start off in that direction & pointed my beam roughly in the direction of Pickering.
I had a listen round, found a clear frequency & then asked “Is this frequency in use please, G0VOF/P asking?” which immediately brought a reply from a quite exited 2E1DNB/P Peter, in a park in Leeds using a backpack. I don’t think he realised I was so far away at first but it was very nice to have the QSO with him
It was also very nice to work Brian G4FQW, who I see quite regularly but have rarely worked on air. In total I had 29 QSO’s on 2M FM & even managed to flatten one of the internal batteries of my FT897 mid over, but quickly switched over to the second internal battery. I had dropped the power down to 10 Watts for FM as it is a very power thirsty mode. It was on 2M FM that I had my only Summit to Summit QSO with Dene G4ZOI/P on G/SP-007 Fair Snape Fell. My signal meter could not have gone any higher. HI!
After a quick refreshment break Scott asked if I’d like to try his equipment on 5MHz which had always been the intention from the start of our activation. Scott’s tally of QSO’s remained at the 11 he had on 40M, as he had spent the rest of the time trimming his linked dipole to make it resonant on the bands he wished to use. In my opinion the antenna was very low which was purely due to the accident Scott had with his pole on Helvellyn, which left it a little short.
Nonetheless, after having given 80M & 40M a go it would be nice to try 60M for comparison purposes. Scott’s automatic ATU didn’t like tuning the 80M dipole on 60M & after making initial contact with John GW4BVE I dashed to the other side of the trig point to get my manual ATU, after a couple of seconds I had the antenna matched & continued the QSO. Thanks John
To say Scott was amazed at the difference between 80M/40M & the veritable pile-up we got on 60M would be an understatement. I did not have any live ionograms to hand but 5MHz did seem to be working quite well at that time
Unfortunately, there was not much life left in Scott’s Slab, & from a starting power of about 30 Watts I watched as the battery voltage & power output quickly dropped to below 5 Watts. I’m pretty certain that me & Martin M1MAJ completed our QSO, but I offer my sincerest apologies to the many others that would have liked to have worked me, but we really had squeezed every little bit of power out of our batteries that day.
In total Scott had 11 QSO’s, all on 40M, & I had 50 QSO’s 10 of which were on 5MHz using Scott’s equipment, & we both left the summit with smiles on our faces & talk of doing it again very soon
I didn’t know it at the time but I had even caught the sun
Here are some photos taken early on as we were setting up, I know Scott has some more from later & a little video too, which if I can obtain copies of, I will post here.
A fantastic day, the weather couldn’t really have been much better.
A big thank you to all stations that worked us