Activation to forget!

I grabbed an opportunity to have a play with my QRP radios this afternoon from my local summit, Rombald’s Moor G/NP-028.

The sun was shining, and whilst there was a bit of a stiff breeze it wasn’t really a problem. I laid out my ground sheet and then set about erecting the fishing pole mast. I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to pack some earphones! :frowning: I had to pack up all my gear and run back to my car. The route back home takes me past our local ASDA, so rather than waste valuable time going home, I ran into the store and picked up some new earphones. After about 40mins since leaving the activation spot, I was back there again, this time with earphones :slight_smile:

I started on 7MHz CW using a QRPme Lil’ Squall transceiver powered from a 12V SLAB. The Lil’ Squall is based on the famous ‘Pixie’ design and uses the PA transistor as a mixer on receive. I heard some very quiet CW in the new earphones, but after 20 or 30 mins of CQ’ing I had worked nobody. I’m not sure whether the rig is deaf or not - I had looked at some propagation predictions before I had set out and conditions weren’t predicted to be up to much.

Packing the ‘Lil’ Squall’ back into it’s box, I unpacked it’s big brother, the ‘Super Tuna ]’ transmitter and it’s sidekick, the ‘Sudden Storm’ receiver. A ‘Tuna Helper’ was helping with the TX/RX switching. Again on 40m CW with the Tuna combo, I called CQ SOTA quite a bit but no fish were willing to take a bite :frowning:

Deciding that maybe 17m might land me a ‘catch of the day’, I fired up my ‘Helvellyn’ transceiver, this being my PP3 challenge rig which I home brewed last year. I used my challenge battery to call CQ for some time, but again there were no takers. I tried to send a ‘self spot’ to SOTAwatch, but my template for Andy’s SMS server had disappeared into some obscure folder on my phone and I couldn’t remember the correct format needed to do it manually. DOH!

Nothing for it than to go on to 10MHz, the workhorse QRPpPP3 band! I fired up the MRM-39, 10 MHz PP3 challenge rig, again using the challenge battery, just as some drizzle started falling from the sky. I heard absolutely nothing on this band, not even BCI! The drizzle quickly turned to heavy rain and my CQ’s had produced nothing :frowning:

No QSO’s, a 40 minute round trip to get some earphones, no ability to self spot and a thorough soaking makes this an activation to forget!

I have eventually found my SMS spot template on my phone and I have moved it to my ‘templates’ folder :slight_smile:

Better luck next time!


In reply to M0CGH:

Sounds like it wanst your day!

Rombalds was my first SOTA, and I found it hard work even on 2m FM.

In reply to M0CGH:
Hi Colin
Was listening for you but nothing heard :frowning:
Rombalds is 6.5 miles from home QTH and line of sight.
If you have a handheld I monitor 2m S20 and GB3WF if i’m about.
or email for a spot.

Roger G4OWG

In reply to MX0TSE:

I’ve activated Rombalds Moor many times (this year!) - it’s my closest SOTA summit. I have struggled from there in the past, particularly when the antenna masts were in service. On the other hand I have also had some great contacts from NP-028 on VHF and UHF, including a GM on 70cms SSB and Don, G0RQL on 2m SSB. I have also ‘qualified’ the summit on 2FM with a handy - I guess it depends on who is listening. There are quite a few local chasers who are easily workable on 2FM, but I guess you have to activate when they are available!

In reply to G4OWG:

Thanks Roger, it’s nice to work you on the key, sorry we didn’t manage a QSO yesterday. I don’t even think about Funny Mode these days! My mobile phone contract finishes soon, I hope to get an all singing all dancing new model with a data allowance, so I should be able to sort out spots in the future.

I have just purchased a LiPo battery, so I hope to take the FT817 out more often, maybe we could try 2m CW or even 70cms CW? :slight_smile:


In reply to M0CGH:

I have just purchased a LiPo battery, so I hope to take the FT817 out more often, maybe we could try 2m CW or even 70cms CW? :-)<

Hi Colin;

I found a couple of stations working CW on 2m, one in Skegness and one in Gainsborough, I have now been working them for the last four Monday evenings under flat conditions. All stations using vertical polarisation and fifty watts.

I would be interested in trying a contact with you on 2M cw when you are ready, we should be able to make it as the distance is no more than Gainborough and that is down in the Trent valley.

I don’t have a particularly good VHF qth here in Coventry, only 300 ASL with a 600 ASL ridge a couple of miles to the northwest which blocks off North Wales to me and I only have vertical polarisation

I think that there are lots of vertically polarised stations out there with multimode 2M rigs that don’t bother to come on CW or SSB because they are not able to put up horizontal yagi’s for what ever reason. While I agree that horizontal polarisation is best, there is very little activity using it so perhaps activity would be enhanced over all if we could encourage some vertical activity on ssb and cw.

73 de Ken G3XQE

In reply to G3XQE:
Ken, a horizontally polarised signal would stand a good chance of diffracting over the ridge, why not put up a temporary wire dipole orientated SW-NE just to see what happens?

I do little 2 metre SSB at present due to a lot of birdies that I suspect come from local computers - 144.000 sounds like an aviary! - and when I do tune two it is very inactive, so many regulars have vanished. However there is always plenty of people on for the two metre activity contest on the evening of the first Tuesday of the month!


Brian G8ADD in Brum.

In reply to G8ADD:

Hi Brian;

I have been around on 2m since the days when we ran converted Pye Rangers and tuned the bands for a call so I do not need convincing that for the best dx performance horizontal polarisation is the way to go. I used to run the dreaded Liner 2 from the car as well.

I have G6OES a few doors down from me, he has a Telomast and a 16 element horizontal yagi and if you look at his web site you will see that even he says that NW is a bad direction.

I am on a typical housing estate and in order not to have my signals absorbed by all the roofs, I need to get the something above roof level.

I have considered putting up a horizontal yagi but the cost of doing so (on a limited income) does not produce sufficient benefit also it would be a conspicuous installation which would attract unwanted attention.

There are many like me who normally only use 2m for local contacts who are similarly cost benefit motivated who I am sure would use the lower end of the band for increased range even if it is not the ultimate if there was more activity.

73 de Ken G3XQE

In reply to G3XQE:

Ah! The old geographical band plan! I never had a Ranger myself though I got some contacts with a modified SCR522, I think it was, before going to the Liner 2 and 430 and eventually the Yaesu handbag! You brought back some memories, Ken!

We both know that activity begets activity. I have a vertical for two as well as a 5-el yagi, so if you want to nominate a regular evening for vertical SSB I’ll endeavour to work you and anybody else trying it. It’s about time 2 stopped being a graveyard!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

Maybe you could practice some slow speed CW with Ken, Brian?

You only need to get to 8-10wpm and you’d be able to hoover up many points on all the HF CW activations.


In reply to G8ADD:

Yes those were the days Brian, some some reason, AM seemed to have more presence than FM. I started off on HF then came onto 2m and the first rig was an old PYE Ranger with a vibrator power supply which seems almost like spark these days, I changed the crystal in the receiver local oscilator chain for a small variable capacitor from a Cyldon TV tuner and used that as a tuneable receiver until I got around to building a G3HBW FET converter from a kit I bought at the MARS rally which was at Trentham Gardens in those day.

I will put my rig on the ssb calling channel now and you can call me at your convenience, if successful, then we can think about fixing days and times.

If we achieve nothing else, we can at least chat about the old times and SOTA.

In Reply to MM0FMF

While I am all for getting people to progress to CW working, beware the advertising standards police (8 to 10WPM)having said that it is easier to achieve the necessary speed because of the limited vocabulary which becomes automatic.

73 de Ken G3XQE

In reply to G3XQE:

In reply to G8ADD:
I have considered putting up a horizontal yagi but the cost of doing
so (on a limited income) does not produce sufficient benefit also it
would be a conspicuous installation which would attract unwanted

I put up a 4 ele horizontal beam on a 5m pole in my garden, which is surrounded by houses. Connected to my old FT290, I can often hear the Angus beacon (from shrewsbury), just above the noise, and occasionally an S point or so stronger. I don’t manage to spend a lot of time in the shack, so few contacts, but the potential is there. It might be worth trying a low cost and low effort installation!

Yes, I’m still reading this interesting thread!

My Deans connectors and fireproof bag arrived in today’s post, so now I’ve got all I need to run the FT817 from my LiPo.

I can do vertical polarisation on 2m, but only by using my SB270 3 ele beam on it’s vertical mount. One day I might get around to getting an omni-vert on 2m for SOTA - I hate turning beams! Grrrr!

I would like to try for some 2m CW QSO’s, it could be a lot of fun. I have had so much fun running the PP3 challenge rigs on HF that I have neglected VHF of late.

I’ll post an alert in the usual manner if I plan to give the FT817 a work out on 2m in the future. My life is a bit busy at the moment due to the arrival of my second son on July 4th! I hope to be a bit more SOTA-active later in the “Summer”.


In reply to M0CGH:

Hi Colin;
Congratulations on the reduction of your “Independence” on July the 4th.

The idea behind my suggestion is to encourage those that typical activate on 2M FM with the likes of a a Slim Jim to experiment with a bit of CW using the same easily carried antenna that they are using for FM.

This in my opinion has several advantages, it allows a newcomer to have a go at CW without being exposed to the pressure of HF activation, it saves having to carry a larger hf antenna, adds an experimental interest in seeing what can be achieved by switching to cw compared with FM and finally gives the chaser a possibility of working a summit out side of normal FM range.

In Reply to G4AZS

Thanks for your comment Adrian, was also thinking of trying a halo fixed just below my collinear which lives half a meter above the apex of my roof, getting it above the roof line will probably compensate for the lack of gain ???

73 de Ken G3XQE

In reply to G3XQE:

I would try a turnstile, Ken, straight lines draw less attention than curves and you have gain - easy to make, too!

I had nipped out to the shops yesterday during a gap in the showers so missed your post about listening for me until later. I actually heard you work G4SXH on WB-009 so I’m sure we can make it but I got called to dinner. I will be about from time to time today between gardening and “honey-do’s”!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

Good Morning Brian;

Also thought about a turnstile, perhaps you may remember the J Beam turnstile which was two crossed elements stacked, we had one at the local club back in the early 60’s. I decided on a halo because it would be quick cheap and nasty and at least gain me what I am losing in cross polarisation loss at the moment.
I am not happy at the top of wobbly ladders but would at least be able to atach a halo to the existing stub mast nailed to the outside wall just below the roof apex.

I actually heard some activity while the rig was parked on the calling frequency, one station in Cardiff but couldn’t raise him so checked his qrz page and found that he had a big linear for 2m so he was probably using it, then heard a station in Wakefield calling cq dx so figured he was running lots of power as well.

I have the rig on the calling channel with the lightest touch of squelch on and like your self will be in and out of the shack as well as chasing on HF where possible, but as you obviously lurk on FM as well perhaps I could put the rig back on the FM calling channel ???

Looking forward to talking too you

73 de Ken G3XQE

In reply to Colin M0CGH,

I can see G/NP-028 Rombalds Moor from my dining room window, line of sight approx 14km. I’m slowly learning CW so if your prepared to be patient I would like to try and work you on 2M CW next time you activate it. Would be my first CW qso.

73 Chris M0RSF

In reply to M0RSF:

Chris, I’m also inexperienced using CW - I started using CW for my QRPp SOTA activations during the last Winter bonus period. The format for SOTA QSO’s tends to be very simple as suggested earlier in the thread. Should you hear me, please call in - there’s no need to worry about mistakes etc, I have made plenty this year, yet I have had so much fun! I will go as slow as you like, I usually go around 12-14 WPM, so I’m not super quick myself any way.

73 es GL, HPE CU on 2CW