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"Adventure" in/on The Cloud

A last minute call yesterday meant a trip from The Flatlands up to Cheadle for a meeting today. Aha, I thought, that will take me near some Summits wont it?

I hoped the meeting wouldn’t run long so a lunchtime jaunt up a hill might be in order, and having consulted the map, I saw that I would have to drive back passing close to The Cloud. The die was cast and a plan was made.

Thankfully the meeting did not overrun today so it was not long before I was driving across Cheshire avoiding all the footballers and WAG’s who seemed to be out in force in their Bentley coupes.

Anyway the Tom Tom brought me to the parking spot in good time although I could see it was a tad “grey” on top. The clouds were low although there was very little breeze to move them. Not being able to find a telephone box, a quick change in the back of the car and I was soon walking up the track and then the steps before the path to the summit. It was just the job after a long mornings driving and sitting in a meeting room. Unfortunately I realised there was no prospect of a view as I could barely see a mile or so in each direction being so close to the cloud base.

I arrived at the trig point and set up the Sotabeam away to one side. I settled down and called on S20 although I was aware that the VX5 was being severely affected in being overloaded. Steve GW7AAV answered and we QSY’ed. He was a strong signal so no problem but I was already beginning to wonder how I would fare next. After Steve I worked a couple more stations including Arthur GW1LDY and then Mike G4BLH who I was very mean with on the signal report but I just could not hear him because of MY problems!

Then I heard a GW4 calling but it was no good, I could not make out the call. At this point I was ready to send the VX5 soaring into the clouds over The Cloud! However sanity prevailed and I unplugged the beam and screwed the dummy load… sorry… rubber duck back on. At last, I could hear something. I then went on to work Ron GW4EVX/M albeit with me radiating a poorer signal but at least I could hear something.

Things dried up and I went back to S20, called and had a QSO with Les M3UOA. After this I packed up and started walking away from the summit calling as “mobile” on S20 for the walk down. I was immediately answered by Bob G4HRG in Wolverhampton who was very strong… not surprising with 100w beamed at me but I stopped and continued as “portable” in the AZ and we had a very nice QSO with Bob asking a good number of questions about participating in SOTA that I was pleased to answer. During the QSO, Tom M1EYP/A called in for a report and then, as I wrapped things up, Mike GW0DSP called for the point too.

I then got back to being mobile and trotted off back to the car and set about the journey home that only took about 2 ¾ hours… not too bad I thought and home in time for pancakes!

Thanks to all callers and to Steve for the spot… and can someone please recommend a 2m handy that actually has a front end!

73 Marc G0AZS

In reply to G0AZS:

VX-170 seems OK. Built like a brick what-not, waterproof, batteries last forever, cheap new.

Brian G4ZRP has an old Alinco DJ-560. He lives up on a ridge and there’s a lot of PMR sites nearby but the DJ-560 can cope with an external antenna when more modern stuff melts into a pile of runny goo. Second hand should be pennies.

I’d also consider picking up a second hand FT290. It’s all mode, it can take batteries inside, it works in rough RF environments. They’re not that big really and second hand a MK1 can change hands for less than £50 nowadays.

Likewise Trio TR-2300. Another old classic that takes a licking and keeps on ticking. They’re so cheap because nobody wants them anymore and you don’t have to worry that you have half a grand’s worth of shiny radio in your bag.

My £0.02 worth.

Andy
MM0FMF

Most handies I’ve had have suffered on The Cloud from the junk emitted from Bosley Tower/Sutton Common across the valley.

My own “adventure”, in the cloud on The Cloud took place on the evening of Tuesday 24th February 2009. It was the 6m week in the RSGB Activity Contest schedule, and thus I set up the Delta Loop on summit around 8pm.

It was quite mild at 7 degrees at that time, but a few spots of rain were beginning, so I deployed the bothy bag anyway. In there I was warm and cosy with my flask of Cadbury’s hot chocolate, and a good job, for I ended up staying nearly the duration of the contest, only going QRT at 10.20pm.

Conditions were not brilliant, in fact some contesters were heard to remark that they were “very poor”. But I did overhear Nick M1DDD/P up in Flash (Britain’s highest village at 1518 feet) working a Dutch station, and activity levels were pretty good.

Without checking, I am sure I got my own PB on the 6m contest, with 33 QSOs and 11 square multipliers. Best DX was Don G0RQL in IO70 (295km), but GW6TEO in IO71 and EI3IO in IO63WF were not far behind. The log included 11 known SOTA chasers amongst the 33 QSOs, which was pleasing, and a highlight was working two stations on 50.090MHz CW just before 10pm - still no DX though.

Although my score of 38,000+ will be my best effort on the 6m AC to date, it was still barely a third of Nick M1DDD’s, who topped the Claimed Scores on the Restricted section at midnight last night. Somehow, “restricted” to 100 watts doesn’t seem all that “restricted” to me hi!

I was starting to get slightly cold in the bothy bag when I took the decision to call it a night at 10.20pm, and it was significantly cooler once outside and packing the antenna away. I descended in thick fog that acted as a barrier to my headtorch, and very light snow. The Harrington Arms at Gawsworth provided a “wind-down” pint of Robbies’ Trouble & Strife. Mine was tucked up in bed by the time I got home.

Many thanks to all that called me.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to G0AZS:

‘Then I heard a GW4 calling but it was no good, I could not make out the call. At this point I was ready to send the VX5 soaring into the clouds over The Cloud! However sanity prevailed and I unplugged the beam and screwed the dummy load… sorry… rubber duck back on. At last, I could hear something. I then went on to work Ron GW4EVX/M albeit with me radiating a poorer signal but at least I could hear something.’

Hi Marc,

I was making my way down from NW-044 monitoring 2m with my Kenwood handheld when I heard you calling. You were 59 when using your beam and 55 on the rubber duck, so not bad going for RD to RD! I was about halfway down the hill at the time and not in a very clear spot.
BTW the Kenwood TH-F7E has an attenuator which can be switched in and helps a little bit in coping with breakthrough problems.

73
Ron,GW4EVX

In reply to GW4EVX:
Hi Ron

Well I’m even more surprised now. Having seen your post, I just checked and I make that a 75km path from one rubber duck to another… not bad.

Thanks for your patience on the day too.

73 Marc G0AZS

Sean M0GIA and I returned to The Cloud by headtorches on Sunday night, 1st March 2009, to test out the latest configuration of Sean’s 160m portable antenna. This is an “inverted tick” fed at the bottom of the SOTA pole, with a loading coil and a counterpoise.

It was cold when we summitted, and an uncomfortable breeze acroos the summit wasn’t helping. Hence we took ourselves to the “hole” further along to gain a little more shelter.

Initial results were poor, with only SSB contacts with the Shetland Isles (GZ) and CW into the “hardly DX” locations of Macclesfield and Wilmslow. Sean identified a possible problem with the patch lead between 817 and Z100 ATU, after which thngs improved, albeit only slightly.

We went on to make several more SSB contacts, including SOTA regular Frank G3RMD, and DK4A in the 160m SSB contest. Unfortunately, most of the contest stations couldn’t hear us. After the contest finished at 10pm, I tried some calls on 1.832MHz CW. During the contest, SSB activity was spilling all the way down to 1.810MHz. I worked SM6CMU, but that was it, and we packed up on what was now an extremely cold summit.

The short journey home was broken with a quick pint of Robbie’s Trouble & Strife at the Harrington Arms, Gawsworth.

We had a listen on 20m while we were up there, and were impressed to hear several clear signals from the USA that we would never get at home at that time. This strengthened my resolve to try some 20m greyline or even darkness work sometime soon.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:
Hi Tom,
Good to work you both on 160m, despite the contest qrm. I could hear you, at times quite well on cw, between breaks in the contest qrm, but my receiver front end was annihilated by the BIG SSB signals, even with attenuator in circuit.Does not say a lot for it’s IMD performance!
73 and thanks for the evening entertainment.
Frank

Thank you for the efforts to work us Frank. It wasn’t really the cleverest evening to choose to test a modified 160m antenna with QRP, but it was a fun challenge nonetheless!

It was a lot easier to play CW SOTA after 10pm, but I think everyone (except Ingemar SM6CMU) had gone to bed by then!

Regards, Tom M1EYP

In reply to G3RMD:
It was good to work you Frank on topband maybe next CW as well as SSB, as for the antenna it was a bit of experimenting with NVIS which didnt quite go as well as wanted but this is how we learn. Sean M0GIA

Definitely worth another try on a non-contest period Sean. I don’t know, but I find the 160m SSB contesters a bit “deaf” compared to the 160m CW contesters, and the SSBers on other bands.

Even with higher power from home it was difficult to solicit a response that weekend.

Are you up for another evening activation, alerted in advance and self-spotted to see what the antenna can do then?

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:
Why not? Maybe go earlier try greyline on 20m then drop onto 160m and see what happens, going to make a couple of changes to the topband aerial and see if it helps. Sean M0GIA