Ailsa Craig GM/SS-246

Hi Folks,

Just a wee heads up about the upcoming activation of Ailsa Craig GM/SS-246 on Saturday 25th July 2015. Time approx 1015 utc, the actual time will all depend on the sea conditions - expecting a NW light wind and the conditions of the activators.

There is a group of 12 going with 5 or 6 activating the rest will be tourists. I’m sure there will be plenty of bands to pick from as every band from 80m to 23cm will be available but which ones will actually be used will probably be determined on the day. As it quite a tight summit I think those doing HF can hang off the end of there antenna down the steep sides and leave the VHF chaps to huddle together on the summit.

We have 3 hours on the island to climb, activate and fall back down or we get left. So watch the spots and grab your points but please be nice in the pile-ups as too much QRM will slow everything down.

Hope to hear you somewhere on the bands. I’m sure the rest of the group will pop in here and leave their intended operating whatsits.

73 Neil


Hi Neil,

Thanks for all your work in putting this dream expedition together!

I’m hoping to give 60m, 80m (hope springs eternal and all that!) and depending on time and/or the preferences of my fellow activators 40m ssb a go. If the VHF types will let me near it, I’ll be putting on the trig for the WAB’ers. My usual frequencies - 5.3985, 3.666 and 7.118 +/-

Look forward to working a goodly bunch of you on Saturday :grinning:

73 de Paul (GM4MD/P)

Well you and I have activated a summit using 2m SSB and 70cm SSB sat just a couple of metres apart, so I am sure we can sort ourselves out on this lump of rock. There were six of us on Bardsey, but I suspect this one may be a bit cosier. :smile:

Just looked up this spot in the ocean and it appears to be part of the group defined as EU-123 (there’s an easy reference to remember!) for IOTA chasers.

Good luck with the trip.

73 Ed.

Thanks Ed, and you’re quite right about the IOTA reference. Sadly we’ll be leaving the island just as the 2015 IOTA contest starts :disappointed:

73 de Paul G4MD

Thanks Neil, for organising this event.
Just looked at the WX forecast for Troon; 10-12 MPH headwind going out towards the island; mostly sunny! Let’s hope it all comes to pass>
Christine and I were part of the previous mass activation of Ailsa Craig, and we are now looking to make it a Complete, hi!
On that occasion we had I think, some 7 or 8 stations active simultaneously from the summit; 3 or 4 were on VHF / UHF and 3 or 4 on HF. To the best of my recollection, we did not suffer much from blocking due to the closeness of the other operators. The grassy summit provides enough space for all!
Christine and I needed about an hour to ascend to the summit; hard slog(!) so the amount of operational time on the summit is limited; about an hour +/- would be a reasonable estimate. So, PLEASE, everyone will want to work this summit, so Keep contacts SHORT and give everyone a chance, hi!!
I probably will not have a path to Ailsa Craig on 2 m unless there is a lift on, so a ground wave contact on either 80, 60 or 40 m is the best option… my best bet is on 60m unless the f2 critical; freq. creeps above 7 MHz on the day. Paul, please note, hi!
73 and good luck

Hello Neil

All the best to your group this weekend on Ailsa Craig. I was one of those like Ken and Christine on the August 2009 expedition that was organised by Tom and Jimmy M1EYP and M0HGY. It was a most memorable few days, as I activated other summits on my way up north and back. I’ve got lots of photos, here are a sample of what we found on the mainland, on the journey and on the Craig itself:

I was operating on HF, mostly on CW and didn’t suffer QRM from any of the other stations that were active. I can’t recall what power we ran, but the whole operation ran like clockwork and I hope yours goes the same way.

73 Phil G4OBK

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Hi Ken

Yes I see what’s in the way - Currie, usually curries have the opposite effect. :grimacing: I’ll beam your way anyway you just never know.

Hi Phil,

Yes it is a wonderful place to visit. The Craig is the first thing I see every morning through my bedroom window (unless it is raining and how often does that happen in Scotland) and see it from my work as well.
I’ve been several times over the years and always been lucky with the weather. Been over just as a sightseer and also playing radio, I did actually activate it before your expedition but I never kept a log and only spoke to the local amateurs. The group that operates the Lighthouse Weekend usually climb to the top and work from there if the wx is kind.

My most memorable trip was about 37 years ago when a group of us went over in kayaks, the weather was good then but rather choppy on the way back and had to surf back into the harbour with a 2 metre swell - that was fun.

I’m hoping the weather holds up for us as planning that far in advance it is hard to pick the weather but I’m sure we will survive.

73 Neil

P.S. This is the first time I have ever had to pay to get there - gutted. :cry:

Best of luck to all involved this time round. Hopefully the bands & the weather will be kind.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t chased GM/SS-246 before so I will be listening.

3.5MHz is currenly poor in the daytime. I would think 5MHz will be best for inter UK with 7MHz not as good for NVIS but better for near EU.10MHz & 14MHz will be generally better for EU with some sporadic-E possible on 28MHz or weak on 50MHz. Tropo conditions on VHF/UHF could be quite poor given the lack of high pressure.

Good luck!

Thanks & 73,

Mark G0VOF

Hi again,

Well I hope band conditions are better for you all tomorrow than they are today.I only manged to work Paul GM4MD/P on GM/SS-181 directly on 5MHz with no copy here in Blackburn on 3.666-ssb or 7.121-ssb although local noise plays a big part in that.

The F2 critical frequency is barely up to 6MHz so much of the UK will struggle on any band above 5MHz.

I did manage to find Gerald GM4OIG/P on 10.124-cw using a WebSDR so I could spot him but there would be no chance of a QSO on that band with conditions as they are.

I believe there was a CME a couple of days ago that may have affected the already poor conditions so I hope things pick up again for tomorrow.

That said, there were some colossal signals from the continent on 10MHz earlier this morning with S58MU (Not portable) actually hitting full scale on the meter at times.

Again, Best of luck everyone!

Thanks & Best 73,

Mark G0VOF

With there being a trig point, SOTA, IOTA, IOSA refs etc. for this there should be plenty of interest in it. The activators will discuss how best to cover the demand. There isn’t an alert for 40m SSB or CW yet but another activator has still to alert. With 5 activators it may be easiest to set up a the stations and move the ops amongst the stations rather than have everyone move frequency/mode on their station. That way we can have an 60/80, 40m, 20/17m, 30m / 2m and VHF FM stations with all ops getting a chance to operate all of them if time permits. Of the people going, only 2 are regular CW ops, moving the ops about the stations makes it possible to put more band/mode combinations on in the short time on the island.

Oh musical chairs, haven’t played that for a long time. :smiley:

WAB, if I remember correctly there is 2 squares covered by this wee volcanic plug.

There are 2 WAB squares:
The top of the island including virtually all of the SOTA activation zone is within the NX04.square.
At the north end of the island is NS00; Anyone within the SOTA Activation Zone will need to descend some 20-30 mtrs towards the north in order to be within the NS00 WAB Square, and will then probably be outside the SOTA activation zone

Yes that looks correct Ken, NS00 is outside the SOTA AZ and WAB trigpoint AZ.

Just to be pedantic (because I can! :smile:) it isn’t a volcanic plug, it is a pluton of arfvedsonite-aegirine-microgranite derived by either crustal melting or differentiation from a large basalt magma chamber that extends towards the Arran supervolcano.


I’ve sailed round it many times over the years but never landed there. It was a regular racing mark for Irish boats out of the Belfast Lough yacht clubs.

If I ever get to give up the day job, I’m planning to take my boat back up north and visit the Craig along with all the other places the west coast has to offer.

Good luck in the morning.

Hi Brian,

Yes you are correct of course but as you know it is a pluton of arfvedsonite-aegirine-microgranite is difficult to say on a freezing island top when your lips are flapping about in the wind.

If anyone fancies some bedtime reading have a squint at this


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I lost you at “Just” :wink:


Wow, you got that far?

Actually it is a fascinating story if your interests incline that way. When North America split off from Europe there was a titanic amount of hot lava welling up, with huge volcanoes on Skye, Rum, Ardnamurchan, Mull and Arran. Most of the lava sat deep in the ground instead of erupting, and the heat of it started to melt the local rock. The melt was lighter than lava and much stickier, and it started to clump into bubbles of melt and slowly force its way up until cooling and solidifying nearer the surface. When the cover of rocks eroded away it appeared as granite, so you have the Red Cuillin on Skye, the western hills on Rum, the complicated multiple centres on Mull and in particular the granites on Arran. Ailsa Craig is an outlying blob of melt linked to the upwelling lava on Arran.

Boring to many people, no doubt, but for me it adds something to the hills when you can also see their history! Thus I really envy the guys heading for Ailsa Craig and will be listening for them.