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Birthday SOTA G/NP-010

Over the last few years I’ve made a point of getting on the air for my birthday. Last year I was holiday in Northumberland so spent some time on the beach in front of Bamburgh Castle with my FT817 and inverted vee dipole.
This year I arranged the loan of an FT857D so that I could attempt to have voice contacts with some of the regular SOTA chasers who normally work me whilst I’m using QRP CW.

The chosen summit for my birthday SOTA activation was Pen-Y-Ghent (G/NP-010) as I had not activated it yet this year, and being fairly small, would enable me to manage to carry the batteries needed for the power hungry FT857.
I looked in to the possibility of investing in some 4S LiPos, but the cost was preventative; my FT817 is perfectly happy with my 3S batteries so I wouldn’t have a use for 4S batteries after my birthday activation. I do have some ancient 7Ah sealed lead acid batteries though, so two were charged up and placed in to my pack, along with the heavy FT857D. I also packed my FT817 to use for CW and two 3S lipos of 2.2Ah capacity to power it. As it was my birthday, I had to also include my RockMite 20; a radio that I bought with some birthday money and that I used on a previous birthday SOTA activation to score my first QSO with it. The RockMite 20 is my birthday radio that I intend to use every year on my birthday!

Friday 3rd May 2013

The weather forecast was for a fairly reasonable day but bad weather was due to move down from the north in the afternoon.
I set off from home at around 0715 utc after opening my cards etc. with my family. The drive to the parking place at the honesty box on Goat Lane out of Stainforth was uneventful and traffic was quite quiet. My old Peugeot car was not in the best health ,having a breached head gasket, but it job was to get me to Pen Y Ghent and back before being replaced with a younger Italian model that evening! I arrived at the parking place at 0820 utc and kitted up before taking the well maintained path from Dale Head Farm up to Pen Y Ghent summit.

My pack was quite heavy with all the batteries and two radios but music from an MP3 player that my wife bought me as a Christmas gift helped to keep my mind off the weight and kept me moving at a good rate (Mickey (YYY) I don’t know how you do it!). Not many ‘breather’ stops were required and I was at the top in quicker time than I had imagined.

There was quite a breeze at the top but I wanted to place the dipole along a NW\SE alignment to try to influence radiation towards NA. I normally just place the dipole in a direction which works best for the pole in the wind, but this time I wanted to be more scientific. The dipole stayed up despite the strong wind so I was pretty impressed with my battered old cracked SOTAPole!

I had alerted to be on air at 1000utc and somehow without any conscious thought I managed it as EA2CKX was first in my log at 1000utc on 20m SSB. Next in the log was Bill, W4ZV from North Carolina. Another nine contacts followed, including a contact with Rich N4EX at 1007.

Next up was 15m SSB, many CQs just brought one contact; Steve G6LUZ, near Stoke on Trent. As I was using the 40m links for 21MHz, it was only a case of switching over the FT857 to 7MHz to be QRV on 40m, so I decided to try there instead. 40m was more productive but the QSB was really bad, however 11 stations made it in to the log.

Next it was time to get the ‘birthday radio’ on the air. I connected up the RockMite 20 using a 3S LiPo for power and changed over the SOTABeams BHIV links to 20m. The RBN picked me up pretty quickly and thus the auto-spot system soon had me spotted on SOTAwatch on 14.0584 MHz CW. First to try for a contact was David CT1DRB however the QSB was so bad we failed to complete the QSO. OZ6KS was the first to manage a complete exchange, followed by SM6DER. I was very pleased when Aage LA1ENA called in to make it 3 contacts for the RockMite. Considering my goal complete, I swapped the RockMite for the FT817.
First to call in whilst using the FT817 was Aage LA1ENA again to tell me that my signal was now much stronger and more readable, I sent back that I was now using the FT817, it seems that the difference between 350mW and 5w was quite noticeable :)Four contacts were logged with the FT817 on 20m CW, including VE1WT and DL7VKD/P on GMA DA/ND-008.

I switched on to 15m CW and after a fair bit of calling I was called by Mirko S52CU/P on S5/BI-011 for my only S2S of the day. I used a couple of croc clip test leads on the end of the BHIV 40m links to bring the antenna to resonance on the CW end of 15m. I found no extra length was required for the phone end of the band, but around 12cm of wire brought a good VSWR at 21.060MHz. Thanks to Richard, G3CWI for the tip.

I was made aware of a request for a 40m SSB S2S with M0TTE but I heard nothing from him, band conditions were pretty poor throughout my activation with strong QSB on all bands.

I deemed my activation to have been a success; I had achieved all of my goals with 31 contacts in the log despite the terrible band conditions.

My old car got me home through the bank holiday traffic (Friday afternoon -caravans galore!) and didn’t expire. It was then time for a quick shower before heading out to Pizza Hut with my wife and two children to have a birthday meal. After Pizza Hut we went to pick up my new car :slight_smile: A good end to a very busy, nice day!

I had fun with the FT857 but I don’t think I’ll be ordering one any time soon, the current consumption is quite scary! I’ll treasure my little efficient CW rigs even more from now on :slight_smile:

Special thanks to all chasers.

73, Colin, M0CGH

3rd May - yet another birthday, wierd how it’s the same day every year! :rofl:

I again chose Pen Y Ghent G/NP-010 as the summit for my annual birthday SOTA activation, having already done Ingleborough (NP-005) and Whernside (NP-004), earlier in the year, the three summits being the famous Yorkshire 3 Peaks.

I had breakfast with the family, opened my cards etc, and then left home, bound for Settle at around 0815BST.

I parked up at the honesty box at about 0920BST and I was booted and walking by 0930BST. At least the weather was dry but the wind was rather chilly at times. The ascent was ticked off with little fuss, Mumford and Sons on my Sansa Clip MP3 player helping to pass the time.

I had looked at the HF progagtion information and it was all doom and gloom, saying that any bands higher in frequency than 7MHz would be pretty useless, nothing for it but to pack my 80m SOTAbeams BH4 dipole.

I gained the summit at around 1005BST, about 35 minutes after leaving the car. I sent my wife a text message to say that I’d reached the top and then checked SOTAwatch, I saw a spot for Victor GI4ONL operating as OK8VM/P from OK/US-002. I like to chase Phil G4OBK and buddies on their overseas trips, so I decided to try for a QSO. I erected the SOTAbeams BH4 and set the links for 30m, I was pleased to copy Victor quite well on the FT817 on 10.120CW and we managed a S2S without much fuss at 0926utc (1026BST).

I checked SOTAwatch once more and saw that Phil, G4OBK, had been spotted operating as OK8CDX/P (also OK/US-002) on 14.063CW. Setting the links for 20m resulted in another S2S, all be it with the same summit!

I had packed my birthday RockMite 20 as per usual, so my plan was not to do 20CW on the FT817. Calling on 80m SSB produced no contacts and upon checking SOTAwatch, I saw a spot for G0WPO/P on 40m SSB calling from Great Coum G/NP-011. I had a chat with Neil, explaining that I’m not a voice operator and I was out of my comfort zone on SSB, Neil’s reply was that I seemed to do quite well with the waffle! LOL! Enough of that talking stuff, I’d ticked the box, back to CW… :smile:

So much for plans…I set the FT817 and antenna up for 20m CW and worked 7 stations, most coming back with low strength reports, but hey, 20m isn’t even supposed to be switched on! Oh no! What had I done? I was supposed to be saving 20m CW for the RockMite later on. What a Wally!!

I had a brief period on 30m CW, working 4 stations before changing on to 40m CW. At 1048utc, I was called by OK8CDX/P, Phil again, this time on a different summit, OK/KA-003. I was a bit surprised and pleased by Phil calling me and as per usual, my CW went totally wobbly - sorry Phil! I don’t know what it is, but I find that I want to express all sorts of ideas and the filter that is supposed to formulate a concise reply doesn’t work, I end up sending rubbish and making mistakes, it’s not just on CW, it’s with voice modes also. Anyway, I think I muddled through it alright in the end. Thanks for the S2S Phil!

I thought enough time had passed since I had been on 20m CW, so I fired up the 20m K1SWL RockMite. This particular RockMite is used on one special day each year, on my birthday, so if you work me on this rig, it’s a very special QSO! Today’s lucky chasers were Kurt, HB9AFI, Jan, OK2PDT, and Lars, SA4BLM. Well done guys! It would have been nice to reach the magic 4 QSO’s but I’d tortured everyone enough with my straight-keying and decided to call it a day.

I had a great time during my activation and the radio conditions were much better than I had feared.

I called in at Ye Olde Naked Man cafe in Settle for a drink and caramel shortbread to celebrate an enjoyable day on the hill. I noticed that the Cave and Crag shop is no longer trading, a shame, as I bought some of my favourite gear there.

I went out with my family to my local Italian restaurant for tea - those who know me well will know that I just love pizza! (I’d had a bath and applied my new aftershave by then!)

To top off an excellent day, my XYL’s sister made me a delicious vegan birthday cake, it was awesome!

Thanks to all the chasers, sorry about the CW, I had an off day and I’ll stress again how much I HATE the FT817 keyer! I think my straight key technique also needs work.

73, Colin M1BUU (ex M0CGH)



Many thanks a most interesting report Colin. Happy Birthday! I was surprised to hear that you had success with the Rockmite… mine is still in kit form awaiting Cycle 25. :wink:

I know I shouldn’t ask, but do you really need a three eyed alien to guard your 817?

73, Gerald G4OIG

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Happy birthday, Colin.
Thanks for another nice report.
Sorry to have missed you for a QSO.
Looking forward for your next birthday activation.


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Dom M1KTA suggested that my Alien friend is a CW reader.

The Aliens are from Pizza Planet :slight_smile:

I don’t believe that man’s ever been to medical school…

Yes, it must be extremely annoying when Colin is trying to carry out an activation and all he can hear is his alien singing “I ain’t got no body”. I don’t know why he is taken out on activations anyway as his antenna is defective. :grinning:

Hi Colin

Happy Birthday! :upside_down_face: Btw, what’s this funny thing with the three eyes really used for . . .?

Vy 73 de Markus, HB9DIZ

Gerald, his antenna is fine!

I don’t have the strength to carry Andy’s lucky anvil, so the alien came along for the ride instead, my XYL bought him.

“I have been chosen! Farewell my friends… I go on to a better place.”

Possibly one of the greatest films ever made.

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