Black Down G/SE-003 - 17/2/09

Today I was lucky enough to be in the vicinity of Black Down G/SE-003 having dropped off my daughter with the Grandparents. I parked in the car park and walked up and onto the bridleway and about one kilometer along to the high spot with the trig point. For any orienteers amongst you, the trig is in the middle of the woods on a “rise” so the bridleway junction (on the 25k map) makes a perfect “attack point” as, although I walked straight onto it, more vegetation would have obscured it later in the year.

I decided to strap the 10m Sotapole to the trig point with a couple of climbing slings and bungees. Having done this and put the 88ft doublet up, it was down to business.

As planned, I started calling on 5.291 CW but got no reply. I briefly tried 5.3895 but got no response and assumed that 5 MHz wasn’t working today so I thought I would move to 7.032. However just as I did, I realised that the “break in” setting on the rig was off. I had just been sending a side tone at myself on 60m! So I went back to 5.291 CW and tried again. Thankfully, this time I worked 3 stations on CW. A QSY to 5.3895 SSB brought in many more with good signals all round.

A QSY and a call on 7.032 CW again brought in a good number of stations and, although I thought that skip was getting longer, I still worked a couple of G’s in G4WSX and G3WPF.

I had already mentioned that I would move to 3.557 CW next but when I got there it was covered in some sort of broadband digital QRM. However, although I tried calling a little lower first, I didn’t get any replies until moving back to 3.557. Once I had worked the stronger stations I announced I would call down on 3.555 away from the worst of it. This brought in half a dozen more stations. Having announced a QSY to 3.660 SSB, I just about managed to squeeze in between the QRM from the continent in the lengthening skip to work another half dozen stations.

At this point I realised that I still had light, time and battery power to try Top Band. I reconfigured the doublet by strapping the feeder and feeding it against a 40m counterpoise… or at least that was the plan. I tuned up and called on 1.832 CW and was immediately answered by G3RDQ with an excellent signal. We exchanged but during the QSO I noticed the SWR jumping around a little. Looking down, I soon realised I had forgotten to connect the counterpoise so a couple more minutes was spent hooking it up. I don’t know if it made much difference to my signal but I went on to work four more stations but there was also one that got away. I think I heard a call from a station with a “2SI” in the call but it faded and that was it…gone.

It was now getting towards dusk and the battery was going down so I decided to shut down and pack up. This went smoothly enough until I managed to jam the doublet in a tree. A spell of over eagerness had me getting it down…in two pieces!

Never mind, it had been a great afternoon with plenty of variation in the callers and the band slots that were worked. I made 55 QSO’s altogether on 160m, 80m, 60m, and 40m.

Unfortunately, it was a tedious trip home to Buckinghamshire due to the obligatory accident and jam on the M25 causing a long diversion for me through Slough!

Thanks to all callers and to G3RDQ, G8ADD, G3RMD, DL4FDM, G3WPF, GWODSP, and G3VQO for the spots. Actually Frank G3RMD was also top of the band/mode slots table with 4 today… thanks again for the QSO’s Frank.

73 Marc G0AZS