After many years as an SWL I gained by Foundation licence last year and it was not long until I gained an interest in SOTA. Having grown up on the Isle of Wight and being a regular visitor it seemed like a good idea to try and activate the Island’s two SOTA summits. First attempt at St Boniface Down in January using a Baufeng handheld found just Peter, G0RUD on the mainland but I had the bug!
Having now upgraded to an FT-817, Jo and I set off on the short walk to the summit of Brighstone Down. It was a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky and we found a spot close to the trig point but out of the breeze and set up a simple homemade dipole for 2m on a 7meter SOTA pole. Several calls on 144.300 SSB produced no response but a call on 145.500 FM found Chris, M0VP operating Portable on Swyre Head in Dorset, a SOTA summit although Chris was not on an activation.
I was keen to try HF and set up a long wire with a small portable tuner for 20m. The band was crowded and I found it difficult to find a clear space. After calling I soon realised that the replies I heard were for someone else and not me so I thought I’d give 17m a try. 17m was quieter but seemed to be open only to the US, my 5 watts SSB did manage to get me any contacts. The same was true on 6m where the band was completely dead and no replies came.
I was about to try 10m when I heard Bob G4ADK in Sandown calling on 2m FM. I replied on the handheld and just made contact. I then reset my antenna for 2m and found Bob again and had a good chat, followed by calls from Mark, 2E0ZMX on the mainland and Kevin, 2E1KJB on his farm near Cowes. Swapping to sideband (but keeping the vertical antenna) found Mike G4XRR near Weymouth, also using vertical polarisation. My final QSO before packing up was with Tony, G7OGT in Sway near Lymington.
Although no contacts on HF this time, it was fantastic to get 6 contacts on 2m. Thank you to everyone who came back to my call. With the new setup I will be giving St Boniface Down another try soon along with a few other SOTA summits in the South and West. Best 73s