Carbon Pole testing Black Hill GM/SS-167

Sometime back I bought a 6m Carbon pole from Decathalon. It’s very fine at the top and my initial attempts to use it failed. Now I have removed the top 3 sections as they are so very fine and I have a pole about 5.2m that telescopes down to 41cm and weighs 310g. It is just so tiny compared with a travel 5m fibreglass pole and vanishingly small compared with an original full size 5m pole.

The problem with having a variety of poles is the are all different thicknesses at the top. I had two sizes of attachment for my antennas, one fits the heavy duty Lifes-a-Breeze pole and the other fits a no-name 5m travel pole from 2012. Both my Decathlon 5m and this modified Decathlon Carbon are different so more adapters have now been made. Today was field test day.

Black Hill GM/SS-167 is about 20mins drive away then it’s a 4.5km walk with 290m total ascent. It’s trivial as there are good paths to the moorland section then well worn paths through the heather. The estate has been doing much work planting new trees and so large parts where you could wander about are now fenced off to keep the deer/sheep etc. from the new trees. I have no problems with that but some styles/gates would be nice! It took me 1hr5mins from leaving the car to the cairn and I normally find this summit is deserted. Not today, 3 guys on MTBs riding up, 4 people hill running, some guy at the top having a long business call on speakerphone. Another 10 or so people ambled passed during the activation. That’s the problem with hills in the Pentlands… they are very busy.

Up with the pole and then first attempt using it in anger. I used my modified 40/30/20m trapped EFHW with the original match unit replaced with an AA5TB unit. This tunes up fine on 40/30/20/15/12 & 10m but will not tune on 17m at present. That’s something to work on next. I was worried that the carbon in the pole may detune any antenna effectively touching the pole and I’ve been having good results with the EFHW as a slopping inverted L, i.e. approx 5m vertical then slopping from 5m to 1m AGL. I was able to set up so the vertical part was sloping away from the pole so it was about 50cms away from the bottom.

A picture tells a 1000 words. Looking up the slopping section to the pole, the vertical section is to the right of the pole.

First band was 10m and there was plenty of activity and 9 CW QSO worked. ODX was RV3NG at 2800km. After that 12m but there was some DX around 24.906 and a big spread of people chasing the DX. It required a bit of effort to find a QRG that was clear. Only 3 CW QSOs but I did work IK2LEY/P on I/LO-289. After that 15m and 14 CW QSOs, another S2S with IK2LEY/P and ODX was KF9D in Algonquin, IL at 5972km. That was the best DX of the day. Then 20m with 19 CW QSOs with ODX VE1WT at 4350km. Finally 3 CW QSO on 30m with ODX S53XX. Strangely the antenna would not tune to zero indicated SWR on 40m. Before it’s been possible to get the 817 to show nothing but it was probably only 1.5:1 which is nothing. So I don’t know what was affecting things today.

What I was pleased with was that the carbon pole worked very well and didn’t seem to have any effect (well maybe 40m but I’ll dig further on that). So that’s a tiny, super lightweight pole to use. This will be part of a NSAP along with a pair of QCX minis (20m/30m) and maybe this antenna or maybe something just for 20/30. What’s NSAP ? It’s Andy’s “Next-generation SOTA Activating Protocol”. I know I can take an 817, paddle, mike and some antennas and reel in chasers. NSAP is going to be using tiny lightweight radios, batteries and antennas. Something different just to make HF a little different. Oh, and there’s a KX2 coming too :wink:

WX was almost wind free but cool. The absence of wind meant I could play for 95mins. But after that the wind was starting to increase. Graupel had been falling on and off for most of the time. But there was enough time to give a number of bands a good attempt. 30m was abandonned after 10 CQs gave no chasers despite being spotted.


West Kip. It sure looks like a volcano and with the Muirburn taking place, it almost looked like it was erupting.

Scald Law GM/SS-125. Only 2km South from me but it takes 20mins to get to Black Hill’s car park and 40mins for Scald Law as I have to drive around the north end of The Pentlands and dip into Edinburgh’s rubbish traffic.

Allermuir Hill GM/SS-171 is in the middle of this group

Looking NW west to the start of The Grampian Mountains. The big hill left of centre is Stuc a’Chrion GM/SS-010 and to the right of Centre is Ben Vorlich GM/SS-008. They are about 80km distant so the air was quite clear. (Photo black levels and such have been tweaked to enhance this)

So I am very pleased with how things are progressing and the two issues to resolve are what to do to make the antenna tune on 17m and investigate the match on 40m. One of the QCX radios I bought 2nd hand of another SOTA op (sorry I cannot remember who!!!). It was giving 2W but a altering the toroid windings on the cores brough that up to 4.5W on 12v and 6.25W on 13.8V. I think it will be reworked for 30m though. 17m is buoyant now but long term, a 20/30m combo will probably be more usable. I do have an original (Rev1/2 board) QCX for 30m but it’s big and I don’t have a case yet. I think that will be modified so it’s easy to change the toriods/caps for other bands and will probably end up on 40m.

To cap off a good day of exercise and some radio testing I came home to find Liverpool pumped Man Utd. 7 - 0. I’m still laughing at that and have watched Match of The Day 3 times on iPlayer this morning. :rofl:


A good day indeed! :rofl: :rofl:



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Excellent choice. I just hope you see it before you become the subject of a post in “People from Andy’s Formative Youth”.


Long story but due in May. I’ve been meaning to buy one for ages because I’m worth it but never got round to it till recently. Now I just need Icom to pull their fingers out so I can buy an IC-905.


I see you do the bands in the opposite order to me. I always start on 30m and quickly qualify the summit with plenty of QSOs. Then I move to 20m which is usually good for S2S and then on to 15/12/10m depending on which antenna I’ve brought and how much time I have. The theory is the higher bands will wake up more as the day goes on and there will be more Americans awake for good DX.

Yup, I used to do them that way. But I missed out on 10m being open by the time I got there. So I listen on 10m and if it sounds good (for assorted definitions of good) I’ll start there and work down. It also means that 20 and 30 are quieter as I have worked a few of the chasers already on the higher bands.

There is a downside to working CW only and high bands. When I decided to learn CW I put some time and effort into it to get good enough to activate SOTA on CW. Having expended some sweat I want to get repaid for that effort which is why I do less SSB now. The bigger downside is when I started I was almost 100% 60m. It was so easy for me… I was far enough North that there was nearly always propagation to England and without self-spotting and just a few SSB channels, people monitored them for SOTA stations. It was simple to qualify 95% of the time. I ended up with a fair number of reliable 60m SSB chasers and they helped me amass a good score in 2006-2009. I feel a debt to them when I activate still. But there’s only so much you can do and 28/24/21/14/10 operating takes some time meaning 40/60 and SSB now miss out. I do feel guilty not giving my long term chasers a chance at a QSO.

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Me too. It makes the 10 m equipped chasers go up there and hopefully makes the rest go out and build or buy a 10 m antenna! Though, to be honest when 10 m is open, dx can be worked with a random wire.

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Don’t forget us newbies too! :wink: :baby:

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A trick that worked on my cheap carbon pole was, rather than completely removing a top section, glue it inside the next bigger section to stiffen it.


Have you seen the price? £3.5K plus £1.5K for the 10GHz transverter. Amazing bit of kit for GHz stuff but I have to give it an ouch for the price.

My 70cms to 3cms Kuhne G4 which is only 250mW was £600 in December 2019.

It’s £750 more than I thought it would be. Which could be a deal breaker. Except my employers were concerned at too many staff retiring early / leaving and valued staff (*) got some golden handcuffs shares that vest over the coming years as long as we stay. Tranche 1 vest on Mar 15th so it’s suddenly rather more affordable!

(*) Valued staff: not sure how I ended up on that list :wink:

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