I didn’t realise everybody has done this hill recently until I looked last night. It’s nearly 10 years since I did it on a bitterly cold and frozen day and the solar conditions were so good I worked all the stations on 15m or 12m using my Buddistick clone antenna.
Normally I can pick to take Scottish or English bank holidays but I had no choice this time. With a day off and the WX looking OK I thought it was time to do this one again. I was away early and there wasn’t much traffic on the way so I was at the Ski Centre car park for 9:45 local. However, as you now have to pay if you park this end and was talking to some attractive young(ish) ladies, one who was doing her first Munro (Carn Aosda) I was later setting off than I expected. I’ve done this twice before, one in a pea-souper of mist and once when it was at least -5C without the wind and also a pea-souper. Today was misty but was due to clear which it did. The funny thing was apart from the initial steep climb up out past the ski tows I remember this as a long flat bimble once on the ridge. It isn’t, there’s a fair bit of up and down but nothing major. Computer said 1H40 for lardy boys like me but I really tried to make some speed on the flatter bits and did it in 1h20.
I ended explaining what I was doing to 3 sets of people under 30, none of who were aware of ham radio or had even heard of Marconi which is a sad indictment of British education
First up was 30m on the 30/20/17 dipole. I was using a new feeder made the other week and everything was fine. 12 stations worked including S2S with GM4OBK/P 70km South and probably LOS on West Lomond GM/SS-154. Hearing a GM on 30m so loud really was “twisting my melon man” as The Happy Mondays were want to sing. The antenna was pointing NW/SE and all the EU stations were a good strength including SM5LNE and SA4BLM who were not in the true line of fire. Everything seemed to work.
On to 20m and we had some problems, a high SWR and moving up the band got worse. How high is high? Well 2 blobs on 14.060 and 3 blobs on 14.330. The feeder consists of 10m RG174 with 5 or 6 turn choke balun at the feed point. Moving the choke away from the feed point made things worse so I lived with it. 20m was good. First in the bag was K4DY. There was a good path to Slovenia as I ended up working S52CU, S56RPJ, S59DXX and S57S… I’ve never qualified a hill with S5 stations before! 4Z4DX called in and was a genuine 599 and gave me 559. I’m happy with that for about 4.5W into a slightly sub par Inv-V dipole at 4.75m (apex).
With the SWR issue I did tests with the 30/40/60 dipole. Fine on 60m and I worked Brian G8ADD at good strength with QSB but nobody else wanted to play. 40m was fine too. So only 14m showing an issue and as that is a workhorse band it needed fixing. As everything was setup I reset for 20m and adjusted the position of the choke, oh boy that made things worse. I looked and the choke had 6 turns, the previous one had 5, so I tried to remove a turn. I’d done a good job and needed my penknife to remove a cable tie and some insulating tape. This was when I stabbed my finger with blade. After much shouting I looked under the glove to see blood…enough to make me think I needed to take action. Out came a sticking plaster from the first kit and as alluded to earlier I now now why the have use-by dates. It was a pig to unwrap and the glue had migrated everywhere. I got it on and quenched the gentle flow. Back to the antenna and it was still showing a little SWR on 14m but other bands were FB. I’ll spend some time to make the choke not look like Stevie Wonder built it as on summit repairs are not the neatest
Of course this does say that feed / antenna is “not correct” for various definitions of correct. It should matter but obviously does or the SWR would not be affected. However I got across the pond to North Carolina, 3700miles for a 539 report and Israel, 2600 miles for a 599 report so it’s working well enough. I’d like to understand exactly what is happening but this will do for now. Especially when so many people use a variety of antennas erected in trees or EFHW et al as Inv-v, Inv-L, slopers etc. as long as I make QSOs it doesn’t matter.
The WX wasn’t wonderful, the cloud base was around 1050m to my North but well clear of summits to the South. It wasn’t cold. Well it was 8C in the car park and the wind was moderately strong from the NE so cool. But it was probably 14C taken down to about 10-12 with the wind chill and occasionally sunny. I did need 2 fleeces on at the top. I think it will be time to start taking the Belay Jacket soon as we move into Autumn (Fall). Anyway, 2/5hrs at the top was enough and having figured out the changes needed to the choke to make everything acceptable I packed up and headed back the same way. There have been a lot of feet this way as I don’t recall a proper Munro Trench on this hill from earlier visits. Back to the car park and I bought a coffee from the cafe. The WX was quite nice back at the car park…isn’t it always!
34 QSOs, ON, OK, SM, DL, EA2, EA7, SM, GM, K, HB9, S5, 4X4, CT, F, G. This was a proper activation because the following mandatory chasers were in the log SM5LNE, SA4BLM, F4WBN, EA2DT Also someone has been motivating French stations to take part in SOTA. It just used to be Eric F5JKK as the only regular French station. But since Christian F4WBN started I’ve seen quite a few French stations signing up for accounts. Today I was chased by F6FHO and F6FNA for the 1st time. It’s really pleasing to me to see more and more French stations getting involved.
Right time to do some DB association updates.