Cloud (yet) again

My CW speed was up to 18wpm by the end of the recent CQWW contest, but already it has slipped back to 16wpm. Since terminating my membership of the gym and not yet joining a new one, my fitness has also slipped, such that I am getting beaten at squash every week, and having colleagues not known for their blistering pace ghosting past me at five-a-side on a Friday.

Two birds, one stone, back to a walk up The Cloud every day. Possibly…

I set off from home at 0620, and spoke to Steve M0SGB and Frank G6TNO on the GB3MN repeater on the drive. I collected the gear (almost forgot the pole) from the boot of my car, and set off on the ascent just after 0650. It was still completely dark, and so I took a hand torch to illuminate the stairs. In fact, the torchlight was still needed when out of the trees and up on the ridge.

The torchlight was still needed on the summit, for unpacking the rucksack and laying out the legs of the dipole. This was actually quite hard work in the dark, and I was much slower than usual in setting up.

Eventually, I was QRV around 0725, but failing to solicit any response. I was further hampered by there being an existing QSO on 7.032, thus meaning I would have to find a different QRG to that for which I had alerted. I spotted myself on 7.031, and put out a few calls with no response. Then a loud voice station appeared, splattering all over 7.030 to 7.034, so I rested for a while. When it disappeared, I noticed that 7.032 was now clear, so I called on there, and was called back by a very loud DL6DQI.

Further calls brought only silence until a G station called me five minutes later. This station wanted a conversation rather than a rubber stamp QSO, but seeing as I was wanting to practice my CW, that was not a problem. We had a longish contact lasting 8 minutes. I was by now behind schedule for getting to work on time, so two more contacts with PA0HRM and DL4FDM were very speedy, and then I had to pack up and descend. I think there was another station calling me after Fritz, but I really had to go - apologies.

I frantically collapsed the pole and wound in the dipole, then legged it down the hill. At least it was now light! I was in the car for 0805, and arrived at work at 0831. So a late mark for being 1 minute late to staff morning briefing, but sufficient time to change into my suit and meet the pupils at 0840.

Might very well have another go tomorrow. I really need to pull the timeframe forward by fifteen minutes or so, and aim for a 0700-0730 operating window.

73, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Many tnx for the fb qso dr Tom.

Condx were not good with lots of qrm and qsb today.

Your sigs disappeard at the end of the qso with g4fpa,
so I was´nt 100% sure if it is you coming up to a good
559 with qrq-speed.hi

WX hr vy rainy and +9°C. I have weekend-qrl,
so no SOTA-activation from my side this week. sri

Vy73 take care de Fritz

QRQ? Well first I had to look up that Q-code; I didn’t know it! Yippee!

I was well out of practice at SOTA 40m CW, and so was a bit sluggish, both in terms of setting up, and operating. It is a shame that a station was calling me after you, but I had to go to work.

I will start earlier next time - tomorrow maybe. The thing is, will there be stations to work me between 0700 and 0730? I normally find that activity doesn’t really pick up until 0730, by which time I should really be packing up.

I’ll try an alert for 0700 and see if anyone else is out of bed!


Not tomorrow (Thursday) - heavy rain forecast by the normally accurate Met-Office website in the 0600-0900 slot. Maybe Friday. Saturday likely.

The festive season should be fun. I heard earlier that a couple of other local SOTA activators are thinking of joining Jimmy and myself on The Cloud on Christmas Day morning, while a further 3 or 4 are going up on Boxing Day.

Don’t believe a word I say! I thought I would check the weather when I woke up at 6am this morning, and if it was OK, go and do The Cloud. It was OK. But when I got out of bed and went downstairs, I suddenly found it was 7am. Looks like I snoozed off again.

Instead I decided to drop in after work for a 40m CW activation. It was already pretty dark and gloomy under heavy cloud as I ascended at 3.50pm. I set up the pole and 40m dipole on the summit, and sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly wind by sitting against the stone base of the topograph and facing out towards Rushton Spencer.

It was quite nice that it was so gloomy, because all the lights were on in Macc and Congleton, and the traffic on the A523 Leek Road was similarly illuminated.

Anyway, it was a very interesting activation, with none of the usual G, GW, GM, F, HB or DLs worked, but contacts from I, SP, ON and HA. By the third contact at 1624, I was reliant on the light from my torch to fill in the logbook, and as I went QRT, the rain began to fall. Packing up in the dark was interesting; I had to carefully follow the dipole legs with the torch. I couldn’t collapse the bottom section of the pole with my wet hands, so I made do with packing it into two section lengths.

It was now pitch black and raining hard, so I was surprised to see a man, woman and little two year old toddler arrive on summit with a bag of cakes. The chap was able to undo the bottom section of my pole. He also offered me a cake!

The descent was very wet and muddy, and I was pleased to be inside my car with the heater on. The rain got even worse and was torrential for the duration of my twenty minute drive to home in Macclesfield. I was kept company by the excellent local station “Canalside Community Radio” on 87.8MHz.


In reply to M1EYP: Ah, that explains all. I monitored your frequency and a few kHz either side and couldn’t hear you at all. I’ll catch you some time and slow you down a bit, HI.
The way the WX is going this month, I’m not too sorry that I’ve got a cast-iron excuse for not activating anything.
Angiogram on Monday, then I have to put the leg they insert the catheter in up for a few days - snooker on the TV so I’ll have something to watch.

Regards, Dave, M0DFA/G6DTN

In reply to M1EYP:

Anyway, it was a very interesting activation, with none of the usual
G, GW, GM, F, HB or DLs worked, but contacts from I, SP, ON and HA.


Don’t you find us interesting any more Tom? :wink:

Yes Dave, it was very unusual. I’ve not experienced it on an activation before, although I have in my serious SWLing days. Absolutely nothing from Germany (amazing in itself) or nearer, except ON4ON who faded away very sharply after we had exchanged reports.

It was weird not to hear much activity, but that which I did hear coming from more distant places. Even at home this evening, my closest contact has been Austria.

I hope all goes well with the treatment and recovery, and to that effect hope that the snooker throws up some good matches.

Best wishes, Tom M1EYP / G-20843

Do you want to try some practice QRS skeds while you are resting Dave? 80m would probably work OK.

And Mike, it was the propagation that was interesting, and not that the 40CW chasers are not interesting!

73, Tom M1EYP

I was at the Cloudside parking spot, on the summit, and set up for 40m CW all by the usual and expected times for an after-work activation. Except that I hadn’t even been to work. I won’t bore you with the details - because these particular details are rather boring.

It was very cold and very windy on the summit, but huddled in on the East-facing side of the topograph, it was simply very cold. It felt as though my fingers wouldn’t be able to withstand the extreme cold for much time. However, operating the paddle seemed to warm my fingers up well, and I was quite comfortable.

Five stations - F, DJ and 3 x HB - were worked in a seven minute period, following which there were no further calls. I managed to pack away in daylight, but even at 4.25pm, it was getting really dark during the descent. I managed to get to the car without the assistance of torchlight, but only by a few minutes.

I hope to get another walk in tomorrow afternoon - if it remains clear and dry like today.


It did remain clear and dry, so I left the chalkface at 3.15pm and made straight for Cloudside. The wind was blowing at an angle across the topograph, so no one side of it offered complete shelter, unlike the previous two activations. I decided that side looking ahead towards the end of the ridge, in a NW direction was just about the better one, and set up with that as my operating position.

I only made three contacts before silence reigned - HB, I and G. I was quite surprised, because several stations seemed to be calling in the “pile-up” from which G3CWI was extracted, but Richard turned out to be my last contact. The band hadn’t died completely; activity remained in the 7.000 to 7.029 range, but my further CQ calls, either on 7.031 or lower down the band were unanswered. I am coming to the conclusion that 4.30pm on a December afternoon is not the best time for 40m QRP! Maybe I should wheel the 2m CW back out.

It was very cold while packing up in the final dregs of daylight, and the descent was torchlit as day rapidly became night.

73, Tom M1EYP

I had stayed in a B&B in Burslem on the Friday night, after the work football team’s Christmas Bash. On the way home this morning, I decided that a bit of fresh air and exercise was a necessary antidote to the previous evenings real ales, karaoke, sambuca shots and balti.

As I began the ascent, I noticed piles of small rectangular pieces of ice on the ground, particularly under trees. I pontificated as to the process of their being there as I climbed the steep stairway.

This was a low effort activation, with just 2m FM from the handheld. I didn’t even take the SLAB for back-up power, or the RSS for an antenna improvement. Just me, and two items - the VX-110 and my coat - simple!

Nonetheless, 20 minutes operating brought 8 contacts spread around the North West and North Wales, and including a S2S with 2E0RSM/P on Sharp Haw G/NP-029. Then home, pick up the kids, then around town picking up other peoples’ kids and onto the derby - Macc v Stockport - and a deterioration to the level of enjoyment of the day :frowning:


I went for a 40m CW activation after work today, but it was the wrong choice. I had three very enjoyable QSOs with HB9EAA, DL7RAG and G3CWI, but the latter informed me of the 2m tropo lift condx with contacts being made right across Europe. And I had left the SB3 down in the car! Still, it was cold and dark by then, and my tea would be nearly ready, so home I went.

In reply to M1EYP:
Hi Tom, heard you on 144-060 CW but no key in wagon hi hi, then heard you on s20 unfortunatly 145-475 was busy with locals, We managed the q o on 145-450 tnx for 5x6, might catch you tonight,
73, now I’m qrt and home to bed,
Steve m0sgb .

Thanks for calling me Steve. It was good to get some response on 2m FM without resorting to solicitation on the repeater, especially after 2m CW and 2m SSB had both drawn blanks.

Your “heard” on 2m CW may be submitted for the SWL table. You are 2nd bottom in that Steve, so every little helps hi!

The idea this morning was to take advantage of the tropospheric lift conditions. As I pulled onto the Cloudside parking spot, I noticed that Radio 2 - from Holland - was audible on 88.0MHz, as it had been the previous evening. So I was hopeful of some DX.

The ascent at 0650z was torchlit, as was the setting up of the SOTA Beam ten minutes later. I called CQ for a few minutes on 144.060MHz CW, but without response. I then called for a further few minutes on 144.300MHz SSB, also without response. A call on 145.500MHz FM immediately brought Steve M0SGB/M, worked with a little difficulty on the H-polarisation.

Going back to SSB, I called back to a couple of the stations calling CQ - G4RRA in Devon and F2YT. So there was some continental DX to be had after all. That was it though; I didn’t hear any of the Scandinavian stations that were reportedly “booming in” elsewhere.

I returned to FM to work Steve GW7AAV, who told me that Phil G4OBK was listening for me on 144.060MHz CW. I went back there and called for a few more minutes, but without reply. I now see that Phil had heard me briefly, so a real shame that I didn’t hear him and make a contact. Feel free to submit the SWL log Phil! Now, right on the deadline to pack up and get to work on time, I went QRT, packed up and descended swiftly.

It was very very cold!


In reply to M1EYP:

You are 2nd bottom in that Steve, so every little helps hi!

Tom if you yurn the table upside down then I’m second from the top, hi hi,

No Tom won’t be submitting a swl report, but if you want feel free,

Steve m0sgb

I got a flyer from work today, and was parking on Cloudside by 1545 UTC. I was fully set up with the 817 and horizontal SB3 (on fishing pole today) by 1610, but managed to be sitting where I (a) couldn’t reach the pole to rotate it, and (b) kept nudging a guy line with my head, nearly toppling the entire antenna system. After a few minutes sorting these problems out, Frank G3RMD and Stewart G0LGS were both worked on 2m SSB, after waiting patiently for me to reposition myself.

After working M3RHJ, a switch to 2m CW, G3RMD, GW0DSP and G3CWI were all worked. DSP and CWI were then reworked back on 2m SSB, by which time the spots had filtered through and a pile-up awaited. Another try on CW after working down the pile-up produced nothing, so I went QRT.

32 minutes operating, 14 contacts, 3 on 2m CW, 11 on 2m SSB, light at the start, dark at the finish, -2 degrees Celcius and fingers numb with cold by 1648 UTC. I got up to begin the packing away, and noticed that the fishing pole and SB3 were well and truly iced over. I wondered how much a task it would be to take them down, but in the event only one section of the pole proved stubborn and the station was dismantled fairly swiftly.

The descent was hard work until I switched a second torch on which helped considerably. I warmed up in the car for a few minutes before commencing the drive home, where I was greeted with a full roast beef dinner. Result.

That’s just for lunch Mick, ie when I’m out for the day with J & L. Some people seem to be assuming I also carry it for my breakfast and evening meals on solo activations. Alas not.

In reply to M1EYP:

Tell him Tom, SOTA = Soups on the air:-)

First one of the year this afternoon after work.

I nearly didn’t bother when I parked up at Cloudside. It was cold, windy and wet! But I really fancied a play on CW. That soon changed when I walked out onto the summit. The wind was fierce, and a heavy shower was homing in from the North. A huge gust blew me to nearer to the steep edge near the trigpoint than I would normally feel comfortable. I started to extended the SOTA pole, but as I got colder and wetter, I started packing it up again!

I wussed out. VX-7R handheld, rubber duck, 2m FM, four contacts (initiated by a mugging from the GB3MN repeater). At least the 4th contact was a brand new chaser, who only started working SOTAs in the last few days.

Not a good start to the Cloud-year, and even a little embarrassing that this is the activation I will get awarded the point for! Still, there will be a lot more bands, modes, power, antennas, radios, working conditions and operating time thrown at this summit yet in 2008 - if this weather ever improves…

73, Tom M1EYP