DK9JC/P - 30 Dec 2019: DM/RP and ON/ON - some problems and learnings

Today I had planned to activate 4 mountains. That was quite optimistic, because I still had to drive 460km (round-trip) to Belgium.

DM/RP-003, Schwarzer Mann - 697m, 6 points

When I arrived at DM/RP-003 “Schwarzer Mann” (just before the belgian border) it went really well. I had left my FT2 handheld radio at home, but that didn’t bother me then. The pileup on 40m was massive. Thanks to all chasers.

Here is a Youtube video of that pileup. Uncut and unedited as it came from the GoPro:

When I wanted to change to 20m, my antenna got caught in the tree at a height of 10m, so that I had to force it down. Then it tore and I lost some meters of my 40m antenna in the tree. I still had about 3 meters of cable in my emergency package:

So I extended the antenna provisionally to be operational for 40m on the next summit again. I then drove the 20 minutes to Belgium.

ON/ON-009, Iverst - 693m, 8 points (+3 bonus)

On 20m I didn’t get an answer calling CQ from ON/ON-009 (Iverst), so I turned down my repaired antenna until the SWR was good on 40m. So I could log 14 contacts. I was happy that my 40m problem was solved (haha - later…) and drove the 30 minutes further to ON/ON-001 (Signal de Botrange).

Perfect SWR on 20m but no takers:

ON/ON-001, Signal de Botrange - 695m, 8 points (+3 bonus)

When I arrived at ON/ON-001 (Signal de Botrange) I found out that I had no antenna anymore. I must have forgotten or lost it before. I went back to the car and searched everything and also again all my luggage. I could not find anything, except about 7m of random speaker cable. I stripped it with my Leatherman. On 17m I was able to use it, but I only heard ZS6, sadly he didn’t hear me. Nobody else came back to my spot.

For 2m (and my forgotten FT2) I still had a J-Pole in my backpack. I was able to connect the speaker cable with a SMA/BNC adapter, so that it had contact with the shield (outer braid of the koax). I wound up the J-Pole a bit more and more until I had a small reel. I needed a bit of time, but then I managed to get a nice 1.5 SWR on 20m.

That was the reason why my signal fluctuated a bit and I was QRT from time to time. I was able to make 3 contacts on 20m (EA7GV, ON7ZM, SA4BLM) and then I got really nervous, because the battery slowly died and it got a bit dark.

I saw my 11 points (8+3 bonus) in danger and then VE1WT ind Nova Scotia came in with a good signal. I was really happy. After I had set a new spot with “open to NA” N4EX in North Carolina came into the log, too. About 2 minutes later the battery was empty and I had to go QRT on shortwave.

When I packed everything I remembered that I still have a Baofeng UV-82 in my car. I put it in 1,5 years ago when I bought the car. Since then I have never used it and never charged it. The battery showed 100% and I called from the viewing platform CQ on 145,500 MHz. Nobody answered despite the spot, but on 145,400 MHz I heard 2 German stations near Cologne more than 100km away. Both made it in my log and I drove back to Germany.

I have learned a lot today:

  1. Not to build an antenna in a tree again.
  2. Always place a spare antenna in the car.
  3. Put more wire in the car.
  4. A cheap chinese radio in the car is very useful.

Thanks again to all the chasers - one can’t thank you enough.

More photos in my blog: SOTA: 30 Dec 2019 - 3 summits in DM/RP and ON/ON


John, thanks for the very interesting report and sharing your learnings. I will assemble a SOTA emergency package for my backpack soon, can really be helpful, as we see…