…Prepare to fail.
Probably my least favourite overused pompous quote from virtually every headteacher I’ve ever worked for. But there is an element of truth in it!
So what didn’t I do on Monday 12th December 2016?
I didn’t check that my new Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 tablet was working properly in conjunction with the Wolphi-link interface and DroidPSK. Not that I had chance; I only bought it at 5pm today.
I didn’t check the propagation to see if there was a likelihood of 20m being usable after dusk.
I didn’t think to make sure I had a headtorch in the car.
I didn’t make sure I had charged up my handheld for back-up.
I didn’t check the weather.
I didn’t bother to put on my waterproof overtrousers.
This all struck me, all at once, just after parking on Cloudside. I ignored it all even so, and set off up the track, stairway and muddy path to Cloud summit.(G/SP-015), just after 6.30pm. My night vision was working quite well, but once at the summit I needed more light for setting up. I struggled through this process using the flashlight app on my HTC One Mini smartphone.
Up went the 20m vertical with GP antenna, and I set up the 817 with interface and tablet to try PSK. I found a few signals and was able to decode them, but still couldn’t trigger the rig into transmit mode. I’m pretty sure this tablet does have a 4-pin 3.5mm jack socket, so I’m not sure what the sticking point is this time.
Time passed quickly and my self-imposed cut-off time of 1930z was approaching rapidly. I connected up the paddle, but the band was dying with only weak fluttery signals left - and not very many of them.
Then it actually was 1930z, and I hadn’t made a contact. Was this to be the one? The very first failed activation? I tried to flick on my VX7R for a quick 2m contact to at least turn the escapade into an “activation” - but it was out of charge - aargh!
Finally I tuned to 2m FM on my FT-817, still connected to the 20m vertical. I found a very loud local QSO, and worked both of them easily. So no failed activation. I now just needed to pack everything up in the worsening rain, quickly descend down the hill and drive into Congleton to pick Liam up from the pub at 8pm. Which I did - just!
I must try and organise myself better for activations…