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Failed activation of G/SP-013 Gun

After doing a fair bit of chasing recently and my first activation a couple of weeks ago (G/SP-015 The Cloud), I decided to head to G/SP-013 Gun yesterday. I was in the area anyway for a 13km hike with a friend around The Roaches and Lud’s Church. In preparation, I posted an alert to SOTAwatch 48 hours in advance to maximise my chances.

After the hike, we moved the car and parked up in an empty lay-by, crossed the road and began the 32m ascent, arriving at the summit at 16:15 local time. I unpacked the FT70D, attached a 1/4 wave whip, found a clear frequency on 2m, self-spotted and began calling CQ SOTA on the calling channel. My unlicensed friend, in the meantime, was busy looking for an elusive geocache.

Nothing heard. I called CQ SOTA a few more times at 2 minute intervals. Still nothing.

After a quick scan through the other 2m FM simplex channels, I discovered that only one other frequency was in use - quite the contrast to the 2m actiivity I had witnessed from the summit of The Roaches, which included a GI station.

“Is the football on?” I asked my friend, not nothing anything about football. Apparently Chelsea were playing Man City. Could that be why it was so quiet? I wondered.

I continued to call CQ SOTA at 2 minute intervals for half an hour, before deciding to call it a day without a single QSO to show for my efforts.

What would I do differently next time?

  • Try and time it better. Perhaps try a morning or early afternoon when more chasers are likely to be around.
  • Try calling “CQ” as well as “CQ SOTA”. I’ve often wondered whether operators who don’t participate in SOTA are put off by this.
  • Try and make contact on the calling channel before QSYing. Announcing my listening frequency requires more effort from chasers than simply keying up.
  • Try some local repeaters. I had recently done a factory reset and haven’t yet got around to re-programming the memories.
  • Try 70cm when 2m is quiet. I did consider this, but with only a single VFO handheld, didn’t want to miss any potential calls on 2m.

I welcome any advice or other suggestions.

73
Greg M0NZO

Hi Greg,

The best way to get contacts on 2m fm is to call CQ on the calling channel and then QSY to a clear frequency once you get a station.

Jimmy M0HGY

Hi Greg,

My experience is that late afternoon is not the easiest time to get contacts.

The other thing you could try is to use a more efficient antenna, eg a full size dipole or Jpole or 1/4 wave groundplane, mounted a few metres above ground level on a telescopic fishing pole, or equivalent.

Lots of antenna ideas if you search on this Reflector.

If your only option is to use an antenna attached to the handheld, make sure you are standing upright at the highest point, or close to the top of a slope falling away in a direction likely to be populated by amateurs.

Good luck, the odd failure makes a successful activation all the more satisfying :wink:

73
Adrian
G4AZS

Hi Greg,
Up here in the North East it is sometimes the case not to find a quad of callers on 2m FM but this is not usually so when overlooking the conurbations. In atrocious conditions on GW/NW-002 a week ago I worked 8, 2m stations in 8 minutes. If I read the spec on the FT770 correctly you were generating 25W of RF so my suggestion would be to review the aerial. That is where (at little cost) you can make the biggest improvement to your ERP.
On 2m I use a home brew, end fed dipole, supported at 20ft and fed via RG58. This aerial is clear of the ground and normally does the business. Itis made from RG174 coax inside a short fibre glass fishing rod (£7) and fitted with a self resonant choke. This aerial is simple, omnidirectional, has an SWR of close to 1:1. It puts the RF where you want it, on the horizon. It is a derivative of the Australia “Flower pot” aerial. See vk2zoi.com/articles/half-wave-flower-pot.

More info if you send an email to g0evv@hotmail.co.uk

Regards
David G0EVV

Are you radiating any RF?

Sometimes you need to be persistent to the point of annoyance. Call CQ SOTA on the calling channel leaving nice gaps. When nobody replies call continuously. This will normally pique someone’s conscience into replying. 2m FM can be very much a case of “I only talk to my firends” so you need to bug the bejesus out of the licenced listeners.

You can also start up a mock QSO with someone on the calling channel. i.e. pretend to be talking to someone leaving gaps. At a few overs of this a local bandpoliceman will tell you to QSY, you can then have a QSO with him. (There are no bandpolicewomen, XYL ops are far to polite and intelligent to start on air fisticuffs).

3 Likes

Thanks Jimmy, I’ll try that next time. I want to make it as easy as possible for other stations to respond.

All good advice, thanks Adrian. I recently bought a telescopic pole and the materials to make a 2m Slim Jim, so that ought to be a significant improvement over the whip, although to be fair, I’ve had surprising results with it in the past (~60km during my previous activation running 5W).

That’s what surprised me, David. I had clear line of site to Liverpool and Manchester. It’s the FT70D that I was using, so only 5W, but I will definitely focus on improving the antenna. Thanks for the advice.

Thanks for the reply, Andy.

I can’t be certain, but I was definitely radiating RF earlier in the day and also when I tested the equipment upon returning home. In retrospect, I should have asked for a signal report or checked the webSDR on my phone.

I agree with you that 2m can feel a bit insular at times. The longer term plan is to focus more on HF activations so I’m not so reliant upon the VHF contacts.

Possibly not your problem but worth considering and that is operating in the presence of strong RF such as up on a peak with cell/VHF etc type equipment has overpowered my 5W Yaesu handheld.

Locals could hear me but my receiver was swamped and I couldn’t hear them replying. Turning on “Attenuation” solved that problem.

Also second that a better antenna is worth the investment such as a wire j pole and using the calling channel a huge benefit too.

Good luck and hang in there and don’t be discouraged by this recent attempt!

Paul