First activations - a day in the sun in England and Wales

Yesterday (Saturday) I finally got out on the hills with my radio gear. I literally only finished the dipole on the Friday evening in the nick of time.

I’d planned four summits and two today but I cancelled today due to sunburn! One thing I hadn’t included in my planning.

First up was an old friend of mine G/WB-013 Garway Hill. I know this hill very well, from before the model glider people found it, so knew it would be an ideal first activation. An easy walk and plenty of space on top.

Here’s the set up:

40 QSOs total on 20m. I will be coming back to this one when I have my 2m yagi done. (hmmm, it’s not that far to carry a ‘real’ yagi…)
More detailed report and more pictures here.

Next stop was GW/SW-020 Graig Syfyrddin another old friend. Also a hill I used to drive up in the old mini for some all nighters. I didn’t see a soul up here the entire time. Just me, the sun, the radio, and the flies. (the sheep stayed clear)

Another 32 QSOs on 20m here.

More detailed report and more pictures here

Last stop of the day GW/SW-026 Bryn Arw. This is a relatively new summit for me, only having visited it once before last year taken there by geocaches.
It was now midday gone and the sun was beating down. I had a spell on 20m again working Allan GW4VPX/P, and then moved to 40m, which raised loads of UK stations, making a total of 65 QSOs for this summit.

More detailed report here

I enjoyed the activations a lot, took me back to me contesting era especially when the spotting brings the pileups. I know they are only 1 pointer summits but it was good to get some practice setting up and getting a routine sorted. I had planned to do Waun Fach today but the sun burn I got yesterday put me off. I could feel my arms on fire today with the sun on them just walking to the car!


Pleased to hear your first activations have been a great success Steve. When I saw the first photo I immediately thought, “What no 2m yagi?”. Your write up answered that question. I note that Factor 30 will become part of your kit very soon - your time on Bryn Arw looks like when I was there and I think I got a shade or two browner that day. I really like the summit - maybe one for a return visit…with the Skirrid of course.

73, Gerald G4OIG

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The sunburn is a source of amusement to my kids as I am always nagging them for getting burnt :smile:
Yes I’ve not had enough time to come up with a lightweight yagi. I have a plastic pipe and pipe clips etc right next to me awaiting some attention…

Welcome and congratulations. I’m particularly impressed to see you carrying an 897! I use one as my base station but revert to an 817 when walking
Much respect! (Though I do sometimes miss the extra power)

Thanks. I have an 817 too, but I like to have the option of turning the wick up. That said, t was a fair weight in total. I could cut that down a bit. I carried (and didn’t use once) a beach shelter (tent style). If it was pop up style I’d have used it on Bryn Arw, but as it wasn’t I couldn’t be bothered. I need to come up with a lighter wind/rain/sun shelter that is easy to deploy. I was lucky with no wind, but the recent Pen Y Fan activation report is more typical so I need some wind shelter for the mic, and me for that matter.
I’m also thinking I should get an FT-857 for the size and weight saving.
I would keep the 817 for munros if I activate them. My total ascent saturday wasn’t even enough for the easiest munro. It’ll be 817 and single battery for those for sure. UNLESS, I am most likely to do a munro with my girlfriend (not licensed) and she can share the load! :smile:

As I have said Steve, I never have any difficulty whatsoever getting out on any band/mode with the 5w from the 817. I have an 897 here in the shack but would not entertain carting it up a summit.

For a lightweight shelter option, you could consider a bothy bag. Warm, waterproof and light.

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For me the weight was hard work, but manageable. It’s the bulk and extra weight I added in getting a transport container for it that met with my approval.
In the end I used this, which is overkill though does have a nice pocket for the mic too.

Luckily my main sack will take this and the rest of the stuff. But it’s just too big. My self imposed hindrance as I like to look after my ‘main’ stuff.
So I am seriously looking at an FT-857D which is smaller of course and will need a smaller container and still gives me options of making a good noise.

[quote=“M1EYP, post:6, topic:11377”]
For a lightweight shelter option, you could consider a bothy bag. Warm, waterproof and light.[/quote]

I’d wondered about a bothy bag. How much wind flapping noise do you get, and how waterproof is it? There seems a reasonable amount of water on the rig. I guess the bulge we are seeing in the top pic is you, back to the wind?

with my girlfriend (not licensed) and she can share the load! smile

Good luck :smiley:

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:smile: Already checked that out. She has carried my tripod for me up munros to share the weight. She’s fitter than me now (12 years younger helps) so her carrying some weight is not an issue.
The actual issue is her waiting around for me as not really interested in the radio. But she can pop over to another peak or something and come back later.

Steve, you may have not discovered an amazing material called “Bubblewrap”! It’s light and cheap and waterproof. You can use it to wrap around delicate items to protect them in the rucksack.

I’ve used bubblewrap bags to protect my 817 since October 2006. I collected a stack of them when we had some IP phones delivered to work. The bag is long enough to take the 817 and twice the width. 817 into bag, wrap over excess, 817 is impact and water protected. A bag lasts about a year before the bubbles start to pop and it needs replacing.

Tom is a bit of a Southern Softy wuss-baby with his bothy bag! :wink: Me, I just sit in the wind/rain/snow with the 817 in a bubblewrap bag.

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Hi Steve, agree with the comments about the bothy bag - I picked up one on my recent trip to the UK and although I am yet to use it (I am mainly a fair weather activator), it would allow me to activate in conditions that would otherwise not be suitable - if/when I so choose!

I also use an FT-897 with an AT-897 tuner on those activations that I don’t have to walk too far. Generally I have strapped it to the outside of my camelback or carried it in one hand. When the walk in is too difficult or I do not need the higher power, my FT-817 is the radio of choice - all up (including batteries) it would be probably 5-6kg lighter!

I have been thinking of getting the FT-857 for quite a while, but strangely for me, I have been reluctant to add yet another radio to my collection and somewhat averse to offloading the other radios that are similar (unlike Andy, I just buy another one without having to sell off another one).


I think I am definitely going to get an FT-857D for the collection. (I also hate offloading stuff. I should sell my Icom 260E as I’m unlikely to ever use it. I have an FT-225 I would use instead. I also found a radio in the radio room I didn’t even know I had!)
I can leave the 897 set up at home then as I do find it nicer to use than either of it’s smaller brethren) and use the 857 for ‘normal’ portable and the 817 for bigger stuff when I really want to go lightweight.
I’m used to going fairly heavily laden with camera gear so it’s not that much of a shock to the system for me but there is no escaping it’s hard work!

I’d wondered about a bothy bag. How much wind flapping noise do you get, and how waterproof is it? There seems a reasonable amount of water on the rig. I guess the bulge we are seeing in the top pic is you, back to the wind?

With that bothy bag pictured, not much wind flapping noise. That was a 2-man bothy bag and there were two men in it. I think the bulge pointing this way is Jimmy M0HGY (then M3EYP) from memory. I now use a 4-6 man bothy bag which affords more space for kit etc, but is obviously more prone to wind flapping noise. You do develop techniques of tucking excess fabric under things to reduce this.

Nothing is totally waterproof. The most intense cloudbursts on exposed summits will get you at least a little bit wet, no matter how good your coat / bothy bag / tent! In that photo, the rain on The Cheviot was heavy and persistent, and to be honest, I would be quite satisfied with the resulting few raindrops you see. In fact, Jimmy had just left the bothy bag, so that action would have introduced a bit of moisture from outside.

Generally speaking though, my bothy bag can be relied upon to keep me and my radio kit dry - or at least a lot more dry than without it.