With the MTR on its way and summer coming (British Summer Time this weekend… really?), I thought it was time to dust off the portable gear and polish up the rusty CW. I decided to take a short trip up to Wendover Woods with the PFR-3 and also the new Band Hopper 3 antenna that has not been used in anger on a SOTA summit yet.
I drove to the main parking area and strolled along the trails to the clearing near the summit cairn in the woods. I picked my way through the snow and mud and found that the picnic table I often use was also covered in snow. Having cleared a patch I set about unpacking the gear and planning where to put the new Band Hopper 3. It took me a couple of minutes to optimise the guying locations but once up, I must admit I was very pleased. I have never used a linked dipole before (it’s normally a Norcal doublet with the PFR-3 tuner) but it was a doddle to use.
Here is a photo of the station I used today: SOTA G/CE-005 | G0AZS Station 28/3/13 | Marc Tinkler | Flickr
The temperature wasn’t too cold at 2-3C with a “watery” sun but there was a breeze blowing and clouds rolling in so I decided to don the Mountain Equipment duvet jacket to keep warm (a good move as it happened)
Anyway I decided to start on 30m and put out a few calls but got no reply. It seemed a little odd as could see that RBN had spotted me at reasonable strength. After a number of fruitless calls I QSY’ed to 40m after closing the relevant links on the Band Hopper.
I tried to find a suitable QRG but the band seemed terribly noisy and/or I assumed I was getting some local interference. I started working around 7.032 but it was difficult for me and obvious that chasers were also struggling. I moved down to 7.026 and things were much better. I now realise from Roy’s post that I was suffering the same QRM that others had noted. However I still think conditions were a little strange as the skip on 40m seemed longer than expected at that time. A steady run followed including a nice S2S with Mirko S52CU.
Having worked down the small pile including a longish QSO with a relatively local G3, I decided to QSY to 20m although it had just started to snow so I wondered if this was a good move. I opened the correct links on the Band Hopper and put out a few calls on 14.061. I could see that the RBN had spotted me and soon I received a call back from Rich N4EX. At this point my batteries were getting weak so I was probably only using 2-3W at that time. We exchanged reports and I called a few more times but to no avail. As the sky was getting even more grey I decided to pack up and retreat home to the warmth.
So thanks to all for the nice QSO’s (25 altogether) and hopefully I am now slightly less rusty and ready for the summer and the MTR (when it arrives and gets built). Incidentally, I have been wondering whether to assemble the MTR with 20m and 30m or 20m and 40m (my original preference). After today I will stick with my instinct and go with 20m and 40m.
73 Marc G0AZS